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It’s been an exciting time for Charles Xavier and his mutant team, the X-men. Recently, two new members have joined their ranks and have created quite a stir within the team.

One is Ororo Munroe, an African born beauty with the power to control the weather. A recent college graduate, she stand ready to make up for her past as a street thief and use her powers for good. So recently, she dawned her first X-men uniform and showed off her skills successfully on her first mission.

The other is a mysterious man named Logan. Having saved him the wrath of Weapon X, he reluctantly agreed to join Xavier. So far his adjustment to life at the institute has been tenuous. He has already clashed numerous times with fellow X-man, Cyclops, over his ongoing flirtation with Jean Grey. With a shattered memory and raging emotions, he is a volatile man. But Professor Xavier is determined to help him.

Two new members have arrived and many new challenges await. Logan’s volatility has required extensive help from the Professor and Jean Grey while Ororo adjust to her new role as an X-man and a teacher. She has also garnered more of Beast’s attention with each passing day. But this is just the beginning.

In a world that hates and fears them, the X-men struggle to help humans and mutants everywhere. But this daunting task has not been without its challenges.

Danger Room

Training was in full swing as the high tech Danger Room did its thing, creating danger for the X-men to face. The session today was a tough one. It was specially created to test the skills of the X-men in a realistic setting with danger that most would consider over-the-top. It took place in a crowded urban center, not unlike downtown Westchester. The danger was a robot humanoids armed with wrist-mounted laser cannons and overwhelming strength. It’s objective was to attack anything that moved and at ground zero of this assault was the X-men’s newest member, Wolverine.

“Score: 345. Time remaining: one minute.”

“Rrrraahhhhhh! Hrah!” roared the feral mutant, leaping atop a 20-foot droid and ripping its head off.

Explosions rocked the scene, blowing Logan back with great force. Shrapnel tore into his flesh, but his metal bones protected him and his healing factor erased any wound that formed. In his focused state, he easily blocked out the sting and continued on his rampage.

Landing easily on his feet, he kept moving to avoid the counterblows from other droids. A lifetime of combat training was apparent in the way he carried himself through the attacks. Where most men would panic, he remained in a lethal focus as he continued his relentless attack. Droids were ripped to pieces with brutal ease, proving to be no match for Logan’s skill. He moved with a speed and efficiency that made him worthy of a former living weapon.

“Come on, Chuck! Don’t tell me this is the best ya can do!” growled Wolverine as he tore into droids with his claw.

“Do not make your final judgment until the mission is over, Wolverine. There is still time remaining. Do not let your focus waver.”

“It never does!” he snarled as he kept on attacking.

Wolverine was putting on quite a show. Up in the observation deck, Scott, Jean, and the Professor couldn’t help but be impressed. Logan hadn’t been on board long, but he was already showing his worth. His agility, focus, and strength really showed in how he executed the tasks he was given. This lethal new program was one of the new levels of training the team had been preparing for. Since Logan didn’t need a whole lot of training to control his powers, the focus was on combat. So far, their newest member was excelling. He looked as ready for field duty as anyone else on the team. For Xavier, it was solid progress. But for Scott, there was still plenty of reason to be weary.

“Are you sure this is on level 7, Professor?” asked Scott as he watched Logan decapitate another droid.

“I assure you, there are no errors, Scott,” said Xavier approvingly, “It appears we may have to make some special programs to match Logan’s skill.”

“I’m sure Beast will have a hell of a time working that out,” said Jean, looking down at the raging Wolverine with a suggestive grin, “But I have a feeling Logan will adapt. He’s already made a lot of progress.”

“I don’t know,” said Scott, looking down at Logan with more reservation, “He still seems awfully volatile. Didn’t you say something about him having this berserker thing he can’t control?”

“Yes, that is an unusual anomaly,” said the Professor, “When he gets agitated or pushed, he erupts into an uncontrolled rage. His capacity for rational thought and even his sense of identity is shut down. It seems to be a byproduct of whatever Weapon X did to him. It makes sense as well because it makes him the perfect killer.”

“You think having a killer like that with the X-men is a good idea?” questioned Scott.

“He knows our policies towards killing. He understands that we are not some military force. As such, we are teaching him to cope with his berserker rage. The mere fact he hasn’t fallen into another rage during training is a testament to his progress.”

“That doesn’t make him any less dangerous,” said Scott, watching tentatively as Logan ruthlessly impaled another droid, “Weapon X really did a number on him. He may not be mentally stable for field work.”

“Oh lighten up, Scott,” said Jean, casting her friend an exasperated look, “I’ve been in his mind and so has the Professor. He’s really trying. Sure, he’s rough around the edges and he’s got a lot of rage after what he went through. But at least he’s giving the X-men a shot.”

Scott remained unconvinced. Looking down at Logan, watching as he ripped the metal guts out of a droid with a roar, he had mixed feelings. He hadn’t been at the institute long and already they were butting heads. He kept mocking his authority and hadn’t done a lot of bonding with the others with the exception of Jean. He wasn’t a team player and his tactics were too brutal for his tastes. Yet as always, Jean stuck up for him. And that didn’t sit well with Scott for a second.

“I still don’t trust him,” he said strongly.

“Give it time, Cyclops,” said the Professor, “I share your concern, but I believe that Logan has the will and fortitude to be a part of the institute.”

“Hey may have the skills, but what about the attitude? He doesn’t come off as someone with a keen interest in human/mutant peace.”

“He’s still finding his way,” mused Xavier, “Having been in his mind I’ve seen how he’s struggled with his place in the world. Attitude aside, he’s a fighter and every fighter needs a cause. I’m hoping the X-men can be that cause.”

“Lucky us,” muttered Scott, “What about Weapon X? Logan said they would come after him. We could end up in the crossfire.”

Professor Xavier sighed, the subject of Weapon X bringing back plenty of headaches. Even though Logan was making progress, questions about the mysterious organization he came from remained. Any organization that used mutants as weapons, putting them through the inhumane treatment that tore Logan’s memories asunder, was a gave threat to humans and mutants alike. Unfortunately, his fractured memory offered little clues.

“That hasn’t escaped my attention, Cyclops. Weapon X is a troubling issue. While I don’t wish to get caught up in government affairs, I have a feeling this may be too great to ignore.”

“Well it’s not like we’ve got a rosy public image,” added Jean, “But you’re right. Anybody who tries to turn mutants into weapons has to be dealt with!”

“That may be easier said than done, Jean,” sighed Xavier, “If our recent encounter with them was any indication, they are a tenacious bunch. They’re also quite secretive. There is little or no information bout them.”

“What about Cerebro? Were you able to find anything through the psychic interface?” asked Jean.

