Professor Charles Xavier and his mutant team, the X-men, fight for peace and understanding in a world that hates and fears them. In this fight they have encountered many obstacles and gone through many twists and turns in their struggle. Some have been harder than others. Some have just been nothing short of astonishing.
In wake of Magneto’s plot to destroy humanity with an asteroid, a fragile compromise was struck. Magneto now runs the island nation of Genosha as a sanctuary for mutants, but only under the closest scrutiny by international forces. Not content to live by such means, the master of magnetism sought an edge through the hidden secrets of Genosha. In his search he located a crashed alien ship in a cave containing a mysterious creature named Pulsar claiming he was on a mission for something known as the Shi’ar Empire. The alien perished before anybody could learn more, but the ship has yielded it’s secrets.
Having briefly interfaced with the alien craft, Charles Xavier had visions of a conflict that was literally out of this world. Now that Magneto has possession of the alien ship, there is concern within the X-men that he will use it against humanity. But Magneto isn’t the only one they should be concerned about. Other forces, it seems, have already taken advantage of this technology and are poised to use it again.
Pentagon – Cold War
Dr. Nathanial Essex was never a fan of government sponsored research. He often joked he would rather have root canal done on a daily basis than traverse the endless seas of red tape that came along with working for the government. He was a scientist, not a bureaucrat. He doubted even the most brilliant minds in academia could comprehend the pitfalls of government research, especially when it was sponsored by the military. He also doubted they would allow him the freedom to pursue his work to its full potential. As the leading authority on mutation and biotechnology, he had been courted by the government before and he always turned them down.
But that was before he made a breakthrough like no other. One fateful day was all it took to change his life. It was a day he would never forget because it was what led him to this exciting opportunity. Now walking through the bowls of the Pentagon, he stood ready to take charge and put his knowledge to good use. Some, however, weren’t so enthusiastic.
“I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into, Dr. Essex. I know the bigwigs writing the checks threw a lot of resources your way to lure you in, but going from small-time research to Weapon X is major step,” said Colonel Phillip Summers of the United States Army.
“I appreciate your concern, Colonel. But I know what I’m doing. I’m more than capable of taking care of myself,” said a stoic Dr. Essex.
“It’s not you I’m concerned about. It’s this project,” said the Colonel strongly, “I met with Major Wraith and Doctor Abraham Cornelius yesterday. I’ve always prided myself on my ability to read people and after just five minutes with them I know they’re not the kind of people you want be involved with.”
“Men of their trade rarely are, which is why I’m relying on you to keep them from taking advantage of my talents. After all, you are the chief watchdog of these operations.”
“Not by choice, I assure you,” said Phillip, “I’m a soldier, plain and simple. My job is to protect this country from threats, both external and internal. Some may call me paranoid, but this Weapon X project the Americans and Canadians are pushing has the potential to be the greatest threat of all.”
“They also have the greatest potential to unlock the very secrets of life and human evolution,” retorted Dr. Essex, “If used properly, the rewards could far outweigh any threat.”
“I wish I could share your optimism. But like I said, I’m a soldier. I don’t weigh in on the science. I do what has to be done for the good of this country.”
Dr. Nathanial Essex couldn’t help but grin as he stepped into a secure elevator with Colonel Summers. For a man who dedicated his life to combat, he had a great deal of humility. He didn’t live in a world of allies and enemies. He lived in a world of right and wrong, making hard judgments without letting his ego influence him too much. It was a rare quality in men of power or men in general for that matter, even if it was utterly futile.
“Tell me, Colonel, do you have a family?” asked Dr. Essex as they descended in the elevator.
“Yes, a wife and a son,” answered Colonel Summers, “Why do you ask?”
“I’m just hoping to give you some perspective because the work that Weapon X is doing could very well have an impact on them. Just think of how much of our advanced civilization owes to technology founded in the fires of war. Were it not for the carnage of World War II, we would not have jet planes, nuclear power, or advanced radar. All started as weapons programs. All yielded advancements that helped mankind in other ways.”
“I understand that, but there was a cause and a general principle behind it all,” argued Phillip, “What Weapon X is doing goes beyond developing technology. It’s taking human beings and turning them into tools of war. It just seems so…”
“Sinister?” said Dr. Essex.
“I’d say that’s appropriate. I just can’t help but think of my wife, my kids, or my kid’s kids living in a world where human beings are turned into weapons. Even if it does yield some advanced technology, it’s not worth paying that kind of price. There are other ways…better ways. Which is why I won’t sleep easy so long as Weapon X is active.”
“And that’s exactly why I wanted you to broker this deal,” said Dr. Essex as the elevator stopped and the two men stepped out, “There are any number of colonels, majors, and generals I could have turned to for this endeavor. But I chose you for many of the reasons you just described.”
“Because I hate Weapon X and everything it stands for?” said the Colonel, “That doesn’t make any sense. I thought you wanted to get in good with these people so you could pursue your research.”
“I do. But I’m no fool. I know they’ll keep me on a short leash. That’s where you come in, Philip,” said Dr. Essex with a friendly gesture, “You can be my guardian, one who can keep a close eye on Weapon X should they try to exploit me. Just think of it this way. You have an insider to this shadowy project you despise and I have an ally to cover me from the outside. It’s like a partnership.”
“I wouldn’t go that far, Nathanial. I still don’t know if I can trust you.”
“Then I’ll just have to work on earning that trust,” grinned Dr. Essex, “It is something I’m sure I’ll need. In time, you might need my trust as well.”
Colonel Phillip Summers wasn’t sure what to make of this man. As they made their way down the darkened halls, he studied this mysterious man closer. Like he did with Wraith and Cornelius, he tried to get a sense of how honorable Dr. Nathanial Essex was. So far, it was hard to tell. He could see in him a man of great ambition, wanting nothing more than to learn the secrets of evolution. His desire to avoid falling into the dark grip of Weapon X showed a capacity to resist the wrong influences. But at the same time he sensed in him the potential to be far worse than anyone he ever encountered.
Whatever the case, he understood the merit of staying involved in his affairs and gaining his trust. It would not only give him someone inside Weapon X, it would give him someone who was knowledgeable in using biotechnology to enhance humans. His entire career seemed to be growing around his personal crusade against such programs. Nathanial Essex, if he could keep him in line, could help him stop these misguided endeavors from becoming something much more sinister.
The two men finally reached their destination. It was a highly secure room set up by Dr. Abraham Cornelius and Professor Thornton that housed copies of all files of ongoing Weapon X research. Now that Dr. Essex was officially on the project, he was entitled to see them all. He claimed it was vital for him to know how he was going to incorporate his own research into the project. But Colonel Summers remained skeptical.
“In terms of trust, we’ll have to wait and see,” he responded as he opened doors with his clearance key, “Don’t expect me to invite you to Christmas dinner right off the bat. I like to keep my family out of my work.”
“I understand completely, Phillip. But hopefully, that’ll change in due time,” said Dr. Essex as he looked over the classified Weapon X file, “If you’re to be part of my world, I would very much like to be one of yours. I understand the Summers family breeds men of great character. Hopefully I can learn from that as I continue my ambitious work.”
Jean Grey’s Bedroom – Present Time
“Mmm…oh Scott. Oh that’s it! Right there! That’s the spot!” purred a very content Jean Grey.
“Yeah, I can feel it too. You like that, Jean?” grinned an equally content Scott Summers with a manly grin.
“Ooh I love it! I love it almost as much as I love you!”
