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Uprising Part 4
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Professor Charles Xavier has dedicated his life to peace. Together with his X-men, a group of gifted young mutants, they fight for understanding in a world that hates and fears them. But now, Professor Xavier and his X-men find themselves in the middle of an escalating war.

It started on the island nation of Genosha where a tyrannical dictator, Cameron Hodge, was developing radical anti-mutant technology. Having imprisoned his island’s mutant population, he boasted to the world that no mutant could oppose his system. After an attack on a Genoshan embassy in Washington, he prepared to show the world the capabilities of his power.

But some mutants fought back. Led by Magneto and his Brotherhood, an army of mutants stormed the Genoshan coast in a bold uprising meant to show the world that a new era of mutant domination was at hand. The X-men flew in to try and mitigate the conflict, but everybody was in for a surprise when Hodge revealed his ultimate weapon, the sentinels. Composed of an army of massive robot humanoids, these powerful weapons of war threatened to squash the mutant uprising before it began.

However, Magneto had other plans. Having overtaken Genosha’s communication systems, he took control of the sentinels and now plans to use them to make a statement against humanity.

Main Research Facility – Observation Deck

The world stood on the cusp of total breakdown. Millions if not billions just watched Magneto deliver his ultimatum to the world. He was going to attack humanity on a global scale, only this time he didn’t just have an army of mutants supporting him. He had an army of sentinels as well. All over the world, leaders and citizens alike were cowering at the prospect of Magneto’s wrath. For Charles Xavier, however, the battle wasn’t over yet.

Like the rest of the world, he saw Magneto’s broadcast through the elaborate Genoshan systems. He and Beast had been working feverishly to thwart the sentinels. Now they were going to have to thwart Magneto as well. Storm could only watch anxiously as Magneto began guiding his new sentinel army into a full scale attack.

“Good heavens,” she gasped as she watched the video feed from the sentinels, “He’s really going to do it. Magneto’s going to wage a war on all humanity!”

“Do not despair yet, Ororo,” said Beast, maintaining a calm demeanor, “Our nemesis is not in the clear yet.”

“What do you mean?”

While Beast remained focused on the console, Xavier explained.

“Think back to the attack we witnessed on one of the garrisons. I knew there had to be a reason behind it. As it turns out, he wasn’t after Hodge or Genosha’s army. He was after Hodge’s weapons. He must have figured out that he was commanding and coordinating them using an array of communications networks that each garrison is linked to. Why else would he go so far as to conscript his whole population to defend it?”

“So this network is the key to controlling the sentinels?” she surmised.

“Not quite,” said the Professor, “The sentinels are governed by an AI. But they are subject to commands delivered by Hodge himself. Magneto must have known this when he had the Brotherhood take one over and override the system. That way he could send his own signal. He was able to deliver a fine tuned electromagnetic surge attuned to a resonant frequency that overwhelmed the central neural…”

At that point Storm lost track. Unlike Beast or the Professor, she was not a Nobel laureate when it came to physics.

“Okay, I get it. He took control of them,” she said, her head already hurting from these revelations, “How do we stop it?”

“By exploiting the one thing he didn’t take into account,” said Beast, grinning as he brought up a new screen.

“And what’s that?”

“Our ability to access the AI, which is still active and receptive to orders,” he said as he issued a few more commands, “Hodge may be misguided, but he’s no fool. There is a failsafe for these machines. It’s just a matter of activating it in the proper way.”

Beast sounded confident, which helped reassure Storm of their chances. But as she looked at images of Magneto leading his new sentinel army, she was still concerned. Even if they could stop the sentinels, that wouldn’t stop the master of magnetism from continuing his fight.

“What about Magneto? I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have a built in failsafe.”

It was a valid concern. Professor Xavier had been contemplating that very issue. While keeping an eye on the feed from the sentinels, he checked in with the rest of the X-men using his telepathy. They were still busy fighting the battle, but if what he sensed in them was any indication their chances of ending this were much better.

“I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that either, Storm,” said Xavier with a knowing grin, “It appears the X-men have taken the necessary measures.”

Outside Genosha Garrison

The battle had been taxing on the Brotherhood just as it had been for the rest of Magneto’s mutant army. With the sentinels gone and only minor pockets of resistance from Hodge’s henchmen, the Brotherhood gathered themselves in the midst of chaos and destruction. Many mutants were rejoicing at the sight of Magneto taking charge with the sentinels while others struggled to process what they had just gone through, taking in the sight of the dead and injured. But the most troubling casualty of all for the Brotherhood was Pietro, who lay on the charred battlefield dying in the arms of his sister.

The wounded speedster lay dying in the arms of his sister, Wanda. For her, it was a surreal moment. She remained lost in a daze, holding his bloodied body. Lorna flew down to join her. She gasped at the sight of her wounded half-brother. Tears formed in her eyes as she knelt down next to Wanda. The rest of the Brotherhood gathered around as well. They were soon joined by many other mutants from Magneto’s army.

“Oh man, Pietro…” said Avalanche, gagging at the sight.

“Poor bugger,” said Pyro, “Guess he wasn’t fast enough to avoid that.”

Wanda looked up and shot Pyro an angry glare.

“Shut up! All of you, just shut up!” she cried, “This…this wasn’t supposed to happen. Father promised he would protect us from this.”

“Father promises a lot of things,” said Lorna, placing a hand on Wanda’s shoulder to help calm her down, “I guess he has other priorities.”

Wanda shifted bitterly. She believed in her father. She trusted that he would get them through this without any serious losses. It was naïve of her to think he would be able to keep his word. But that didn’t make this hurt any less.

“Look on the bright side, Wanda. We still won, didn’t we?” said Toad, trying to sound encouraging.

“Maybe some of us did,” she said distantly, “But it sure doesn’t feel like a victory.”

It should have been a moment of triumph. Hodge’s forces were retreating. The sentinels were now theirs to control. But Wanda took no satisfaction in such a moment. Nobody in the Brotherhood or the other mutants knew what to say. Then an unexpected voice interrupted this surreal moment.

“It doesn’t have to be this way, Wanda,” said Cyclops as he arrived at the scene on an ice slide with Iceman and Rogue.

“You gotta be kidding me! X-men?!” groaned Avalanche as he took an aggressive stance.

“Stand down, Lance!” ordered Wanda.

Tears were still in her eyes as she looked up at the incoming X-men. Only Lorna seemed happy to see them, especially Bobby.

“Lorna?!” he exclaimed upon seeing her.

“Bobby!” she said as she ran up to him after he landed.

Despite a plenty of confusion on Iceman’s part, he didn’t say a word as Lorna threw her arms around him and pulled him into a firm hug. He was still reeling from the battle in the prison dome and feeling Lorna in his arms was a welcome and appropriate feeling.

While Bobby reunited with his girlfriend, Cyclops approached Wanda. Rogue and Angel, who flew in close behind, joined as well. They were all shocked by the sight of a wounded Pietro. But they didn’t take an aggressive stance.

“Oh man, he looks pretty bad,” said Angel as he knelt down near Pietro

“Get away from him!” demanded Wanda, “What are you doing here?!”

“Take it easy, Wanda. We’re not here to fight,” said the X-leader.

