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Volume 5 -- Supreme Reflections -- Emma Frost

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Emma Frost
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Emma Frost’s Reflections (AN: Takes place shortly after issue 104)

Ah, the joys of motherhood. Is this how it’s supposed to feel? It’s one of the most basic acts of any living thing. Reproducing is akin to survival. Yet when you’ve spent a lifetime clawing your way up that food chain, it’s easy to lose sight of those basic things that bind everything together. I never had a problem with the sexual part of reproduction. It’s the act of actually being responsible for my own children for which I’m horribly ill-equipped. That’s as pathetic as it is ironic. I’m Emma Frost. I trained myself to handle anything. Guess that’s something else I’ve failed at.

Emma Frost stood with a rare vulnerability in her poise. As a former X-man and current headmaster of the Academy of Tomorrow, she couldn’t afford to be vulnerable. Her job required her to be strong in addition to being stunning. She never had a problem looking the part. Plastic surgery and a refined dress sense always took care of her outward appearance. It was her inner self that was as ugly as she was beautiful.

Emma should have been proud. Earlier in the week, Charles Xavier and a group of his X-men visited her Academy. They saw first hand what she had been working on since their last encounter. She made it clear that she was trying to make up for past mistakes. She even had a chance to prove the worth of her team, X-Factor, by sending them into the streets of Boston and stopping a confused mutant they codenamed Rockslide. It should have been a proud moment. It was hard to be proud when success came in wake of so many failures.

“It’s been ten minutes, Phoebe. How much longer do you need to walk in those shoes to realize how fabulous they are?” said an exasperated Celeste.

“I’ll walk in them as long as I need to,” said Phoebe smugly as enjoyed her new attire.

“You know Miss Frost bought us more than one pair of shoes, don’t you? At this rate you’ll outgrow them all.”

“Maybe you two should save the shoes for later and try this amazing dress,” said Mindee, doing a little pose for her sisters, “Why give so much attention to your feet when you have your entire body to show off?”

“My method of showing off differs from yours,” argued Celeste, “I prefer to start from the feet and work my way up. Miss Frost said it herself. Being fabulous is a process.”

Emma held back a smile. Her girls were still adjusting to life outside a laboratory. They were quickly becoming the apple of their mother’s eye. The three triplets known as the Stepford Cuckoos were her daughters that she only recently found out about. Watching them from atop the stairs as they unpacked their latest round of goodies in the foyer, she was reminded how overwhelming motherhood could be.

I hear it from every loudmouth mother who can’t resist throwing her motherhood in everyone’s face. Having children changes everything. You stop living for yourself and start living for others. I’ll bet those women wouldn’t be so annoyingly chipper if they found out they had teenage daughters that were cloned from their stolen eggs.

Motherhood is supposed to be instinctive. Those instincts go to hell when cloning, secrecy, and monstrous men with too much money and power are involved. I can’t think of too many ways that my experience with motherhood has been ideal. The only benefit thus far is I never had to go through the so-called joys of childbirth. My pristine womanly form remains as intact as ever. I want to take comfort in that. Yet I’m left feeling sick to my stomach for having been so horrendously violated.

I should be used to it. I was once a top-class sex worker and an aspiring deviant. I was a poster-girl for women who should never have kids. It was part of a less-than-proud tradition in the Frost family. Sex and deviance are part of our heritage. That’s what several generations of obscene greed and wealth will do to a family.

Unlike my Cuckoos, I was naturally born into this ugly world. My family was from old money. The Frost clan has been ridiculously wealthy for over six generations and my father, Winston Frost, was the latest to inherit that wealth. With my mother, Hazel Frost, they did their parental duty and produced heirs to the Frost fortune. I was one of them, a middle child of three daughters. My sisters, Adrienne and Cordelia, got a head start into this world. My older brother, Christian, set the standard for the kind of trouble that would plague our family.

Giving birth to us was the most effort my parents ever put into their children. They weren’t exactly nurturing. They were cold, strict, and about as loving as a hungry grizzly. It didn’t help that my father had regular affairs. He didn’t try to make a secret either. I don’t even know if he slept in the same room as my mother. Rather than confront him, my mother drowned her sorrows in alcohol. She drank enough vodka to drown a Russian battalion. So it didn’t come to anyone’s surprise when she came down with liver disease. She died when I was seven.

It affected me more than the rest of my siblings. They found it easy to brush aside the death of our mother. My father didn’t show much sorrow either. He shed a few tears over her grave and then went back to banging high-class call-girls. I was the only one for whom it lingered. It wasn’t fair. I didn’t understand the world I was living in. I was never truly comfortable in my own skin. That didn’t stop me from falling into the Frost tradition of decadence. I barely managed to keep a sliver of my soul anchored to my heart.

The Stepford Cuckoos were starting to get rowdy. Celeste and Mindee started throwing their shopping bags and some of the new underwear they bought at Phoebe, who still refused to get out of her shoes.

“You see, Phoebe? Those shoes work against you when you have to be quick on your feet!” teased Mindee as she threw a couple of shoe boxes into her path.

“Oww!” groaned Phoebe upon stumbling over one of the boxes, “You two are really pushing it! You do know I won’t let this stand, don’t you?”

“We’re a hive mind, sister,” grinned Celeste, “We know what you’re going to do and how satisfying it will be for us when you do it!”

In her frustration, Phoebe stepped out of her shoes and started chasing her sisters. Emma didn’t step in. She kept watching from atop the staircase, astonished at how her girls could act like normal teenagers when so much about them wasn’t normal. They were already more well-adjusted than she ever was. It was either a testament to how good her parenting skills were or how lousy her family’s parenting skills had been.

My siblings each embodied a certain element of decadence. Adrienne was the oldest and the first one to discover how sex could be used as a weapon. By the time she was fifteen she was sleeping with her teachers and blackmailing them to get ahead. Most parents would be horrified by such behavior. For the Frost family, it was business as usual.

Cordelia was younger than me and didn’t have Adrienne’s bodily assets. But what she lacked in beauty, she made up for with brilliance. She was definitely the smart one. She skipped several grades ahead of me and found ways to rub it in everyone’s face. She had an IQ that most would kill for and she used her brilliance in the same way Adrienne used her body. It got her ahead.

Then there was my brother, Christian. He was the second oldest and took a different yet equally deviant route. He didn’t care about getting ahead. He only cared about having a good time. He cut class, thumbed his nose at authority, and experimented with drugs at a time when most kids were discovering internet porn. He was also gay, which didn’t go over well with my father. But he could care less. By the time he was 17 he lived a rock star lifestyle minus the music and women.