“I tried. But whoever this organization is, they have gone to great lengths to conceal their secrets. I suspect they have friends in some very high places.”

“Do you think that’ll come back to haunt us?” mused Scott.

Looking back down at the still raging Wolverine, ripping into droids with lethal efficiency, Professor Charles Xavier saw a great deal of conflict. While he didn’t know the details, there was plenty of room to speculate on the kind of horrors they were dealing with. Logan’s mind had been a real mess. He and Jean worked hard to break through the layers of confusion and rage. But there was still a man behind the raging Wolverine. Only time would tell what kind of sinister forces were behind the people who did this to him.

“It’s still too early to say,” said the Professor, “But from what I’ve gathered, Logan was a victim. He’s lost a great deal of his memory and whatever livelihood he once had. Maybe as an X-man, he can rebuild whatever Weapon X took from him.”

“That and he sure looks good in that uniform!” grinned Jean, her eyes drifting back towards the raging Wolverine below.

“Jean…” began Scott.

“Well he does,” she shrugged innocently.

Down below, time was running out and Logan was on his last few droids. They were really stepping up their attack this time. Four droids surrounded him on all sides and were closing fast. They stayed hovering over him so that they were out of the reach of his claws. Even though he was in their sights, Logan didn’t move. Clenching his fists, he dared them to fire on him. The droids called his bluff and unleashed a full barrage. That was their first mistake.

Using his agility, Logan leapt out of the way of the incoming onslaught. Just as he predicted, the blasts kicked up a good amount of debris. This momentarily blinded the droids so they couldn’t aim properly. Using this as a window, Logan began his final attack.

“You tin cans need an upgrade!” he snarled.

Using a nearby street post, Logan swiftly clawed his way up to the droids and pounced. As soon as he landed on the first droid, he drove his claws right into its head. This immediately shorted it out, causing it to fall to the ground. When the other droids saw this they instinctively tried to shoot him. They only ended up shooting the already destroyed droid. From there, Logan went on a tear.

Leaping from droid to droid, he ruthlessly thrashed and hacked through metal and wires. There was no style or coordination. It was all just focused, unmitigated rage. The next two droids went down just as the first one, having their heads literally severed and their circuits exposed. The remaining droid kept foolishly shooting, further destroying the support it once had. For the final droid, Logan was more daring. After narrowly avoiding another shot, he leapt off the droid he just destroyed and plunged right towards the gut of the last droid. Ignoring some of the rounds he took in the process, he drove both claws into the machine and literally ripped out everything inside. The droid, already malfunctioning, tried to shoot him. It only ended up shooting itself, destroying itself in one final blow that left it to crumble in a heap of charred and twisted metal.

As the last droid fell and Logan stood triumphant over a pile of mangled machines. He was breathing hard and parts of his uniform were tattered from the fight, but he held himself together, not letting the animal within overtake him.

“All mission objectives achieved.”

“Final score: 672. New record set.”

Grinning at his accomplishment, Logan looked back up at the observation deck where Xavier, Jean, and a disgruntled looking Scott Summers watched in amazement. They seemed more than convinced now. He had the skills to be an X-man.

“My kind of workout!” he said with a wolfish grin, withdrawing his claws, “That it, Chuck?”

Smiling down at the X-men’s latest recruit, Xavier replied.

“That is all, Logan. We’re finished.”

“Too bad,” he said with a wolfish grin, “It was just gettin’ fun.”

Dormitories – Ororo’s Garden

In her spacious new room, Ororo Munroe set the final shipment of her new plants outside on the balcony. She hadn’t been there long, but already she was turning it into a tropical paradise. It created a unique ambience and one Ororo was very proud of. Gardening had always been a favorite hobby of hers. Back in college, it was a good way to get her mind off the many stresses of life. Since her mutant powers were tied to nature, she always felt a strong connection with it and she had a talent for tending to flora of all kinds.

Once her plants were in place, the African beauty stepped back into the center of the balcony, closed her eyes, and summoned the power of the winds. All around her, a gentle mist formed and a soft drizzle fell upon her new garden, nourishing them in a way only nature could.

“That’s quite a feat,” came a voice from behind.

Turning around, Ororo smiled at the sight of Hank standing in the doorway. Descending to the ground, the mist faded as she approached the ape-like man.

“Thank you. It really helps around the garden,” she said, taking a moment to smell some of her new roses.

“And you do so with such grace.”

Ororo blushed at his words, setting aside her flowers and leaning against the table casually.

“Always with the flatter,” she grinned, “But you didn’t just come here to make me blush, did you?”

“Never could hide my intentions well,” he shrugged as he took a deep breath in preparation for what he was about to say, “As smart as I am, there are only so many things my mind can tackle. And this, I’m afraid, isn’t one of them.”

“What do you mean, Hank?” she asked, a confused look on her face.

Hesitating for a moment, Hank scratched the back of his neck as he considered every possible variable as if it were a riddle.

“What I mean is…” he stammered, trying to be serious, “Ororo, when Charles first told me about you, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I admit I was taken aback when he wanted me to be the one to guide you into the world of the X-men. It’s a job he’s always been much better at. Not to be self-doubting, but I didn’t think I was the best face to put on the X-men.”

“I don’t know. One could argue that you would make a nice mascot,” joked Ororo.

“Yes, Bobby has commented on that at least a dozen times,” grinned Hank, still maintaining a serious tone, “But beyond that, talking to you and getting to know you was nothing short of therapeutic.”

“What do you mean?” asked Ororo curiously.

Hank sighed as he thought back to his life over the past few years. He loved his life with the X-men, but it wasn’t without its share of difficulties.

“It goes back to what all mutants like me must face. I do not look human and as such I cannot go out and talk to people on the same level as others can. Ever since my appearance changed, I’ve been largely isolated to life in the mansion and in the field. And in between, it’s been hard to find someone to relate to. But then you came along.”

Hank moved in closer, placing his oversized hands on her shoulders and looking at her with the kindness and sincerity she had come to expect.

“Ororo, you’re the first person I’ve been able to sincerely relate to in a long time,” he told her, “And in the months that we’ve been conversing, I’ve grown quite fond of your company.”

“So have I,” said Ororo, “Now that I’m living here, I guess we’ll have plenty more to offer.”

“Indeed, but I was thinking maybe we could try taking a much bolder step,” he said with a strange grin.

“How so?” asked the African beauty.

Hank took a deep breath as he prepared his next words. He could deal with the most complex concepts in science, physics, and math and take on the dangerous forces that confronted the X-men like Weapon X. But what he was about to do seemed more daunting than any of them.  

“Ororo Munroe, would you like to go out with me Friday night?”