It was a sound Scott never got tired of hearing. The gentle moans of his lover were enough to calm even the tensest of nerves. As the leader of the X-men, it was something he definitely needed. After his recent alien encounter, he needed a way to keep himself grounded. But this wasn’t about helping him. It was about helping Jean. She needed extra attention since she had been struggling with psychic migraines again. They had plagued her ever since she used Magneto’s machine to stop that asteroid. She wasn’t sure why, but they were much more persistent this time. Scott hated seeing her in pain like this so he did what he could to help her cope.
Jean let out another content moan as he continued to work his magic. Scott smiled at her reaction. She was getting a little loud. They couldn’t afford to be too noisy otherwise curious listeners may get the wrong idea. The truth was they actually weren’t having sex. They finished that part a good thirty minutes ago. At the moment Jean was lying down on her stomach and Scott was on top of her. Armed with a bottle of baby oil and his talented hands, Scott proceeded to give her a nice thorough massage.
It was one of the finer points of their blossoming relationship. They had come to know each others’ bodies very well. With that knowledge, they used it to please one another in many ways. It didn’t just make for great sex. It helped them feel one another on a deeper level. That powerful feeling was a source of strength as they endured so many challenges as X-men.
“How’s you’re headache?” asked Scott softly as he rubbed around Jean’s shoulders.
“A lot better now,” she smiled, still purring as she allowed her body to relax, “Even the worst psychic migraines can’t stand up to a post-coital massage from Scott Summers.”
“Glad I can help,” he said, smiling back as he kept rubbing, “By the same token even the most stressful missions, like say an alien encounter with a doomsday message, can’t stand up to a night in bed with Jean Grey.”
“Guess we both help each other in that respect,” purred Jean, “It’s a good thing too because without it I probably would have gone crazy by now.”
“Me too,” said Scott tenderly.
The two lovers shared a warm smile. Scott’s massaging motions then got slower. His expression grew serious as he leaned in closer to his lover so she could feel his warmth.
“But I still worry about you, Jean,” he told her softly, “It’s been months since the asteroid incident and these migraines aren’t going away.”
“Yes, that hasn’t been lost on me either. I’ve talked to the Professor and I’ve gotten checkups with Mr. McCoy. Both seem to agree that using Magneto’s machine had some lasting effects. They just can’t figure out what it is or how to fix it.”
“Well what could it be?” Scott wondered, “I hope it isn’t something serious. I hate seeing you suffer through this.”
“It’s not without its benefits. It gives us a good excuse to have lots of great sex!” grinned Jean as she felt Scott’s hands on her lower back.
“Not that I’m complaining. But seriously, Jean…it could be a sign of something bad.”
Jean sighed as she continued to enjoy her lover’s massage. There was a deep sincerity in his words. It showed just how genuinely concerned he was. Most men couldn’t get so concerned when they were in bed with a naked woman. But Scott wasn’t most men. He was right to be worried. She was worried too. These migraines were a pain in so many ways. The longer they persisted, the more difficult it was for her to cope.
“Don’t get the wrong idea, Scott. I’m not taking this lightly,” she said in a more serious tone, “These migraines don’t happen without a cause. I wish I knew what it was, but I don’t. Until I find out, the best I can do is manage them. That’s where you come in.”
“I don’t take that role lightly either,” he said with a warm smile, “Being your boyfriend, your lover, and your personal masseuse is just as important to me as leading the X-men. But I wish there was a way for me to help even more.”
“Well I have been looking to give Tantric Sex a try. I hear that does wonder for migraines too,” said Jean wryly.
“I meant beyond simply helping you manage,” said Scott, grinning at her playful tone, “You say this sort of thing doesn’t happen without a cause. Maybe I can help you find that out too?”
It was a serious offer. Scott reinforced the notion by leaning in and kissing down her neck as he rubbed her shoulders. Jean purred softly, happy she had such a dedicated and physical boyfriend to help her through this. But unlike missions and such, these weren’t the kinds of issues he could help with.
“I appreciate the sentiment, Scott. But that’s something only I can deal with,” she said in a more serious tone, “It comes with being psychic. When you have problems with your powers, you’re the one that has to take control. Otherwise you’ll end up losing your mind. And that’s not a figure of speech.”
“I don’t even want to contemplate what that entails,” said the X-leader, “But are you sure there’s nothing more I can do?”
“Believe me, you’re doing everything I need you to right now,” she purred softly, “Just keep the steady supply of love, support, and sex coming and I’ll be okay. I promise.”
“That a promise you can swear by completely?” pushed Scott as he leaned over again.
To further reassure him, Jean rolled around slightly and kissed him passionately on the lips. It was the best assurance she could give him and Scott accepted it. They shared more intimate gestures as the sensual massage continued, moaning softly as their naked bodies continued to mesh. It was a wonderful feeling and one they had come to cherish together.
But even after they parted and the intimacy continued, Scott remained worried and so did Jean. They hid their respective looks in the heat of the moment. As wonderful as these feelings were, there was no getting around the truth. There was a source for these migraines and the more it affected Jean, the more it would affect Scott.
For Jean Grey, it was a test of the will and the heart. This was her burden and she didn’t want Scott to bear it as well. They had come so far in their relationship in the short time they had been together. She didn’t want to burden it with something like this. Scott was too important to her. Their relationship was too important. Important but fragile, she refused to make the same mistakes she made with her past lovers.
‘That’s right, make him a promise. Give yourself more incentive to get through this. Don’t push him when he’s not ready to be pushed. We’ve been so happy together. Do what you have to do and trust Scott to do his part as well. It’ll all be okay. Just keep saying it and hoping it. It’ll all be okay.’
Xavier Institute – Classroom
Bobby Drake fell behind an awful lot in his studies during his relationship with Lorna. There were any number of occasions when he would set homework and class work aside so he could call, text, or instant message Lorna. He dedicated a lot of time and effort to her, especially as she struggled with her mother’s health and her megalomaniacal family. Now that they had broken up, he realized just how far behind he was.
He had been restlessly drudging along, going over notes and assignments in his textbook and on his laptop. He must have had every textbook in his room with him. That’s how much he needed to catch up on. In recent months he had been putting in overtime between training and regular class. It was frustrating, but at least it was a distraction from other difficult matters.
“So the interest only be compounded if the principle is above a set limit. Depending on what fees and services you be offering, the limit can fluctuate by thousands,” said Remy, who was sitting next to Bobby and reading over an accounting textbook with him.
“Uh huh…right,” said a distant and tired Bobby.
Remy looked at his younger teammate and shook his head.
“Then investor brings the client a beautiful femme and gives him an option on which gods she be sacrificed to. If he can’t decide, they flip a coin or have a rock, paper, scissors contest, whichever comes first.”
Remy rolled his eyes and closed the book. This was getting ridiculous.
“Dang it, Drake! Remy agreed to help you catch up on this accounting stuff because I thought you be serious! We be at this for an hour now and you’re sitting here like a dead possum!”
“Sorry if I can’t get too enthusiastic, Remy. Usually, the wonders of accounting and numbers garner all my attention.”
“You could’ve fooled Remy. You barely be keeping your head up!”
“It’s not my fault I’m burned out!” he groaned, “I’ve been studying and training nonstop for weeks now and I’m still not caught up. It just takes a toll.”
“Well then you better be getting over it because Remy ain’t got time to waste with a burned out iceman,” said the Cajun as he closed Bobby’s book, “I got classes of my own now in case you forgotten.”
“Yeah, I’m still getting used to that,” snickered Bobby, “You never struck me as much of a grade grubber. You never struck me as a guy interested in philosophy either.”
“And you never struck Remy as a homme who digs accounting so we be even,” quipped Remy, “Although at the rate you be going, Remy ain’t sure what you into now.”
”That makes two of us,” sighed Bobby.