I never grew close to any of my siblings. I didn’t have what they had. I wasn’t as beautiful as Adrinne or smart as Cordelia. I didn’t have Christian’s spirit for adventure either. I was a complete and total pariah. My whole childhood was spent mostly in isolation. I avoided my siblings and they avoided me. In a ways that protected me from their influence, but it didn’t stop them from looking down on me. To them I was just a frail little blonde too weak to handle the world.

I don’t know how I coped. I tried to study so I could keep up with my sisters. I went to a fancy private school and learned inner workings of business at a young age. By some measures I excelled, but I was not Cordelia. One of the ways I tried to keep away from her was to lock myself in my room, sit all my stuffed animals in a row, and pretend that I was a teacher. It instilled in me a desire to teach that I wouldn’t get a chance to explore until much later in life. For most of my childhood, it was a race to see who could be more decadent.

That childhood hit a major roadblock that destroyed my family. My siblings all had one essential luxury aside from their own decadent niches. They were completely devoid of empathy. For me, I endured it whether I liked it or not.

The commotion with the Stepford Cuckoos had settled down. Celeste and Mindee finally convinced Phoebe to get out of her shoes. She was still fuming. Her sisters continued laughing smugly. They made it up to her by tossing her a new box of shoes.

“Here…try these! They’ll cheer you up,” said Celeste.

“What’s to stop you from taunting me again?” asked Phoebe dryly.

“They’re easier to run in and they make your butt look nicer. I would know. I already tried them,” grinned Mindee.

Phoebe continued to scorn her sisters before opening the box. Celeste and Mindee turned their attention to less volatile matters, grabbing some of the skirts from the bags and holding them against their developing frames.

They seemed to be having fun. They almost seemed normal, able to avoid the trauma they endured when feeling their other two sisters die. Emma leaned back against the wall and admired their strength. It was a strength she never developed when she was their age.

The beginning of the end for me came shortly after I turned 14. There had been some early warning signs beforehand. Credit cards stopped working and we started getting phone calls from banks. It turns out my father invested our money in an ill-advised business venture. This tech company was supposed to be the next Microsoft so my father doubled down on it. When their first line or products failed, their CEO resorted to a fraud that would put Bernie Madoff to shame. This not only destroyed the company. Every investor who put their money into it never got a penny in return. My father was the biggest investor and he staked pretty much our entire family fortune on it.

Me and my siblings were completely oblivious. As far as we knew, our family was still obscenely wealthy and kept living that way. As if fate wasn’t cruel enough, this was the time when my telepathic powers started manifesting. It was small at first. I would pick up a few stray thoughts from my siblings or my classmates. Then it turned into a real pain. One day it got to be too much. I happened to pick up on Christian’s thoughts while he was in withdraw from whatever substance he was addicted to at the time. I went to see my father for help.

I went to his office where he usually spent hours in seclusion. The door was opened and I walked in. He wasn’t there so I was about leave. Then I heard some angry shouting from across the hall.

“DAMN IT ALL TO FUCKING HELL!”

I had heard that kind of obscenity from my father before. It usually led to the kind of outburst that would nominate my father for child abuser of the year. I panicked and ran into a nearby closet where he kept his business suits. I sat down, hugged my knees, and kept as silent as humanly possible while my father stormed in looking as though he was ready to strangle someone.

I watched as my father sat down behind his desk and just stared off into space for nearly a half-hour. I picked up on some of his thoughts. They were anything but pleasant.

‘All gone…the money’s all gone.’

‘I’m nothing. I’m weak.’

‘Lousy kids don’t understand. They’ll never understand.’

When he finally got up, it was to retrieve a twelve-gauge shotgun he kept in a case behind his desk. He also retrieved his finest bottle of hard liquor. He spent five minutes drinking down every last drop, savoring it in ways that are as disturbing to me now as then. The whole time I felt inclined to do something, but I was too damn scared! It was the last time I would ever endure such fear.

When he was done with the alcohol, he sat down in his seat. Then with me still watching, he put the shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. I’ll never forget the noise I heard. It was so deafening my ears are still ringing. That blast blew the entire top part of my father’s head off. I actually felt splatters of blood and brain make it through the closet. If that wasn’t bad enough, my burgeoning telepathy fully manifested at that point. So I actually felt my father’s mind as it was destroyed.

It was a cold, dark feeling that left an indelible impression. It’s a feeling I know my Cuckoos have experienced. They’re young, but they’re already stronger than I ever was. They’ll never have to endure what I did after that fateful moment. It was the moment where Emma Frost died and the White Queen was born.

Emma had to look away from her girls. They may have been products of Sebastian Shaw’s perversion, but they still had more innocence than she ever had. That innocence was precious and had to be defended at all costs. There was no way she was going to let her girls end up like her. She had to travel through many roads that passed straight through Hell. They deserved better than that.

Closing her eyes, Emma walked away into the darkened halls. Most of her students were still in class with Warpath and Dr. Nemesis. It was a cold feeling, being so alone. Emma Frost had lived most of her life with little support. It hardened more than her diamond shell.

The aftermath of my father’s death can only be described as a fiasco wrapped in a disaster encased in a catastrophe. I was never the same. My siblings were never the same, albeit in a different capacity. Losing a lousy father was a secondary concern. Not having any money is what really spooked them. Adrienne and Cordelia tried to acquire what money they could to keep the family going. Christian took whatever he needed to continue his drug habit and skipped town. For me, the shock was almost as bad as my uncontrolled telepathy.

In the weeks that followed I struggled to process my father’s death and hearing the thoughts of others. All around me I was surrounded by crude, dishonest brutes whose thoughts revealed their true nature. I sensed liars, thieves, and people who were just plain crude. They would act one way and think another. It was a troubling sensation and one that dented my respect for humanity.

I remember at my father’s funeral sensing the thoughts of the priest. While he was talking about death and the heavens, I heard him thinking about how he was so sick of doing burials for rich pricks like the Frosts. I wouldn’t have thought less of him for just that. Then he had to project how he wanted to get back to snuggling with his boyfriend. By boyfriend I meant a 19-year-old meth dealing male prostitute. It seemed as though nobody had any humanity. Any good a person showed was just a façade.