Ororo’s heart skipped a beat, her face flushing even redder than before. But a smile never left her face as she heard those words. She didn’t even have to think about it as she stepped in closer to her fuzzy friend, her warm expression pretty much giving away her answer.

“Hank McCoy, are you asking me on a date?” she said playfully.

“You are correct, Ms Munroe,” said Hank, his demeanor clearly tense.

Ororo’s expression shifted. She just joined the X-men and here she was being asked out by her fellow teacher. Hank was sweet and all. Their correspondence over the internet made joining the X-men all the more appealing. But there were certain things about herself that she never told him and if they started dating it may mean her opening up about things she wasn’t ready for.

“Hank…” she began.

“I know it’s rather sudden, but I’ve looked at it from every angle and I believe this is right,” he said with a hint of excitement, “We’ve already gotten to know each other so well over the past few months. I’ve come to appreciate your desire to build a new life for yourself, your appreciation for nature, and your charming yet tough demeanor. And you’ve come to know my little quirks as well. It’s also quite obvious there’s a certain chemistry between us.”

“I won’t argue that,” said Ororo, blushing again.

“So why not give it a try? The thought of you and me just makes sense, does it not?”

Ororo suppressed her laughter. It seemed as though Hank approached everything with a sort of logic. It wasn’t the most romantic way to ask a girl out, but it was sweet of him. But she still had reservations.

“I’ll admit, it does have an appeal,” she said with a smile, “But it’s a little soon, isn’t it?”

“Well why can’t it be sooner rather than later? Would you rather beat around the bush like certain students of ours have done for so long?”

“It’s not that. We’re teammates and co-workers, Hank. Won’t that make things a little difficult?”

“Perhaps, but few things worth having aren’t difficult in the beginning. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth trying.”

Ororo fell silent. Hank drove a hard bargain. She may have been new here, but part of starting a new life was taking risks. She risked a lot by trusting Xavier that fateful day back in Cairo. She risked a lot by coming to the United States. She risked even more coming to the X-men. By comparison, going out on a date didn’t seem quite as daunting. And this just might be worthwhile. She could use it after the last relationship she was in.

“You’re really sure about this, Hank?”

“Positive,” he said confidently, “I understand your concern, Ororo. And I would never pressure you into something you weren’t ready for. I just want to know if you’re willing to take a chance on a big furry man like me.”

“You almost sound as though your fur is a detriment,” she said as she playfully ran her hand over his fuzzy face.

“At times, it has been,” he sighed.

“But you know that it doesn’t bother me. It never has. Not to be too cynical, but I’ve seen much stranger things than a man covered in fur.”

“Does that mean you’ll give it some thought?”

“I don’t need to,” said Ororo with a smile, “I already have an answer. And the answer is yes. I would love to go out with you.”

As if to prove her point, she planted a small kiss on his fuzzy cheek, causing his face to flush a strange purplish color. But he didn’t seem to mind. A kiss from a beautiful woman was well worth the feeling.

“Friday night at seven?” she said, running her hand down his fuzzy face.

“I’ll commit it memory,” he affirmed with a smile.

Touching the area where Ororo’s lips had touched, Hank McCoy had plenty of reason to smile. Beast or no Beast, he had a date with an African Goddess. And he would surely spend countless hours surmising just how lucky he was.

Institute Sub-levels

After his record setting Danger Room run, Logan changed out of his uniform and back into his ragged clothes. Stepping out of the changing room, he already had a cigar going and was puffing smoke with little regard. Even after tearing through an army of holographic droids, he bore no signs of scars or fatigue. He had to admit, Xavier knew how to train. For someone who was such a pacifist, he pulled out all the stops. He called it seeking peace through vigilance. But he just called it being ready for a fight. It didn’t bother him. After all, fighting was his specialty.

He was still getting used to the whole X-men mindset. All these so called peaceful principles weren’t exactly his style. But disagreements aside, Charles Xavier and his X-men were far and above better than the monsters he usually dealt with. It really did seem like this was a place he could build a new life without falling into old habits again. It wasn’t without it’s difficulties. As he stepped out into the hall, he was met with the presence of Scott Summers, the most vocal critic of Wolverine’s arrival.

“Nice run, Wolverine,” he said, stopping the feral mutant in mid stride.

“That all ya have to say, pretty boy?” replied Logan, “Or are ya gonna get prissy on me for beating your record?”

Cyclops’s face contorted with annoyance. Taking another puff of his cigar, Logan could care less. Boy scouts annoyed him and this guy had been giving him crap ever since he joined. And no matter how many times he brushed him off Scott insisted on pressing him. It tested his temperament in all the wrong ways.

“This isn’t some game, Wolverine. It’s not about setting records.”

“Could’ve fooled me,” scoffed feral mutant.

“Be serious for once, Logan! Professor Xavier has given you a chance here and you shouldn’t make light of it.”

“Yeah, yeah,” he said, his tone wrought with sarcasm, “And I should shape up, get a haircut, and start calling you sir.”

“Will you knock it off with the sarcasm? I’m trying to be serious here!”

“So am I, but you seem to have so much fun talking down to me. You don’t know me well so I’ll give you a little tidbit. I don’t like being lectured, bub! I got my own way of doing things and if you don’t like it that’s your problem.”

Letting out a frustrated grunt, Scott Summers rubbed his sore temples. This got Logan to grin somewhat as he took another puff of his cigar, but the young leader ignored it.

“We’re not asking you to change who you are, Logan,” said Scott seriously, “Xavier may have faith in you and so may the others, but I’m not so sure.”

“Big surprise,” scoffed Logan, “Think I’m gonna steal yer thunder, Cyke?”

“No, I just don’t think you know how to function in a team,” said Scott with an affirmative tone, “Being in the X-men means working as a unit. You may be able to tear through an army on your own, but that won’t always be the mission.”

“If I can fight a ton of those mindless drones you call obstacles I don’t see how being a unit will do anything but get in my way.”

“That’s the point, Logan. Fighting someone is easy, but fighting by their side is a lot harder. The X-men are a team. Lone wolfing like yours puts that team at risk. If you’re really serious about making a better life with us, you’ll at least try to protect that team.”

Logan digested that for a moment, taking another puff of his cigar. He wasn’t too fazed by Scott’s words, even if they were serious. But Logan had his own way of doing things and he made that clear.

“You done?” he said, breaking the silence.

“For now,” said Scott, “But remember Logan…sooner or later you’re going to have to learn how to be on a team.”

“I work best alone.”

“Maybe so, but you won’t always be able to. When the bigger battles come, it takes a team to pull through.”

“Whatever,” he shrugged, biting down on his cigar, “If that’s how I gotta do things do I at least get to be on Jeannie’s team? She’s one person whose back I wouldn’t mind watching.”

