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Volume 7 -- Issue 163 -- Crimes Against Inhumanity Part 2

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Crimes Against Inhumanity Part 2
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Conflict is brewing between humans and mutants. Professor Charles Xavier dedicated his life to guide mankind through that conflict. Together with his team, the X-men, they’ve kept the world away from the brink. However, at times they still walk a fine line.

In wake of the split between the X-men and X-Force, Professor Charles Xavier tried to legitimize his vision with the Mutant Monitoring Initiative. He thought that allying himself with the authorities would ensure stability. While it has shown promise at times, it has since become an obstacle.

It started with Sebastian Shaw. The X-men were able to shut him down before he could distribute a powerful drug known as MGH that could enhance mutant abilities. In wake of his arrest, they discovered a possible link between his operations and that of a mysterious organization known as White Cell. This private military that has a history of employing mutants was suspected of using Shaw to develop MGH. But before the X-men could investigate, the authorities declared them untouchable much to their frustration.

While the X-men must work under the radar, X-Force has already probed deeper into White Cell. In doing so, they uncovered a plot that goes back to Weapon X and beyond. Now they are prisoners of a devious man named Romulus. This man, who happens to be Wolverine’s father, is taking no chances. He’s prepared to rid the world of war by any means necessary and he has the full force of White Cell to ensure his vision.


White Cell Base – Front Gate

“Let’s pick up the pace people! We’re on high alert here!” barked James Hudson to the chaotic scene behind him.

“We heard you the first time!” yelled a nearby White Cell soldier, “I don’t care if you call yourself Guardian. We can guard ourselves, thank you very much.”

James scolded the soldier as he joined a mobile unit in the back of a jeep. While he and many others seemed to understand the urgency of this situation, they didn’t seem to take it seriously. Arrogance was already setting in after they got their orders from the top to return from all active missions.

Much of White Cell’s elite units had been recalled to the main base while all subsequent units returned to regional bases. Whatever was happening, the higher ups wanted the main base guarded at all costs. They weren’t given a reason. In White Cell, reasons were never needed. Only loyalty was needed and James had extra motivation to uphold it.

Standing at the front gate of the main complex, James surveyed the scene before him with mixed feelings. Behind him was White Cell’s unofficial alpha team. It consisted of him, Heather “Vindicator” Hudson, Christopher “Agent Zero” Nord, Mary “Typhoid Mary” Walker, Walter “Sasquatch” Langkowski, Eugene “Puck” Judd, Xi’an “Karma” McCoy, and the Beaubier twins. While White Cell employed many mutants, this team was considered the best. It was why they were entrusted with guarding the main.

“You sound more paranoid than usual, James,” commented Sasquatch, “Still pissed about getting pwned by that shape-shifter?”

“I’ve seen pictures of that woman. I can’t say I would mind being locked in a room with her,” grinned Punk.

“You two had better start thinking with the right head or you’ll end up losing both,” spat James, “This is a big fucking deal! The big boss doesn’t recall all of White Cell’s elite forces into one area if there isn’t a threat.”

“Is that why he recalled Mr. and Mrs. Botched Lobotomy over there,” said Sasquatch, gesturing towards Christopher Nord and Mary Walker.

“Call them what you want. They’re still one of White Cell’s best. We’ll need them and every skill they have to offer in order to confront this threat,” said James.

Sasquatch and Puck exchanged glances. Looking back towards Nord and Walker, the threat took on a more mysterious nature. While still technically part of the alpha unit, Nord and Walker were anomalies.

They were both mutants. Nord could redirect kinetic energy and Walker was a psychic with a mix of telekinetic and pyrokinetic abilities. However, for reasons that were never divulged, they underwent some sort of procedure that rendered them lobotomized. They were like machines and their battle suits reflected this by covering their faces with masks. The boss only sent them on specialized missions so having them involved was telling.

“Unlike the rest of you slackers, I came face-to-face with that threat,” James went on, “Mystique may very well be the reason why this base has been locked down for the past three days.”

“Or it may be completely unrelated,” commented Xi’an, “You’ve been in White Cell longer than I have. Part of this business involves not knowing every detail.”

“Plausible deniability is one of our commandments after all,” said Puck, rolling his eyes.

“And there’s a reason for that…just as there’s a reason behind everything the big boss does,” said James, “White Cell has something here that’s worth protecting. We’ve already put it in jeopardy. It’s our responsibility to protect it.”

“Don’t you mean yours?” questioned Jean-Paul, “Weren’t you the one that broke under Mystique’s little interrogation?”

“Jean-Paul! You’re not helping,” Jean-Marie scolded.

James Hudson’s expression tensed. Even if Jean-Paul’s remarks were immature, his point was still valid. He was the reason why the boss’s operations were compromised. Now the entire organization had to pick up the slack because of him. As a soldier that was once dishonorably discharged from the Canadian military, he did not take kindly to being dishonored again.

“You don’t need to keep yelling at us, James. We get it. I’m taking it just as seriously as you,” said Heather Hudson, offering her husband a comforting gesture.

“Of course you get it, Heather. Mystique used you to get me to talk. I’m lucky the boss didn’t maim me on the spot,” muttered James.

“That’s not how he works and you know that,” she told him, “He tends to be more understanding when personal relationships are involved. It got us kicked out of the Canadian military, but it won’t get us kicked out here.”

“You don’t need to remind me, Heather. I know the boss’s position on bonds in the battlefield,” he said in a somewhat calmer tone, “But you know what will get us in trouble? If that information I gave Mystique leads her or any of her friends to our doorstep!”

“Since when does Mystique have friends,” questioned Sasquatch, “Wasn’t the Azazel dissolved years ago?”

“She’s never been one to limit herself,” said James, “We already know someone has been applying pressure to White Cell. I hear someone even managed to get away with an important package in that Uzbekistan operation.”

“I thought that was just a rumor,” said Xi’an.

“Not this time, Karma. I was sent to do some cleanup on that mission. I can say without reservation that it was pretty messy,” said Jean-Marie.

“Is that why you came back to Montreal with a fractured right arm?” asked Jean-Paul.

“Courtesy of Darkstar, who was almost as upset about the operation as the boss,” she replied.

“Which I doubt is a coincidence,” said James, “The boss wouldn’t have assembled this team if he didn’t think there was a threat. Our orders are to remain on alert until he gives us the all clear.”

“Any idea what that entails? The boss tends to be overly vague at times,” said Puck.

“His exact words were…you’ll know it when you see it,” said James, “He’s never been one to exaggerate so that should be more than enough motivation for you guys to stay on your toes. And if you insist on busting my balls about it, I’d be more than happy to test my new battle suit on you!”

His harsh words were sufficient to discourage further remarks. Jean-Paul, Jean-Marie, Puck, Sasquach, and Xi’an refocused themselves on the task before them. In the distance, they could see all the main gates locking down with dozens of elite units manning their posts. They were armed in White Cell’s most advanced battle suits. It was enough to make them wonder just what they were guarding and why the boss deemed it so important.

In the end, it wasn’t their place to question. They had their orders. Whether the threat came from Mystique or the forces in Uzbekistan, they were bound by loyalty to protect the facility until the mission was complete.


Xavier Institute – Hanger

Jean Grey’s head was killing her. Three days of using Cerebrum to track White Cell’s signal had taken a toll on her. She had barely slept or ate. She remained focused on locating the source of this lone psychic signal. She couldn’t call upon anyone to help either because what she had done directly defied the Mutant Monitoring Initiative. Even after she located the source, she had to deal another daunting problem.

‘This is not going to go smoothly. Not even with all the luck the X-men never seem to get. Since when did doing the right thing mean breaking the law? I’m already liable for treason after using Cerebrum. Now I have to get my friends to commit the same crime as well. And here I was thinking the Mutant Monitoring Initiative was supposed to be fair.’

Her head continued to pound as she stood before Ororo, Rogue, and Remy. They were all clearly interested in the situation with White Cell. That interest would have to take the form of open defiance as Jean prepared for an ambitious mission to confront White Cell.

“Jean, you look terrible,” commented Remy, “And them be words Remy ain’t ever thought he would say about you.”

“Ah would usually scold mah boyfriend for his crass remarks, but for once they’re appropriate,” said Rogue, “Seriously Jean, did you even try sleeping today?”

“Or the past three days for that matter?” added Ororo, showing great concern for her former student.

“You can berate my sleeping habits when the mission is over. That’s assuming that I don’t have to wipe your minds when I’m finished,” said Jean, trying to maintain her composure, “There’s a reason I didn’t send Peter and Betsy an encrypted text message. Those two aren’t willing to break the law. I’d rather not persuade them so we’re pretty much it.”

“That ain’t much to work with, cherè,” said Remy as he looked around, “You talking about going all in on White Cell. This be a private army with who knows how many mutants guardin’ the gates.”

“Even if the X-men were at full strength, that would be a tall order, sugah,” said Jean.