It got to the point where I started fighting back. With my telepathy I found out about all the sordid (and illegal) activities my sisters were doing. I found out about everyone Adrienne was sleeping with, which in and of itself is enough to fill several minds. I also found out the lengths Cordelia was going to in order to get our fortune back. I was so sick of their deception that I threatened to expose them. Their response was to call the nearest mental hospital and have me committed. That was the last time I ever saw my sisters and I hope I never see them again.

Whatever sisterly affection I had for those two was completely lost in that mental ward. That was a new level of torment that I don’t care to experience again. I later found out that Adrienne slept with the heads of that hospital and made sure that I would cause them no further trouble. I was kept in a secluded cell, given no means of contacting the outside world, and constantly drugged. Being a fifteen-year-old pretty blond didn’t help either. Some of the orderlies got a little too ‘friendly’ to say the least. I was rendered completely powerless. It was in that state where I decided that I started to fight back.

First, I had to gain control over my powers. This was an arduous process. Every day during my brief moments of mental clarity, I worked on focusing my telepathy. There was no one there to help me. I had to help myself. Driven by so much anger and bitterness, I was plenty motivated.

Eventually, I refined my mental powers to the point where I could start influencing the thoughts of others. I started small, tweaking the perceptions of the doctors so they wouldn’t give me as many drugs. Before long, I made it so they would walk into my room and only think they administered a dose. Once I was fully coherent, I planned my escape. I read the minds of every nurse and doctor to find a way out. Adrienne made sure I was kept in a very secure wing so I had to use drastic measures.

One night an armed security guard walked by my door. I pushed my telepathy to the limits and took control of his mind. I had him let me out and then I had him escort me out of the building. Along the way other guards and doctors came running at me. I had the guard shoot them or lock them out. I’m pretty sure at least one person died as a result. I don’t care to know if he did. When I was finally out, I had the guard give me his car keys and then I erased his memories of the whole evening. I may have erased more since I was so inexperienced at the time, but I didn’t care.

It set a new and dangerous precedent. Now I was free and had a new skill to help me fight back against a corrupt world. Adrienne had her sexuality, Cordelia had her brains, and Christian had his fearless decadence. I had my telepathy. I planned on using it to fight my way to the top, no matter what the cost. It was that foolish mentality that led me to making the biggest mistake of my life.

Emma could still hear her Cuckoos playing around downstairs. She was still standing alone in the darkness, conflicted by these feelings of maternal pride and self-loathing. It should have made her happy, the Cuckoos being in a better position than her when she was their age. Emma still questioned whether that was because of her or in spite of her.

“Ooohhhh we simply must try on these new skirts!” said Mindee.

“They’re a little short, don’t you think?” questioned Celeste, “We already sense plenty of lurid thoughts from the boys.”

“And some of the girls as well,” added Phoebe, “Who cares about lurid thoughts! Let’s try them on together and take a picture for our Facebook page! I’m sure we’ll gain plenty of admirers with outfits like these!”

“Even the creepy kind?” snickered Celeste.

Especially the creepy kind,” said Mindee.

Emma’s demeanor hardened. Her girls could joke with one another like regular teenage girls because they hadn’t made the mistakes she had. They weren’t in a difficult position that required them to sacrifice their humanity in exchange for material comforts. It was a position she hoped they never faced.

My girls can joke about that sort of thing now. For me, it was no laughing matter. As soon as I got out of the mental asylum, I had a hell of an uphill battle. I was flat broke and my sisters were intent on locking me away. I had no one to turn to. I still had plenty of assets. Being a pretty teenage blond with telepathy put in at a greater advantage than most teenage runaways.

My first stop was New York City. That’s where Christian had moved after our father died. I didn’t go to him begging for help. He wasn’t in a position help much anyways. He was a junkie who was rapidly deteriorating. He was HIV positive on top of that. When I found him lying face down in some dilapidated apartment, I demanded he fork over whatever bit of Frost wealth he had left. He was too weak to really argue. He didn’t have much anyways. It was just enough to get the ball rolling.

I realized that if I was going to work my way up, I needed to follow the lessons I learned in business school. I needed to foster connections and make deals. A normal teenager’s options are limited, but a teenager with telepathy has a lot more going for her. With Christian’s money, I bought myself some semi-fancy dresses and had an extensive make-over. Then I traveled to the heart of Wall Street and started pillaging thoughts from the rich and overprivileged.

I found out about affairs, inside deals, and frauds. With this information, I confronted these men and blackmailed them into giving me money. For those who were a bit too clean for such sordid details, I used another method…one that I learned from Adrienne. Instead of telepathy, I would use my pretty blond appearance to seduce men into sex. I used my telepathy to make them think I was older. When I told them I was only fifteen or sixteen, they were mortified because that meant I could accuse them of statutory rape. Rather than risk their reputation, they parted with their wealth. I made sure they parted with plenty as well.

I was certainly not a virgin when I started this, but I quickly discovered that seducing men offered a very special kind of thrill. Beyond the physical pleasures of sex, I felt empowered. By dominating these powerful men as some runaway teenager, I was consumed with an immense satisfaction. I wasn’t as bad as my sister, but I’ll bet anything that I got more enjoyment out of it than she ever did. It was the first sign that I was heading down a very dark path.

With that money I began rebuilding the opulent lifestyle of a Frost. At age sixteen I had money in the bank and a growing list of connections. Then a new opportunity came my way that would change my life forever. It started with Christian. He was flat broke and withering away from his decadence. He sought me out for money. I refused to give it to him. Then I found out that he didn’t come alone. He called in some backup that consisted of a mix of junkies and unruly drug dealers. He must have told them I had money and was easy on the eyes.

I could have tried to reach out to my brother. Being locked up and forced to fend for myself left me with little love for my family. When I refused to help him, Christian and his friends attacked me. I hit back with telepathy. I wasn’t subtle either. It was the most ruthless attack I had carried out to that point. I hit their minds with the equivalent of a psychic artillery shell. In less than five seconds, they were on the ground writhing in pain while bleeding out through their eyes, nose, and ears. Some of them died. Some just suffered brain damage. Christian managed to hold on just long enough to curse me. He could have reached out to me or at least show some remorse. He showed nothing. So I didn’t feel anything when he died right in front of me.

I could have left them and continued living my life. However, I picked up on one last presence that had been guarding the door. When I went to him he was cowering in fear. He must have been one of the lower ranking dealers and when he heard the screams of his associates, he must have thought I was demonically possessed. I asked him if there was any reason why I should allow him to live. After some bumbling, he told me he could introduce me to someone with some very good connections. I read his mind to make sure he wasn’t bullshitting me. Then I had him take me to this someone.