While Remy turned back to his own work, Bobby turned his attention across the classroom. On the other end near the chalkboard, Kitty was working with Miss Munroe on a computer programming assignment. She seemed a lot more focused than he was, asking questions and working with Storm to get it right. It was the kind of focus and dedication he wished he could have. As much as he had been clashing with Kitty lately, there was a lot he admired about her.
Remy noticed Bobby’s daze as he went back to his own work. He couldn’t help but laugh somewhat. Having been through the pain of heartache and loss, he sympathized with his situation. Lorna still weighed heavy on his mind. But she didn’t seem like the only girl he was dwelling on.
“You know eventually, you gonna creep her out with that look,” commented Remy.
“What are you talking about?” asked Bobby incredulously.
“Don’t be dense, homme. Scott and Jean already played that game and ain’t nobody be needing to play it again. You’re attracted to petite over there.”
“Me and Kitty?” scoffed Bobby, “Yeah right! You see the way we’ve been dogging each other lately? It’s like every day she looks for new ways to push my buttons.”
“And still you be liking it,” grinned Remy.
“I do not!”
“They why do you stare at her like that? Maybe her pushing your buttons is just what you want. I be guessing Lorna never did that. Challenge you when you need to be challenged.”
“Please don’t bring Lorna into this conversation,” he groaned.
“Why not? It seems she be at the source of all this angst you got going.”
Bobby groaned and slouched over his desk. He must have been pretty obvious for a guy like Remy to pick up on it. The difference between him and the others was he wasn’t polite enough to leave it alone.
Months had gone by and Lorna still weighed heavily on his mind. The pain of their breakup lingered even as they had plenty of distractions. But through it all, Kitty was the one that challenged him the most. While the others were just supportive and reassuring, she wasn’t afraid to call him out. She would touch on sensitive issues like how she was so secretive during the final days of their relationship and how he couldn’t understand the way she latched onto Magneto’s twisted ideas of morality. It led to a number of arguments, but it also led to a strange yet interesting dynamic between them.
“I’ll admit I’m still pretty hung up on Lorna. But just because Kitty’s been so much more active in helping me through it, that doesn’t mean I have a thing for her.”
“Maybe so,” shrugged Remy, “But that don’t mean you should brush it off.”
“I’m not brushing it off. It’s just that after dating someone like Lorna and having it end the way it did, I think I need a break from relationships.”
“It ain’t like you gotta be so serious about it,” said Remy with an encouraging pat on the back, “Besides, you know the old saying. The best way to get over a beautiful woman is to get on top of another one.”
Bobby laughed at Remy’s crude advice. He was still learning to laugh and joke again, but comments like that definitely helped.
“Spoken like a true deviant,” said Bobby.
“Just because it’s deviant it don’t mean it’s wrong.”
“No wonder you and Rogue get along so well. The rules of common sense just don’t apply, do they?”
“Sometimes common sense be too common,” shrugged the Cajun, “Sometimes the wrong thing can be right if your spirit be in the right place.”
“Okay, I take it back. Now I understand why you’re studying philosophy,” snickered Bobby.
The two men shared another laugh. But this time it was loud enough to draw Kitty and Ororo’s attention. Naturally, Kitty turned to Bobby with an annoyed look.
“Will you guys keep it down over there? Some of us are trying to work here!” she said.
“Sorry Kitty. We’ll use our indoor voices to discuss the complex affairs of the human/mutant conflict just to accommodate you,” said Bobby playfully.
“I’m sure you will,” she said, rolling her eyes.
Bobby kept grinning, much to Kitty’s chagrin. He could push her buttons just as well as she could push his. Now that he thought about it, it was actually kind of fun. Even Miss Munroe seemed to pick up on it. It only got him thinking even more. Maybe Remy was right. This sort of thing wasn’t worth just brushing off. He missed Lorna and everything he had with her, but he was ready to move on. Maybe Kitty Pryde could be a part of that.
“Okay mien sister, try it again,” said Kurt, who was sitting next to his sister on a picnic table out back.
Rogue took a deep breath and prepared herself for another round of embarrassment.
“Wo ist das nakste uh…” she said, struggling with each word.
“Nien, it’s not nakste. It’s nächste. Wo ist das nächste Krankenhaus?” said Kurt in perfect German, “Vhere is zhe nearest hospital? Zhat’s how it’s supposed to sound.”
“Sorry, but that sort of tongue twisting ain’t easy with a southern accent,” groaned Rogue.
“You can do it. You just need to take it one vord at a time, ja?”
“At the rate Ah’m going, German will be an extinct language by the time Ah’m fluent.”
Kurt sighed and closed his book. He thought teaching German to his sister would be a good bonding experience for them. But all it seemed to be doing is give Rogue new ways to be frustrated.
“You shouldn’t give up so easily, Rogue. No one ever learned anything vithout a little frustration along zhe way,” he told her.
“Ah’m an X-man, Kurt. Ah don’t need a lecture about perseverance,” she said dryly as she went over a few of the German flash cards he gave her.
“You could have fooled me. You get so down at times it vorries me.”
“Sorry, but Ah guess Ah get burned out,” sighed Rogue, “After Genosha, Senator Kelly, and mah powers it’s hard to have the strength to push through everything.”
“But I zhought you vere doing better?” said Kurt, “You’ve been a lot more upbeat lately. Vell…as upbeat as you can be, I suppose.”
“Yeah, don’t expect meh to be the cheeriest member of the team anytime soon,” said Rogue with a half grin.
“I’m not. But you have been doing better. You’re not as late to class anymore, you’re down to half a pack a day, and you actually smile vhen someone makes a joke. I call zhat progress in my book.”
Rogue smiled at her brother. Sometimes it was easy to miss how far she came since she lost control of her powers. Kurt was always good at reminding her of the positives even when she always seemed to dwell on the negatives. It was good for her, especially during times like this.
“It has gotten easier,” she conceded, “But that doesn’t mean it ain’t still a struggle. Every time Ah see Scott and Jean kissing or Miss Munroe hugging someone or even Professor Xavier shakin’ hands it hurts. It makes meh miss those basic feelings.”
“You’ll feel zhem again,” said Kurt confidently, “And vhen you do, zhey vill be zhat much more meaningful.”
“That’s still a big if,” she lamented, “Ah’ve been getting checkups with Mr. McCoy every week. He still can’t seem to figure mah powers out.”
“Give it time. You know, Mr. McCoy. Vhen he gets a puzzle he doesn’t stop until it’s solved.”
“Given how much time he spends on the crossword puzzles every morning, Ah don’t doubt him. But you gotta wonder how dedicated he’ll be now that he and the Professor have this alien mess to worry about.”
“Ja, I’m sure zhat vill garner plenty of attention,” said Kurt, “But he von’t forget about you. Zhat much I’m sure of. And until he figures out a vay for you to be in control again, you’ll have to make due vith being able to fly and bench press ten tons.”
“Ah suppose there are worse powers Ah could be stuck with,” said Rogue with a half grin as she took out a cigarette, “And for your information, Ah’m up to 20 tons.”
“Like I said, you’re making progress,” said Kurt, grinning back, “Coping is an ongoing process, mien sister. Take it from me, it never stops testing you. Some people are just better at it zhen others. Take comfort in zhe knowledge you’re not zhe worst.”
“Ah like to see an example of someone who copes worse than meh,” she said as she prepared to light a cigarette.
Just as Rogue was about to light up, Kurt and Rogue felt a sharp gust of wind blow past them followed by a hard thud. At first they were startled. Rogue dropped her flash cards and Kurt dropped a couple of books. But the surprise quickly wore off when they found out the source of this disturbance. Warren, who had been out on another flight, came in for a rough landing.