“I know. Believe me, I wish the odds were better. However, our hands are tied by the Mutant Monitoring Initiative. No one in the government is willing to touch White Cell and from what I sensed, we don’t have time to convince them otherwise.”

“How do you figure? What exactly did you sense?” asked Ororo.

“My head is still throbbing so I’d rather not go into detail,” she groaned, having to rub her temples again, “All I know is that the source of White Cell’s signals are coming from a base in Canada. Along with that signal, I sensed a large gathering of mutant forces. Some of them felt familiar. They may be X-Force.”

“So that means Scott, Logan, James, and mah brother may already be there?” said Rogue.

“If they’re cunning enough to track White Cell down, I’d say that’s a safe assumption.”

That revelation heightened the stakes. Now it wasn’t just about stopping White Cell or MGH. Their friends might already be caught up in the danger. That added extra incentive for Jean because it meant Scott was probably in the line of fire. Ororo had similar concerns with James while Rogue had to worry about Kurt. Despite these incentives, there were still plenty of reservations.

“You be puttin’ us all in an awkward position, Jean,” said Remy, “There any chance that X-Force could just handle this?”

“It would be nice if they could, but based on what Hank told me I doubt they understand what they’re up against,” said Jean.

“And just what are they up against?” asked Rogue intently, “How bad is it?”

“Remember the massacre at Purity Church? Well, add White Cell’s private army on top of that and you should have a vague idea,” said Jean grimly, “These are the same guys that fought Fantomex and Deadpool to the brink over one tiny sample. Say what you will about X-Force’s politics, do you really think they can overcome everything White Cell can throw at them?”

“That with or without the shit we don’t know about?” said Rogue.

“Even if that mattered, I’m not willing to take that chance,” said Jean strongly.

With renewed strength, Jean took out a small tablet computer. On it was a display of the White Cell base, courtesy of Sage’s creative hacking. It wasn’t as detailed as the War Room computers, but that was the extent of their frustratingly limited resources.

“Hank and Sage worked out some details with Deadpool and Fantomex,” Jean explained, “The base itself is pretty standard from the outside. White Cell didn’t build it themselves. They just purchased it from the Canadian government. Based on my analysis of the signal, most of their operations are underground. Some further analysis from Sage revealed that White Cell has already surrounded the base with their best special forces. So getting inside would require the equivalent of the Spartan army.”

“Sounds as impossible as always,” commented Remy, “Where we gonna get a Spartan army if we can’t even get the MSA to help us out?”

“For that, we’ll have to take a few obscene chances. Sage tells me she’s already working on one. She tried to explain it to me, but my head hurts too much to understand her computer jargon,” said Jean as she sorted through numerous displays, “If this risk pays off, we’ll still need some extra manpower. That’s why Fantomex and Deadpool will be joining us.”

“Wait…so we’re going on this mission with Deadpool and Fantomex?” said Ororo warily, “I’m all for reinforcements, but not the kind they offer.”

“Yeah, especially with Deadpool makin’ wise-cracks about mah ass,” said Rogue with more outrage in her tone.

“Not that Remy can blame him,” shrugged Remy.

“We’ll have to endure his idiocy and ignore all the reasons we shouldn’t trust Fantomex in the process,” Jean went on, “Like I said before, we’re low on manpower. Officially, we’ll be breaking the law as well. Going on a mission that the MSA and the President strictly prohibited is a huge offense. So while I understand your reservations, we’re low on choices. If any of you would rather not have that on your conscious, let me know now so we can move forward with this insane plan.”

No one said a word. Rogue, Remy, and Ororo hid whatever doubts they had behind a stoic demeanor. They were compromising the X-men, the Mutant Monitoring Initiative, and mutant relations. It was all for the promise of taking on a private military with overwhelming manpower and resources.

Based on the displays Jean showed them, White Cell was prepared for an attack. They would risk more than their lives by going after them. While the X-men had faced such harsh obstacles before, the Mutant Monitoring Initiative really complicated their efforts.

“We’re willing to share that insanity with you, Jean,” said Ororo, “I respect Betsy and Peter’s desire to uphold the initiative, but some threats are too great to ignore.”

“Especially if our friends are involved,” added Rogue, “Scott may be mah ex, but Ah’m sure he’s dragged X-Force into the fire already. It’s only fitting that we pull him out.”

“It be high stakes, that’s for sure. Good thing Remy likes high stakes,” grinned the Cajun.

“Good, then we’re leaving on the Velocity in ten minutes,” said Jean as she put the tablet computer away, “The Professor already organized an official test flight this afternoon. I’m sure Sage can tweak the tracking systems once we pick her up in District X with Hank, Deadpool, and Fantomex.”

“So the Professor knows about this?” said Ororo.

“Only to the point where he can deny it without totally lying,” said Jean as she made her way to the Velocity, “He’s also promised to keep Peter and Betsy busy.”

“Can we be sure they won’t find out?” questioned Rogue.

“No…we can’t,” said Jean flatly, “They’re still our friends. We’re left hoping our trust in them is enough.”

“Since one of them be Remy’s ex, that may be pushing it, Jean,” said Remy.

“You’re the one who said you liked high stakes. So play them,” she retorted, “You three have only five minutes to log an alibi with the MSA. Tell them you’re going out to lunch in District X or something. Whatever you come up with, make sure it sticks. Because once we leave the institute, we’re officially breaking the law.”

Jean Grey seemed to be channeling her inner Cyclops as she gave those commands. She wasn’t nearly as polite about it either. It was clear that she was not fully comfortable having to lead the operation either. Unfortunately, they couldn’t enlist Professor Xavier for his usual guidance. He was still operating under the guise of willful ignorance. He entrusted them to take care of this. This trust would be difficult to honor.

“Anyone here want to tell Jean she’s in over her head?” commented Remy.

“Ah don’t care how durable Ah am. Ah ain’t that stupid,” said Rogue.

“She’s pushing herself. We all are,” said Ororo, “We have to be careful with this mission in ways we’re not used to. There are political and logistical implications if we slip up.”

“Wasn’t the point of the whole dang initiative to stop shit like that?” commented Rogue.

“Since when do politics not screw people over in ways they don’t expect?” retorted Remy.

“We can argue the details later. We’ll only make everything worse by allowing White Cell to succeed,” said Ororo strongly, “Even if we’re overmatched and overwhelmed, we must still make the effort. Especially if X-Force already has.”

“Ain’t we supposed to treat X-Force as our rivals?” asked Remy.

“Well seeing as how we’re breaking our own laws, Ah’d say we’re on the same page for now,” said Rogue as she started following Ororo, “Besides, rivals or no rivals, they’re still our friends.”

Remy lingered as he watched Ororo and Rogue enter the Velocity. There were all sorts of philosophical inconsistencies with this situation. It wasn’t just that they were going up against White Cell. They all committed to the Mutant Monitoring Initiative under Charles Xavier and now they were undermining it.

“And so it begins,” sighed Remy, “This ain’t gonna end well…for anybody.”


White Cell Base – Labs

There were many different kinds of torture. Each was horrific in its own way. Some could endure more than others. Some were more prone to certain kinds of torture than others. There were any number of ways a man like Romulus could have tormented X-Force. In the end, he chose a method that was both devious and useful. It was a method that Cyclops was not equipped to endure.

“Get that damned needle away from me!” yelled the beleaguered X-Force leader as one of Romulus’s drones injected him with a syringe.

“You’ve no one to blame but yourself for this,” said Daken as he watched over, “After three days, you’re still fighting our drugs. It’s getting to the point where it ceases to be amusing.”

“I’d rather it kill me…than control me,” said Cyclops, short of breath as the drugs coursed through his system.

“Oh give it a rest, Summers. I’m starting to see why my father despises you,” scoffed Daken, “You and your friends have not been ill-treated. We haven’t taken advantage of you in your vulnerable form. Although with resolve like yours, I must say I’m tempted.”

“I would tell you to fuck off, but you’d probably take it literally,” grunted Cyclops.

Daken let out another sadistic laugh. He and the rest of X-Force were starting to piece together his proclivities. He leered over both men and women, ensuring that he made everybody uncomfortable. For Cyclops, it made his skin crawl on top of this sick feeling that had consumed him for nearly three days.

Romulus maintained total control as he moved forward with his insane vision. Every six hours or so, his masked drones would inject his unwilling subjects with the powerful drug that robbed them control over their own bodies. Cyclops, Angel, Warpath, Domino, Nightcrawler, Hellion, and Emma Frost were at Romulus’s mercy for every waking hour.

Every movement was tightly monitored. Everything from eating to going to the bathroom was controlled. Most of their time was spent on examination tables, inside bio tanks, or under high-tech scanners. While neither Romulus nor his subordinates took advantage of them outside their duties, it was still a horrible feeling having no control.

The others braved each moment while Cyclops continued to endure a psychological toll. At the moment, he was strapped to a special chair that had this special mask over his face which mimicked his visor. Romulus was gathering data on his powers. The others were in similar states, doing their best to maintain their composure. It wasn’t too encouraging to see their leader struggling.