“Dang, and here I was hoping to get another crack at you punks,” grunted Blob.

“Keep talking, lard-ass. Ya may get your chance,” quipped Rogue.

Blob was ready to attack for that remark. Many more of Magneto’s army was just as willing. But Wanda didn’t let it get that far. She fired a hex bolt into the air to signal everyone to stay back. She didn’t like the X-men any more than the rest of the Brotherhood, but she could tell they were being sincere.

“What do you want, Cyclops? The fight is over,” said Wanda.

“You’re right. It is over. And nobody has won,” said Cyclops.

“What are you talking about? Didn’t you see Magneto take control of the sentinels?!” exclaimed Toad.

“Hodge has been contained. His regime is officially over. And Professor Xavier is about to take the sentinels offline…permanently,” said the X-leader firmly.

“What? Have you completely lost it?!” exclaimed Pyro, “Magneto was going to use those things to end this war!”

“No, he was just going to start another,” said Cyclops, “The losses you’ve suffered here…they’ll be nothing compared to what he’ll unleash. That’s why we’re stopping him before it gets to that point. And if we do, we can to stop the bloodshed here and now. But only if you’re willing to work with us.”

“Yeah right! Why would we ever want to work with you?” scoffed Avalanche.

Cyclops then turned to Rogue, who still had the healing and shape shifting powers she absorbed earlier from a couple of prisoners. She nodded, knowing full well what he was hinting at. She didn’t like the idea of working with the Brotherhood either. But she could see why this was necessary.

“If you doubt us, consider this a token of our sincerity,” said Cyclops, “Rogue, you know what to do.”

“Ah’m on it, sugah,” she affirmed.

Despite Wanda’s protective hold on her brother, Rogue knelt down so she was hovering over his body. She tapped into the healing power she absorbed, causing her hand to glow in a soft blue halo. Then with determined focus, she waved her hand over Pietro’s wounds. The soothing light quickly engulfed his body and before the eyes of Wanda and everyone else present, his bloodied wounds were miraculously healed.

“Hnn…” groaned the speedster, blood still dripping from his mouth.

“Pietro!” gasped Wanda upon hearing his voice.

With a final sweep, the light faded and Rogue rose up and stepped back. She didn’t have enough power to heal him completely. He was still sore, battered, and very weak. But he would survive. Through the pain and confusion, Pietro Maximoff awoke to a very relieved sister and an unexpected sight.

“Ugh…Wanda,” said Pietro in a raspy voice, “What…what the hell are the X-men doing here?”

“So much for gratitude,” muttered Rogue.

“I’d still take it,” commented Angel, “That’s the biggest compliment you’ll ever get from Quicksilver.”

Despite her brother’s poor manners, Wanda managed to smile. She felt a great sense of relief as did Lorna, who was still in Bobby’s arms. She smiled back at Wanda, showing her sense of relief as well. Many of the other mutants from Magneto’s army shared their sentiment. The X-men were good at gaining the right credibility. The rest of the Brotherhood was still apprehensive though, but they begrudgingly kept silent.

It left Wanda at an impasse. The X-men just helped her even though she and the Brotherhood had started this war. And if what they said was true about her father they would be faced with a difficult choice. Either keep fighting or try and salvage whatever peace they could. And after what just happened with her brother her choice was clear.

“Do you understand now, Wanda?” said Cyclops, “Are you willing to hear us out? We can’t end this without you and the Brotherhood.”

Wanda stood up to face her father’s enemies. Swallowing her pride, she turned to the mutant army behind her who were awaiting her decision and then back to Cyclops.

“What do you need us to do?” she said.

Cyclops smiled as did the rest of the X-men. Few ever thought they would live to see the day when the Brotherhood humbled themselves like this, but if they were to end this in the best possible way they needed to work together. The rest of the Brotherhood didn’t seem to happy with it, but none were willing to oppose Wanda at this point. She made it clear she was now in charge.

But before they could start discussing their plans, Lorna noticed something strange.

“Hey wait a minute, where’s that Wolverine guy?” she asked.

The rest of the X-men held back their laughter. They were surprised it took them this long to notice. But it was bound to come up sooner or later.

“He…caught another ride,” said Iceman with an ominous grin, “But don’t worry. He’ll catch up.”

Moments Ago

It seemed as though the X-men were too late. Just as the garrison on the coast came into sight, they watched as Magneto took control of the sentinels. Using the antenna array from the complex, he summoned sentinels from all over the island. Soon the sky was filled with the giant robot humanoids. They were all heading towards their new master and that didn’t bode well for the outcome of this conflict.

“Oh man, it looks like we’re too late,” said Iceman anxiously, “Magneto’s already in his supreme/overlord triumphant pose.”

“What in the hell is he doing anyways?” wondered Rogue.

“Looks like he’s taking control of the sentinels,” surmised Cyclops, “This must be his endgame.”

“Magneto and the sentinels on the same side? Oh we have so gotta stop this!” grunted Wolverine.

“No argument here, Wolverine. Any idea how?” said Iceman skeptically.

It did seem like an unwinnable battle at this point. With the sentinels on his side, Magneto would be virtually unstoppable. It was something they had to stop.

“I already know how,” said the former living weapon as he turned to Angel, “Wings, ya think you can fly me up to one of those?”

“Why what are you going to do? Hitch a ride?” scoffed the winged mutant.

“Yep! You got a better way to get close to Magneto?”

Angel looked at him strangely. He couldn’t possibly be serious. But he quickly recalled the last conversation he had with Wolverine. He was not one to kid around or make jokes. If he said he had a plan then he was dead serious.

“That’s crazy, Wolverine!” exclaimed Rogue.

“I know,” he replied, “Which is why it’s gonna work.”

He then turned back to Angel.

“Now are you gonna fly me up or am I gonna have to claw my way onto one of those things?”

“You know I would say that’s a risky, foolhardy idea at best. But when has that ever stopped us before?” shrugged Angel.

“Never, now let’s stop the chit-chat and get going!”

But before Angel could take off with Wolverine, Cyclops stepped in.

“Wait!” he said, stopping the feral mutant in his path.

“You’re not gonna try and stop me, are ya Summers?” growled Wolverine.

“Would that even slow you down?” quipped the X-leader, “Just be careful up there. While I know it may be tempting, don’t kill Magneto. Just stop him.”

“Yeah right!” he scoffed, “After all the shit he’s pulled?”

“I mean it, Wolverine,” said Cyclops seriously, “Make sure he survives. He’ll have to if we’re going to put an end to this.”

“And how the hell are we gonna do that?”

Cyclops looked towards the garrison where he saw the Brotherhood in the distance. They looked distressed about something. In all his training with the X-men, one of the most difficult aspects of being a leader was finding a solution for an impossible situation. In his experiences, a solution wasn’t always possible. Only compromise would work. And compromise always required a certain sacrifice by both parties. This was one of them.

“I have a plan,” he said assertively, “For it to work, we need Magneto to live. I know you don’t like me, Wolverine. But you’re an X-man and I need you to trust me. This may be our only chance to end this.”