“Dang it, Warren! What the hell?!” exclaimed Rogue.
“Ugh…not my best landing,” groaned a very groggy Warren Worthington III.
Rogue tossed aside her cigarette and got up with Kurt to see what was up. When they saw Warren lying face down in the ground, they quickly surmised why he had landed so poorly. He was hung over in the worst kind of way.
He looked terrible. His hair was a mess and Kurt could swear he saw a wad of gum stuck in it. His clothes didn’t look much better. He was wearing a shirt which had a strange smelling red stain on it and jeans so tattered even Logan wouldn’t wear them. His face didn’t look much better. It had to have been at least a week since he shaved. He was also wearing dark sunglasses, probably a cover for his bleary eyes. He didn’t look like much of an angel. He was so uncoordinated that Kurt and Rogue had to help him up.
“Mien Gott, Angel, you look like you flew head first into a landfill!” commented Kurt.
“Ow! Not so loud, Kurt!” groaned Warren, clutching his head, “My head can’t take any more noise!”
“Now you know how your liver probably feels,” said Rogue, “Let meh guess, you went out partying again last night?”
“No! I just…I hit a club, that’s all,” groaned the winged mutant, “Why? It’s not like you or the others don’t go out.”
“But we don’t get so drunk we can’t even stand the next day!”
“Ahhh! Could you tone it down, Rogue?” said Warren, clutching his head again.
“Ah’ll be as loud as Ah have to if it gets the message across!”
Warren groaned as he was finally able to stand on his own. He tried stretching his tired wings and arms, but still needed to lean on the picnic table for support. The world around him was still spinning. Every passing second led to another round of pounding in his head. He had been hung over before, but never like this.
“Ugh…so much for trying to work off a hangover with a nice long flight,” he said.
“How is flying at high speeds in zhe bright sun supposed to help vith a hangover?” wondered Kurt.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” he shrugged sheepishly.
“Just like going out and getting wasted was a good idea?” questioned Rogue, “Ah expect that kind of thing from Logan. Hell, even Ah’m guilty of it from time to time. But this ain’t you, Warren!”
“Ja, once ve can understand. But again vith zhe partying and drinking?” added Kurt, “You’re starting to worry us, mien friend.”
“You don’t have to worry. It’s just…rough, that’s all,” he groaned, “I’ve never had to deal with the love of my life completely screwing me over. I’m still learning how to cope.”
“Well you ain’t learning very well from the looks of it!” said Rogue, “Drinking, partying, and strip clubs ain’t gonna make that Candy girl any less a heartache.”
“I know it isn’t!” exclaimed Warren, “But you don’t understand! You didn’t come close to marrying Scott before you broke up with him! And he didn’t completely betray your trust!”
“What are ya getting mad at meh for?” said Rogue defensively.
“Because you’re claiming to understand when you obviously don’t!” spat Warren, “You actually had it easy! You had someone like Remy to fall back on! Me? I don’t have anybody! Candy took four years of my youth I’ll never get back! I sat there waiting for her to come around only to find out it was all a waste of time!”
“I know you’re upset about it, mien friend,” said Kurt in a sympathetic tone, “But zhis is no way to cope!”
“I’m not just coping. I’m catching up,” said Warren as he started stumbling off, “I missed out on a lot of fun while I was waiting for Candy. I’m young, I’m rich, and I’m handsome. I want to at least try and enjoy it before mutants get completely cast off.”
“Zhere’s a fine line between enjoyment and self-destruction, Warren,” warned Kurt.
“Yeah, and you’re diving head first right over it,” added Rogue.
“So what if I am? At least I’m having a good time.”
Warren stormed off, having had enough of their criticism. Kurt had a girlfriend who loved him and accepted him and all his mutant traits. Rogue had never been in a relationship as serious as his. That tryst between her and Scott never had long-term potential like he and Candy once did. Neither one of them had to deal with something like this. It wasn’t just heartache. It was flat out betrayal. It was worse than anything even his father could do. If ever there was a more appropriate time for self-destruction, this was it.
Kurt and Rogue watched as Warren stammered back towards the mansion. Usually he would have just flown back up to his room, but he was so hung over he probably couldn’t make it. It was a troubling sight. Warren was usually light-hearted and easy-going. The drama with Candy affected him on many ways, but nobody could have imagined it being this bad.
“Suddenly, mah issues don’t seem as bad,” commented Rogue.
“To be fair, he vas right in one respect. We really don’t understand vhat he is going through,” said Kurt.
“That ain’t an excuse for being a jerk!” scoffed Rogue.
“It isn’t. But zhat doesn’t mean ve shouldn’t be supportive. He’s going through a lot and it’s only going to get vorse if he keeps going down zhis path.”
“Maybe we should find him a new hobby besides catching up as he calls it,” said Rogue dryly.
“It couldn’t hurt,” Kurt shrugged, “But I have faith something vill come his vay.”
“Well it better come soon,” said Rogue as she picked up her flash cards, “We got enough problems going on between aliens and insane folk running for president. We don’t need Warren’s drunken buffoonery adding to it.”
Charles Xavier had a lot on his mind both literally and figuratively. Since his psychic encounter with the alien aircraft on Genosha he had been reeling. He spent over a day in the infirmary, struggling with visions and vivid dreams. He eventually regained his strength, but quickly shifted all his focus to this new threat. He utterly forgot about Senator Kelly’s ongoing campaign and even negated his further discussions with Lilandra Neramani. It was a troubling shift for Charles Xavier and one that drew plenty of concern from his staff and students. As if they didn’t have enough to worry about with mutant affairs, now they had an alien agenda to deal with.
Hank and Logan tried to assist him. The Professor made it clear this wasn’t something he was going to leave behind. Logan went over every possible eye-witness detail of the affair while Hank compiled information onto his laptop and used it to create a projection they could all see on the TV. As Logan went over the data, the Professor was deep in thought searching the visions he saw during his brief interface with the alien craft. They had plenty of information. It was just a matter of making the proper connections.
“So you say this Pulsar figure went through a time warp that sent him back 1,000 years?” said Hank as he continually entered new information, “Do you happen to know if he was referring to Earth years or the years of whatever planet he came from?”
“I don’t know. The guy wasn’t exactly detailed with all that ranting of his,” groaned Logan, having gone over this for the third time, “I’m not even sure it was a he.”
“For now, let us assume gender is irrelevant,” said Hank as he finished entering the data, “We’ll also have to assume this Pulsar figure was using that 1,000 year figure in Earth terms. So if we extrapolate, we should be able to link them to historical correlations. With any luck, it should provide us with more insight.”
Hank finished typing and ran the program. On the TV screen, a brief sequence flashed as data came streaming in. A brief 3-D animation came up, depicting Genosha and the space craft as it came crashing in. It was pretty rudimentary in terms of animation, but it gave a good visual image as to what may have happened.
“Hmm…interesting,” said Hank, “The landing of this alien ship seems to correlate with a major seismic event that may have occurred. According to records, the natives had a most unique creation tale. They say their island was formed by a fireball in the sky that came crashing onto their land. Later studies revealed this tale may have originated from a major volcanic event. But that would pose an even greater mystery since Genosha has no active volcanoes.”
“Bet they never figured aliens could be behind it,” scoffed Logan.
“They probably never had time to rule out other possibilities. As you know, Genosha has a long history of warfare. Coincidentally this tradition seems to have begun 1,000 years ago as well. Each following generation must have had an encounter with the craft, adding to its value each time.”