“At the rate he’s going, Cyclops is going to have a breakdown any moment,” commented Warpath, who was being held in a series of heavy restraints.

“He’ll be fine. He’s Cyclops,” said Nightcrawler, who was lying inside a special isolation tube next to Emma Frost.

“He usually is with most forms of torture, but for this…I have my doubts,” mused Emma, expressing greater concern for her ex-lover.

“Guess he would have to be tough if he dated you,” quipped Domino as she was stuck with another series of IV tubes.

“It doesn’t matter how tough you are. If you completely lose control of yourself, it takes a heavy toll,” she mused, “Scott Summers is good at handling a lot of things. Losing control isn’t one of them.”

“It’s a big part of his uptight personality. It borders on being a phobia,” muttered Angel, sore after having his wings excessively stretched in some cruel test.

“You know I can still hear you guys! I don’t have the luxury of stepping out so you can talk behind my back!” shouted Cyclops.

“Please calm down, mien friend,” coaxed Nightcrawler, “Romulus cannot hold us like zhis forever.”

“I hope that means there’s some sort of plan that you’re keeping from me. I don’t know how much more of this shit I can take,” groaned Hellion, who sat in a chair with a special psionic helmet on his head.

“You’ll have to keep hoping, Julian. We had no idea we were walking into this kind of insanity,” said Warpath, “We’re gonna need more than a little luck to work something out here.”

“Well, don’t expect me to provide it. For once, I’m tapped out,” added Domino.

The news was not encouraging to either Hellion or Cyclops. They both continued to endure as Romulus’s mindless drones conducted more tests on them. For three days, they had their bodies and their powers strained. Romulus was serious about measuring them, extracting them, and using them in his vision. All the pods lining the walls were taking a new form by the hour. If their growth over the past few days was any indication, they were almost ready.

While X-Force was subjected to more tests, Romulus utilized a different set of procedures for the former subjects of Weapon X. Wolverine and Sabretooth spent much of their time in special pod-likes simulators. Inside the pods, they had special goggles and computer interfaces imposed over their heads. Through a maze of high-tech electronics, countless scenarios played over in their minds. It was like Romulus was gathering data from every battle they ever fought.

“This shit got old hours ago. How much longer are you gonna remind me of how much ass I’ve kicked over the years?” growled Sabretooth, “If this is supposed to be torture, it’s pretty damn weak!”

“Spoken like a true sociopath. This shit probably gets you horny,” said Wolverine dryly.

“It’s not meant to be torture. It’s meant to compile the various skills and experiences you’ve acquired throughout your colorful lifetimes,” said Romulus, who kept a close eye on them, “It’s not enough for my warriors to have abilities. They must have the skill and instinct to effectively wield them.”

“So that was really the only point of putting us through Weapon X?” questioned Wolverine, “You just wanted numbers to crunch?”

“Far from it, my son. Believe it or not, I have your best interests in mind.”

Romulus proceeded to remove the computer interface from Wolverine’s head so he could look his son in the eyes. He had acquired the necessary data. Now, he could address this man father to son.

“I’ve watched you fight so many battles throughout your life,” he told him, “I knew from the moment you were born that you were destined to be a fighter. It was a trait you were bound to inherit from me. I could never stop it, but I could make it so every battle you fought had purpose.”

“Since when did every petty fight need purpose?” scoffed Wolverine.

“Since I spent centuries engaging in endless battles, only to have them rendered meaningless in the long run. You have a lot of rage. Some of that rage comes from me. Some of that rage was conditioned during your Team X training. Some of it stems from your rivalry with Sabretooth. In a way, you’re lucky. Your rage always had purpose. With every experience, you further refined Weapon X.”

“That’s some luck,” snarled the former living weapon, “Knowing I’ve always been somebody’s meat puppet.”

“It’s better than the alternative,” asserted Romulus, “You could have ended up like me, spending lifetime after lifetime caught petty feuds. And for what? How much better would the world really be if you or Sabretooth finally killed one another?”

“With a father like you, I’d say it would be an upgrade,” commented Sabretooth.

“Spoken like an immature child with no vision,” scoffed Romulus, “Part of leaving you with the Howletts and guiding you along a certain path was to instill the traits that I’ve long since outgrown. You’ve gone on to utilize them in ways that make this old warrior proud.”

“I’d tell you where to stick your pride, but you got me drugged and hooked up to a machine,” grunted Wolverine. “I’m pretty sure that ain’t something a father should be proud of.”

“The methods are unimportant. It’s the journey that matters. You became a ruthless monster under Team X and Weapon X. You became the most honorable of heroes under the influence of those such as the X-men. Along the way, you’ve learned to love in ways that I have long since forgotten. Women such as Mariko Yashida and Jean Grey taught you more than I ever could have. Rose was by far the most influential. It’s a good thing I put her in a position to fall in love with you. It completed the balance that I need for my army of ultimate warriors.”

A wave of memories flashed before Wolverine’s eyes at the mention of Rose. He remembered how they came together. Then he remembered the training they underwent under Romulus as well. It come together in a perverse realization.

“Rose…was she just another ploy? Another tool for you to use on me?!” barked Wolverine.

“I chose to train her because I felt she was the only one who could reach you. I turned out to be right, didn’t I?” said Romulus smugly.

“You still used her just as you used me!” roared the feral mutant.

“Again, it was all for a greater purpose. The balance between a fearless warrior and a compassionate man is difficult to synthesize. It took you decades of life-experience to develop, but you succeeded, my son. You embody everything a true warrior should be. As such, you were always more than just a monster or a weapon. You are a legacy that will live on in the Weapon X armies that will bring peace to the world.”

Wolverine snarled at this manipulative man who had twisted his life to so many extremes. In some way, being this man’s legacy was almost as bad as being a monster. He was as much a tool as he was a son. His every instinct urged him to lash out at this man. However, those instincts remained under Romulus’s control as they always had. Now he could only watch as they were utilized in this twisted vision.

Ignoring his son’s protests, Romulus turned his attention towards another pod that contained the semi-conscious body of X-23. The tests she underwent were very different and very uncomfortable by comparison. For Wolverine, it was difficult to watch.

She had countless needles and IV tubes going into nearly every part of her body. She was wearing some special black body suit that seemed to be feeding data into the core through a complex array of wires. As Romulus stood over her, he gazed at her with the same pride he had for Wolverine.

“Whereas you were the template, young Miss Howlett here is the mechanism,” said Romulus as he trailed his hand down her face.

“Guess you don’t feel bad about using her either,” grunted Wolverine, “You sure didn’t care that she was being tortured for most her life!”

“That was Sebastian Shaw. Not me,” said Romulus, “I simply needed him to perfect the cloning process. And he did eventually succeed…after 23 tries that is. His plan to use her as a weapon was his own doing.”

“That must make it a lot easier on your conscious if you had one,” quipped Wolverine.

“I had no doubts that she would escape. She is of our flesh and blood, if I recall,” he said, “We should both be proud of her because what Shaw developed with X-23 was almost as vital as MGH. He didn’t just perfect the cloning process. He perfected a way to ensure that the clones would have the desired mutant abilities. It was from this technology that I developed the prototypes you had the privilege of meeting. Now that these prototypes have served their purpose, I can create the finished product!”

Romulus followed the wires that led from X-23’s body to the main core. From here, he retrieved a special remote control that resembled a large gauntlet. As soon as Romulus put it on, the electronics within it lit up.

With a series of gestured, he issued a new round of commands. Every one of the masked drones stopped what they were doing and stood at attention along with Daken. All around the lab, lights flashed and alarms blared. The core in the center emitted an ominous glow that soon flowed out from the wires and into the countless pods that lined the wall.

Wolverine, Sabretooth, and the rest of X-Force watched as the pods started opening one-by-one. Over the past three days, the developing fetuses inside had matured at a rapid rate. As the mist cleared from each pod, they revealed a fully-grown figure inside that looked almost identical to Wolverine. The only difference was that his skin was lined with wire-like implants. It made these beings look like true living weapons.

“Damn, they’re ugly!” commented Sabretooth.

“I’m sure it’s a sight that will haunt your nightmares, Creed,” said Wolverine snidely.

These are your ultimate warriors, Romulus?” scoffed Warpath.

“Insult them all you want. You’ll only be insulting part of yourselves,” said Romulus with an ominous grin.

With the remote-control gauntlet, he gestured towards one of his new warriors. On command, the wires on his body and around his eyes lit up. The being sprang into consciousness as if it were a bear awaking from a long hibernation. Then in a disturbing demonstration of power, it teleported from the pod and appeared in front of Romulus. In its wake was a familiar sulfurous smell that Nightcrawler quickly recognized.

“Zhey have my powers!” the German mutant exclaimed.

“More like an upgrade in your case,” said Daken, “The teleportation powers of our prototypes came from an earlier subject that proved quite stubborn. This new influx of power will provide some necessary refinements.”