Scott’s expression grew stern, making it clear that Logan had struck a chord. Between them, Jean was a sensitive issue. Scott was very close to Jean, but she was growing close to Logan as well. He didn’t trust this feral man they found half dead in the woods and if he was going to be part of the team then he would have to adapt.

“Just think about it, Logan,” said Scott bluntly.

“Sure thing. I’ll put that on my list of things to do behind quitting smoking and becoming a vegetarian. Just warning you, bub, it may be a while.”

Turning away from Logan, the former living weapon took another puff of his cigar, his poise still smug despite Scott’s words. But before he was out of sight, he turned back around and faced the Wolverine one last time.

“Oh, and by the way…” he said, putting his hand on his visor.

Suddenly, before Logan could react, Scott blasted his cigar with a carefully aimed blast, blowing it cleanly out of his mouth and sending it to the floor in a heap of ashes.

“There’s no smoking in the lower levels.”

Now it was Scott’s turn to grin as he turned and walked way, leaving a very irritated Logan behind with an angry snarl.

Dormitories – Jean’s Room

After the spectacle in the Danger Room, Jean Grey turned to more menial matters for the rest of the afternoon. She slipped out of her uniform and into her comfortable casual attire before settling on her bed with her laptop. As exciting training and missions were, it was easy to forget sometimes that the Xavier Institute was still a school. There was studying, assignments, and homework to be done. They were tasks every student dreaded. But with the challenges she faced as an X-man, they seemed a lot less daunting.

Surrounded by books on medicine and biology, Jean had her share of work to catch up on. But she found herself unable to concentrate at the moment. She was too preoccupied with other matters. A lot had happened since Ororo and Logan joined the institute. Some issues were harder to wrap her head around than others. Rather than lie in bed dwelling restlessly on them, she opened up her journal on her laptop and started typing.

Entry 26 in the journal of Jean Grey. It’s been a while since my last musing. I’ve sort of lost track I guess. I’ve had a lot on my mind. And for a telepath that’s saying something. But the Professor said it’s important for an aspiring psychic to get their own thoughts out in some form or another so they have the strength to deal with all the other thoughts that bombard us. In that sense I have some major catching up to do.

The newest additions to the team have already been leaving their mark. Miss Munroe, or Storm as we call her when she’s in uniform, is every bit as cool as Professor Xavier said she was. She’s a good teacher and a hell of a fighter. She sure proved that against Weapon X. We’re all still learning our way around her. She doesn’t talk much about where she came from. I figure it must be a touchy subject. I’m sure Mr. McCoy will figure her out before the rest of us. The way he’s been swooning over her he probably knows her shoe size by now.

As for our other recruit, Logan, well…that’s a lot more complicated. He’s still pretty rough around the edges. At times he’s a downright jerk. But the thing is, even though he exudes this screw-the-world loner mindset, there’s a good man in him.

I’ve been helping him with his memories lately along with the Professor. Being in his mind has been an experience to say the least. But the more I’m inside it, the more intrigued I get. He’s such a tormented soul. What those Weapon X people did to him…I can’t even begin to put it into words. Yet he still finds a way to hold onto his humanity. He’s still driven to be more than just a weapon. There’s a lot to admire about a man like him.

He’s also very attractive in a gruff sort of way.

Jean stopped typing for a minute, smiling to herself as she remembered how he looked in the Danger Room. It was quite a sight for any impressionable young woman like herself. At the same time she also found herself shifting somewhat. The attraction was undeniable, but there were other complications to consider.

I suppose this is what’s been bugging me so much lately. The more I get to know him, the more attracted I am to him. I want to say it’s just lust or something. It has been a while since I’ve been with somebody. But it feels deeper than that. I know that sounds messed up, but it’s the truth. I just don’t know if it’s deep enough to act on. I mean, Logan isn’t a poster-boy for boyfriend material. If I took him home to my asshole father, he would probably go nuts (which might actually be worth it).

Then there’s Scott. Boy has that been a factor. I know I wrote earlier how I thought me and Scott were getting closer. I still believe we are. Scott means so much to me. I don’t want this to be something that’s going to tear us apart. We haven’t talked about it much, but I still don’t know how I feel about this. I don’t know how I feel about a lot of things. I guess that’s a byproduct of spending time in an insane asylum. But I can’t sit on this. Something is going to happen. I know it. I just wish I had more certainty.

Sighing to herself, Jean rubbed her temples and closed her journal. It was all so overwhelming, balancing her life as an X-man and that of a normal young woman. She was no stranger to attraction and the drama it brought. But she never faced something like this before. Only time would tell what would come of this and how it would affect her, Logan, and Scott.

‘That’s enough personal drama for one day. I won’t be a famous mutant doctor one day obsessing over personal issues. Time to get back to work.’

She telekinetically retrieved a book and opened up her laptop’s internet browser so she could do the necessary research. But to her dismay, the browser wasn’t going very fast. Since most of their classes were online, the institute used up a lot of bandwidth. Sometimes when certain students used it for ‘non-academic’ activities it slowed things down.

“Oh hell, not again,” she groaned.

Rubbing her temples again, Jean shook her head in exasperation. There were only so many ways the whole institute connection could be this slow. And as the talented psychic she was, she knew who was responsible.

While she was lamenting how this was slowing her down, Warren walked by and knocked on her door.

“Hey Jean, the internet going at a crawl for you too?” he asked.

“Yep,” she replied, “Bobby must be sucking up the bandwidth downloading those streaming videos again.”

“That’ll do it,” he said in exasperation, “Why can’t the Professor just spring for a better connection?”

“I’m sure he’ll look into it between managing the Danger Room, the X-jet, and Cerebro.”

“In other words, we’re screwed for the time being,” groaned Jean, “In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to telekinetically rip Bobby away from his laptop.”

“For the sake of his health, I’ll take care of it,” said Warren with a half grin as he walked off, “I don’t know what it is he’s so obsessed with online, but it must be something to get his attention like this.”

Dormitories – Bobby’s Room

With everybody clamoring around Logan’s high scores, Bobby chose to occupy himself with simpler activities. He heard enough of Scott and Logan’s arguing for one day and ran off to a place where he could get away from the drama of X-men life and enjoy being a typical teenager. Sitting on his bed with his laptop comfortably in his lap, Bobby let out another laugh as he typed away on his instant messenger. A smile rarely left his face as he enjoyed his chat with a familiar friend.

‘Lorna…wow, this girl has it all. She’s smart, she’s funny, and unlike the others she actually appreciates my jokes! And thanks to the wonders of webcams I know she’s a hottie too! Great body, perfect eyes, and beautiful green hair. I mean seriously, green hair! How exotically hot is that? I wonder if it’s because of her powers or if she dyes it? Maybe if I meet her I can find out for myself!’