“And since their machinery seems to be sentient, it’s likely the systems would have interacted with their minds,” Xavier reasoned, “That would explain how they were able to obtain information on advanced technology like that of the sentinels.”
“So what did we do different?” asked Logan, “Why did others get the lowdown on alien tech while you got visions of the real life Star Wars?”
“Because we probed deeper, Logan,” said Xavier ominously, “Our efforts managed to unlock more than any past encounter ever cold have hoped for.”
Professor Charles Xavier continued searching his mind, rubbing his temples as he went over every detail of his visions. They still sent chills down his spine, the sheer magnitude of destruction on a galactic scale. It was hard to pick out details within such a vast scope of horrors. But he knew they were there.
While the Professor kept trying to extrapolate more information, Hank’s program continued to run. It yielded increasingly unusual results.
“Hmm…it appears that the ship had effects that went beyond the mind,” he said as a new animation showed, “If I recall, Logan, you said the rocks around the ship seemed to have a mysterious properties, correct?”
“Thought I went over that at least five times, but yeah,” muttered Logan, “There was something weird about that cave. The rocks sure didn’t look like rocks. They looked like metal and not the kind you find in a beer can.”
“That may have been a reaction from the unique radiation the craft was giving off along with the unique materials of the craft,” said Hank with growing intrigue, “As you can see from the data, the craft came in at extremely high speeds and punctured a gaping hole in the rocky hills of the island. Now unlike a meteor, the body of the craft is much harder. As such it penetrates the land, sort of like how a bullet would penetrate into a lump of clay. That would explain how it got down so deep into that mine. The natives of the island at that time may have followed the gaping hole it made to locate it. Thus, it would begin the cycle of war mentioned earlier.”
“Probably didn’t take long for some power-hungry nut to try and cover it up,” said Logan.
“Indeed, but they may have had help,” said Hank as he ran another simulation, “That radiation also had a transmutation effect on the rocks, causing the surrounding area to take on the mysterious properties you encountered. It also helped encase the craft in a shell and seal up the hole, eventually making it so the craft didn’t look alien. It would simply appear as an unusual rock formation.”
“No wonder word never got out,” said Logan, “The world probably would have gone crazy long ago if someone discovered aliens had landed.”
“But that’s not the strangest part if you can believe that,” said Hank curiously.
“What else could there be? The rocks have their own fortunes written on them?”
“Not quite. But their properties seem to bear an uncanny resemblance to the metal, adamantium. I don’t think I need to tell you what kind of possibilities that could entail.”
Logan tensed at such a revelation. He was never a fan of coincidences. Even when the connections were outlandish like adamanium and aliens, that didn’t mean they were any less valid. The idea that there could be a connection between aliens and Weapon X was almost too outrageous to comprehend. The former living weapon found himself snarling with anger as he gazed at Hank’s simulation.
But Logan wasn’t the only one who reacted to this information. It seemed to peak Professor Xavier’s interest as well. He didn’t like coincidences either. There had to be a deeper connection.
“That may in fact make sense with some of my visions,” said the Professor intently.
“If you tell me aliens were behind Weapon X, Chuck, I swear I’m gonna go on a three month bender,” said Logan.
“I don’t think it’s that extreme, Logan. But it does affirm one of my earlier suspicions,” he said in a critical tone, “This alien you encountered seemed to have intimate knowledge of our planet. He spoke our language. That could only mean that whoever these aliens are, they know we’re here and they’ve visited us before. This Pulsar figure may have been the first, but I doubt he was the last.”
“You mean this alien race, this Shi’ar Empire as they call themselves, may have made additional visits to our planet?” said Hank.
“I believe so,” said the Professor confidently, “That signal Pulsar mentioned could have been a marker of sorts. Perhaps it was some sort of beacon to indicate that this was a planet of interest.”
“Why? What’s so interesting about this neck of the galaxy?” said Logan cynically, “They don’t have enough booze and tobacco on their own damn planet?”
“That, Logan, is the vital question at hand,” said the Professor, “It holds the key to these visions! I’m sure of it! That war I saw is somehow connected. I’m not sure how, but if the Shi’ar keep visiting this planet that could mean there’s something here they want…something important that was worth risking a dangerous trip back in time.”
“Then I suppose the most important question is what could that something be?” surmised Hank, “We have only Pulsar’s last words to go on. Logan, you said he mentioned something about a bloodline, correct?”
“Among a lot of other crazy shit, yeah,” said Logan dryly.
“Then that should be our focus!” said Charles Xavier strongly, “We must learn more of this bloodline!”
“Whoa there, Charles. Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves,” coaxed Hank, “We have no other leads and Pulsar, our only source of new information, is dead.”
“Your welcome,” commented Logan, earning him a scold from Hank.
“In addition, we have other problems to worry about at home,” he went on, “Senator Kelly’s campaign took a hit in Philadelphia, but it still has plenty of momentum. There are a lot of wary mutants out there that need the X-men to keep stepping up. And we can’t do that if we’re chasing aliens.”
“Plus, you don’t want to spoil your chances with that Lilandra chick,” said Logan with a wolfish grin, “Not to butt into your personal life, Chuck, but she’s a looker and she’s interested in you. Don’t blow it by chasing bad visions. Trust me, it’s a dead end and it’ll drive you crazy.”
Coming from Logan, those words carried a lot of weight. It was enough to make Charles Xavier pause for a moment to consider this predicament. He looked over at the images on his TV and thought back to the visions that still hung so strongly in his mind. They still sent chills down his spine. He still believed whole-heartedly that these visions were a warning of sorts. That ship came to this planet on a mission and those vast battles he saw were a mere hint at what could be coming their way.
But then he thought back to his team and the fight they were already engrossed in. The world was still in chaos in wake of Magneto’s plot. Senator Kelly and growing anti-mutant sentiment threatened the world every bit as much as an alien war. He couldn’t be sure how long it would be before his visions came to pass. He had a much better idea of how soon someone like Senator Kelly or Magneto could affect them. It was natural for him to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders. It often came with his ambitious nature. But even he had his limits. There were only so many battles he could fight.
“I suppose you’re right,” Xavier conceded, “If memory serves me right, I still have a school to run.”
“Don’t tell me we’re gonna have to start reminding you,” commented Logan.
“I certainly hope not,” said the Professor in a more light-hearted tone, “But I cannot simply brush this aside. These visions are important. I know they are.”
“We’re not saying they aren’t, Charles. We’re just saying you should take on such astronomical challenges one at a time,” said Hank with a mild-mannered grin, “And some happen to be more approachable than others.”
Professor Charles Xavier sighed as he used the remote control to turn off the TV. He still found himself dwelling on the visions, but for now it would be best for everybody if he shifted his attention to more worldly matters.
“Take the rest of this data and secure it in the archives, Hank. I’ll get back to it later,” said the Professor as he wheeled back over to his desk.
“Of course, Charles,” said Hank with a strong sense of relief, “What are you going to do now? Will it involve other alien riddles?”
“Let us hope not,” he said with a humored grin, “I’m going to give Lilandra a call. I hope my brief absence hasn’t worried her too much.”
“I’m sure she’ll forgive you if she’s that into you,” grinned Logan, “You’d be surprised what women are willing to forgive for a guy they have the hots for. Just ask Jeannie.”
“I hope you’re right, Logan. After all, it would be nice to have something other than conflict to look forward to.”
Hank and Logan were starting to head out while the Professor was reaching for the phone. But just as he was about to grab it, the phone started ringing. It caught him, as well as Logan and Hank, by surprise.
“Damn, she really is psychic. She misses you already,” grinned Logan.
“That would be nothing short of remarkable if this were her. But it appears to be an unknown number.”