“So these mindless drones here just weren’t good enough for you, were they?” sneered Warpath.

“Like my grandson said, they were mere prototypes. They merely proved that my methods work. That was the point of the test at Purity Church,” said Romulus.

“That’s some test,” scoffed Cyclops, “Do you test all your plans with mass murder?”

“I try to avoid it. But given the innate lack of honor amongst the Purifiers, I doubt they’ll be missed. All my tests have purpose. These three days of testing are all for a greater purpose as well.”

“Could’ve fooled me,” muttered Hellion.

“Thanks to all the data I’ve gathered, my warriors have all the power they’ll ever need to complete their mission. Allow me to demonstrate.”

Romulus issued more commands with the gauntlet. In short order, nine more Weapon X warriors teleported from their pods and appeared before Romulus. Once they all appeared, they bowed respectfully to their master. There was no resistance or free will. These beings were completely loyal to Romulus. With this he began his demonstration.

After showing their loyalty to Romulus, the ten Weapon X warriors arose and set their sights on the masked drones that had been conducting all the tests on X-Force. Having given the necessary commands, Romulus stood back and allowed their warrior instincts to cooperate. Each drone did so with disturbing efficiency.

“For peace and honor,” they all said in perfect harmony.

The masked drones prepared to defend themselves by drawing their claws. That was as far as they got. In a swarm of attacks that were as varied as they were deadly, the new Weapon X warriors took each drone out.

One used Cyclops’s optic blasts to blow the head off one of the drones. Another used Hellion’s telekinesis to rip off the limbs of two more. One utilized Warpath’s strength to literally knock the head off one of the drones. Another used telepathy to make one grasp it’s head and agony and bleed out through his mask. The rest used Nightcrawler’s teleportation to appear above and around each drone before attacking with claws of their own. However, their claws were not like the ones used by Wolverine and X-23. Instead, they had the distinct look and malleability of Angel’s techno-organic wings.

“Good god!” gasped Angel, “You used the material from my wings in their claws? You really are insane!”

“It’s much less messy than bonding their bones with adamantium,” said Romulus, “Combined with your avian biology, it ensures my warriors will be as agile as they are deadly.”

“I think you’ve set new standards in overkill, Romulus!” said Warpath.

“Guess when you’re planning to wipe out every standing army in the world, you can’t be subtle,” said Emma Frost.

“And to think, we didn’t even give them their guns so they could test Miss Domino’s power,” laughed Daken, “Which has been tricky to synthesize, unfortunately.”

“Aw, what’s the matter? Is that going to mess up your carefully crafted plans?” taunted Domino.

“We’ll manage,” said Romulus, “This first generation will more than suffice to launch the initial attack.”

“So you’re really going to do it,” said Cyclops, still having to fight through debilitating sickness, “You’re going to destroy every other weapon on the planet and slaughter anyone who gets in your way.”

“My warriors have the collective instincts of Wolverine and Sabretooth. Under my command, I plan on keeping collateral damage to a minimum,” said Romulus.

“And you expect us to believe you?” scoffed Nightcrawler, “My father always told me zhat zhe easiest vay for madman to accept massive casualties is to claim zhey vish to avoid zhem.”

“If Gambit was here, he would see through your bluff in a nanosecond,” said Angel.

“And for once, I’d agree with him,” grunted Wolverine, “If you really built these things from me and Creed, then you’re an idiot if you think you can control them.”

“I know I can control them. I’ve already proven it by capturing you and your team. I’ll prove it again with my first attack,” said Romulus sternly.

Ignoring remarks and disgust from X-Force and his son, Romulus issued another command that caused the activity within the core to intensify. The ten Weapon X warriors who he summoned earlier gathered around their master once more. They were soon joined by dozens more.

Within minutes, a full one hundred Weapon X warriors crowded the lab and this wasn’t even a fraction of those who had yet to emerge from their pods. As they all stood perfectly poised before their master, Daken joined his grandfather to commence this wondrous moment that had been nearly a century in the making.

“The time has come, my warriors!” he proclaimed, “On this day, you will fight and win the last war for humanity! You shall usher in the first generation that will only know peace! It’s taken a century of blood, sweat, and tears! But the ultimate living weapon has finally taken form and substance! Through White Cell and Weapon X, there will be peace! Peace through honor!”

“Peace through honor!” they all proclaimed in perfect unison.

Romulus clenched his fist along with the control gauntlet, feeling for the first time that his vision was within his grasp. Wolverine, Sabretooth, and X-Force could despise him all they want. They would soon appreciate the peace that he would forge.

“You are all ready for your ultimate mission,” he said as he turned to Daken, “My grandson will equip you with your uniforms and your weapons. From here, I shall guide you into battles all over the world.”

“It should be quite a spectacle, honorable grandfather,” said Daken, “Shall I also tell our forces above to remain on high alert until the spectacle has passed?”

“It will not make a difference,” scoffed Romulus as his warriors began filing out of the lab, “I’ve already made sure that no major power will dare attack White Cell. By the time they have sufficient reason it will already be too late.”


Pentagon – MSA Command

“Professor Xavier! General Grimshaw! We need to talk!” said an irate Captain Freeman as he stormed into the main conference room.

“Nice to see you too, Captain Freeman,” said Piotr dryly, “Was knocking first not part of your training?”

“We should consider ourselves lucky. At least this time he didn’t bust through the door,” said General Grimshaw with an exasperated sigh.

What was scheduled to be a regular, boring meeting had been abruptly shattered. Captain Freeman’s outburst disrupted what had been three days of unusually uneventful activity. Professor Xavier immersed himself in meetings involving the case against Sebastian Shaw.

He also kept his X-men busy, especially Piotr and Betsy, with operations that involved cleaning up what was left of Shaw’s shady operations. After having made such a scene about White Cell, he dropped his concerns with unusual ease. It was only a matter of time before someone got suspicious.

Professor Xavier didn’t pretend to be startled as Captain Freeman stormed over to the conference table. General Grimshaw and Colossus stood up to restrain him. The Green Beret was in one of his anxious moods and he didn’t need to telepathy to figure out why.

“What seems to be troubling you, Captain? I thought you were coordinating the escort convoy for Shaw’s trial,” said Professor Xavier, trying to sound reasonable.

“There’s only so much grunt work I can handle before I start to get suspicious. If a guy as dumb as me can see the signs, then you must not be trying very hard,” said Captain Freeman sternly.

“Bloody hell, this better not be what I think it is,” groaned Betsy, who was sitting next to Professor Xavier.

“And what exactly do you think it is, Miss Braddock? Would you say it’s worth the Captain barging in on us like this?” said General Grimshaw, shooting the Green Beret an irritated glance.

“Why don’t you ask the Professor, here?” quipped Captain Freeman, “Ask him why Storm, Gambit, and Rogue didn’t answer my calls through the secure line that they’re obligated to answer? Ask him why Jean Grey has spent an unusually long time working on upgrades to Cerebrum? Or if you want to skip all that, ask why the Velocity’s tracking gear shorted out over District X of all places?”

Now even General Grimshaw was curious. He shot Xavier a stern glare. It wasn’t anger as much as it was disappointment. It was almost as if he was asking him how he could be clumsy when it came to covering his tracks.

“What do you say, Professor? Care to address the Captain’s concerns?” asked General Freeman.

“If there’s a problem with the Velocity’s equipment, then that’s something you’ll have to take up with Hank. He’s more familiar with such hardware last I checked,” said Professor Xavier, who did his best to maintain an innocent tone.

“He didn’t answer his line either. Agent Brand is already yelling at me,” said Captain Freeman, “So why don’t we skip the part where you play dumb? You’re not very good at it.”

“I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about,” said Professor Xavier.

“And here I was hoping we were done with this,” groaned Betsy, “Guess I really was hoping for too much.”

“By this, I take it you mean White Cell again, yes?” said Piotr.

“You mean the same White Cell that’s supposed to be a dead issue?” said General Grimshaw.

“Is there any other?” said Captain Freeman dryly.

The Professor maintained his silence. He couldn’t afford to say anything too foolish or incriminating. He had a feeling something like this would happen eventually. Jean must have found something with Cerebrum. Neither she nor the others were all that concerned with remaining subtle about it. He assumed that was because she discovered something.

Captain Freeman leaned over the conference table and stared down Professor Xavier. As the field leader of the X-men, it was his job to confront issues like this. When the very team he was supposed to lead started going behind his back it was a problem both for him and for the Mutant Monitoring Initiative.

“I don’t if all of you are trying to live in the same fantasy land, but this is a serious problem if it’s exactly what I think it is,” said Captain Freeman.

“And what do you think it is, Captain?” asked Professor Xavier stoically.

“You’re still investigating White Cell, aren’t you? Despite the President of the United States and every other high-ranking official at every level telling you to drop it, you’re not letting this go. Do I even need to tell you how much damage you could do with this? Assuming, of course, that you even care!”