The idea of trusting Cyclops never held much appeal for Wolverine. But as much as he disliked him, he had seen first hand how the X-leader was able to handle himself. He could win battles with tactics he wasn’t good with. Even though there was still plenty of bitterness between them, Cyclops never let it stop him from respecting him as an X-man. The least he could do was return the favor.

“Fine…I’ll be gentle,” muttered Wolverine, “But you better know what you’re doing, bub! You don’t get second chances in games like this!”

“I know the stakes, Logan,” assured Cyclops, “You do your part and I’ll do mine. We’re a team. We’ll only get through this if we work like one.”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it. Teamwork solves everything,” he said dryly, “You’re like a freakin’ infomercial!”

“It helps to reinforce the point,” shrugged Angel, “Now come on. If you’re going to do this crazy stunt we better hurry before we run out of sentinels for you to jump.”

Rolling his eyes, Wolverine grabbed Angel by the arms as he flew him up into the sky where the last few sentinels were on their way to join Magneto. But before he was out of sight Cyclops, Rogue, and Iceman silently wished him luck. Wolverine was crazy but bold to take on Magneto with a sentinel army at his back, but if anyone could take him down it was him.

“Ah hope he doesn’t get himself killed up there,” mused Rogue.

“He’ll be fine,” said Cyclops confidently, “The Professor said he and Beast were almost done on their end. We better make sure we’re clear on ours.”

“And how are we going to do that?” said Iceman skeptically, “Team up with the Brotherhood?”

Cyclops suppressed a grin as he got back on the ice slide with Rogue and Iceman.

“Something like that,” he said, “We just have to stop the fighting. It’s the only way we can end this once and for all.”

Over The Indian Ocean

Flying high over vast stretches of ocean, Magneto stood on the shoulder of one of the sentinels as he led his new advanced army on a new attack. He was focused in a way he had never been before. At last he had the means strike at the corrupt human order. Every army of every country, every institution of every society, and every citizen of every nation would soon know that their era of dominance was ending. If it cost the lives of thousands if not millions of humans and mutants, including that of his son, so be it.

In the waters blow, Magneto saw his first target. A large collection of naval vessels, both military and private, were stationed in a vast blockade around the waters of Genosha. Among them were aircraft carriers, battleships, cruisers, and nuclear submarines that were currently surfaced. He could tell from the flags that they were from many different nations including America, Germany, France, Britain, India, Russia, and China. Apparently all the major players in the international game were taking an interest on the affairs of Genosha. They seemed poised to strike the moment things got out of hand, but that time had long since passed. With the world watching, he prepared to demonstrate his new power.

“Is this all humanity has to offer?” he scoffed.

The master of magnetism took to the air, again and with seething intent ordered five sentinels to fly out ahead of them and charge their primary weapons. On the ships below, crew members and civilians alike watched with dread as Magneto commanded his sentinel army against him.

“Dear God…” said an American admiral, “Sound the alarm! Order every ship to fire on that son-of-a-bitch now!”

The crews of the ships scrambled to their stations, manning every anti-aircraft gun and surface-to-air missile they had available. Even ships from other countries followed the warning of the American fleet, arming whatever weapons they had and firing them directly at Magneto. Soon missiles and bullets filled the air, all of which were locked on the master of magnetism.

“Pitiful,” he scoffed, not even remotely phased.

With a casual gesture, several sentinels flew out ahead of him and started shooting down the missiles with their hand-mounted lasers. As for the many bullets that came his way, he casually deflected them with a magnetic field. Not one attack got through to him or his sentinels. There was no stopping him. Now it was his turn.

“You all had your chance,” mused Magneto, “You’ve had many chances and you have squandered them all. Now all homo sapiens will suffer the long overdue consequences of their savagery!”

With another forceful gesture, he ordered the sentinels to fire their primary energy weapons. In a single simultaneous attack, the five sentinels he commanded unleashed their blasts. They were all targeted at different parts of the blockade and all would strike with similar ferocity.

“Hit the deck!” yelled many of the ships commanders.

Five enormous blue balls of energy struck right at the base of the fleet, exploding in a blinding flash of light just above the water. Huge shockwaves and devastating blasts toppled the massive vessels. The aircraft carriers were ground zero for the blast. Representing the heads of the fleets, Magneto knew if they were taken out there would be no possibility of a counterstrike. The blast made quick work of them. Some had their hulls literally blown open as if they were made of tin foil. Even for the ships not in the blast radius, the explosions caused titanic waves that capsized many of the smaller vessels and even sent some surfaced submarines tumbling into the water.

Thousands of horrified sailors abandoned ship and leapt desperately into the choppy waters below. Any ship that remained seaworthy were scattered and disorganized, rendering any hopes of a counterattack all but impossible. Many ship commanders ordered a retreat. Some bravely stood by and tried to fight. But regardless of their response, their fates would all be the same. They were the lucky ones. These were just the first casualties in a far greater conflict to come.

“How does it feel?” seethed the master of magnetism, making sure his voice was still being broadcasted all over the world, “For too long you’ve oppressed, subdued, and dominated those deemed inferior! Now you are all inferior! A lesser creature doomed to extinction to make way for a stronger, superior species! It is the mutants of the world that shall henceforth reign supreme! Any that oppose us will face oblivion! Every man, woman, and child all of the world must bow down and submit to…”

But before Magneto could finish delivering his message, he was cut off. Without warning, the sentinels started shorting out. The glowing red lights in their eyes started flashing ominously and every unit in sight began thrashing erratically. Stunned, Magneto tried to reassert control. But they weren’t responding.

“Warning. Fatal error detected. AI compromised. Backups failing.”

Grunting in frustration, Magneto tried to hold the failing machines up with his powers.

“You miserable piles of scrap! You can’t fail on me now! I’m so close! My dream is finally within my reach! I will not be denied!”

But while Magneto was struggling to keep the sentinels upright, a familiar presence emerged from one behind him.

“Hey Magneto!” growled Wolverine from the shoulder of the robot humanoid, “Do the world a favor and shut the fuck up!”

With a feral roar, Wolverine leapt off the failing machine and plunged towards the hovering master of magnetism. Cyclops was right. Professor Xavier and Beast did come through. They took care of the sentinels. Now he was going to take care of Magneto.

The master of magnetism barely had time to react as he turned around and saw the feral mutant plunging towards him. He was about to strike back with a magnetic pulse, but before he could Wolverine tumbled into him and grabbed him by the neck. His concentration broken, Magneto’s magnetic hold on himself and the sentinels failed and they all plunged towards the choppy waters below.

For Wolverine, the only struggle was not choking him to death. He was tempted to just plunge his claws into this madman and end it on the spot. But he made a promise to the rest of the X-men that he would spare the master of magnetism…this time anyways. He knew full well Magneto wasn’t going to make it easy for him. He was a man with an adamantium skeleton fighting a man that could bend metal any way he wanted. He had to deliver the finishing blow now before it was too late.

X-men Supreme Issue 20: Uprising Part 4 Pic 1

“Ack! Wolverine!” choked Magneto in a rage as he struggled under Wolverine’s grip.

“Don’t tell me you’re surprised, bub!” growled Wolverine as the fell faster.

