Thursday, September 23, 1999

Spider-Man #1 - Endless Cycle

Spider-Man #1

By Karl V.

Original Plot by Aldalin

"Endless Cycle"

It's a rather quiet night. Only a few robbers and muggers that I helped bring down. I think the boys in the blue could do without a certain web head tonight! Time to get back to...

As his head buzzed like a loud alarm clock, a horrid blood-chilling scream broke out.

...Business...Hook, line, and slinger!

He swung to the scene of the shrill sound as a darting sensation went off in his head. "Well, there's the Spider sense again. I guess I can't clock out yet. "

The fleeing woman ran right past the upside down costumed hero without noticing him.

"Ok, I'm in for it if they don't spot me." He peeked out from the alleyway to witness a set of five bulky short robots walking in a precise formation.

"Why me? If not Spider Slayers there's always the next version of Sentinels. I could use an X-team right about now, although I do have some extra Slingers I could call in."

One robot glanced directly toward the hero. "Target Acquisition: Designate Spider-Man."

I need to stop talking out loud. Spider-Man leaped right in front of the quintuplet of Sentinels. "The one and only! Can I help you boys with something?"

"10% probability that Designate Five has taken the form of his adversary. Implement capture to eliminate all probability." One jet-black robot droned.

"Uh oh, in other words," Spider-Man felt yet another alert sound off in his head, "move!"

Spider-Man leaped out of the way of a capture net that sprung from the robot's hand.

"Target has resisted capture. Factor raised by 20% probability." Another seemed to move quicker and faster towards Spider-Man.

"You guessed it, I'm double the trouble and then some!" Spider-Man spewed forth webbing from his wrist on the optics of the Sentinels. "Now mind telling me who this Designate Five is?"

"Webbing compound composed of various chemical compositions and not organic. Factor lowered to 15% probability. " The robots easily tore the webbing off their optics with their hands.

"Okay, this is not good. Where's Arnold when you need him?" Spider-Man shot some webbing at the bottom of the Sentinels feet. They tugged at the goo for a moment and then regained their freedom.

They still came lurching towards the web crawling hero. Okay, Spidey. Two choices, I can try and fight five robotic guards all by your lonesome probably get yourself almost killed, and find out what make these things tick. Or, give your self up in hopes they just accidentally release some information on this designate Five. Gee, hard choice.

"All right, you got me." Spider-Man jumped once more in front of their path. "Test away."

The five robots looked at each other as the one in the middle stepped forward. "Testing requires all Designates to be rendered unconscious." The lead construct buzzed.

As Spider-Man's sixth sense went off, he looked down to see a dart in his leg. "Oh no..."

After pulling the small sharp object out, Spider-Man fell to sleep as he heard only a few more words.



Spider-Man awoke to a gathering crowd of pedestrians, one of which was the screaming lady.

"Are you okay?" She whispered softly in his ear.

"Ouch. I have a killer headache from that dart but I'll be fine. Did anyone take off my mask?"

"No, I made sure of that. It was the least I could do." She smiled as she waved the intrigued pedestrians away. "Come on, just give him some air!"

Spider-Man got up and shook his head in hopes of getting rid of the banging in his head. "Thanks. I don't suppose you saw where those misfit metal heads went?"

"They took off in the air after they pointed their finger at you. I don't know what the heck they were doing but all the dogs in the neighborhood went nuts."

Spider-Man rubbed his chin. "I heard something about emitting before I got knocked out. Well, I'll save that for later. This Spider has to get back to his web!"

He leaped forward and grabbed onto a wall as he shot another string of webbing at a lamppost. He swung quickly all the way back home.


The Next Morning...

"WHERE IS THAT PARKER?" The infamous boss with a buzz cut yelled at the top of his lungs.

"Right here!" Peter rushed in as J. Jonah Jameson gave a deep stare at the boy.

I wasn't late today! I wonder what's up the old...

"TODAY PARKER!" Jonah opened the door to his office.

Uh oh.

The head of The Daily Bugle put down a plain brown envelope on the desk. "Go ahead open it kid."

For once, Peter was at a loss. He never has heard the level of sincerity in Jonah's voice before. "What's this?" He grabbed it and pulled out a color photo.

"Personally, I think it's a hoax. It has Eddie Brock written all over it." Jameson put his hands on his desk and lowered his head for a moment. "But with all these reports of armored guards and robots cropping up, my journalistic instinct can't avoid any possibility."

BROCK! I wondered where he disappeared.