“Of course I care, Captain,” said Xavier, “You know as well as anyone how important the Mutant Monitoring Initiative is to me.”

“Then tell me with a straight face that it isn’t true,” said the Green Beret, “Tell me you didn’t allow your X-men to go rogue and confront White Cell on their own.”

Professor Xavier remained dead silent. It was the only response he could give without lying in front of his X-men and the General. Lies and deception had hurt him before. He wasn’t willing to risk it again with something this sensitive.

“Professor, I thought we were committed to convincing everybody that White Cell was a clear and present danger,” said Piotr, “You told me this yourself. Was that also a lie?”

“I didn’t lie, Peter,” said Professor Xavier in an only partially assertive tone.

“Bullocks! Lying isn’t required to simply avoid the truth,” said Betsy, “So you let the others work behind our backs? I thought we were a team!”

“We are a team,” said Xavier.

“Then quit avoiding my question and act like it!” said Captain Freeman, pounding his fist on the table, “I’m not doing this because I’m trying to bust your balls. I’m doing this because this can only end in disaster. I don’t want that. And if we’re really a team, you’ll come clean and let us help you!”

“Calm down, Captain. We’re not going to address this in a reasonable manner if you keep using an unreasonable tone,” coaxed General Grimshaw.

“I’m amazed you’re not as outraged as I am, sir. Did you know about this? Or at the very least suspect it?” said the Green Beret as he turned back towards his superior officer.

“Don’t start a witch hunt, son. I know as much as you do and I was as suspicious as anyone. I was just hoping it wouldn’t come to this,” said General Grimshaw.

There was a silent admission in his tone that told Professor Xavier that he had been operating under the same willful ignorance. If Captain Freeman was this worked up about it, then others in high places already suspected it. If Agent Brand started talking to the President or the UN, then the whole Mutant Monitoring Initiative was in jeopardy.

Captain Freeman turned back to Xavier, who still hadn’t given him an answer. No matter what he said, it would do great damage to his own credibility as well as his initiative. Even Betsy and Piotr were looking at him apprehensively. He knew he couldn’t stay silent forever. So with a deep, solemn breath he prepared to answer.

“The truth…is rather complicated, Captain,” he began, “I’ll tell you what I know.”

“I’m all ears, Professor,” said General Grimshaw.

“Me too,” said Captain Freeman sternly, “For all our sake, I hope you have some damn good reasons…”

Professor Xavier was about to continue when another uniformed MSA officer stumbled through the vacant doorway. Since Captain Freeman already destroyed it earlier, he didn’t have to knock as he came running up to Professor Xavier and the General.

“General Grimshaw! Professor Xavier! We have a situation!” said the officer.

“Is there even an infinitesimal chance this can wait?” groaned Captain Freeman, “We’re kind of in the middle of something here.”

“I’m afraid it can’t!” said the officer breathlessly, “It happened so quickly and it’s getting worse by the second.”

“Catch your breath, soldier. Tell me what this is about,” said General Grimshaw, who was all too eager for a distraction.

“Twenty bucks it’s related to this,” sighed Betsy.

“No deal,” said Peter.

The officer took a brief moment to gather himself, but he didn’t take long. It looked like he had just seen the ghost of Magneto. He was a high-ranking officer, yet his hands were trembling. That hinted that this was big.

“We’re under attack!” the officer said without fully catching his breath, “Our military installations here and aboard are being hit. They just appeared out of nowhere and…”

“Wait…slow down for a sec,” said General Grimshaw, “Which installations are we talking about here?”

“And who is they?” asked Captain Freeman.

“It’s everywhere! Every base we have! And it isn’t just us either. We’ve been getting reports from China, Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Europe. They’re all facing the same attacks! Every weapon, every system, and every combat vehicle is being wiped out! As for who’s behind it…”

Before the officer could explain, an ominous rumble shook the room. It was a tremor that was felt from deep within the Pentagon. It caused the lights to flicker and the conference table to shake. It made everyone in the conference room stand up. The already tense atmosphere within the room quickly deepened.

“Save yourself the breath, soldier. I think we’re about to find out,” said General Grimshaw.

“I take it this means we’ll have to table the White Cell issue?” said Professor Xavier.

The General was about to answer when the entire wall in front of them was blown open by a familiar optic blast from a very unfamiliar source. Captain Freeman instinctively shielded the General and the officer while Betsy and Piotr shielded the Professor. As they all looked to the figure that delivered the blast, that same issue became more pressing.

Standing in front of them was an imposing figure that had the build and demeanor of Wolverine. He even had a similar uniform, except his was all black and had reddish streaks along the seams that led to a distinct White Cell symbol on the chest. In addition, the figure’s face was covered by a mask that displayed an ominous set of glowing eyes. As it stared down the threats before it, the figure drew a pair of metal claws to fully confirm what was already suspected.

“Peace through honor!” proclaimed the figure in a mechanical tone.

“I believe that answers your question, Professor,” said General Grimshaw.

“You almost owed me twenty bucks, Peter,” said Psylocke as she formed a pair of psionic blades.

“I’m glad I didn’t,” said Piotr as he took on his metal form, “I’ll also be glad if it turns out our friends did go behind our back. Because if this is happening everywhere, then we are quite literally in a world of trouble!”


Hindu Kush – Kashmir Region

“Where are our reinforcements? Someone just showed they’re stupid enough to declare war on India!” yelled an irate Lieutenant in the Indian military.

“I don’t know, sir! But I think the next attack is coming over the ridge!” said an equally irate subordinate.

The heavily disputed Kashmir region of the India/Pakistan boarder had always been a hot-bed of military, but never like this. Twenty minutes ago, a number of ammunition depots and anti-aircraft installments blew up without warning. Naturally, both sides started fighting. The Pakistanis started launching mortars and smoke bombs. The Indian side fired heavy machine-guns as well as rocket-propelled grenades. Neither side seemed to know what they were shooting at. Whatever the source, more explosions followed.

From within the main bunker, the Indian Lieutenant was frantically trying to contact air support while his soldiers returned fire. They could hear other nearby bunkers exploding. They could also see other areas on the Pakistani side exploding in the distance.

It looked like both sides were in an all-out war neither side was winning. As the Indian forces braced themselves for more attacks, they heard a loud rumbling noise overhead. The soldiers quickly recognized it as a helicopter and it sounded like it was about to crash. Naturally, they stopped firing and took cover.

“WE’VE GOT INCOMING!” exclaimed a squad captain.

The soldiers shielded themselves as they watched the helicopter crash less than fifty feet from the bunker. The rotors and engine crumbled under the force. Some of the unfired munitions exploded, illuminating the early morning battlefield. As the chaos unfolded, the soldiers noticed something else about this crash.

About ten feet from the impact, they saw two brief flashes. Through these flashes, two masked figures appeared with four uniformed men besides them. The Indian soldiers didn’t recognize the masked figures, but they recognized the uniformed men as Pakistani.

“We’ve got hostiles! Shoot them into the next life!” shouted the Indian lieutenant.

The soldiers ran back to their guns, but before they could reach them the two Weapon X warriors from outside sensed them and teleported right into their bunker. They appeared right in front of the soldiers and drew their metal claws. Then in a series of swift, devastating attacks they slashed through their guns and equipment. Most of the soldiers fell back, but the lieutenant drew his handgun and tried to fight through.

“Don’t let them hold you back! Shoot them!” yelled the lieutenant.

“You will cease all further hostilities,” said the warriors in perfect unison.

The lieutenant only got off one shot, which hit one of the Weapon X warriors in the chest. It did little to no damage. Since the officer proved that he was a threat to their mission, the two figures retaliated in kind. Together, they utilized Cyclops’s powers to fire two concentrated optic blasts at the lieutenant that destroyed his gun and delivered a fatal blow.

The other soldiers watched on in horror, not sure of what to do next as they tried to return to their posts. However, the Weapon X warriors made sure they had nothing to return to. Utilizing their telekinesis, they disabled their guns and their RPG launchers. Once everything was destroyed they teleported away, leaving a squad of shocked soldiers and some very confused Pakistanis just outside the bunker.

“Whose side were those men on?” asked one of the Pakistani helicopter pilots.

“I don’t know,” said his partner as he looked at the baffled Indian soldiers, “I don’t think they’re on anyone’s side. And for some reason, I find that deeply troubling.”


Israel – West Bank Boarders

“GET OFF OUR LANDS!”

“DEATH TO ISRAEL!”

“DEATH TO THE ZIONISTS!”

These angry cries were a common occurrence in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Riots were a fact of life in areas such as the West Bank. Some days were worse than others. Recent peace talks took a particularly ugly turn and hundreds of angry Palestinians took to the streets, arming themselves with whatever they could.

They followed men from a terrorist organization who were armed with illegal automatic weapons. They were at the front of the riot, firing dozens of rounds into a large gated area that the Israelis were patrolling with machine-gun nests and tear-gas launchers.

“This is your final warning,” blared a loudspeaker from behind the gates, “Fall back immediately. Cease all hostilities or we will fire!”