His grin grew wider as he kept typing away, asking this girl more questions and finding out more about her. The more Bobby talked to her, the more into each other they got. It felt as though she wasn’t just out to talk to some guy on the internet. She was reaching out to him and he couldn’t help but reach back. He was so engrossed that he didn’t hear a knock at his door.

“Bobby? Hey Bobby, are you still online?” came Warren’s voice.

He didn’t respond. The young mutant just kept typing, further frustrating his winged friend.

“Hey Bobby!” exclaimed Warren, barging into his room.

His sudden entry caused the Iceman to jump, his laptop almost falling over the side of his bed in the process. But once he caught his breath, he turned to address his friend.

“Jeez, Warren! Was that really necessary?” said Bobby with an annoyed look.

“Given that I called you twice, yeah.”

Rolling his eyes Warren’s comment, he went back to his fervent typing. Warren didn’t look too surprised, but he was still frustrated as Bobby once again shut him out.

“You know, there are other people who want to use the internet, Bobby,” said Warren, “And you’ve been sucking up the bandwidth for almost four hours.”

“Oh don’t be so melodramatic,” said Bobby, “That’s Scott’s job. Besides, I’ve only been online for…”

But as Bobby turned to look at his clock, he was silenced by what he saw. A look of foolishness formed on the young man’s face and Warren could only smile in triumph.

“Four hours…okay, so maybe I lost track of time,” admitted the Iceman sheepishly.

“No kidding,” groaned Warren, “Just what the hell have you been doing anyways? Trying to download another clip from that swimsuit competition?”

“Nope, even better!” said Bobby, turning his attention back to his laptop, “I’ve been chatting with that girl I told you about.”

“You mean Lorna?”

“Is there any other?” said Bobby, looking all too upbeat as he leaned back on his bed.

Warren shook his head and cast a look of pity to his younger peer. While he couldn’t blame him for reaching out for some female companionship, their faces were pretty well known. It was hard enough to hide their mutant status and even harder to find a girl willing to look beyond it. But Bobby seemed to get lucky almost to the point of obsession.

“Bobby, you’ve been talking to this girl for over a month now. And frankly, I’m getting worried.”

“Oh come on, man! We’re really connecting, you know?”

“Connecting?” said Warren, raising his eyebrow suspiciously.

“Yeah! And get this, she’s a mutant too!”

“I know. You’ve told me that plenty of times before,” said Warren, shaking his head.

“Sorry, but it’s just nice to find other mutants out there who you can really talk to. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s really hot!”

Warren didn’t look surprised by Bobby’s words. He just turned around to make his leave, but still bore a look of concern on his face.

“Just be careful man,” he told him seriously, “Internet romances can be dangerous.”

“Meh, I’m not worried,” scoffed Bobby, “This one’s different. For one, Lorna lives close by. Second, we’ve spoken over the phone. And third, did I mention she was really hot and totally into me?”

“I give up,” said Warren in defeat, “Just let me know when you’re off, okay? I’d like to get on and check…”

Then suddenly, the lights around the room flickered. They dimmed to the point of nearly shutting off completely, but after a few tense moments it stopped, leaving Bobby and Warren to wonder.

“Whoa. What was that?” said Bobby, looking around at the lights.

“Don’t know,” said Warren suspiciously, “Power surge maybe?”

“Or maybe Beast is doing another one of his experiments,” shrugged Bobby.

“Hmm…” said Warren suspiciously, a suspicious look never leaving his face as he stepped out into the hall and headed back towards his room.

Xavier’s Office

After overseeing the Danger Room session with Logan, Xavier returned to his office. He was largely upbeat about the results thus far despite the concerns Scott had voiced. He understood that Logan was still very much a work-in-progress. He had yet to take part in a real mission with the X-men. Even with his vast skills, it was not clear how he would operate in a team situation.

In addition to Logan, he also heard that Hank asked Ororo out on a date. It was not unexpected, but it was certainly an intriguing development. It wasn’t the first time two team members got together romantically. It always led to some interesting developments.

Yet despite such eventful times, Professor Xavier bore an optimistic poise. With Wolverine on board and plenty of work to be done, his team was sure to be busy for the foreseeable future. But even with the challenges he faced, he stood firm in spirit of his dream. With this and many other issues in mind he sat down at his computer and typed a new entry into memoirs.

Xavier journal entry 6.11.16. Our newest recruit, Wolverine, has shown impressive skill in the Danger Room. His speed, agility, and strength are uncanny. His fighting aptitude also suggests he’s well-trained, probably more so than he even remembers. I’m considering making him a combat instructor of sorts. It could never hurt for others to refine their hand-to-hand skills as well. We may need it since the last instructor left.

There are still some issues with him though. He seems too ready to kill at times. I’m not sure if this is a result of past training or if it is a byproduct of his fragile mental state. Although he still has a ways to go in managing his feral nature, he has made a great deal of progress so far with me and Jean in our psychic sessions. His presence in the team is still a source of controversy and only time will tell whether or not Logan finds a place here at the institute as a true X-man.

On a related note, I have begun researching the organization known as Weapon X. Their desire to capture Wolverine and their ruthlessness in dealing with my X-men is disturbing. So far there is little to go on. Officially, Weapon X is a highly classified, but long failed weapons project. But what’s curious is the timeline. Weapon X seems to trace back many decades and was most active during the Cold War. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it went back further. The details are sketchy, but I will continue my research as it may have major implications for mutant/government relations.

As for Ororo, she seems to have taken well to her new surroundings. The rest of the team is quite fond of her. I notice Beast has especially taken a liking to her. She already proved herself strong in the fight against Weapon X, but she still needs more experience before…

Suddenly, Xavier stopped as his computer screen began to flicker. At first he thought it was just typical technical troubles, but it quickly got worse. Taking his hands off the keyboard, he looked on curiously as the lights around him soon followed, casting an eerie light upon his office.

“What in the name of…”

But before he could finish the metal objects on his desk came to life, levitating in mid air and swirling around his wheelchair. Pushing himself back from the desk, he looked over towards the window where he saw nothing except a bright, sunny day. But Professor Xavier didn’t need to see anything to know what was going on.

“I know you’re here,” he called out, “Come out, Erik. Or should I say…Magneto.”

The window then flew open, causing a gust of wind to flow through the room. Papers were kicked up in the wind and several books from his shelves fell to the floor. The metal that had been shaking was now swirling in a whirlwind. Through this chaos an ominous figure hovered in mid air just outside. It was a figure Xavier quickly recognized. He held firm to his wheelchair as he watched him casually enter his office.