It was a short drive across lower Manhattan. It ended up being the longest drive of my life. I found out that this seemingly low-ranking dealer was actually one of many spies. He used to spy for some big corporate entities. Then he got on his bosses bad side and was demoted to monitoring drug trafficking. He figured that by bringing me to his boss, he would be redeemed. His boss was a powerful man to say the least and not in the classic criminal underworld. He was something much more devious. He went by only one name…the Black King.

Emma shut out the giggles of her girls and looked at her reflection in a nearby mirror. She was beautiful by every standard. She had a body that many women would have done anything for. Her blond hair, flawless skin, toned form, and voluptuous curves exemplified every feminine ideal. Attaining such beauty wasn’t easy. Like everything that was worth having, it came at a price.

When Emma Frost looked at herself, her vanity gave way to disgust. Her outward appearance hid some very ugly secrets. It was a reminder of how far fell into a world of darkness. As Emma she was just a mutant with loose morals. As the White Queen, she was a monster in every respect.

When I first met him, I wasn’t sure what to think. He was at this upscale and secretive venue known as the Hellfire Club. It was a strip club/brothel for the richest and wealthiest of clients. For me it was a gold mine. For the man running it, this was merely a playground.

His name was Sebastian Shaw, but I didn’t find that out until much later. When I met him, he was just the Black King of a mysterious group known as the Inner Circle. The dealer led me into a room where he had just had his way with three beautiful women. When he saw me, he wasn’t too impressed. Then when I told him what I could do he cracked a smile. Then the spy told him how I killed my brother and all his associates. That smile of his grew as the details got more graphic.

When he looked at me, I felt like I was in the presence of a titan. He carried himself in a way that went beyond a rich snob. He had the kind of strength that I always aspired to have. He was at the top of that proverbial food chain. So when he offered me an opportunity to join him, I took it. He then asked me a very important question.

“How far are you willing to go?”

“As far as necessary,” I told him.

I would come to regret that answer. At the time, I didn’t care. I wanted more. Making a living through blackmail wasn’t enough. I wanted to be a queen. So the Black King put me on that path.

The first thing he did was put me through some training. This is where I met the Black King’s right-hand woman, Tessa. She was a cold and unfeeling woman, but she helped me a great deal. She had an IQ that would have made Cordelia jealous and used it to refine my telepathy. She gave me a series of treatments that maximized my potential. I’m not sure the science behind them, but they worked. One of them helped me manifest my secondary power of forming a diamond hard shell over my body. It was enthralling. She also brought in a man named Jason Wayneguard to teach me how to master these powers. By the time I was 17, I was in full control.

Once I passed this test, the Black King put me through another grueling ordeal. He sent me to a series of plastic surgeons and paid to have my body enhanced beyond it’s natural beauty. It wasn’t enough for me to be a cute blond. I had to be a cut above regular beauty. So I had breast implants, a facelift, a nose job, a series of skin treatments, and an extensive array of advanced hair removal. By the time it was over, I wasn’t just a new woman. I actually looked the part of a queen. Me being the greedy bitch I was, I loved it. I rewarded the Black King by sleeping with him. I now consider that act on par with bestiality. It disgusts me now, but at the time I was so enthralled I could have slept with Satan himself.

That vile act led me to my next great challenge. I would have to work in the Hellfire Club as a stripper, using my body and my powers to steal secrets from the rich and powerful. It seemed simple enough, but I had to go beyond what I did before. This is when I got introduced to the Black Queen, who was every bit as devious if not more so than the Black King.

Selene Gallio was a woman whose presence made even the strongest tremble. As an ambitious and foolish teenager, I was willing to overlook that devious aura of hers. The Black Queen’s job was to teach me how to master the arts of sexuality. It wasn’t enough to just sleep with powerful men. I had to bring them to a world of ecstasy so great that they would be completely vulnerable. Selene did this with many of Shaw’s sex workers, but she took a special interest in me. I’d rather not recall the details of that training. Once it was over, I didn’t just have a new appreciation for sex. I had a new fondness for the decadent pleasures of the world. I made sure I put them to good use.

I wish I could say I’m not proud of what I did, but I can’t deny I took a lot of satisfaction in my job. That first night at the Hellfire Club didn’t feel awkward or intimidating. I wasn’t the only girl that the Black King took an interest in so I was determined to set myself apart. There were thirty girls working that night. I made sure I outdid them all. I seduced five politicians, eight CEOs, three star athletes, and two media moguls. I didn’t sleep with all of them, but those that did find their way to my bed were rendered powerless under my spell. I loved it. I got such a thrill out of it. The information I brought the Black King went a long way.

It didn’t just stop at that one night either. I worked a regular shift, stripping and seducing my way to prominence. When I wasn’t stripping, I was learning from the Black King and his associates. I already took business classes growing up. Under the Black King and the Inner Circle, I took more advanced classes. I learned quickly as well. When the Black King gave me a few million dollars to manage, I more than quadrupled it in six months.

It turned into a self-reinforcing cycle of greed and decadence. I would indulge in sexual deviance at night while fueling my insatiable lust for money during the day. This went on for years. The whole time I knew the Black King was watching me and judging me. I could tell he was preparing me for something. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I was convinced that I wanted to be a part of it.

However, I didn’t count on one thing. That tiny slivery of humanity that I retained didn’t fade. While I was dazed by this dark world, a part of it still disgusted me. It was easy to drown it in money and pleasure, but this feeling would not leave me. I didn’t acknowledge it at the time. Then someone came along who did. His name was Charles Xavier. Almost as much as the Black King, this man would have a big impact on my life.

Emma turned away from the mirror, swallowing away the disgust she felt for her former life. She turned her attention to another picture she had mounted on the wall. It was a picture of the X-men. It was old, taken during the days when they still wore masks to conceal their identities. She wasn’t in it, but seeing Charles Xavier and his X-men brought out a new range of feelings. She had been a monster as the White Queen. It took hard lesson in the human spirit to help her confront that monster.

I was 20 at the time Charles Xavier entered the Hellfire Club. At first I thought he was just another rich man. I later found out that he was investigating a human trafficking ring that exploited mutant women. I had no knowledge of the matter. I quickly went for him and invited him to a VIP room. I told him I was ‘wheelchair accessible.’ At first I think he was turned off by me, which in and of itself is quite a statement. Then he agreed to follow me. That’s where I got a long overdue lesson in humanity.