His head was starting to spin as they tumbled through the air with Logan clutching his throat. He was on the verge of passing out when he finally managed to summon his powers to resist the feral mutant. But it wasn’t enough to make him let go.

“You’ve already lost!” he choked out, “Don’t…you see? It’s over! Mutants…have won! And still…the X-men dare defy me?!”

“Defy this!”

Despite the magnetic resistance, Wolverine managed to lunge forth and head butt the master of magnetism head on. Thanks to his metal skull, it was enough to knock him out cold. It even knocked his helmet off, ensuring he wouldn’t be waking up anytime soon.

With Magneto out cold, Wolverine grabbed hold of him and shifted their bodies so that he was under him and would take the brunt end of the impact. The clear ocean waters were coming up fast. If he was to keep his promise to spare this man, he was going to have to endure his share of pain.

“I outta let you die. Hell, nothing would make me happier right now!” grunted Wolverine as he kept a firm hold on the unconscious Magneto, “Even if I’m a monster, I’m an X-man first! Remember that because you may not be so lucky next time!”

The former living weapon braced himself as he impacted the water at terminal velocity. It was like hitting a wall of cement, but it was nothing he couldn’t survive. Gritting his teeth through the impact he made sure Magneto didn’t hit too hard or stay underwater too long. After shaking off the sting, Wolverine swam to the surface with the unconscious Magneto on his back. He surfaced just in time to watch the army of sentinels plunge into the water. It was quite a sight, watching the once deadly machines fall lifelessly into the water. But it was a satisfying sight. It signaled the end of this chaotic conflict.

After enduring some rough waves, Wolverine swam over to a nearby sentinel that was still floating. He dragged Magneto along with him and pulled him up onto the lifeless humanoid where he could catch his breath and dry off. Once safely atop the sentinel he saw a number of motorboats heading his way. Wolverine was able to make out that they were representatives of the American and British Navy with other soldiers from the UN. Magneto had done a lot of damage. Now humans and mutant alike were going to have to work it out.

“Guess the easy part is over,” sighed Wolverine as the boats drew near, “Now comes the real challenge…cleaning up Magneto’s mess.”

White House – Oval Office

Like much of the world, the president and his staff watched the events on Genosha unfold. From the moment Hodge unveiled his sentinels to the ominous message Magneto broadcasted all over the world, they saw the whole thing. Now it was over. His navel chief just informed him that they apprehended Magneto and was in UN custody. Live broadcasts from spy planes indicated that the fighting had stopped. Cameron Hodge had been officially defeated. But before the world could begin processing the grave implications of this affair, Professor Charles Xavier sent out another global message using the same signal Magneto had used.

“This is Professor Charles Xavier, founder of the X-men and a lifelong proponent of peace. This message is to inform the world that the battle on Genosha is over. Cameron Hodge and his sentinel army has been subdued. Magneto, leader of the Brotherhood and the instigator of this uprising, has also been defeated. His followers have agreed to stop fighting and Hodge’s subordinates have laid down their arms.”

The news was a bittersweet revelation to everyone, including the president. But there were still those who saw this as a mutant-led conflict and Xavier made it clear that there was more to this than anyone could have realized.

“What happened today was needless and cruel. It had little to do with the human/mutant conflict. In addition to this broadcast I am sending out a global message through the internet that will soon be received by millions, civilian and government alike. This message will contain details surrounding Hodge’s devious plans to use mutants and the sentinels to seize power on a global scale. It also contains details of the horrendous abuses he’s inflicted on his mutant population and even his own citizens.”

Images on the broadcast played out all over the world, detailing the prison dome under which so many mutants suffered. He also showed images of the dire poverty his citizens lived under. They were disturbing if not sickening. It confirmed for the president what so many in the international community had feared. For all of Cameron Hodge’s grandstanding, he was still just a tyrant.

“While I understand many remain fearful over these complicated affairs, I urge the leaders of the world to set aside their uncertainties and help us restore peace. My X-men are working with the citizens of Genosha and Magneto’s mutant army to ensure a reasonable and peaceful resolution. But we can only succeed with help from the rest of the world. That is why I invite authorities, international and otherwise, to come to Genosha and help us settle this matter. I understand it will not resolve every issue concerning mutants and humans, but it is my sincere hope that it take us off the path to war. Further instructions will be relayed shortly. Thank you and I hope that together we can get back to fostering peace.”

The broadcast ended with those words of hope. It left the president and much of his staff speechless. Even Senator Robert Kelly, who had been a supporter of Cameron Hodge’s initiative, was at a loss for words. Clearly the president had a decision to make and his decision may set the tone for what many other countries would do. He could place his trust in this controversial figure or continue the conflict in hopes of attaining a more favorable outcome.

After being deceived by Hodge and coming so close to total chaos under Magneto, conflict was the last thing on anybody’s mind. Mutants were still the subject of fear and mistrust, but after this nobody would be willing to start another fight. Nobody would be able to contain their outrage either. People like Senator Kelly who said mutants were dangerous were somewhat vindicated. But that didn’t mean conflict was the solution.

All eyes were on the president now. His joint chiefs and advisors were looking to him for a decision. What he chose now could very well lead them down a tenuous new path in the course of global affairs.

“Well Mr. President? What do you think?” said the secretary of state, “Should we go along with Charles Xavier?”

“Excuse me, but I don’t think it’s right to make such a decision right now,” argued Senator Kelly, “We don’t even know if we can trust this man!”

“I would lower your voice if I were you, Senator,” said one of the joint chiefs firmly, “You were the one saying we should throw our support behind Hodge and look what he turned out to be.”

The senator begrudgingly conceded. His trust in that madman really was misplaced. It was a mistake he would have to make sure he didn’t make again.

“Point taken,” he said bitterly, “But that doesn’t mean that I’m wrong.”

The senator then turned back to the president.

“Mr. President, I know it’s been a long day and we’re all reeling, but that doesn’t mean you need to take this kind of a risk. Even if he is telling the truth, that doesn’t mean he and those X-men of his will be able to keep up their end. We may get caught up in a conflict that will only make things worse in the long run!”

The president took a moment to digest the senator’s words. He looked at his advisors and then back at the TV screen with Charles Xavier’s image still blaring. This was a big decision for a president whose term was almost up. But if he was going to make a lasting impression on his final term, he might as well take a chance. With his legacy and the future of the world in mind, the commander-in-chief made his decision.

“Thank you for your concerns, Senator. I assure you I’m not taking this lightly,” he said as he stood up and addressed his staff, “But regardless of what we all think about mutants, I think it’s safe to say that nobody wants war. And if this Charles Xavier is out for peace, we owe it to ourselves and the world to hear him out.”

Genosha – 3 Days Later

Professor Charles Xavier knew from experience that peace was not an easy cause to fight for. All too often, human nature got in the way. Magneto said it himself. Humans fear what they don’t understand and when complicated situations arise it is only natural to fear any resolution, even a peaceful one. But there were some aspects of human nature that worked to his advantage. When given a choice between peace and war, by and large people chose peace. He boldly gave the leaders of the world a chance to make that choice and they thankfully chose peace.