“Maybe she wants to surprise you,” shrugged Logan, “Woman like to do that.”
“Since when did you become such an expert on women, Logan?” said Hank cynically.
“Who said I was an expert? I just call ‘em like I see ‘em!”
Xavier rolled his eyes as he answered. But before he could even say hello he heard a strange voice on the other end.
“Don’t say a word, Charles. Just put Logan on the phone right now.”
It was a voice he didn’t recognize, but it didn’t sound friendly. His expression quickly grew grim as he turned back towards Logan and Hank, were just about to exit his office. He had a very bad feeling about this.
“Logan wait,” he said, “It’s for you.”
“For me?” said Logan in confusion, “What the hell could that Lilandra woman want with me?”
“It isn’t Lilandra,” he said, “I don’t know who it is.”
Logan quickly grew suspicious as well. He never got phone calls. Because of his history with the government, he tried to keep a low profile here. Xavier made it a point to ensure there was no contact information or public records that could tie him here. So if someone knew he was here, chances were it wasn’t a good sign.
“Let me see!” growled Logan as he stormed over to the desk and grabbed the phone.
With no sense of phone etiquette whatsoever, he put it to his ear and barked his response.
“Who the hell is this?!” he demanded.
“Heya old buddy. It’s been a while.”
Logan’s expression contorted in a rage as soon as he heard that all too familiar voice.
“Nice to hear from you too, runt! I’d love to catch up on these past few months, but we still got a score to settle! You and me never finished that little ‘conversation’ back in Canada. And if you aren’t a complete fucking coward you’ll listen up and meet me where I say you will! I’m ready to finish this, just you and me, Logan! Question is, are you?”
Logan clenched his fists and snarled, earning worried glances from the Professor and Hank. As soon as they heard it was Sabretooth, they knew it was trouble.
“Logan, tell me what’s going on?” urged Professor Xavier.
But Logan didn’t listen. He just turned away and growled into the phone.
“Where do you wanna do this bub? Better make it remote because when you’re gonna be screaming like a baby when I’m through with you!”
“Don’t worry. I’ve got the perfect place. Just do as I say and come alone. I don’t want no X-men getting in my way! This is between you and me, Wolverine! Let’s keep it that way!”
Institute Garage – Five Minutes Later
Logan stormed into the garage in full uniform, his every fiber brimming with rage. As soon as he got the location from Sabretooth, he slammed the phone down and ran off before Hank or the Professor could slow him down. He didn’t tell them where he was going or even drop a stray thought that Xavier could pick up on. He wanted to take care of this on his own. Sabretooth was his problem and only he was going to resolve it.
Just as Logan put on his helmet and got on his bike, Hank caught up to him and ran out in front of him so that he couldn’t run off.
“Slow down, Logan! Stop and rationalize this for just one moment!” urged Hank.
“There’s nothing to rationalize, Hank! Sabretooth’s a crazy, diseased, fur-ball looking to pick a fight! That’s all I need to know!”
“But to just call you out of the blue like this?” Hank questioned, “It doesn’t make sense! It could be a trap of sorts!”
“Sabretooth ain’t got the brain matter for traps! Whatever shit he’s got going on, I’ll deal with it! Now out of my way!”
“Logan wait!” exclaimed Hank.
But it was no use. Logan kicked his motorcycle into high gear and rode off, skillfully swerving right around Hank in the process. He completely ignored Hank’s urgings and sped off down the driveway and out into the road, not even looking back for an instant.
Hank could only watch in disappointment. Logan had made so much progress since joining the X-men. With help from the Professor, Jean, and the rest of the team he had made great strides in controlling his anger and overcoming his complicated past. But there were still some issues he just couldn’t get around, Sabretooth being one of them. He couldn’t begin to understand their dark history with one another. He could only assume it was very grim for him to run off like this with no regard for himself or his friends.
“So much for refocusing our efforts,” he sighed.
Now uncertain of what to do, Hank made his way back inside. There was no stopping Logan when it came to his personal battles. Perhaps this was something the team should stay out of. He didn’t appear to want their help anyways. It was a shame because Logan didn’t seem to realize how much the team cared about him.
Once he was back inside, he passed through the kitchen on his way back up to Xavier’s office. At the same time, Ororo entered as well. Having finished her classes, she was preparing to fix herself a snack. But as soon as she saw Hank’s grim look, it got her attention.
“Is something wrong, Hank?” she asked.
“Oh the usual,” sighed Hank, “Discussing human/mutant politics, speculating on alien agendas, and watching Logan run off on another one of his personal missions.”
“Logan ran off?” asked Ororo with greater concern, “Why? What happened?”
“It’s strange really. We were just finishing our discussion on the alien ship when out of nowhere, Sabretooth calls. I didn’t hear what he said, but it seems he’s called Logan out for another fight. I don’t know why he would call now of all times, but that didn’t seem to bother Logan.”
“So he just up and left?” said Ororo with a touch of scorn, “And you didn’t stop him?”
“I tried. But you know Logan. He doesn’t listen to reason! Especially when it comes to old ties from his past.”
Ororo found herself tensing. She was half angry at Logan for running off and half angry at Hank for not trying harder to stop him. But frustrations aside, from what Hank told her it was strange. There were any number of times Sabretooth could have called in the past few months. Why now? And moreover, why would he just call him up to meet him instead of hunting him like he did before?
It didn’t add up. She remembered a brief conversation between her and Logan back in Germany when she went drinking with him. After he got a few beers in him he started dwelling on a wide range of issues. Most were the usual Wolverine talk, as unscrupulous as it may be. But at one point after he got a bottle of really hard liquor, he mentioned Sabretooth.
“I tell you, Ro, that runt Creed’s a real piece of work! They call me an animal. Hell, Creed took it ten steps further! He doesn’t even try to fight it! He’ll go through all the motions, hunting and stalking people just like they were deer or some shit like that! It’s how he always came after me. He says it’s more thrilling that way! Yeah right…thrilling. I swear that furball will never learn.”
As Ororo dwelled on those words, she came to a chilling realization. This couldn’t be right. Something had to be very wrong with this.
“He’s right. People like him never learn,” Ororo mused.
“I didn’t mean to imply Logan would never learn,” said Hank quickly, “I merely said…”
“I wasn’t talking about Logan, Hank. I was talking about Sabretooth!” said the African woman with more worry in her tone.
“What do you mean? How could you possibly…”
But before Hank could finish, Ororo was already storming off. If Logan was this willing to walk into a trap he needed a harsh reminder that he couldn’t lone wolf it anymore.
“No time to explain!” she said, “I’m going to gather the others! We’re going after him!”
“Whoa there, Ororo! Shouldn’t we at least…”
“You think Logan will wait around for us to rationalize this, Hank?” retorted Ororo, “He’s walking into a trap! I know it! You can either help out or stand here wasting time! But the X-men are going after him!”
Once again, Hank could not stop his fellow teammate from running off. Within seconds Ororo had rushed out of the kitchen and down the hall towards the elevators. She made it abundantly clear that she wasn’t going to be stopped, just like Logan.
It seemed he was going to have to work on his persuasive skills. But more disturbing was the way Ororo had been so quick to make a brash judgment. He never saw her display such a trait when they were dating. It seemed entirely new. It led him to wonder just what sort of effect Logan was having on her. She had been spending a lot of time with him lately. Like Jean before her, she was picking up on some of his tenants.
“I most certainly should have a talk with Logan later on,” sighed Hank, “We simply must do something about these traits he’s imparting on the team. They lead to nothing but trouble.”