Once we were behind closed doors, I tried to make a move. That’s when he revealed that he was a telepath. It caught me off guard and I tried to overpower him. I quickly found out that he was the world’s most powerful telepath. I might as well have been a monkey trying to match wits with a rocket scientist. Charles Xavier saw through my shields. He saw through my decadent façade. He did more than just talk to me. He used his powers to reach out to me on a deeper level.

At first I resisted. Then he took me on a quick trip to the astral plane. There we talked mind-to-mind. He showed me this small yet brilliant light. He told me that this light was a sense of innate goodness that I had been suppressing. I didn’t believe him. I still believed that everyone was only as good as the world allowed them to be. Their thoughts always betrayed them. Then Charles Xavier let me into his mind. For a telepath, that’s like giving your credit card information to Russian gangsters. When I probed his mind, I found something I didn’t think existed. I found a genuine man of honor. It was…comforting. It felt right, more than anything I was doing at the moment that was for damn sure.

When it was over, I had my first taste of doubt. Charles Xavier urged me to get out of this life. I told him that was impossible. He argued that it was only as impossible as I allowed it to be. He offered to help me. He said he could get me away from the Black King, but I had become too lost in this world of darkness. I refused his assistance and he left, but he told me that I would see for myself that my humanity was not lost. He also told me that when I acknowledged that, he would be there to help.

The damage had been done. For the first time, I started having doubts. I started to wonder if this was really what I wanted. I had no doubt that I could succeed with the Black King and the Inner Circle. Now I was doubting whether I should.

Charles’s words proved prophetic. For the next few weeks, it was business as usual. I kept working and studying, acting as though nothing was amiss. Then one night the Black King canceled my shift. He invited me and five other girls to the opulent Hellfire Manor, the central base of the Inner Circle. I was given a special outfit to wear. It was the outfit of an Inner Circle queen. The other girls wore one too. That’s how I knew that this was another test of sorts. It turned out to be my hardest test yet.

The Black King stood me and the five girls in the middle of this ritual chamber. Behind him were all the members of the Inner Circle, including the Black Queen. It was here he revealed his true name, Sebastian Shaw. I recognized that name as belonging to Shaw Industries, a rather shadowy company that was ridiculously prosperous. He told me that only those truly worthy were allowed such knowledge. He and the rest of the Inner Circle were looking to crown a new queen. It was a role I once wanted so badly.

Shaw gave me special attention. He approached me first, saying how proud he was of me and how far I had come. I smiled and nodded as any good deviant. Then he asked me a simple question.

“Say I told you that whoever I choose as my queen would decide the fate of those who weren’t chosen. What would you have done to the girls standing next to you?”

I looked over at the girls who in every sense were mere competition. I had worked with these girls. I wasn’t all that close to them and they didn’t care much for me either. So I answered in as callous a manner I could.

“I couldn’t bring myself to care.”

Sebastian Shaw smiled at me in a way that still makes my skin crawl to this day. He had been testing me and I just passed. He snapped his fingers and the next thing I know, Shaw’s henchmen sneak up behind the four other girls and grab them. Then with Shaw still smiling, I watched as each girl was stripped naked, raped, and beaten to death before my very eyes. It wasn’t just the guards either. Members of the Inner Circle joined in the fun as well. I swear Selene actually got aroused watching it. The girls screamed and cried, begging for mercy. It never came.

The whole time I’m hiding my disgust. I remember the words of Charles Xavier and how he showed me that tiny bit of light within my mind. For the first time, I was utterly repulsed by the world I so embraced. As I watched Sebastian Shaw himself snap the necks of each girl, I saw him and his associates for who they really were. I saw myself for what I was becoming. So when Shaw and Selene asked me if I was ready to become their queen, I gave them an answer nobody expected.

“No! I’m nobody’s queen!”

I’m not sure who I shocked more with that answer, myself or Sebastian Shaw. He was outraged. He spent all this time and energy making me his decadent little queen. And I had the gall to just say no. It was a major hit to his ego. It was also the first time I actually tried doing the right thing for once. I felt like I had come back from the brink of Hell itself. However, I still had to get away.

I don’t remember how I got out. It was all a blur. The devious White Queen in me was condemning me for my stupidity. That faint light inside me was urging me on. The Inner Circle weren’t going to let my rejection stand. Shaw would make me his queen whether I wanted it or not. I fought through the Inner Circle’s guards and Shaw’s goons. They chased me out into the streets of lower Manhattan during evening rush hour. Running in that White Queen outfit sure wasn’t easy, but I was determined. Shaw was just as intent on not letting me go. He must have sent every goon within a three mile radius after me. Eventually I was cornered in some alley, surrounded by men who were under order to rough me up and take me in at all cost.

I tried to fight back. They were well-armed though. They hit me with this paralyzing stun gun. I thought I was done for. Then I had a bit of luck come my way. Charles Xavier hadn’t forgotten about me. Running around in Lower Manhattan for an hour using my telepathy and diamond form probably set Cerebro off like a pinball machine. He probably figured out I was in trouble and sent the X-men to save me. Specifically, he sent Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Thunderbird, and Wolfsbane. They literally swooped in and saved the day, beating up Shaw’s goons and saving my life.

It still got messy. I was paralyzed while the X-men fought off Shaw’s guards. One of them was so pissed he tried to shoot me again. He would have hit me too had Cyclops not shielded me with his body. He ended up taking a bullet for me in his torso. Wolfsbane pounced on him while Marvel Girl took the rest of the attackers out. It was the first time someone had sacrificed for me. These X-men didn’t even know me and they were helping me. It sent a powerful message. Even though I passed out, they made an impression.

Still brimming with mixed emotions, Emma took the picture off the wall and held it closely. She grazed her hand over the image of Charles Xavier, Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Hank McCoy and the other X-men in the picture. To the rest of the world they were either a hero or a menace. To her, the X-men were so much more. They demonstrated a spirit she didn’t think existed. It was the X-men who helped her realize she had that spirit. The Inner Circle failed to completely destroy it.

When I woke up, a new life awaited me. Charles Xavier and Hank McCoy were there to greet me. I was in a weakened state and feeling pretty jaded. So when they talked to me about who they were, what they did, and why they did it I wasn’t in a position to embrace it. I was more intent on distancing myself from the Inner Circle.