He bore an imposing demeanor, covered from head to toe in a dark purplish body suit with a red cape fluttering in the wind behind him. His face was clearly ravaged by time, but his expression was strong and cold. His eyes were dark, having clearly witnessed some very morbid scenes in the past. They were like a window to a very troubled soul. And on his head was a strange looking helmet, casting his face in an ominous shadow.

“Hello Charles,” he said in a deep, ominous tone, “It’s been awhile.”

“It most certainly has Erik. But I see that time has not altered your choice of attire.”

“Still trying to get around my helmet?” said Erik, giving it a few taps, “You know I like to keep my thoughts private. I never did like you snooping around my mind.”

“I never read your mind, Erik,” said Xavier strongly, unafraid of the hovering figure before him, “I accept that you and I don’t see eye to eye on many key issues. But at least accept my respect for a friend’s privacy.”

The scowl on Erik’s face intensified as more metal from around the room began to swirl more violently. Yet Xavier remained unafraid, maintaining his poise as he stared down the old man before him.

“Still a man of principle I see,” he said, a strong hint of cynicism in his tone as he descended to the floor.

“I always have been,” asserted Xavier, “Even if you refuse to believe me.”

“It’s not that I don’t believe you, Charles. I simply don’t trust you. Not anymore.”

“Don’t tell me you came just to argue my trustworthiness,” he retorted.

“Of course not,” scoffed Erik, “I am not here to have that argument again. I am here because I have something much bigger planned.”

The look on Xavier’s face didn’t change, remaining as strong as ever as he gazed into the intense fire in his old friend’s eyes. Years, if not decades, of hatred raged in that heart of his. Yet the Professor didn’t look away. He kept staring him down, eye to eye.

“We both knew this day would come,” he said strongly, “It’s happening more every day. The mutant population is growing. And the conflict is reaching a breaking point. I know it. You know it. And humans everywhere know it.”

“Conflict or not, that makes fighting for peace all the more important,” responded Xavier.

“Peace? You still think peace is possible?” scoffed Erik.

“I think it’s still worth fighting for,” he replied strongly.

“You always were the naïve one, Charles. But when you’ve seen the things I’ve seen…lived through humanity’s most brutal hatred…peace is just a pipe dream.”

The Xavier’s face fell as he looked back up at his friend with compassion, trying to send what condolence he could for the pain he saw so clearly in his eyes.

“I know what you suffered through, Erik,” said Xavier strongly, “But we shared a dream once before and I still believe we can share it again.”

Such kindness did nothing for the old man before him. His cold glare never waned, clenching his fist as the metal swirling around Xavier stopped and hovered in mid air.

“Maybe in another life. But I choose not to live in a dream world. Not after everything it cost me!”

Suddenly, the metal objects around Xavier flew in closer, now barely a hairs length away, the sharp edges pointing directly at him. It was a threatening gesture, but the wheel chair bound man never waned, even in the face of such anger.

“Humanity will always fear us. They always fear what they don’t understand. They only understand that the mutant race is poised to replace homo sapiens. They know their time is at hand. They’ll never stop hating us as long as we are the superior race.”

“They’ll never stop hating us as long as we give them reasons to,” argued Xavier, “You say they fear what they don’t understand. And you’re right. But that’s why it is up to us to show them that we are not to be feared. We are just as human as they are.”

“Oh wake up already, Charles!” shot Magneto with an annoyed look, “Look at us! Look what we can do! We have evolved beyond humanity! We have become a new breed! These powers we have set us apart from the mindless masses! We should be empowered, not alienated!”

Erik’s words were strong and forceful, but Xavier remained strong. Not showing any fear even as a multitude of sharp metal objects were pointing right at him.

“And that’s what I try to do with my school,” he said, not waning in the slightest, “We seek to enlighten, not destroy. We protect mutants and humans alike. We show the world that we can use our gifts for the good of the world.”

“All in a futile fight to chase an impossible dream, Charles,” scoffed Erik.

“Difficult yes…impossible never.”

The metal surrounding Xavier’s body suddenly fell to the floor, released from Erik’s control. He was silent for a moment as he stared his old friend down, looking back with a mixture of pity and remorse.

“It’s a shame, Charles. I really would have liked us to work together again.”

“I still have hope we can, old friend,” said Xavier sincerely.

“Not like this,” said Erik strongly, “You have your cause. I have mine. And I’m here to let you know that I am starting my own team, the Brotherhood of Mutants. Unlike you, we fight in the real world, working towards a future where mutants are revered instead of feared.”

“Even at the cost of innocent life?” shot Xavier, “Just as that of your family and your…”

Suddenly, the Professor’s wheelchair was flung back against the wall by a powerful magnetic burst. Xavier held on as he crashed hard, nearly falling out of his chair. The lights around the room flickered in a fury, driven by the insatiable rage of the lone figure that was once his closest friend.

“Don’t you ever speak of my family! You hear me, Xavier?! Or so help me I’ll…” yelled the old mutant in a rage.

Using his powers to lift his wheelchair off the ground, Erik ascended into the air, the lights still flashing ominously. Drawing his friend near, Erik removed his helmet so he could see his unobstructed face. There was a look of great anger and pain, a look Xavier knew all too well.

As he looked back, he saw little of the man he once knew. There was only a shadow of his former self, one that had long since given way to anger and hatred. And as he held on through his friend’s fury, he remained fixated on his cold gaze.

“I’m warning you, Charles,” he said, sounding calmer, but all the more menacing, “I don’t care whether or not you choose to follow your hopeless dream. You may be delusional, but I don’t wish to fight my mutant brethren or my old friend. But rest assured if I am force to, I will not hesitate to strike you down.”

“Nor will I,” said Xavier through the fury, “I just wish I didn’t have to.”

With those powerful words, Erik released his friend from his hold, sending Xavier’s chair crashing back onto the floor with a thud. Breathing hard from the impact, the Professor looked back up at his friend with a glimmer of hope.

However, Erik was not affected.

“You’re resilience never ceases to amaze me,” he said, the window flying open as he ascended into the air.

“You can’t stop me from having faith in you, Erik,” he responded strongly, “There’s still some good in those eyes of yours. Hopefully you’ll see it too one day.”

“Still dreaming the impossible dream,” he scoffed.

“Is it so wrong to dream for hope?”

“There’s a fine line between hope and delusion. Too bad it’s a line you don’t care for,” retorted Erik, “I accept that you’ll never change, Charles…even if you should. But if you take one thing away from this little exchange, remember this…stay out of my way. And don’t call me Erik anymore. I am and always will be…Magneto.”