In only a matter of days a massive international task force was assembled. After the President of the United States made his decision to take up his offer, over 100 nations signed on and joined in the rebuilding process. Hoards of troops, diplomats, and UN personnel descended upon the island nation. News crews from all over the world arrived to cover the affair amid tight security. Together with the X-men, they started picking up the pieces. Wanda made sure the Brotherhood and the remnants of Magneto’s mutant army cooperated. Even the mutants who had been prisoners under Hodge cooperated. But there were still many issues left to be resolved.

Just outside the main palace in the capital city, Xavier wheeled his wheelchair out onto the same balcony Cameron Hodge once stood on. Standing beside him were Scott and Hank. They watched as legions of Genoshan citizens followed UN peacekeeping troops to the major port just outside the capital. Along the way they passed by hundreds of mutants, who were using their powers to clean up debris and set up new dwellings.

“I have to hand it to you, Charles. You really pulled one out of the proverbial fire,” said Hank, “It’s amazing how so many nations are working together to lay this matter to rest.”

“I’m as surprised as you, old friend,” smiled Xavier, “The politics of this situation may be complicated, but that doesn’t mean the politicians can’t be reasonable.”

“Who ever would have guessed?” Scott chuckled, “You even seem to have won the president’s support. And you didn’t even vote for the guy.”

“Thankfully, he doesn’t hold that against me. While I’m relieved they were willing to work with us on this matter, I don’t think we’ll win ourselves many additional allies. There is still a lot of disagreement over the future of Genosha.”

“So I’ve heard,” said Scott in a more serious tone as he watched endless lines of citizens make their way towards the docks, “Hodge really did a number on his people. He sucked away every resource to develop his sentinels. I can’t blame them for wanting to leave.”

“Me neither,” said Hank, “It’s a good thing a number of countries were willing to offer asylum. But I suspect part of it has to do with the mutant prisoners and Magneto’s followers wanting to stay. As brutalized as they were, I think Hodge did a good job of instilling the fear of mutants in them.”

“Indeed,” sighed Xavier, “It’s a shame it must come to this. Five million displaced Genoshans is going to cause strife wherever they go. In addition, an island nation populated almost entirely by mutants is sure to cause further controversy. But so long as all sides are committed to avoiding war, we can only hope it will work out for the better.”

“You believe Wanda Maximoff will stay true to her word? Even after we’ve handed Magneto over to international authorities?” asked Hank warily.

“She’ll keep her word. I know she will,” said Scott strongly.

“What makes you so certain?” wondered Hank.

“I just am,” said the X-leader, “Besides, she is her father’s daughter. Magneto may be a devious man, but he’s still a man of his word. It’s a trait his kids seem to share.”

“Indeed,” said Xavier in agreement.

It seemed reasonable. Looking out towards the port, they could see Wanda helping the other mutants clean up the area and set up new dwellings. There was still some bitterness among the mutant population, especially those that had been prisoners, and they showed it towards the anxious citizens as they were escorted onto boats. But a stern glare from Wanda kept them in check. It came as both a relief and a sign to Xavier and his X-men.

“So what happens now, Professor?” wondered Scott, “We stopped the war, but we’ve got a broken country, five million refugees, an ousted dictator, and a bunch of mutants with nowhere else to go.”

“I wish I knew, Scott,” said Xavier distantly, “This ordeal has greatly changed the status quo for humans and mutants. People are going to be wary of Genosha just as they’ll be wary of us. But our goal will not change. Whatever may happen with Hodge, Magneto, and Genosha, it is our responsibility to ensure that peace prevails over war.”

“I’m sure that will be a challenge, Charles,” said Hank, “But I believe we’re up to it. If we can stare down giant robotic death machines and mutant armies led by Magneto, I’m sure we can do our part as peace brokers.”

“I’m sure we can as well,” said the Professor, “But it’s also worth noting that when the status quo changes, the rules change as well. With the sentinels now public knowledge and the Brotherhood changing their goals, we’ll all face numerous changes. And the X-men must be ready to change with them.”

It seemed like a daunting notion. Change always was. The X-men knew that better than most people. But as they gazed out across the Genoshan landscape where diplomats, government officials, soldiers, mutants, and refugees worked to adjust to this new world accordingly, it was only proper that X-men to adjust with them.

As they watched officials come and go, they saw Wanda Maximoff look up towards them. She was standing on a street corner with the Brotherhood and a number of mutants clearing out sentinel debris, keeping an eye on the convoy of refugees looking to flee the island. She was clearly conflicted over her role in this. With her father imprisoned, she was now the leader by default. Knowing that the X-men played a part in making it possible, there was no shortage of resentment between them. Regardless of her feelings towards them, she kept her end of the deal.

It wasn’t the most peaceful gesture. The human/mutant conflict still hung heavily over both sides. Further conflict had been avoided and that was enough for now.

Genosha Capital City

Wanda Maximoff had been distant since the conflict ended. The events of the past three days were surreal for her. She watched as UN officials hauled her father off for his crimes along with Cameron Hodge. She wasn’t sure what to think because what she thought was a fight to liberate mutants had just been a ploy by a madman looking to gain power. In a ways her father was no better, using the same tactics as Hodge to assert his own agenda. It wasn’t exactly the kind of noble endeavor she wanted to be a part of.

Unlike the rest of the Brotherhood, she believed their cause required the right perspective. To just wage war without provocation didn’t make them liberators. It just made them thugs. Her father didn’t share in her perspective. He would have left her and Pietro to die while he was off conquering humanity. To him, it was a price worth paying for his cause. To her, it was a sacrifice she was not willing to make.

From that reasoning, she made a deal with the X-men. They saved Pietro’s life and spared her father’s in exchange for peace. Considering how easily they could have just let them both die, it was a fair trade. She was certain her father wouldn’t approve of such a deal. A majority of his mutant army didn’t approve either. There were even parts of it she didn’t approve because it wouldn’t grant mutants the justice they deserved. But she made a deal and she was not going back on her word.

At the moment she was watching as the Brotherhood and a number of strength endowed mutants helped demolish some of the decaying and decrepit buildings in the heart of the capital. At the same time a number of military convoys were passing by, transferring non-mutant citizens to the docks where boats were waiting. Occasionally, someone made a snide or crass comment, but one look from her was usually enough to shut them up.

“Three days and you still have that same scowl,” said Lance, who was taking a break from the work, “Your father would be so proud.”

“If you just came here to make comments, save yourself the trouble. I already broke Pyro’s nose and he was trying to cheer me up.”

“I don’t think flirting with you counts as cheering up. It’s just obnoxious,” Lance pointed out, “Then again what do you expect that not job? I’m surprised he’s resisted the urge to pick a fight for this long.”

“He better if he knows what’s good for him,” muttered Wanda, “Otherwise I’ll break more than his nose.”

Lance scoffed as he watched the stoic woman. She tried to hide it, but he could see it in her eyes. She defied her father by working with the X-men. She defied a lot of people by stopping the war. Even if it was for the better, that didn’t mean it was right.

She felt his critical gaze on him and her mood shifted.

“Did you check on Pietro?” she asked distantly.

“Yep,” sighed Lance.

“He’s still not talking to me, is he?”

“Can you blame him? You’re going along with Xavier of all people. Even if you did save his life, don’t expect him to thank you anytime soon.”