“Allah is not on your side! We will never surrender to Zionist oppressors! Never!” shouted one of the soldiers, evoking cheers from the civilians behind him.

The Israelis had heard enough. This riot was no ordinary riot. Someone was giving them firepower that was wearing down all their major security checkpoints. In this politically sensitive area, firing back in a crowd of civilians was strongly discouraged. However, when a riot turned into an invading army their orders were clear.

“We warned them,” said an Israeli soldier as a bullet whisked by his head.

From atop the barriers, the Israeli defense forces prepared to fire. They took aim at the masked leaders that were armed. They would not be using riot gear. Their orders were shoot-to-kill. They were prepared to fire. Then to their shock, a series of unexpected flashes appeared behind them along with masked figures that did not look like any terror organization they knew.

“This dispute ends today,” said one of the Weapon X warriors.

The Israeli soldiers barely had time to be shocked. The Weapon X warriors wasted no time in destroying their weapons. They draw their claws and swiftly rendered them useless. A few soldiers tried to resist only to be grabbed by their throats and thrown out of their posts with strength borrowed from Warpath.

From below, the Palestinians watched with a mix of confusion and elation. They could see the heavy arms of the Israelis being destroyed. In the distance, they saw optic blasts decimating deeper encampments. It looked as though someone was already attacking the Israelis from the other side.

“Allah has sent allies to aid us!” proclaimed one of the soldiers, holding his gun high, “Hurry! We can overrun these Zionist pigs and take back what’s ours.”

The civilians behind the soldiers were prepared to follow. But just as they were about to make their push, the same contingent of Weapon X warriors that disarmed the Israelis appeared before armed leaders. Without proclaiming any role in this long-standing holy war, they used their claws to shred their weapons.

“You will take back only what you earn peacefully,” said one of the Weapon X warriors.

“What are you doing?” exclaimed one of the Hamas soldiers, “Are you also with the Zionists?”

“If you oppose us, you will succumb to their fate!” yelled another as he removed his jacket to reveal a bomb strapped to his chest.

The soldier was prepared to detonate himself in front of the Weapon X warriors. However, one of the warriors used his claws to cut off the man’s arm and sever the detonator chord before he could succeed in martyring himself.

“Ahhhhhhhh!” cried the wounded man, which caused a number of civilians to back off.

“There will be no more bloodshed. If both sides seek war then both sides shall perish,” said the Weapon X warrior in a mechanical tone.

As this scene played out, the rioters grew as anxious as the Israelis. They started scrambling in confusion, trying to escape the path of the Weapon X warriors as they teleported and appeared all along the boarder. For a conflict that had so many political and religious undertones, it left both sides in unfamiliar territory.


Grozney, Chechnya

“Why are they shooting at us? No one ordered an attack!” yelled a veteran Chechnya rebel as he stumbled through a crumbling apartment building.

“Maybe it’s another crackdown? Maybe Moscow is striking first this time!” said one of his associates as he followed closely.

“If they are, they’re stupid! We’ve stock-piled enough weapons here to drive them out once and for all. We’ll use every last bullet if we have to!”

It was a day many residents of Chechnya had feared. Tensions between separatists and loyalists to the Kremlin had always been present. It was only a matter of time before something sparked the next conflict.

That spark came in the middle of a snowy day in Chechnya. Dozens of areas throughout Grozney were rocked by a series of explosions. Some took place within Russian military encampments. Others took place in rebel strongholds. It seemed to be coming from everywhere and both sides were ready to fight it out for as long as necessary.

The small apartment building was already scarred from the last skirmish. That made it a good location to hide munitions. While their allies scrambled to fight back, the veteran rebel prepared for a bolder strike. He led a small contingent of his most trusted fighters down several flights of stairs into an old utility room that they had stocked with weapons. If the Russian government thought they could crush them easily, they were sadly mistaken.

“Remember the protocol!” said the lead rebel, “Use the automatics to protect civilians. Use the RPGs on road blocks and armored vehicles.”

“What if they send in helicopters?” asked one of the younger rebels.

“We have something for that too,” said the leader ominously, “Stay close and be ready to move once we…”

Then it happened. Another massive explosion rocked the area. It seemed to come from inside the building. The very floor they were standing on crumbled as if it had been hit by an earthquake. The walls near the ground floor crumbled and the lights flickered out. It was so chaotic that many of the rebels fell back to take cover.

“What was that?” exclaimed another rebel.

“Did we just get bombed?” asked another.

“No! That came from inside the building,” said the leader.

As he and his comrades processed this, they saw five Russian soldiers enter through the hole that was blown at the bottom of the stairwell. They stormed in quickly, carrying AK-47s and handguns. They had been drawn in by the explosion and quickly looked around for the survivors.

“Was that one of ours? Is anyone in here?” yelled one of the soldiers.

“Don’t play us for fools you imperialist pigs! We know it was you!” spat the lead rebel.

“Someone fucked up,” sneered another Russian soldiers, “Looks like we get to fuck them up even more!”

The soldiers raised their guns and prepared to fire. Many of the rebels that had been unable to escape braced for the worst, but it never came. Before a single shot could be fired, two Weapon X warriors appeared in front of them. With their claws already drawn, they sliced through their weapons and used their telekinesis to take away their handguns. Within seconds, they were rendered as vulnerable as the rebels.

“Who the fuck?” exclaimed one of the soldiers as he stumbled back.

“Fight with honor or don’t fight at all,” said the two Weapon X warriors in unison.

With no more guns to fight with, the two warriors teleported away to continue their mission. They left behind bewildered soldiers and confused rebels. As more explosions went off in the streets outside, they stared each other down not knowing what to do. Someone had sparked this skirmish, but now it was clear that neither side was in control.


Central Columbia

The cocaine trade was Columbia’s most famous and most profitable industry. Few illicit drugs required the kind of firepower with which to operate. As part of the global drug trade, the immense profits fueled a large guerilla army within the jungles of Columbia.

That army relied on a constant supply of weapons and supplies from the cartels. With such ordinance, they waged war on both the government and international law enforcement. Since their bases were so remote, they had to be shipped in via helicopter. A particularly large shipment was just arriving at a central base near a drug lord’s villa.

“There must have been a sale or something. The boss is buying up a lot of heavy arms,” said one the guerilla leaders as he and some associates led in a large transport helicopter.

“Perhaps he’s planning a coup. Or maybe that rumor about a new cartel taking over is true,” said another soldier as he observed more incoming helicopters through a pair of binoculars.

“If someone is going to start shooting, they had better do it quickly. My brother told me there’s some strange activity coming in from the Columbian defense ministry.”

“Your brother is a drunk. I’m sure he’s exaggerating.”

“Why don’t you shut up about my brother and get ready to unload these arms. You know mafia types can be when they’re running late.”

The two guerillas dispensed with the rumors and joined up with some on-duty mercenaries that were prepared to unload the merchandise. Doing business with arms dealers was always swift. They had to stay a step ahead of the law and the competition. One slip up and all their profits would be in danger.

The first of five helicopters was set to land. Then from the nearby jungle brush, a series of concentrated red energy blasts shot out and struck the helicopters. The blasts hit their tails, causing the aircrafts to spin out of control and crash. One by one, each was hit before any of them could even realize what was going on and take evasive action. The bewildered guerillas could do nothing but watch as their merchandise went up in flame.

“Holy shit! What the hell was that? Did the mob just screw us over again?” exclaimed one of the guerillas.

“No wait! Look!” exclaimed the lead guerilla.

The still baffled soldiers watched as five Weapon X soldiers leapt down from the trees. Their eyes still glowing, they fired off more optic blasts to ensure that none of the weapons could be salvaged.

“Wage your wars another way,” they all said, “The bloodshed ends today.”


Mogadishu, Somalia

“Get back! Get the fuck back or I’ll use you all as target practice!” shouted an enraged militiaman as he fired his AK-47 into the air.

“Please! We need that aid,” cried a sickly woman holding a baby, “My child hasn’t eaten in three days!”

“So feed it dirt for all I care!” shouted another imposing militiaman.

It was an ugly scene in downtown Mogadishu. This war-ravaged part of Africa had seen many of them. Endless bloodshed from angry warlords ensured that militias roamed the street with guns, shooting and killing whatever and whoever they pleased. The country was badly in need of aid. Western nations as well as other African nations sent large crates via air and convoy, but they often ended up in the hands of the warlords.

In the town square, the latest shipments of aid were hoarded around an old market. When word of this arrival spread over a thousand impoverished civilians stormed out into the streets in hopes of getting whatever they could. They were all disappointed to find out that the local warlord had twenty heavily armed militiamen in trucks firing off automatic rifles to dissuade anyone from getting this aid.

“Listen up and listen good!” proclaimed one of the militiaman from atop a crate, “This aid belongs to the warlord and he’ll decide if your children are worth his time. Until then, anyone that gets greedy will be shot.”