Never-the-less, I owed Charles Xavier everything. He gave me a chance to rebuild my soul. I decided to take it. I was sick of living in a world driven by greed and bloodlust. I was open to another way of doing things. I couldn’t promise Xavier I would be an angel. I did promise him that I would contribute while I worked on rebuilding my soul

It was quite a transition least. I was no hero. I didn’t do very well in my initial training. I excelled in class, but only to a point. I was at a disadvantage. Sebastian Shaw was still out there. If he saw me running around in an X-men costume, he may come after me. So whatever my role was with the X-men, it had to be low key. Those first few weeks were pretty clumsy as I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself at the Xavier Institute. I worked closely with Charles and he helped me figure out a role.

Since I wasn’t up for putting on a mask, he put my business skills to use. He specialized my classes on finance and business while giving me access to a good portion of the institute’s budget. I was to be the X-men’s principle finance guru. It would be my job to make sure that there was always money coming in to pay for X-jets, costumes, and Danger Room repairs. This would free Charles Xavier’s time up so he could focus on developing his fledgling team. I would also act as a backup telepath for Cerebro when Charles wasn’t available. It was a different role. It still felt more rewarding than anything I had done to that point in my life.

This transition to the X-men was made a lot harder by my anti-social personality. I didn’t make too many friends with the others. I was still an arrogant bitch. The Inner Circle and the Hellfire Club left some deep scars. They weren’t going to heal overnight. If I was to become a decent human being again, it would have to be a process. While I alienated most of the team, there was one other man besides Charles Xavier who saw a good soul in me. That man’s name is Scott Summers.

Emma’s demeanor shifted as she traced her hand over Cyclops’s image. In this picture, he was still a teenager. He was a bit slimmer than he was now, but carried himself with a maturity well beyond his years. It was a maturity many respected. It was part of why he was such a good leader. In many ways, Scott Summers embodied the X-men. He also embodied a spirit that captivated her in so many ways.

“Oh Scott…why must you leave such an indelible mark on me?”

Scott set himself apart from the beginning. I didn’t forget that he took a bullet for me. So naturally, I was a bit nicer to him than I was the others. It also helped he was a very handsome man. He was younger than me, only 18 when I first met him. But having given myself to men over twice my age, I was ready for a more refreshing companion.

It started out innocent enough, which for me is still pretty lurid. I offered to sleep with him as repayment for the bullet he took. Amazingly, he refused. It was the first time a man rejected my advances. That in and of itself let me know that Scott Summers was different. So I went the less familiar route. I actually got to know the man. It sounds simple, but to that point I had lived in such a superficial world. I didn’t even know my own family on a deeper level. He pushed me to be different and it was good for me.

As much as I enjoyed his company, I didn’t exactly fall for the man. I came from a lousy family and the Inner Circle so I had a very poor concept of love. I know he fell for me though. I don’t know what it was. He was just so enthralled by my wit and charm. I’m sure he appreciated my body as well, but for once that was secondary. He really reached out to me and I wasn’t sure how to handle it. So when we made the transition from friends to lovers, it was unorthodox to say the least.

I tried to be different with Scott. We hung out, went on dates, and what not. When it came to sex, I got a little greedy. The Inner Circle left some indelible marks on my sex drive. Scott was a virgin when I met him so he wasn’t in a position to measure up. So I ‘conditioned’ him if that’s the right word. By ‘conditioned’ I meant I was a little domineering. I used my telepathy to carry body through those initial jitters. I also ‘tweaked’ some parts of his brain to give him the necessary fortitude that one can only find in Viagra commercials. I didn’t always ask permission for these acts. Scott never stopped me though. He wanted to satisfy me like a good boyfriend. He treated it like a mission and in time I would say he accomplished it in spades.

It was a relationship that grew in ways I never expected. The more time I spent with Scott both in and out of the bedroom, the more I fell for him. He was the complete antithesis of the men I had grown up around. He was honest, dependable, and strong. I remember one time he and the X-men went on a mission to save people from an erupting volcano. It lasted longer than expected. Scott and I were supposed to go on a date that night. So when the time came I was getting all dressed up. I was utterly annoyed by his tardiness. Then the X-jet arrived and Scott practically ran through the debrief. Then at the moment we were supposed to go out, he was standing in front of my bedroom door. His uniform was a mess, his skin was covered in ash, and he smelled terrible. I still laugh when I remember his words.

“I promised I would be on time. Just had to make a pit stop through Hell.”

That more than cheered me up. I remember skipping the date and helping him shower. That night we made love and by that time I didn’t need to condition him anymore. He could satisfy me on his own. I knew he loved me, but that was the first time I really felt loved. It had a big impact on my life and that impact grew as time went on.

Months turned into years and being with Scott gradually tamed the harsh bitch within me. I became a more bearable part of the team. I started to actually make friends. When Bobby and Warren came on board, I made it a point not to completely turn them off. I even got closer to others like Rahne and Jean Grey. I was actually starting to feel like a decent human being. I studied harder, earned an official business degree, and managed a greater part of the institute’s finances. Under my management, the Institute’s coffers swelled and Xavier was able to purchase various upgrades. That included the War Room and the goodies that line Hank’s lab.

I actually felt close to my friends and I felt genuine love for Scott Summers. I know it was bizarre, sleeping with a man and later falling in love with him. Maybe it was too bizarre. Maybe it was a sign that for all the progress I made, I could never truly escape the darkness that consumed me.

Emma’s gaze shifted from Scott’s image on the image of the girl next to him, Jean Grey. She was in her old Marvel Girl costume. She remembered how she used to tease Jean about her fashion sense with costumes. Her feelings towards Jean had always been mixed. She still saw her as a close friend if not a worthy rival. Whatever closeness they had was forever conflicted when she fell for the man who taught her to love again.

“You’re officially the luckiest woman on the planet, Jean Grey. I bet you still make light of it,” she said to the picture with a touch of bitterness.

My luck was bound to catch up with me sooner or later. Fate can’t seem to resist making my life difficult. It had a worthy partner in Jean Grey. She and I didn’t exactly get along at first. Even though we could relate to one another with having lousy parents and spending time in a mental hospital, we bickered more than we supported one another.

Ironically, it was Scott who pushed us into being friends. As crazy as it seems now, Scott really didn’t have any romantic feelings for Jean. He was just her best friend and didn’t want his girlfriend to complicate that. I begrudgingly obliged and did my best to get along with Jean. It ended up working out quite nicely. Jean and I actually grew close. I was the one that encouraged her to make a move on John Proudstar. I gave her all sorts of pointers when she was learning the joys of intimacy with a studly male companion. We could have been those BFFs as some of my students describe. That all changed after a fateful mission to the Savage Land.