“I figured as such. Pietro never was big on gratitude,” sighed Wanda, “But it’s not his scorn that bothers me. It’s my father’s. I know he wouldn’t approve of this. He would have wanted us to keep fighting until the last man, sacrificing life and limb until all of humanity was subdued.”

“So why didn’t you?” asked Lance.

“Because I’m not like him,” she said bitterly, “I can’t make that sacrifice when the cause was built on a lie. You saw that report from Xavier like the rest of the world. Hodge was using us. We weren’t liberators. We were pawns. And I don’t see that kind of sacrifice as being very noble.”

“Why should it matter? The outcome would have been the same.”

“We don’t know that,” said Wanda in a serious tone, “For all we know it could have been the death of our kind. Even if it wasn’t, we would still be no better than Hodge.”

“I don’t see why that would matter,” scoffed Lance.

“It does matter, Lance,” she said strongly, “Maybe not to you or my father, but it really matters. There’s a difference between fighting for a greater cause and just plain fighting. One has a better outcome and the other doesn’t. It may not be popular, but my father always taught me that what’s popular isn’t always what’s right.”

It was an ironic message for her to recall, given there was little doubt her father would have gone about this differently. But her father was a complicated man.

“Mutants will have their time,” assured Wanda, “For now, we do what must to make a better future for ourselves.”

“I don’t see how going along with Xavier is going to do much for our future,” said Lance, “So long as your father’s behind bars, we’re pretty much screwed.”

“I wouldn’t go that far, Lance,” said the Scarlet Witch with hope in her tone, “We have a great opportunity here on Genosha. With so many humans leaving we may for the first time have a land we can call our own…a land where mutants can live and prosper without fear of being oppressed. It may not be on as large a scale as my father envisioned, but it could potentially benefit everybody. If by doing so means I have to defy my father and trust Charles Xavier, then that’s one sacrifice I’m willing to make.”

Lance still wasn’t convinced, but he wasn’t about to make the same mistake Pyro made and test Wanda’s temper. He didn’t like the idea of being privy to the X-men, but Wanda was right about the potential. They had a chance to start anew and further their plans in a different way. At the very least it would give them a much better base of operations than the old lair.

Wanda truly didn’t care if the others weren’t convinced. She made the decision and they were going to go through with it. So long as her father was not involved, they may as well make the best of it. Their cause was shaken, but not deterred. Genosha was once a place of oppression for mutants everywhere. Now it could be a beacon of hope. That was a victory in and of itself.

As for how her father would respond, that was anyone’s guess. For now she would just have to do her best to lead. He would certainly have his say once he got out. Even though Xavier was resolute about Magneto facing justice, Wanda knew better than anybody that no prison could hold him. It was only a matter of time before he returned. And she was going to make sure she was ready.

Genosha Beach

While this ordeal had been difficult on everyone, few people suffered as many complications as Lorna. She got involved in this war under grave circumstances. She was not spurred on by violence or a desire to join a mutant uprising. Her reasons for being here were personal. It revolved around her family and situations she had no control over. Even for someone like her who wielded great power, it made her feel very vulnerable. But now that it was over she could finally step back and take it all in. Standing by her side was Bobby and he was there to support her.

He was surprised enough to see her present when the X-men arrived. Bobby never expected to see her fighting alongside Magneto. And he was relieved to discover that it wasn’t by choice. He knew she was not like the Brotherhood. She was too good-natured to fight on the side of violence. But that only made him more curious as to why she would go along with Magneto in the first place. She avoided the issue ever since the fighting stopped. He respected her wishes, but it was an issue he couldn’t forget.

Together, they walked along a beach near the coast. Bobby was taking a break from helping the X-men. With the cleanup well underway he figured now was as good a good time to catch up with her.

“So how are you holding up?” he asked, holding her hand as he walked with her.

“I’m getting there,” said Lorna, “I caught up with Wanda and Pietro. I’m glad Wanda’s doing her part, but it may be a while before Pietro comes around.”

“I’ll bet. Guess he can’t be fast at everything,” joked Bobby.

That evoked a good laugh. But his expression grew serious again. The mention of Wanda and Pietro brought up just one part of this issue that had been bothering him. It seemed as good a point as any to address it.

“So…” he said distantly, “It’s true then, isn’t it? You are Magneto’s daughter.”

Lorna looked away from him sadly.

“Yes…it’s true,” she affirmed, “I…guess it shouldn’t come as a total shock. As if my powers weren’t a dead giveaway.”

“That or your cunning charm,” said Bobby, trying not to make too much of it, “But why didn’t you tell me about it earlier? I mean yeah, I sort of suspected it. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least talk about it.”

“I know,” she conceded, “It’s just so hard. The issue of my father has always been a touchy subject. My mother always gets a little worked up when I mention it. I can see now why she wanted to keep me from him, but she never explained the details to me.”

“Well the details are a bit hard for any parent to discuss.”

“It’s not those details that concern me,” said Lorna, rolling her eyes, “It’s everything else. I get the feeling there was more to my birth than either she or Magneto are letting on. I just…I don’t know what to make of it.”

Bobby tried to comfort her by pulling her into a warm embrace. She clung to him, swallowing a lump in her throat as she tried to stay strong. But in a situation like this that was a remote possibility at best.

“Is that why you joined him?” asked Bobby, “Because you wanted to know the truth?”

“It’s…part of the reason,” she said as more tears filled her eyes, “Remember the night of our first date? When Wanda and Pietro dropped in and delivered that message to me?”

“How could I forget?” he muttered, “I take it that was a warning shot to prepare you for the truth. I’m sure Magneto does that for all his kids.”

“Not exactly,” said Lorna distantly, “That coming revelation they hinted at…it wasn’t about my father. It was about my mother.”

“What do you mean?” asked Bobby anxiously.

Lorna held back another round of sobs. Even though this conflict was over for everyone else, it was just starting for her.

“She…she’s sick,” she choked out, “A week after they gave me that message she sat me down and told me she got back from the doctors. And they…they think she might have cancer.”

That hit hard. Bobby wasn’t sure how to react. For a moment they stopped walking and he found himself caressing her face.

“Cancer? How bad is it?” he asked her.

“That’s just it. They don’t know!” she cried, “They weren’t able to do the right test. On that same day, my mom found out she was being let go by her job. So we lost our insurance. Now if we couldn’t get to a doctor she could die!”

Bobby tried to calm her down, but she continued to sob.

“I…I was scared. That’s why I started working more and skipping out on our dates,” she said solemnly, “But then Magneto came to me. He said he could help my mother if I helped him with his uprising.”

“Why would he help? Magneto’s not one for compassion, especially humans,” said Bobby curiously.

“I guess he just wanted a reason to get me on his side,” she said bitterly, “I had no choice. He said he knew this mutant, a Morlock, who had the power to diagnose any disease. When I left to join him, that mutant showed up.”

“What did he find out?” asked Bobby intently.

Lorna was silent for a moment, gathering herself as she came to the most difficult part of this issue. She tried to be strong, but the truth was still difficult to digest.