“Fuck you!” shouted an old man who had been reduced to bones from a lack of food.

“Hey! You want to say that again?” threatened the militiaman as he pointed his gun out into the crowd, “Don’t put me in a bad mood or I will take it out on all of you!”

The militiamen were through with warning shots. They turned their weapons on the civilians, who appeared increasingly desperate. They were about to fire when out of nowhere, five Weapon X warriors appeared around them. Since they had already killed civilians, the warriors didn’t warn them before disarming them.

“You will cease this needless killing,” said one of the warriors.

“Who dares fuck with our-ARGH!”

That was the most any militiaman got out. Each had their weapons ripped out via telekinesis or shredded by claws. Only a few managed to get shots off. They did no damage against the warriors thanks to their healing and Warpath’s durability. Those that continued fighting were stabbed and left to die. Others were shoved off with telekinesis.

Within seconds, the militia was disarmed. Those who had been guarding the aid now had nothing to threaten the thousands of angry people with. When they saw an opportunity to get back at these ruthless militiamen, they took it.

“Fate has turned against them! Time to take what’s ours!” shouted another woman that had two hungry children.

“Teach those bastards a lesson while you’re at it!” yelled an old man as he and many others set their sights on the disarmed militiamen.

As the Weapon X warriors disappeared, the militia was quickly overrun. The surviving men were overwhelmed and beaten to death. The crates of aid were cracked open and the contents were hoarded by the hungry people. There was jubilance as well as anxiety. With the militias now losing their grip, a new kind of chaos took hold.


Xinjiang, China - Aksu

“Attention all civilians! Attention all civilians! By order from Beijing, this city is officially under martial law. Return to your homes this instant. Those who violate will be severely punished.”

Police crackdowns were a way of life in this region of China. Ethnic tensions ensured that conflict was always just one shot away. Sometimes conflict from the neighboring central Asian countries had a way of filtering in. However, the police never needed a reasonable explanation from Beijing to intimidate the local populous. Few civilians were in a position to question them.

It was during the early morning bustle within the central markets when police convoys started rolling down the streets. Confused civilians quickly stopped what they were doing and ran for cover. The convoys didn’t give them much time either.

A long line of light-armored vehicles swarmed the streets at a brisk pace. They carried the flag of the Chinese government as well as a contingent of armed Chinese officers. When people didn’t move fast enough, they fired their guns off into the air. This was usually enough to get them moving faster.

“What is happening, father? Why are they bullying us like this?” asked a young boy to his father, who had to leave his fruit stand behind.

“Don’t waste time getting upset, my son. You’ll only get yourself into more trouble,” said the anxious man, “Now move faster and help me find your mother!”

The man pushed his son along as more anxious people fled the streets. The convoy was approaching fast and they showed little regard for anyone in their way. Because of the large crowds, not everyone was able to get out of the way. They were in a position to be run over completely. Cries were already ringing out through the streets. This had all the makings of a very violent crackdown.

The convoy was just about to reach the man and his son. Then in the middle of the street, two Weapon X soldiers appeared in a brief flash. Their presence went largely unnoticed by the panicked civilians. Yet they did not move. They stood in the path of the convoy and were prepared to stop it.

“You in the masks! Move this instant or we will run you over!” yelled one of the officers through a bull horn.

“No…you will not,” said the two warriors.

Without flinching in the slightest, the two warriors unleashed powerful optic blasts that hit the lead vehicle. The force of this blast stopped it cold, causing the officer with the bull horn to fall right out.

“Whoa! We’ve got hostiles!” said one of the officers.

“Take them down!” yelled another.

Officers from the now wrecked convoy and the vehicles behind it took out their weapons and prepared to shoot. More Weapon X warriors appeared around them. As they appeared, they unleashed waves of telekinetic force to both disarm and knock out the armed men. Their vehicles were shredded by claw swipes and brute strength. Using their agility, the warriors leapt from vehicle to vehicle. They systematically disarmed the police, which caught the attention of the civilians.

“Who are those people, papa?” asked the boy as he watched on with fascination.

“I don’t know, son. I really don’t know,” said the man with equal intrigue.

“Are they here to help us?”

“I think it’s a bit more complicated than that,” the man mused, “I think I may also know why Beijing is so troubled. For once, I actually share their concern.”


White House – Oval Office

“Somebody pick up! In the name of everything holy, somebody at the Pentagon better pick up the damn phone!” exclaimed an anxious President Kelly.

“I don’t mean to be fatalistic, Mr. President. But if they haven’t responded by now, they’re either too busy or too dead to answer,” said one of eight Secret Service Agents currently surrounding the President’s desk.

“Under current protocols, we have to assume the worst,” said another agent, “That means get you, the Vice President, and the whole cabinet out of here and into a secure location.”

“Every major military installation on the planet is being attacked right now. Even minor installations are taking a hit. That begs the question…is there such a thing as a secure location at this point?”

It was a daunting question with disturbing implications. President Kelly was on the front lines of this sudden assault. An hour ago, he received word from the Joint Chiefs that some of their most important military bases were being attacked by figures wielding mutant abilities. If that wasn’t disturbing enough, these same figures bore uniforms consistent with White Cell. After the incident at Purity Church, the severity of the situation was inescapable.

As Commander-in-Chief, his country was taking the greatest hit. Reports from his ambassadors told a similar story all over the world. Leaders from Russia, China, Egypt, Israel, Germany, France, Brazil, South Africa, Brazil, and Great Britain were sending distress calls of every kind. Yet if even the most powerful military on the planet couldn’t seem to fend off this attack.

It left him with a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. He was among those who told Professor Xavier and the MSA to back off White Cell. Now that decision was haunting him in the worst possible way.

The President continued restlessly gripping his desk while he tried contacting his people at the Pentagon. He was using a secure phone that was only supposed to be used in the worst of crises. He kept getting the same busy signal. His Secret Service personnel were silently urging him to leave. They all had their weapons drawn. They were ready to fight their way out of the White House if he had to.

“Mr. President…” began another agent.

“I heard you the first time!” said President Kelly as he slammed the phone down on the desk, “I’m leaving already. Is my family already out of here?”

“They’re already in a bunker outside the city. They’re waiting for us as we speak,” said another agent.

“We’ve got an armored convoy waiting for you, sir,” said the lead agent, who wielded an M-16 assault rifle, “Follow us and we’ll make sure you…”

The agent was then cut off by a sudden flash and appearance of five Weapon X warriors. They each appeared around the front of the President’s desk. They didn’t have their claws drawn, but the Secret Service still reacted immediately.

“Intruder!” exclaimed one of the agents.

“Scratch that, we’ll make sure right now,” said one the lead agent as he raised his M-16.

“You will do nothing but surrender peacefully,” said one of the warriors.

The Secret Service agents didn’t even get a shot off. Utilizing telekinetic power gained from Hellion, each warrior ripped the weapons away from each agent. Both the guns they were holding and the weapons they had in holsters were levitated above their heads and crushed like tin cans. Each agent was as amazed as they were wary. They still surrounded the President with every intention of protecting him.

“Stay back! I’m warning you!” yelled the lead agent.

“Get down, Mr. President!” said another agent, “We’ll take care of this.”

“After what they just did, I sincerely doubt that,” said President Kelly, expressing little confidence in this deteriorating situation.

“Do not resist. Our mission is not to harm you,” said one of Weapon X warriors in his mechanical tone.

“Then what the hell do you want?” exclaimed President Kelly, fighting off the grip of one of his agents, “Are you part of this ridiculous attack? What is White Cell trying to do with this stunt?”

“This is not a stunt. White Cell’s role is irrelevant. Now if you value your people and your country, you will listen.”


Skies Over Canada - Velocity

It was an awkward feeling for the X-men, defying both Professor Xavier and the authorities they swore to respect. It was a dangerous mission in and of itself. White Cell was a powerful private army with legions of mutants and highly trained soldiers at their disposal. Going after them without a full team or any backup from the authorities was foolhardy at best. As they received news about the worldwide attacks, it became painfully apparent that they were the only ones left to oppose this attack.

“Looks like someone is trying to put us hard-working mercenaries out of business,” commented Deadpool from the passenger area, “All the armies and all the guns are disappearing faster than one of Black Tom’s two-for-one deals. You should see the shit that’s trending on Twitter.”

“No need to remind us, Deadpool. They haven’t attacked the internet or cell phone service yet,” said Jean Grey, who was getting some of the reports through her phone.

“This is some attack. Can’t say it’s very smart, but this video from the Japanese navy shows it’s pretty dang effective,” said Rogue, who was watching a news report on her phone as well, “Ah’ll bet every army and gun enthusiast in the world is freaking out.”

“That may be what makes this here attack smart, chere,” commented Remy, who was sitting next to Rogue, “This attack ain’t aimed at civilians. It’s aimed at the very thing they expect to protect them.”

“I agree. It’s quite devious,” said Fantomex, who remained remarkably calm, “It also makes sense. White Cell is a private military. What better way to establish its dominance than taking out the competition?”