Folding his arms and using his mutant powers to guide him, the man who was once shared the dream ascended into the sky. He had said what he needed to say. The response he got wasn’t what he hoped, but it was what he expected.

For Xavier, a look of remorse never left his face. Staring at the clear blue sky, watching his friend disappear into the distance, he let out a deep sigh. His friend had made his point. He truly was lost in his own world. And there would surely be plenty of new challenges made all the more difficult in that a friend from the past was now an enemy of the present. It was an unfortunate part of the struggle in the pursuit of his dream.

Balkans – Fifteen Years Ago

The war ravaged landscape of yet another village was a common site in this part of the world. Charles Xavier had seen many in his time here. His friend and close associate, Erik Lensherr had seen much more. As long time resident of this region, such destruction was ingrained in his memory. The burnt houses, charred landscape, blackened trees, and dead bodies were all too familiar. It didn’t help that the sky was dark and a steady drizzle was falling over the landscape. Puddles of mud mixed with blood and the aroma of rotting flesh hung strong in the air. But both men kept their composure as they walked the landscape.

“They came in the early morning,” said Erik in a grim tone, “They used the fog as their cover. They were clearly looking for something and weren’t going to stop until they found it.”

“What were they looking for, Erik?” asked a stoic Charles Xavier.

“Who knows? A rival leader…a hidden cache of weapons…perhaps they were just trying to make a statement. But whatever it was, they took no chances.”

The two men then stopped just in front of a house that was still burning. There were still traces of dead bodies, but the fire had burned much of them to bone and ash. The rain helped wash away some of the gruesomeness, but they could still make out the tortured expressions on their faces.

“They hit every house and every corner,” Erik went on, “First they demanded answers. When they didn’t give them the answers they wanted they were shot. When they tried to resist, they beat them brutally. Then they shot them too.”

“And the women and children?”

“Do you even have to ask?” scoffed Erik, “They were fair game. They didn’t take their time with the women. There was no rape. If they didn’t cooperate they were killed just as ruthlessly as the men. The animals that did this didn’t care about enslavement or torture. They just wanted to get in, get out, and leave no one left to tell their story.”

Xavier’s expression hardened as he looked at an area of charred remains. He walked over and knelt down, trying to imagine what it must have been like during those last terrifying moments. For him, a man who could read thoughts, the impact of such unspeakable torment was especially harsh. But unlike Erik, his spirits did not sink.

“So much needless bloodshed,” he mused, “It appears we have our work cut out for us, my friend.”

“Indeed,” said Erik, his tone thick with anger, “You would think that after all the terrible sights I’ve seen I would be immune to such sights. And yet every time it still strikes me…the sheer breadth of human brutality.”

“That’s why they need people like us. We must stand against that brutality.”

Charles rose up and walked away from the burning scene. Erik, always the hardened one, stared a bit longer. These peacekeeping ventures were never easy. But it was a chance to do more than just sit behind a desk at a school learning about such incidents and doing nothing about them. Unlike many others they had power and influence to do more, both in terms of skills and in terms of resources. It was part of why they came together. But there were times even their mutual respect for one another gave way to personal differences.

“Does it ever make you wonder, Charles?” asked Erik.

“Wonder about what?” asked Xavier.

“About the futility of human nature,” he said grimly, “It seems as though every time we clean up one site, several more emerge. Every time one group is stopped, another comes in to fill the void. It’s as though they don’t care for peace. All they want to do is destroy and pillage.”

“Try not to think of it in such simplistic terms, Erik. Warfare has a way of turning anybody into a monster. For some people it is all they know. They are as much a victim as the people of this village. It is an unfortunate part of nature. All creatures, not just humans, are affected by conflict.”

“And yet no other species on this planet so maliciously and willfully slaughters their own. I don’t see wolves or insects engaging in this sort of needless brutality. At least packs of wolves are merciful enough to kill only the weaker ones.”

“Are you suggesting human warfare is analogous to any other conflict in the animal kingdom?”

“No. I’m suggesting the same principles apply. And fighting them may be a futile endeavor at best and a fool’s errand at worst.”

Charles sighed as he looked at his friend with compassion and placed a hand on his shoulder. As a man who had seen his share of cruelty, he couldn’t blame Erik for having such hostile views towards human nature. But there was good in humanity as well and even in a place like this it was still worth remembering.

“I know it may seem hopeless at times, but that’s exactly why we must do our part. We have gifts, Erik. What you and I can do has the potential to make events such as this a memory. I understand how hard it must be to find good in mankind when all we see are areas such as this, but the mere fact that are people out there like us trying to help is proof that there is still good to be found.”

“That’s what you say, Charles. And you may be right. But don’t ever tell me you understand,” said Erik in a solemn tone, “You never lived through the holocaust. And you don’t live with the fear of your children going through the same thing.”

Xavier pulled away and was silent for a moment. But he remained resolute in the face of such grim realities.

“I may not have either, but do you not owe it to Wanda and Pietro to use your power to create a better world for them?”

“Of course I do. That’s always been my goal,” said Erik, clenching his fists, “But sometimes I wonder whether these powers make it possible. You read minds and I control magnetism. We are set apart from the rest of humanity whether we like it or not. And every year there are more of us. That makes me worry that the same human nature that destroyed this village will seek to destroy us as well.”

“We won’t let that happen, my friend. So long as we fight for understanding rather than conflict, we can overcome such destruction.”

“I hope you’re right, Charles…for all our sake.”

Charles smiled at his friend. As hardened a soul as Erik was, there was still a determined man in him that wanted to make a difference. The holocaust left an undeniable mark on him and his attitudes towards humanity. Yet through it he was able to build a respectable life, learning how to control his gifts and care for his two young children, Wanda and Pietro, despite the death of their mothers. He admired that resolve. It was part of why he chose to work with him in these peacekeeping endeavors. As a man who grew up in a rich, comfortable life he could not know these things. Erik offered perspective and while they may not always agree, it was important to remember.

Erik smiled back, but only slightly. As they continued walking the charred ruins, he couldn’t help but wonder how a man as knowledgeable as him could remain so strong in the face of such sights. Perhaps it was his powerful mind or his reasonable nature, but sometimes he wondered if he wasn’t deluded from reality.

“Mr. Xavier! Mr. Lensherr! Come quick!” came an urgent voice.

Xavier and Erik turned around to see a man in a Peace Corps uniform running up with an urgent look on his face. He was winded yet anxious. Something was clearly up.

“What is it?” asked Charles.

“We found a group of survivors!” the man exclaimed, “Mostly women and children! They’re not hurt, but…the looks on their faces! My god, I can’t even begin to describe it!”