Woods – 15 Miles from the Xavier Institute
Logan had to have broken every traffic law on record by now. As soon as he left the gates of the mansion, he kicked his motorcycle into high gear and rode off towards his destination. Sabretooth was oddly specific about his location. He said he was out in the woods near a waterfall. It was a location he knew well. He had ridden past that area a number of times before. It was remote, heavily wooded, and full of ways to stage an ambush. For a guy like Sabretooth, it was practically a playground.
But that didn’t make Logan any less suspicious. This overt phone call to call him out seemed too obvious for a guy like Victor Creed. In the past he always favored teasing him more, trying to lure him out into the open without him knowing the full story. It was Sabretooth’s special way of pissing him off even more. But he skipped that part this time. It seemed off, but Logan wasn’t going to rationalize it. If Creed wanted to save himself the time so he could get his ass kicked, that was his fault. After encounters with the Brotherhood, Magneto, and an alien nut job he could use an old enemy to beat up on. That would make his day.
As he approached the forest, he boldly swerved his bike off the road and drove into the woods. The roaring engine of his motorcycle shattered the peaceful silence of the forest, causing birds and small animals to run for cover. Hopefully, Sabretooth could hear it as well. It would let him know that he was that much closer to another bloody beat down. As he rode through the muddy woods, Logan sniffed the air for any signs of his trail. He didn’t have to sniff long before he picked up on a distinct scent.
“Gotcha, Vic!” snarled Logan, “Think you can ambush me? Not this time!”
Growling with intent, Logan pulled his motorcycle up to a nearby tree and powered it down. He then took off his helmet and tossed it aside. The woods were now silent again, the old rules of the hunt coming back into play. It was just like old times. Clenching his fists, Logan drew his claws and started following the scent. It led him to the west, right towards the waterfall Sabretooth mentioned in the call. He could hear the running water in the distance. That could only mean his old nemesis wasn’t far behind.
Like a predatory animal, Logan trekked through the woods with a determined rage. Nothing else was on his mind at the moment. Not the human/mutant conflict, not some alien agenda, and not even the X-men. His only focus was Sabretooth and finishing what they started. He hadn’t forgotten that fateful fight on the site where he lost Rose. Sabretooth taunted and tormented him, playing on old memories and using them to strike him to the core. He wasn’t going to let that happen this time. This time, he was going to shut him up before he had to listen to that disgusting voice of his again.
The closer he drew to the waterfall, the more intent Logan grew. But as he followed the trail, something strange jumped out at him. Something that was too much for his instincts to ignore.
“This scent…I know it’s Creed! Only one scent in the world stinks like this! But it’s still…different.”
There was no other way to describe it. This wasn’t the exact same scent he tracked before. There was something else to it. He wasn’t sure what it was, but it felt very sinister in nature. Traditional logic dictated that he should slow down and be more careful. But logic wasn’t Logan’s way. If there was something off about this scent, the only way he was going to find out was to trace it.
As he reached a nearby creek, the scent got stronger. Standing near the edge of the running water, he looked up and took a big whiff of the air.
“Where are you, Creed?! I know you’re out there!” he roared.
His feral rage was brimming. The scent was triggering so much anger he couldn’t focus on anything else. His sole focus was Victor Creed and hunting him down.
Then from across the creek, he heard a cruel, menacing voice.
“Logan…I’ve been waiting.”
The former living weapon snarled and ran across the creek. With his claws drawn and the trail now clearer, he ran full speed towards the voice.
“You wanted me, Sabretooth?! Here I am, bub!” he bellowed.
He slashed through bushes and branches, carving his way through the woods. The scent was so close. He could practically smell his bad breath and body odor flooding the area. He was just a few feet ahead. The scent wasn’t tapering, hinting he wasn’t moving. He must be there waiting for him, ready to ambush him the second he came within sight. Logan wasn’t going to give him the chance. Tearing through more bushes and branches, he stood ready to pounce on the source. But as soon as it came into view he was met with a most unexpected sight.
“You gotta be shitting me!” he exclaimed.
Standing before him, there was no angry Sabretooth waiting to take him down. Instead, there was something much more monotonous. Hanging from a tree branch by a leather strap, there was a small speaker dangling innocuously. It looked no fancier than anything he would find a Radioshack. Taped right to the side of the speaker was a small lock of hair, one that appeared to have been drenched in Sabretooth’s scent.
Logan quickly put two and two together. He took a brief whiff of the hair and figured it out. The hair belonged to Sabretooth and whoever set this trap found a way to amplify the scent to lure him in. It was simple to the point of retardation. The worst part of it was he actually fell for it.
“Errrrrrrrrrrrr!” snarled Logan as he slashed the speaker to bits in a fit of rage, “This your idea of a trap, Creed?! Why don’t you just cut the child’s play and come out already?!”
Logan’s angry demands were quickly answered, but not in the way he expected. He detected a new presence, hearing footsteps from behind. Only these weren’t the footsteps of Sabretooth. They belonged to someone very different.
“Sorry to disappoint you, Wolverine. But Creed couldn’t make it. You’ll have to make do with me!”
Logan turned around, ready to tear into the new presence. But when he got a glimpse of the emerging figure, he hesitated. This was definitely not Sabretooth. That voice belonged to a woman and not a very friendly sounding woman at that. But it wasn’t her voice that surprised him. It was her appearance.
She bore an uncanny resemblance to Jean Grey. If Logan didn’t know any better, he could swear he was looking at an older version of her. She had the same red hair, the same green eyes, and the same voluptuous figure. Only she looked as though she had some plastic surgery done to set herself apart. In addition, her attire was something no self-respecting woman would wear outside of a strip club. It consisted of a tight fitting black corset, a matching black thong, knee-high heeled boots with matching black gloves, and an ominous black cape that draped fluttered in the light wind. As intent as Logan was on combating this threat, he couldn’t help but stare.
“Damn lady, you actually fight in that outfit?” said Logan, not sounding intimidated in the slightest, “Who the hell do you think you are? Weapon Dominatrix?”
“Clever, but utterly foolish,” she scoffed, “I should expect nothing less from a man who dated my dim-witted cousin.”
“Don’t tell me you don’t see the resemblance. But where are my manners? Allow me to introduce myself. I am Madelyn Pryor! Jean Grey’s older, stronger, smarter, and much tougher cousin!”
This certainly hit Logan in an unexpected way. Jean mentioned a number of times that she had relatives. She even mentioned she had a cousin who didn’t exactly give her family a good name. But she never mentioned she carried herself in such a unique way.
Madelyn grinned sadistically at Logan’s reaction. She blatantly flaunted her appearance, further taunting the feral mutant. She fearlessly approached him, even as he took a defensive stance. Her caring godfather told her a little about this very disturbed man. He said he wasn’t easily intimidated. But he also said he had a thing for redheads.
“I have to say, Jean has good tastes,” she said in a dark, flirtatious tone, “She goes for the tough, rugged men who don’t think enough when they get certain phone calls.”
“So it was you!” barked Logan, “You’re the one that made that stupid call with Sabretooth!”
“It can’t be too stupid since you actually fell for it,” laughed Madelyn sadistically, “It’s a good thing too because it saves me the trouble of going to more elaborate lengths to lure you away from the X-men. Now I have you all to myself!”
“Well here I am, darlin’!” snarled Logan, “Now what do you want with me? If you ain’t here to give a lapdance in that getup of yours, then I’m outta here!”
“Oh it’s not what I want, Wolverine. It’s what my caring godfather wants. You and him have unfinished business.”
“Tell him to go fuck himself and get in line! I got dirt bags giving me that crap every other week!”
“Oh but this is someone you want to meet!” said Madelyn strongly, “And I intend to deliver!”