It came at a time when Scott and I were at a conflicted stage in our relationship. I was finally falling for him and he was starting to question how serious our relationship could be. He was also getting closer to Jean, but I never sensed anything romantic. Then they went on that trip to the Savage Land. It turned into quite an ordeal, but the short version is the rest of the X-men got captured while they survived for nearly two weeks in that Jurassic nightmare. I had no idea what was going on. I was stuck at the mansion worrying while I carried out Xavier’s usual affairs.

When they finally returned, something was different. I remember seeing Scott and Jean walking out of the X-jet, holding hands and smiling. They looked as though they had been crawled head first through the intestinal tract of an elephant. They smelled even worse. Yet they had this different aura about them. It was like they saw one another in a different light. I didn’t understand it at the time, but it deeply concerned me. I now sensed emotions between them that I hadn’t sensed before. These emotions were distressing because they directly conflicted with Scott’s emotions for me. It began a downward spiral that would culminate in the worst of ways.

Emma held back another wave of emotions. Closing her eyes, she put the picture back on the wall. There were so many good memories of her life in the X-men. She experienced so many wonderful things that helped rebuild her into someone who wasn’t a heartless bitch. That didn’t make the complications hurt any less. Scott Summers and Jean Grey were only one of those complications. There would be many more that would further torment her.

It was the beginning of the end for me and Scott. To his credit, Scott did everything you could ask of a man. He tried not to let his growing feelings for Jean affect our relationship. He stayed with me, he reassured me, and he made love to me as he always did. Were I not a telepath I would never have known something was amiss. It led us to a number of fights that I’m sure are the stuff of legend throughout the institute. I was probably responsible for over 85 percent of those fights. I couldn’t help it. I finally start falling for the man and he ends up falling for someone else. It wasn’t his fault. It was mine for not having enough of a heart to love a man when he loved me.

Scott and I stumbled along for a year after the Savage Land incident. By then even Jean’s relationship with John Proudstar began to suffer. It seemed like only a matter of time before their feelings for each other caught up with them. Then I got a phone call that I hoped to never get. It was from Sebastian Shaw.

I can’t describe how thoroughly pissed I was when I heard his voice. I wanted to strangle the first person I saw. He told me that he found me long ago and had been keeping tabs on me. He knew he couldn’t convince me to be his queen again, but I would still be his pawn. I was ready to reach through the phone and rip his heart out. Then he dropped an ominous little clue.

“Do you plan on having children one day?” he asked me.

I wasn’t sure what he meant by that. He hung up before I could tell him to fuck off. Then on a whim, I went and got myself a checkup. That’s when I learned the truth. I was barren. I had no eggs in my ovaries. My gynecologist said it was like they were forcibly extracted. That told me exactly what Shaw did.

When I called him back, he told me about my daughters. He called them the Stepford Cuckoos. Where he got that name I’ll never know, but he sent picture of them to my phone. He waited all this time because he wanted them to be in adolescence when he rubbed them in my face. He wanted them to look just like I did when I first came to the Inner Circle. He said they were the only successful ‘specimens’ from all the eggs he took. If I ever wanted my daughters to live, I would do exactly as he said.

I honestly didn’t expect any maternal instincts to kick in. The old Emma Frost wouldn’t have stood for it. But Charles Xavier and Scott Summers taught me the value of human life. That made it too difficult to say no to that monster. So I had to do exactly as he said.

Emma turned away from the picture and walked back towards the staircase. The commotion with the Cuckoos had ceased. She assumed they were getting dressed in the bathroom or something. She found herself leaning over the railing, her head held low in a state of self-loathing.

She had a long list of reasons to hate herself. From her family to the Inner Circle, she let all sorts of horrible influences control her. She spent years in the X-men trying to fight off those influences. In the end, Emma Frost wasn’t strong enough. Of her many sins, her betraying the X-men was by far the worst.

It was the hardest choice I ever had to make. In order to save my daughters, I had to betray the X-men. I had to lie to them and say I couldn’t stay anymore. I made Scott think that our failing relationship was to blame. I made up some elaborate story at how I needed to do more than just manage the institute’s finances. Some of it was true, but completely cutting myself off from the X-men was very difficult. I still remember how hard I was on Scott when I broke up with him. I didn’t want to. Even though I knew it was coming, I had to be the bitch so he could move on without me messing his life up.

A part of me still loves Scott Summers. A part of me always will. He’s a genuine, decent man in a world that desperately needs them. Even if I did love him from the beginning, I don’t deserve a man like him. My heart is too hardened. I know that Jean Grey can love him in a way I can’t. I sensed it in her mind when I last saw them. They truly love each other. I may never know that feeling. I still don’t know if I deserve it. After my messy departure from the X-men, it may be a long time before I can earn it.

When I left the institute, I felt lower than I had ever felt before. Shaw didn’t give me any additional instructions. I was just to cut ties with the X-men and stay in contact with him until the time was right. He sent updates about my Cuckoos as a means to keep me in line. It’s disgusting how well it worked. I tried to drown my sorrows in less meaningful aspirations. I used some of Xavier’s connections to find work on Wall Street. I got a job at an upstart hedge fund. Within a year I had taken over since the manager was too inept to handle numbers with more than seven digits. All that business savvy and greed actually worked to my advantage. That along a touch of telepathy and suddenly I was the pretty young blond who commanded absurd sums of money.

It wasn’t a very noble profession. It wasn’t as devious as blackmailing or sex work either. It was a job to fill the hours. As the years went by, I worked myself into contentment. I ran a tight ship at that fund. I surprised a lot of people with my cunning. For a while my fund was the fastest growing fund on Wall Street. I was acquiring wealth that matched and exceeded what my family once had. Yet I didn’t take much comfort in it. I could go on spending sprees that lasted for days and that wouldn’t make me feel better. I was still Shaw’s little pawn.

When the time came to cash in his favor, he made sure I suffered. The bastard used the trust I had earned with the X-men to carry out his elaborate plot for the Phoenix Force. The whole time I was powerless to warn my friends. I had to stand by while Shaw and his cronies abducted the X-men. I had to stand by while the Inner Circle conducted that insane ritual on Jean Grey. Even if she was sleeping with my ex-boyfriend, she didn’t deserve what they did to her. All the while I was helpless. I knew if I did anything, my Cuckoos would suffer.