“I don’t know the details, but I know it’s bad,” she said sadly, “Without treatment, she won’t last long. He promised once this was over he would use any means to save her. I’m not sure if he was just leading me on, but if there was any chance to save my mother I had to take it. I know it was wrong. I helped that madman wage a war for crying out loud! But I…I didn’t know what else to do!”

At that point she broke down. She buried her face in Bobby’s shoulder and cried her heart out. So much was bearing down on her. She had the guilt of having helped Magneto, who would have killed millions if the X-men hadn’t stop him. And she had the weight of her dying mother. All Bobby could do was hold in his arms and comfort her as best he could.

“It’s okay Lorna,” he told her softly, “You did nothing wrong.”

“No…I was a coward,” she sobbed.

“You were trying to save your mother. There’s nothing cowardly about that,” he said.

“I just keeled over and went along with him when I could’ve done something! I could’ve…”

“It was a damn near impossible situation, Lorna. You can’t beat yourself up over it,” he said strongly, “Nobody will blame you for wanting to save your mother. Magneto’s the jerk here. He’s the one who used you.”

Bobby held her tighter as Lorna continued to sob. His words helped with the deep guilt she felt. She always tried to be strong, wanting to live up to the heroic standards of the X-men. Helping Magneto wasn’t very heroic even if it was for her mother. Forgiving herself wasn’t going to be easy, but knowing that Bobby forgave her was a good start.

That was still just part of her many problems. Guilt was something she could get over. Lorna still faced a very difficult predicament with her mother.

“Oh god, I must be the unluckiest person alive!” she lamented, “Magneto’s my father and my mother is dying! What the hell am I going to do?”

“Well you can’t do much about Magneto being your father, but we can still help your mother,” said Bobby with a reassuring smile, “I’ll talk to the Professor. I’m sure he’ll help. He’s a cancer survivor himself. He knows all the best doctors. He can get you through this!”

“But Magneto said the cancer is too advanced,” she sobbed, “He said only he had the tools to help her.”

“Magneto says a lot of things and more often than not he’s full of it,” said Bobby strongly, “Lorna, I can’t say I know what you’re going through because I don’t. And I can’t promise you it’ll all work out because I can’t do miracles. It’s not one of my powers. If it was, trust me I’d fix this in a second.”

That brought somewhat of a smile to Lorna even as she wiped the tears from her eyes. But Bobby’s gaze remained sincere as he caressed her face.

“But there is one thing I can promise you,” he said, “I can and will be by your side. Let me and the X-men help you. I promise we’ll do everything we can. I care about you. And I’ll do whatever it takes to ease your suffering.”

Then in a loving gesture, he leaned in and kissed her. It didn’t make Lorna’s problems go away, but it did ease her pain. Looking at him and back at everything she had done, she saw how difficult it had been for her to make these decisions. She wanted so desperately to believe her father would just wave his hand and fix everything. But as she stood in his arms, surrounded by his tender affection, it all seemed so much clearer. This didn’t have to be a difficult decision. It just had to be the right one.

With a solemn smile she pulled him in closer and kissed him passionately.

“Thank you, Bobby,” she said through her tears, “You really are a hero.”

“It’s what we X-men do,” he said with a smile as he wiped the tears from her eyes.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

They kissed again. It was a fitting way to leave behind the mistakes and focus on the present. It was going to be hard enough for Lorna dealing with her father being the master of magnetism. It was going to be even harder with a sick mother. But she wasn’t alone in dealing with her problems. Bobby made sure she remembered that as they move forward together.

Genosha Capital – Main Port

“What about spirit? Or ghost? Or phaser? Come on, at least try and help me out!”

“Seriously Kitty, is this really the time you wanna go over codenames?” groaned Rogue as she caught her breath a bit.

“Are you kidding?” exclaimed Kitty Pryde, “If there’s one thing we should take away from this mess it’s that anything can happen at any time! And when it does, I want to have a codename!”

Rogue rolled her eyes and exchanged looks with Angel and Ororo, both of whom were helping out. They were on the docks, helping cargo ships and passenger vessels load and unload. For the last two days they were working with UN troops to rescue navel crews that had abandon ship during Magneto’s assault. They then helped international forces set up shop on Genosha so they could restore order. With Xavier’s help and Wanda’s cooperation a plan took shape. The mutants of the island were staying while much of the human population was fleeing. It made for a complicated and delicate affair. But with help from UN peacekeepers and a little mutant ingenuity they were helping to move things along. Kitty overblown enthusiasm wasn’t making it easier.

It was somewhat a relief. After such a chaotic affair with Magneto, Hodge, and the sentinels it was kind of nice to get back to less pressing issues. They still hadn’t thought of a codename for Kitty, who felt a bit left out despite her contributions to the mission. She proved once again she had the toughness and spirit to be an X-man. But in her mind it wouldn’t be complete without a codename.

“So let’s try again,” said Kitty as she loomed around Rogue and Ororo, “I’m leaning towards shadow, but I get the feeling it’s a little too dark. Any ideas on making it a little less sinister?”

“I’ll think about it, Kitty,” said Ororo as she returned to her work, “But we really should focus on finishing up here. The last boat is almost loaded. We need to make sure the port is clear. A lot of people are looking to leave.”

“I know. It’s a shame too,” said Angel as he flew in from monitor duty, “Hodge really did a number on these. I honestly can’t blame them for not wanting to stick around. Kind of reminds me of my old man.”

“It seems to be a tradition here on Genosha,” said Ororo, “For fifty years it’s been ruled by one tyrant or another. There’s only so much oppression people can take. When given a chance to start over, they will take it.”

“Ya think that’ll carry over for the Brotherhood?” said Rogue as she looked back towards the island where the Brotherhood and the mutant army was still lingering, “They’ll be stickin’ around along with plenty of other mutants. Even without Magneto that’s a pretty volatile mix.”

“That may be, but it’s better than the alternative,” said Ororo, “It seems everybody is looking for a fresh start. Maybe the Brotherhood will use follow suit.”

“Fat chance,” scoffed Rogue, “Give ‘em a few weeks. They’ll be back to their old tricks.”

“Oh quit with the negativity, Rogue,” sighed Warren, “We got to have some faith that this will all work out for the better.”

“Faith is easier for some people. With you it’s pretty much a given,” teased Rogue as she tousled his wings, “But bein’ raised by Mystique will do that. Ah just hope whatever does come of this is easier than giant robots and psychotic mutant supremacists.”

“Don’t we all,” sighed Ororo, “That reminds me, have you come across Mystique since this all started?”

Rogue shifted at the mention of her mother. It was still a touchy issue and it had crossed her mind since this affair started. But she wasn’t ready to confront it just yet.

“Ah’d rather not get into that,” she said, “Ah can only handle so many crises at a time.”

Ororo nodded respectfully. It was an understandable feeling. After dealing with so many potentially world-threatening crisis, nobody was in the mood to handle another. There were limits even for the X-men. Considering what they overcame with Hodge, Magneto, and world opinion it was safe to say they were spent. Perhaps Rogue was right and this was just a precursor to another conflict. But that was a concern for another day.

“Ooh! I got it! How about Shadowcat?” said Kitty, brimming with excitement.