“You think that’s all this is? An elaborate marketing ploy to establish a monopoly on war?” said Jean.

“If so, I can’t wait to see Michael Moore make an award-winning documentary out of it,” said Deadpool.

“If there is a Weapon X element as there certainly appears to be, I doubt money is the prime motivator,” said Fantomex, “We’ll only know the full story once we reach the base and extract the answers for ourselves.”

“That’s assuming we don’t get the tar beat outta us,” said Rogue, cringing as she saw footage of the attackers sinking a cruiser.

“What can I say? I’m a hopeless optimist,” said Fantomex.

If he was genuinely confident about their ability to overcome Weapon X’s army, then he was the only one. Rogue, Remy, and Jean saw one too many reasons to be anxious.

More footage was leaking onto the internet by the second. Images of these powerful Weapon X warriors that were built in the mold of Wolverine and armed with a variety of powers showed that they were more than capable of wiping out any major fighting force. From governments to criminals, there was no stopping them.

Despite many daunting concerns, the X-men weren’t going in without some tactical advantage. Up in the cockpit, Hank and Ororo were flying the Velocity carefully towards their destination. Sage sat in a seat behind them working on her laptop. She had with her a few other tools from her lab, each of which were hooked up to her system.

Using the signal that Jean uncovered with Cerebrum, she guided the Velocity towards their destination. They were closing in on White Cell’s base. To stand a chance against them, she would need to use that psychic signal in another creative way.

“We’re getting uncomfortably close to the base, Sage. Is that hackers trick you told us about ready?” asked Ororo anxiously, who was monitoring the main scope.

“Not quite,” said Sage, who was working feverishly on a very special program, “It’ll be ready sooner if you stop pestering me about it.”

“I’m not pestering you. Just because you’re dating my ex-boyfriend doesn’t mean all my concerns are personal,” said Ororo apprehensively.

“Take it easy, Ororo. She knows what she’s doing,” coaxed Hank.

“I don’t doubt that she is. I only doubt that it’ll be ready in time,” she said anxiously, “We’ve been picking up distress calls from every military base within a fifty-mile radius. White Cell is attacking and they’re doing quite a bit of damage!”

“Timing won’t matter if White Cell overwhelms us the minute we strike. That’s assuming they won’t detect us beforehand,” argued Sage, keeping her emotions turned off so she could concentrate, “That’s why we need this to work. We don’t have the firepower to overcome White Cell’s current forces.”

“That’s not mere pessimism either. That is objective fact,” added Hank, “Even if we had the MSA’s backing, these very Wolverine-esque operatives would likely overwhelm them in the same way they’re overwhelming every other army in the world.”

“I’m trying not come off as a bitter ex-girlfriend here, but based on what James told me about White Cell I fear we’re up against more than just overwhelming force,” said Ororo, watching as the target area approached on the scope.

“Even if those fears are warranted, they have just as much reason to fear us as well,” retorted Sage, “We’ve had three days to analyzing the sample. That’s a lot of time for two brilliant minds, one of which happens to be part computer. It’s more than enough time for us to uncover a weakness.”

Her words sounded confident. Since she had her emotions turned off, Ororo couldn’t tell from her tone just how certain she was. She thought she had moved beyond the awkwardness surrounding Hank and Sage. Some of that sentiment came from having to rely on Sage to make this operation succeed.

One issue where they were all in agreement was the scale of White Cell’s forces. They could not overcome them directly and sneaking in wasn’t an option given their lack of intelligence. They needed an edge of a different kind. Sage and Hank were confident they could provide it.

Not many shared their level of confidence, but Fantomex was among the few. Having not made any friends in the passengers area, he made his way up towards the cockpit so he could be closer to Sage. Due to the techno-organic material in his body, he still had a strange fixation with her. Even as she kept her emotions turned off, he could still sense her uneasiness around him.

“Speaking of that weakness, are you ever going to properly thank me for retrieving this sample in the first place?” he asked.

“Hey! Don’t I get to ask for a thank you as well?” said Deadpool from the passenger area, “I took a grenade to the face for that gunk.”

“Thought you said you just took ten bullets, homme,” commented Remy.

“Apples and oranges, man! They’re both still fruit,” he argued.

“I’ll only consider thanking you if this works, Fantomex,” said Sage, not taking her eyes off her computer screen, “You may just be lucky that you stumbled upon this sample. White Cell seems to enjoy maintaining tight controls over its operations. Since they’re not afraid to employ mutants, it’s only natural that they would turn to psionics.”

“You’re trying to change the subject,” said Fantomex as he moved in closer.

“You’re even luckier that this sample seems to be tuned into White Cell’s channels,” Sage went on, talking as though her techno-jargon would chase Fantomex away, “Using some hastily-assembled equipment from my lab, Hank and I were able to slap together a psionic jammer within three days. If I can configure it properly, I can use my own telepathy to send out a signal that will jam White Cell’s psionic controls. The effect will be localized, but it should give us a window to…”

“You’re not going to talk me into submission, Sage. You can’t avoid what I am. Nor will you be able to should we win the day.”

Sage’s emotions cracked through her computer-like focus. Even as the program was nearing completion, she felt the effect Fantomex was having on her. It was as if the techno-organic material inside him was drawing her to him as much as it was to her. It was deeply distressing, especially with Hank present.

“We don’t have time for this,” she told him, “What do you want from me anyways?”

“I imagine it’s the same thing you want from me. You’re just hiding it behind a computer screen,” he replied.

“Your logic is flawed, Fantomex. I want nothing from you,” said Sage as she tried to resume her work.

“This is not about logic. This goes much deeper than logic. I didn’t just come to you for help because I knew you could crack the code behind that sample. My trust in you runs much deeper.”

“Need I remind you that I’m currently controlling this aircraft and you’re not wearing a seatbelt, Fantomex?” said Hank angrily from the cockpit, “I’m more than willing to compromise our position if it stops you from harassing my girlfriend.”

“Do as you wish, Hank. We’re all on the same sinking ship,” said Fantomex, “There are still personal ties that you cannot understand. I’m just trying to confront them before they confront us.”

Hank squeezed the controls to the Velocity, showing that he was indeed tempted to pull a barrel roll just to make Fantomex uncomfortable. Ororo waved him down. Even though she wasn’t too friendly with Sage, she didn’t concern her nearly as much as Fantomex.

Sage continued to ignore Fantomex’s penetrating gaze. It was hard to avoid. She tried completing her work on her program. The device she had hooked up to her laptop was almost ready. They would be over the base soon and ready to make their move.

“I need to concentrate,” she told Fantomex, “We’ll address this when the time is right.”

“Is that a promise?” he asked her coyly, “What’s wrong with touching on it now?”

Fantomex was prepared to probe deeper with this woman. Then the Velocity was unexpectedly rocked with turbulence. It wasn’t just Hank taking his frustration out on Fantomex either. Something had struck them from the outside.

“Whoa! What was that?” exclaimed Jean from the passengers area.

“I hope that wasn’t an elaborate act of jealousy,” said Fantomex, who hung onto a nearby seat to keep his balance.

“We’ve got incoming! The scopes are picking up two…no, three air-born threats!” announced Ororo.

“What kind of threats are we talkin’ about here?” asked Rogue.

“Don’t tell me these guys splurged on an F-22 or something,” said Deadpool.

“Oh dear,” said Hank as he saw the threat coming in strong, “You had best look outside and see for yourself.”

Ororo, Jean, Remy, Rogue, Deadpool, and Fantomex all clamored around the windows. They quickly saw what Hank was referring to. Flying at high speeds in the distance where three humanoid figures.

They all resembled the Wolverine-like attackers that they saw in the reports from the military. Except they demonstrated a trick no one had reported yet. Protruding from their backs were a pair of techno-organic wings that resembled Warren’s. Each attacker used those wings as skillfully as Warren as they flew around for another attack.

“Is this sufficient reason to give me the time and space I need?” asked Sage as she continued to work despite the turbulence.

“Do as you must,” said Fantomex as he strapped himself into a seat, “Rest assure, this isn’t over.”

“How much more time do you need?” asked Jean, “We’ve lost the element of surprise and we’ll lose much more if we crash!”

“I just need a little bit longer,” said Sage, turning her emotions off once again so she could concentrate, “As soon as I jam their psionics, we can begin our attack!”

“I can’t make any promises, my dear! But I urge you to expedite the process!” said Hank as he began evasive maneuvers with the Velocity, “Because on another illogical level, the attack has already begun!”

Fantomex, Deadpool, and the X-men braced themselves as the three winged attackers swooped in for another attack. White Cell knew they had arrived. If Sage’s plan was going to work, it had to work now. The attackers were bold enough to take down every military on the planet. They would have no qualms about taking down the X-men.

“Kill all those who threaten our peace!” proclaimed the three attackers, “Peace through honor! Peace through blood!”

Up next: Crimes Against Inhumanity Part 3

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