The dominating woman stepped forth and attacked. Her eyes started glowing as she let out a determined grunt and unleashed a wave of telekinetic force. Logan saw this coming and dove out of the way behind a tree, his claws still drawn as he focused on his new adversary. Fighting her wouldn’t be as satisfying as fighting Sabretooth, but at least she was much easier on the eyes.
“Guess she shares more in common with Jeannie than a nice rack,” muttered Logan.
“What’s the matter, Wolverine? Afraid to attack a lady?” taunted Madelyn as she prepared for another blast.
“I don’t attack ladies!” snarled Logan, “Crazy psycho-bitches…that’s a different story!”
Letting out a feral roar, Logan shot out from behind the tree and pounced on the scantily clad woman. He managed to get close enough to grab her before she unleashed another telekinetic blast. He got in a good knee to the gut, which stunned her momentarily. But it also made her a lot angrier. She tried countering by kicking him with her leather heels. She made a decent-sized wound in his thought, but it wasn’t enough to make Logan let go. He trained against psychics before. He knew strategies for taking them down.
Madelyn tried again with her telekinesis, but Logan ducked out of the way for this one. While doing so, he held onto her arm and rolled to the side so that he was behind her. He then shot up and twisted her arm in a way that immobilized her. While holding onto her arm with one hand he used his muscular bicep to get her in a choke hold. She struggled to get out of it, but he maintained a firm grip on her. This way she couldn’t blast him back with telekinesis without taking a good part of her with him.
“Ack!” she choked, “That better be your claws pressing up against me!”
“Shut up!” barked Logan, holding one of his claws up to her sternum, “You ain’t the only one who can play it rough!”
“In more ways than one I assume,” grunted Madelyn, “But I’ve got a few tricks my cousin never prepared you for!”
“It involve bondage and whips?” quipped Logan as he tightened his grip.
“Not quite,” she said with a sadistic grin.
Her eyes flashed a dark purplish color, something Logan never recalled Jeannie doing when she used her powers. He expected some other psychic attack, but it never came. Instead, he was confronted with something much worse.
Around the area where they were standing, a strange purplish glow inundated the ground. It had a strange radiance to it, feeling hot in a ways. Logan went on full alert, looking around at the glowing surface suspiciously. He wasn’t sure what was going on, but he was pretty sure he should get out of the way. But before he could take one step, he felt something grab his foot.
“What the hell?!” he exclaimed.
“Very poor choice of words, Logan,” grinned Madelyn, her eyes glowing even brighter.
From the strange glowing ground, a hoard of small but hideous creatures emerged. They looked like little goblins, having greenish/gray skin, bulging heads, sharp teeth, and claw-like hands. They all had the same glowing eyes as Madelyn and bore a seething rage that sounded like something from the depths of Hell itself. As soon as they saw Logan, they screeched and attacked him.
One latched right onto his back and bit right into his neck. Logan quickly lost his grip on Madelyn and stumbled back, howling in a rage.
“Auuugghhhh!” he exclaimed.
“That’s it my little minions! Sic him!” ordered Madelyn, now free of Logan’s grip and in total control.
Logan started relentlessly clawing at the creatures. He knocked away several and decapitated two of them. But they quickly overwhelmed him with numbers. Out of the glowing purple circle on the ground, dozens shot out and attacked him. Each creature screeched and attacked, digging their talon-like nails into his flesh. It stung like hell, but Logan kept fighting on.
Madelyn grinned as she watched her loyal goblins attack the feral mutant. They were wounding him severely. Blood dripped down his face and uniform as he snarled and struggled. But it was no use. The hoards of creatures were endless. They would keep coming as long as he kept fighting. It was only a matter of time before he fell.
Eventually, Logan was on his knees. He was losing the battle. These hellish creatures smothered him from head to toe, gnawing at his flesh and wearing him down. His healing factor was strong, but it had limits. He continued thrashing and fighting, taking out a few more of these creatures in the process. While he fought on, Madelyn casually adjusted her hair and fixed her revealing uniform that he had disheveled earlier. Then she approached him with her eyes still glowing in a sinister aura.
“It’s no use, Logan. My little goblin minions won’t stop until there’s nothing left but that adamantium skeleton of yours,” she taunted.
“Augh! Hope they…have an appetite!” snarled Logan defiantly.
“Typical male boasting,” sighed Madelyn, “Sinister was right about you, Wolverine. You are a stubborn one.”
“Sinister?!” exclaimed Logan through the attacks.
“Yes, my godfather knows you quite well,” she taunted, “I’m sure you have questions for him too. You’ll have your chance to ask him soon enough.”
Logan let out another enraged howl, shooting up and literally shaking off several dozen of her goblin minions. He was bloodied and battered. His metal bones could be seen in some areas. He was weakened, but he wasn’t giving in.
To help her little minions she approached the thrashing mutant and gazed at him with her glowing eyes. In his weakened state he still tried to strike her. But her goblins restrained him. Now that he was at her mercy, she reached into a small pocket she had on the inside of her cape and took out a syringe filled with green fluid. Then with a taunting grin, she jammed it right into his neck and injected the contents into his system. Logan let out another pained howl, but this time there was no resisting. He was going to be subdued whether he liked it or not.
“Hnn…bitch,” he groaned as he fell to the ground.
“So ill-mannered,” scoffed Madelyn, “What was Jean thinking?”
Within seconds, Logan’s eyes rolled in the back of his head and he passed out. His claws withdrew in the process. Madelyn’s goblin hoards continued attacking, but as soon as he was out cold she gave them a simple gesture and they backed off. They eventually disappeared into the glowing purple circle in the ground, but not before receiving one last fond smile from Madelyn.
“Well-done my little goblins,” she cooed, “Keep up the good work. And stay ready. I may need you again for other foes very soon.”
Once they were gone, Madelyn triumphantly stood over the unconscious Wolverine. If that sedative was as powerful as Sinister told her, then he would be out for quite a while. It should be more than enough time to get him back to the lab.
Upon making sure he was calm and docile, Madelyn took out a small communicator and contacted Sinister.
“I have him,” she said, “He’s out cold and ready for extraction.”
“Good work, Madelyn. I knew you wouldn’t disappoint me. I’ve signaled the rest of the Marauders to move in for extraction. Don’t linger too long though. I detected some activity from Xavier’s mansion a few minutes ago. That can only mean the X-men are on their way.”
“Please, I can handle them,” scoffed Madelyn.
“I admire your confidence, but I do not have the patience to wait for another bloody confrontation. Get Wolverine back to my lab as soon as possible. Do NOT under any circumstances let the X-men slow you down. Is that clear?”
Madelyn hesitated for a moment. She was normally very obedient when it came to orders from Sinister. But in this instance other personal factors made it much more frustrating.
“Understood,” said Madelyn bitterly, “Over and out.”
With a disgruntled sneer, Madelyn set aside the communicator. It wouldn’t be long now. The Marauders would be in soon with the jet and they would be on their way back to Seattle. All before she would get a chance to confront the rest of the X-men, most notably her cousin Jean Grey. It went against her long standing notions of loyalty, but this was not something she could just leave behind.
Part of why Madelyn was so focused on this mission was because she hoped Logan wouldn’t come alone. She wanted the X-men to come along for the ride so she would have another shot at her cousin. She was a different woman since their last encounter. She was more skilled, more powerful, and more determined than ever. She and Jean had an old score to settle and she wasn’t going to let anything stand in her way.
‘Sorry, dear Uncle. Guess I don’t have the patience either. I’ve waited a long time for another confrontation with my cousin. I’m not leaving until we finish what we started!’
Next Issue: The Good, The Bad, The Sinister Part 2
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