Ororo, Warren, and Rogue turned towards Kitty. Despite being ignored, she continued to ponder her codename. Only this time it seemed like she had something.

“Hmm…I like it,” said Ororo, “I think it suits you.”

“I totally agree! Can we make it official? Can I have it snitched into my uniform? I’d love to take a picture and send it to my friends and family back home!”

“Take it easy, Kitty. We’ll work out the details later,” said the African mutant, trying not to laugh too hard at her enthusiasm.

Kitty rolled her eyes, but nothing could bring her down at this point. She proved her worth as an X-man and had her codename. It was hard not to be excited. Being a hero was important to her. It was part of why she joined the X-men. This difficult mission gave her a taste of what it felt like to be a real hero. She found her place with the X-men. Now she was just going to have to contain herself.

Her enthusiasm was admirable, especially given the circumstances. If only the rest of the team could share some of her energy.

“I’d call this a productive day for the team,” commented Warren, “Speaking of which, where are Logan and Jean? I thought they were supposed to help with this.”

“Beats meh,” shrugged Rogue, “Last Ah heard Jean was helpin’ clear out the prison dome and Logan was keepin’ an eye on the Brotherhood. It’s probably an excuse to avoid bein’ around any military types. Ya know how well he gets along with them.”

“It’s probably better that way,” sighed Warren, “I think we’ve all had our fill of combat for the foreseeable future. I’m ready to lay this whole thing to rest.”

“Well said, Warren,” said Ororo as she watched the last civilians enter a passenger ship, “But don’t get too comfortable. There’s an old African proverb. Every end is a beginning and every beginning is an end. This isn’t over so we can’t be sure which point is a beginning and which is an end. Either way, it’s important that we all move forward.”

The African woman had a talent for making sense of things. It’s part of what made her such a good teacher. This ordeal had been a lesson like any other, only with many far reaching implications. For Rogue, Warren, Kitty, and the rest of the X-men there was plenty left to ponder. Nobody knew what would come of this. Some issues were bound to end while others were poised to begin. Only time would tell how everything would unfold. It was sure to affect not just the team, but the world as well.

Logan’s Room – Later That Night

It had been a long, arduous day for the X-men. Between cleaning up the mess on Genosha and helping the UN, everybody was exhausted. As soon as they returned to the mansion, most everybody went straight to bed. But some remained restless. As exhausted as they were, this ordeal gave them a lot to think about. Logan was no exception. In some ways it was a satisfying experience. He got to tear through a bunch of killer sentinels and beat Magneto into unconsciousness. Compared to that, the cleanup with the Brotherhood and the UN was just tedious.

But for all the challenges they faced, it was all worth it when he got back to his room and climbed into bed with Jean. It was the perfect way to end a fight. It also gave them a chance to reconnect. Things had been strained between them lately. Ever since Rogue started dating Scott certain conflicts emerged. It affected Jean more than she let on and it wasn’t just because she and Rogue didn’t get along. It affected Logan in unexpected ways as well because it forced him to think harder about the one burning question that had been lingering since he arrived. Why was he so drawn to this woman?

Questions and conflicts aside, it all melted away as he held her in his arms. It helped she was only wearing a revealing black spaghetti-strap lace shirt and matching black panties. All he had on were his boxer shorts. It wasn’t their usual sleeping attire, but Logan wasn’t complaining. She was plenty tired, but she was restless as well. He couldn’t help but grin as she snuggled up to his manly warmth, affectionately trailing her hand down his burly physique.

“I take it you’re feelin’ better, Jeannie,” grinned the feral mutant, “Or are ya always this friendly after three days of hell?”

“Considering my head only recently stopped pounding, I have plenty of reasons to be in a good mood,” she replied, smiling back as she played with his messy facial hair, “I could say the same about you.”

“Lyin’ in bed with a beautiful half-naked woman will do that to a guy,” quipped Logan.

“I see that crude sense of humor has healed,” snickered Jean, “I don’t even feel like yelling at you for taking such a stupid risk by hitching a ride on that sentinel to confront Magneto.”

“It worked, didn’t it?” he shrugged.

“That’s not the point,” said Jean, shifting to a more serious tone, “You have metal bones and you fought a guy who calls himself the master of magnetism. And you fell what? 10,000 feet into the ocean?”

“More like 11,000, but I’ve survived worse,” he said jokingly.

“You still had me worried,” she said with a sincere look, “I know it’s redundant since you have a healing factor and all, but I can’t help it. There’s a fine line between being brave and foolish and you flirt with it every chance you get.”

“Sorry Jeannie, but it’s part of what I do. I take these risks so people like you don’t have to. If I hadn’t, how else would we have stopped ol’ buckethead?”

“I know and that’s noble and all. But that’s not going to stop me from reminding you every now and then.”

“That’s okay, Red. I don’t hold it against you,” he said, “Ya still look good in a thong.”

That earned him a playful swat, but a smile never left Jean’s face. Logan responded by slipping his hand down her back and onto her butt. Such a hungry gesture evoked a soft purr from the beautiful redhead. Logan may have had a dirty mind, but he always knew how to show he cared in his own gruff way.

“Glad to know that helps,” she said, “And before we get to more lurid subjects, I just want you to know that I still really care about you. I know things between us have been a little off lately, but I want to work them out.”

“So do I,” he told her, his expression becoming more serious, “You mean a lot to me, Jeannie. I’ll be the first to admit I ain’t the perfect boyfriend. But as long as you’re my girl, I’ll do what I gotta do.”

“So will I,” said Jean in a deeper, more sensual tone, “We’ll just have to figure it out together.”

Logan grinned at her affectionate tone. Only Jean Grey could make dealing with his many issues sound so appealing.

“Will that involve you wearin’ more sexy underwear?” he said.

“Mmm…we’ll see,” she said with a grin.

Tossing aside exhaustion and any number of unresolved issues, Logan pulled Jean in closer and captured her lips in a powerful kiss. Jean moaned softly, allowing her body to sink into his manly embrace as she affectionately kissed back. Their powerful gestures quickly became more heated. Logan’s hands hungrily roamed over her womanly curves, evoking deeper moans. As their lips wrestled they roughly rolled around on the bed. Along the way Jean hooked her legs around his torso and held him in her womanly grip as their bodies grinded together in a passionate heat.

Jean’s deep moans mixed with Logan’s feral grunts. Through their lustful gestures, Jean removed her shirt. Now in nothing but their underwear, they savored the sensual feel of each other’s flesh. The desire was growing fast. Jean could sense Logan’s want for her. It fueled her want for him as well. If they were going to work on their relationship, this was as good a start as they could hope for.

“Ooh Logan,” moaned Jean he caressed her face.

Jean returned his gesture by sensually trailing her lips down his burly face. But as he savored her heavenly touch, something deep inside his subconscious emerged. It was a memory and for a brief moment, his mind took him to another time and place. And without thinking he uttered some unexpected words.

“Oh Rose…”

Upon hearing those words, Jean picked up on his mental projection. Suddenly, the spirit of the moment stopped. Still locked in an embrace, Jean and Logan froze and shared a look of confusion and uncertainty.

“Rose?” said Jean with a look of shock and confusion, “Who’s Rose?”

Next Issue: Chasing a Memory

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