Peter glanced at the photo. The picture had a bottom of a mountain with a military base that surrounded it. Peter did a double take as he spotted a peculiar large bulge sticking out of the mountain.

"What the heck is that?" Peter turned it every which way to try and guess at the odd shapes.

"You know for someone your age, I would assume you would know the tail end of a spacecraft when you see one. "

Peter finally snapped out of his denial and tried to gauge the size of the ship. "If this is a mountain, then this thing has got to be huge."

"It's a volcano to be more precise. Mt. Saint Hillary is what the note that came with it said. I want you to go there and confirm this. Personally, I think that Brock is trying to pull a fast one on me. But, this is something I can't ignore. Brock has never been one to not take advantage of the situation to make a name for him. He sent this anonymously."

Is it me or is Jameson talking to me like I am Brock? It must be all that is happening. The old guy is about to crack.

"Well, if it's a military base, I doubt I could even get past the guards." Peter explained to Jonah. At least, not just as Peter Parker, he thought to himself.

"Well, you always manage it somehow Parker. I know your still friends with that web slinging idiot, so I suggest you use that to your advantage."

Whoa, J.J. Jameson just told me to use Spider-Man to get a picture. Now, this is BAD!

"Well, the plane leaves in an hour. I suggest you plan accordingly. And, Parker..." Jonah practically muttered the next words beneath his breath. "... be careful."

"Will do chief!" Peter hastily departed back for home. He took the quicker route in his web swinging gear.


Ok, it's obvious by now that Venom's involved. Jonah was right about the picture, it stuck out like a sore thumb to me too, since a photo is like a thumbprint to an experienced Journalist. I just need to find that symbiotic simpleton but I need to keep my day job more. I hate it when I have to make snap decisions. Ouch! Bad pun, even for me!

Peter entered his room as he quickly put a set of clothes over his costume. As he grabbed the needed camera equipment, Mary Jane entered.

"An assignment somewhere else?" She queried with a bit of sparked interest.

"Oregon." Peter replied in a monotone voice.

Mary Jane gazed deeply into her husband's eyes. "Peter?"

"I have to confirm a photograph sent by Brock." The room remained silent for a brief and eerie moment. "It was a picture of a big spaceship lodged in a volcano."

Mary Jane seemed a bit stunned by the news although she was accustomed to most things ever since she knew her husband was Spider-Man.

"Any idea of who or what the occupants were?" She found herself open to the possibility.

Peter bowed his head a bit. "I'm going to find out."

Mary Jane grabbed her husband and hugged him. "I'll take you to the airport. And, you had better be careful mister or else."

Peter briefly smiled. "Aren't I always?"

The drive was a quiet and rather somber one. Mary Jane's smile picked up Peter every time but he could not help but think of what laid ahead.

Peter's spider sense went off as the car came to a screeching sudden stop as Mary Jane yelled in panic.

Peter looked ahead to see what the problem was. VENOM! And those five robots I met earlier are thrashing him!

Before Mary Jane could say anything, Peter hopped out of the car and quickly looked for a place to change into his costume. Peter searched for a discrete area to change into his superhero persona. He spotted a nearby outhouse close to a construction area.

"I guess they found Designate Five." Spider-Man swung in like Tarzan and grabbed the ailing Venom from danger. "Hey tall dark and gruesome."

Come on Brock, I don't want you to go out on me yet.

"It's about time you..." Venom passed out from the punishment that the Sentinels had dished out.


"Designate: Spider-Man relinquish Designate Five immediately or prepare for termination." One of robots droned as it began pursuit of the two.

"Sorry rust bucket but only I have rights to use Designate Five as a punching bag." Spider-Man twirled a line around the robot's legs as it landed on the ground with a heavy thud.

The other four seemed to grow more intent on their new directive of eliminating the web-slinging obstacle as they moved faster and with more precision.

"Uh oh, they've gone into second gear!" Spider-Man yelled as he evaded several laser blasts from the robot's hands. Spider-Man carried Venom in one arm as he swung away from the crowded area.

Spider-Man reached a barren back lot area and placed Venom in a trash receptacle before the robots reached him.

"Put Eddie where he belongs and now to do the same with those tin plated terrors." Spider-Man turned his attention toward the five robots that rounded the corner as if on cue.

"Designate: Spider-Man, your interference with these Units' objectives requires full implementation of armament systems."

"In other words, you've been authorized to use full force! It won't do you much good to find out where Designate Five is, if I'm dead."

To the awestruck Spider-Man, the robots immediately stopped and seemed as though to think about his statement.

Whoa boy, these things are not like all the others. They have a brain!