It sounded like a grim situation. Erik knew the kind of look he was describing and there really were no words for it. He looked towards Charles, who looked as resolute as ever. It sounded like something only a man with his psychic talents could take on. Only through his telepathic guidance would their minds be saved from a lifetime of trauma.

“Take me to them,” said Charles, “I’ll do what I can.”

“Thank you sir!” said the man gratefully, “I don’t know how you do it, but you can reach these people like you reached all the others! Come on! We have to hurry!”

Charles began to follow the man with urgency. When minds were traumatized by war and violence, time was of the essence. The longer the mind was in a state of fear and terror, the more damage it would do. But even as he ran off, Erik stayed back. He had no desire to see such faces again and yet Charles never shied away from them. It was admirable, but fruitless in a ways. No matter how many he healed, there would always be more. It was enough to make him wonder.

“What if you’re wrong, Charles?” he called out, “What if understanding and reason are not enough to overcome this destruction?”

“We must still try, Erik. We can’t afford not to,” replied Charles strongly.

Erik continued to watch as he ran off with the man to help the victims. He then turned back to the burning house with the charred body remains scattered throughout the muddy streets. The rain began to fall harder and the skies darkened even more. As he took in this sight and put it together with the many others he had seen, his expression hardened. How many more scenes like this would he have to see? How many more would his children have to see? Humanity could not go on like this. This endless cycle of death and destruction would only cause more suffering. Something had to be done. And he, a mutant of great power, was destined to be a part of it.

Brotherhood Headquarters – Present Day

On an isolated island located just off the Northeast Coast, Magneto descended into a large mountainous structure. Waves crashed upon the imposing shore, giving the island the feel of a fortress. On the outside, it looked like a normal rock formation. But that’s where the similarities ended.

As he approached the top of the rocky structure, a series of mechanical gears activated and opened a large circular gateway leading into the structure. Inside, a vast sea of open space dominated the area. The whole structure was lined with elaborate caves, all of which were organized like the floors of a skyscraper. It looked like a structure that would have taken an army of workers and decades to build. Yet for the master of magnetism, he barely broke a sweat over it. With Magneto’s presence, a series of strobe lights were activated, illuminating the large structure in fluorescent glow.

Down below, three figures watched as he descended to the ground. One was a young man with white hair similar to Magneto’s and a white, silverfish body suite. The other was a woman about the same age with a purple black outfit and dark auburn hair. And standing next to her was an older looking woman with blue skin, yellow eyes, red hair, and red pants with a matching crop top. And as he descended upon them, the three figures gathered respectfully around the powerful mutant.

“Back so soon, Father?” asked the man with the white hair.

“Unfortunately so, son,” said Magneto removing his helmet as he landed, “His response was as typical as it was foolish.”

“I take it he’s not with us,” said the blue skinned woman with a cynical tone.

“As was expected, Mystique. As such, my little visit was a warning if nothing else. But rest assured, Professor Xavier and his X-men will not change our plans.”

“Too bad,” said the other redhead, “I guess time didn’t change Xavier’s mind.”

“Face it, he’s too much of an idealist,” said Pietro, “He refuses to live in the real world and fight real battles.”

“I think the man is just too squeamish for war,” added Mystique, “So he chooses to live in denial.”

“It’s a shame, really,” said Wanda, her tone not as cynical as Pietro and Mystique’s, “We could have used their help.”

“Like we’d need it,” scoffed Mystique.

Using his powers to raise a large console from below, Magneto activated a large computer array. All around them, metallic components came to life, forming bridges and turning on vast machines. Lights flickered on all over the walls, revealing more complex machinery of both mechanical and digital format. And in the center island like formation of the lair, a large monitor screen came up, revealing images of Professor Xavier and the X-men.

“Do not underestimate Charles Xavier, Mystique,” warned Magneto in a serious tone, “The man may be delusional, but he’s no fool. His X-men are a formidable force. We must be prepared to face his forces at any given moment.”

“He’s recruited misfit kids and half wit teachers,” scoffed Pietro, “How tough can he be?”

“Pietro…” groaned Wanda, rubbing her head in exasperation.

“Twins,” muttered Mystique, rolling her eyes.

Ignoring such banter, Magneto changed the images on the screen, once again drawing the attention of his loyal followers.

“Misfits or not, Xavier is has trained them hard. And with his two latest recruits and their successful battle against Weapon X, it’s clear that they are a force to be reckoned with.”

“So then what we do about them?” asked Mystique, folding her arms snidely.

“Simple, my dear. Before we can begin work on my plan, we must do some recruiting of our own.”

“Great, more members,” muttered Pietro, “As if this place isn’t spacious enough.”

That earned him a slap upside the head from Wanda, the blow being mixed with a purplish energy that made it sting even more for the young man.

“Ow! Watch the hexing, Wanda!”

“You were asking for it,” said Wanda, “Now be serious for once in your fast paced life!”

Mystique rolled her eyes at the twins’ behavior and put on a more serious demeanor.

“Just where are we going to find the necessary recruits for our team, Father?”

With a sinister grin, Magneto brought up a screen of unique looking individuals. They didn’t look like anything Xavier had on his roster. They more resembled mug shots of known criminals. They certainly didn’t seem like the kind of people who would dress up in spandex and play hero, making them more than promising for the plans Magneto had in mind. There weren’t many, but they looked imposing enough on the surface to be Brotherhood material.

“Bear in mind, I helped Xavier build Cerebro. I have the same technology he does. I can find prospective mutants every bit as efficiently as he can.”

“And these guys are the best you can come up with?” said Mystique skeptically, “It might be better if I just called up some of my old mercenary friends.”

“We are not looking for mercenaries, Mystique,” said Magneto, “Like Charles, we must reach out to those who have grown wary of a world that hates and fears them.”

“Only we’re not going to enlist them in some school, are we?” scoffed Pietro, “When you got powers like ours, who needs education?”

“That doesn’t mean they don’t have much to learn,” Magneto went on, “Like Xavier, we will teach all our new recruits. Except for us, we have something he can’t match with his fancy school.”

“And what might that be?” asked Mystique.

“The will to do what is necessary.”

The three loyal members smiled at their leader’s words. It was a promising sign of things to come. They were all following this man for a reason. For some it was personal. For some it was pragmatic. Whatever the reason, the goal was the same and they were ready for the next step. Setting aside the computer, he faced his new team with a strong poise, his imposing figure demanding fear and respect to all those in his presence.

“Xavier can have his X-men,” he stated, putting his helmet back on, “But we are the mutants fighting the fight. We don’t chase dreams, we make them. We are the Brotherhood of Mutants. And it’s time we start expanding our ranks.”

Next Issue: Growing Ranks

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