Lucky for everybody, Shaw and the Inner Circle underestimated the X-men. They overpowered and outsmarted those megalomaniacal snobs. I can’t recall a more satisfying sight than seeing Sebastian Shaw get clawed by Wolverine. That’s what allowed me to break rank and help my friends. Although by the end, I don’t think they saw me as a friend. I lied to them and let others use me. Those are hardly the qualities of an X-man.

I didn’t find out how the Phoenix incident turned out until later. My betrayal almost led to the destruction of everything and I do mean EVERYTHING. After a stunt like that, I couldn’t face the X-men. Not without performing an act of penance. I could no longer afford to just rebuild my soul. I had to go above and beyond. So I set out with a new ambition…one that would follow in the spirit of the X-men.

Emma rose up from her slouched position. Looking around, she saw the fruits of her labor thus far. She had taken the lessons of Charles Xavier essentially copied it, creating her own school with very similar aspirations. She was no longer a student or an X-man. She was playing the role of mentor like Charles had done. It was an act that required a faith in humanity that she once thumbed her nose at. There was no more fitting way to repent for past sins and embrace that sliver of light that she almost lost.

Now with a more confident poise, Emma collected herself from her latest round of self-loathing. She put on the demeanor of someone who commanded respect. Her spirit had been molded in the Inner Circle and the X-men. Through these conflicting influences, she struggled to find just the right balance.

I started first by rescuing my daughters. For this I enlisted James Proudstar, John’s irresponsible older brother who needed to do some penance of his own. Then he helped me recruit Sunfire and Dr. Nemesis, two other mutants with a troubled history and a desire to sleep better at night. With the money I made from my hedge fund, I founded the Academy of Tomorrow. It wasn’t just a new place for my Cuckoos. I opened my doors to all young mutants in need of a nurturing environment. Those old teaching aspirations I had as a little girl took on a new meaning. So too did the idea of motherhood.

The Cuckoos have been the benchmark as to how I’ve handled myself with these children. Introducing myself to my daughters was awkward to say the very least. They were already in the mindset of teenagers. I don’t know how Shaw aged them into adolescence and filled in all the blanks of a childhood. I suspect he had someone like Mastermind help them, but I suppose I’m better off not knowing. The Cuckoos were confused. They had been prisoners and now they were free. I had to show them how to be free. That meant being both a teacher and a mother.

They provided a nice stepping stone for when I started welcoming in students. Since the X-men were fighting much bigger battles, I worked with Sunfire and Warpath to reach out to a new generation of mutants. As these confused and often scared young mutants came through my doors, I had the daunting task of keeping them from walking the same path I did. My approach is a bit different than Xavier’s in that I teach my students to be strong and master their powers in the same way I did with mine. It’s not always smooth, but my students have responded. I see them and my Cuckoos getting stronger by the day.

The students look up to me now. They don’t just fear me. They respect me. My Cuckoos naturally see me a bit differently. They still call me Miss Frost. I would rather not go by the mother label when I’m still in my twenties. I had to pay special attention to them. I used my talents to help them. I helped repair their damaged minds. I gave them some sense of normalcy at least on the surface. I’m not sure if Shaw left some deeper scars that need healing. Even after being stabbed, he found ways to open new ones.

Most recently, he used my two remaining daughters, Sophie and Esme, to torment me. His bastard son had the audacity to use them so he could steal tech secrets from Genosha, no doubt as a means to impress his monster of a father. I used to do the same thing with my father and now I see how ugly it can get. It was only appropriate that Scott and Jean were there to help me. They fought by my side even after I betrayed their trust and their love. It’s another demonstration of how they’ll have more heart than I could ever hope for. Even with that heart, it wasn’t enough to save my daughters.

Esme and Sophie died because of Shaw’s madness and my inability to do the right thing sooner. Maybe if I had taken a chance beforehand, I could have saved them all. The best I did is get back on Scott and Jean’s good side. That’s hardly a consolation to my Cuckoos. Who knows how devastating this latest incident will be?

While Emma tried to stand firm in wake of her failures, he heard a renewed commotion from the foyer. Celeste, Phoebe, and Mindee had emerged from the bathroom. They were wearing their new outfits. They were excited and giddy, walking proudly out in the open as Emma herself was known to do. When they saw her looking down from the staircase, they gazed up and smiled.

“What do you think, Miss Frost?” said Phoebe, doing a little pose.

“Are we up to your standards of being fabulous?” asked Mindee.

“Anything less would be unacceptable!” said Celeste.

Emma had to hide all her conflicting emotions in the face of her daughters. Looking at them and the way they stood so confidently before her, she couldn’t help but smile. These girls had endured a horrible loss with their two sisters. They endured an equally horrible ordeal as Shaw’s twisted science experiments. Yet these girls that embodied so much of her being could still smile. Like her, they had that shining light inside them. Unlike her, it would not be shrouded in darkness.

“You look more than fabulous, my girls. You’re astonishing,” she told him, “Now you have a responsibility to maintain that style. To maintain one’s style is a mark of strength. You’re going to be strong for me, aren’t you?”

“Yes ma’am!” they all said in unison.

Emma’s smile grew as she felt warm feeling inside her. She watched as her Cuckoos high-fived each other. They were proving stronger than she had ever been when she was their age. For all their losses and the burden of being her offspring, the Stepford Cuckoos had spirit. It was the kind of spirit that even Sebastian Shaw couldn’t taint.

My girls are in a better position than I ever was. The Academy of Tomorrow will give them an environment to thrive in. They were the first official students. They’ve since been joined by the likes of Julian Keller, Sam Guthrie, Roberto Da Costa, Tabitha Smith, Noriko Ashida, and Daniel Moonstar. They’re part of a new generation of X-men, whom I’ve dubbed X-Factor. With them are dozens more aspiring young mutants who need a non-corruptive force to help them find their place. They follow the example that Charles Xavier set with the X-men. It may involve running around in masks and making good headlines for the papers, but it goes a long way towards the future of our kind.

My daughters and my students are my life now. Our recent success in subduing and recruiting Rockslide shows me that I’m doing the right thing. This school is my way of repenting for a lifetime of greed. I may still be a bitch, but I’m a bitch with a heart. That heart has been tested. My family tried to break it. The Inner Circle tried to break it. Sebastian Shaw tried to break it. They all failed. With help from the X-men, I’m my own queen.


Next Issue: Sage

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