"Designate: Spider-Man please divulge last known coordinates of Designate Five or face full..."

"Yeah, ok. I can take a hint. He went that way." Spider-Man pointed in a general direction that led the Robot's away from the area.

"Thank you for your cooperation. Search Mode Implemented." The robots began scanning the area with high frequency waves.

Obviously not smart enough to know a lie when they hear it.

Spider-Man waited until the Sentinels disappeared in the distance to retrieve Venom.

"Peter what is that...." Mary Jane shrieked at the site of Peter supporting Eddie Brock.

Peter quickly put Eddie in the back of the car, then entered the passenger side.

"I missed my flight. Jonah will get a bit steamed but not once I tell him about the snap shots of those robots."

"Mr. Parker, what about him?" Mary Jane gazed darkly at Brock then back at Peter.

I think I was better off with those Sentinels, Peter gulped.

"He and his 'other' took quite a few blows, I doubt he's in any position to be a threat. Besides, he is the one that contacted J.J. Jameson anonymously. "

"Others.... Overseer...Five...Xenotech..." Eddie was incoherently babbling.

Mary Jane grimaced at the sound of his voice. "What is he going on about?"

"I don't know but I intend to find out."

The drive back was eerie and foreboding as Brock continued to ramble in his dazed state.

After Mary Jane pulled up, Peter grabbed Brock and helped him go inside. Peter put Brock on the couch.

"I need to ask a favor. Watch him. Call in the Avengers or anyone else if he gives you trouble." Peter hugged Mary Jane.

"Okay, Tiger. I'll do just that. But you owe me big time." She hugged back.

Peter smiled from ear to ear. "I have to go back to the office and clear things up with old J.J."

"And Peter, be careful." She kissed him passionately.

"You too." He winked then departed for the Bugle.

Mary Jane instantly picked up the phone as soon as he left.

"WHAT? Parker these photos better be good or else the cancellation fee is coming out of your check." Johan hit the desk in a fit.

Typical, Peter resisted the temptation to roll his eyes.

Jonah shook his head and continued. "Well, your fortunate it works out for the better anyway. I got to thinking about Brock's picture; he must have found work somewhere. So I dug up all I could on him, and found a boatload of pictures shouting his name. They were mostly on those good for nothing magazines like National Enquirer. Then, I found these."

Jonah put a pile of magazines on the desk. "All these are conspiracy theorist magazines, all of them had pictures or small stories from Brock."

Peter watched the magazines tumble to the floor. "He's been rather busy."

"That's not the half of it. All his stories or pictures had a location." Jonah pulled a map down with several red dots scattered all through out on it.

Peter quickly noticed a small circle area that had no dots at all. He looked closer as he saw the state of Oregon and in the center of the circle a small triangle, which indicated a mountain or, in this case, a volcano.

"Mount Saint Hillary." Peter read the name outloud for emphasis.

Jonah nodded. "It's too coincidental if you ask me. Brock may not be that bright, but he knows how to pull a fast one. I don't want you to wait until tomorrow. Leave on the next possible flight and confirm this as soon as possible. This will be ground breaking news, and I want the Bugle to be the first to get it out."

Despite Jameson's enthusiasm, Peter noted a bit of hostility as though Jonah wanted him to leave.

"Is something wrong?"

"Nothing, " Jameson lied through his teeth, "I want you to confirm it Parker. I don't want any ifs, ands, or buts. I want verifiable proof in my hands. Now, you're wasting time, GO!"

Peter ran out the door as he replied back. "Yes, sir!"

I wonder why this has Jonah so spooked...

As Jameson watched the door shut, he pulled another photo from his desk.

"For your sake, I hope this another one of Brock's tricks Parker." He let the picture fall on his desk, as he gazed at it with spite.

"Because if you do confirm it, then you also will prove that you are that web slinging maniac."

The photo on the desk was a shot of Spider-Man taking off his mask and revealing Parker's face.

X-Men #1 - Paranoia

X-Men issue #1 by David Cousens.


You don’t want to sleep tonight.

Certainly you need to sleep, you’ve been drained for the last three days now, but you don’t want to sleep.

Actually you’re afraid to, aren’t you?

You’ve been having nightmares which have been unsettlingly realistic. Having nightmares is nothing new to you, but these are something more, a haunting familiarity surrounds these dreams of yours.

As Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men, you have only had dreams this intense once before. These dreams were due to the arrival of the Shiar Empress Lilandra, an alien woman who you have found yourself close to in recent times. Although your feelings towards Lilandra are now positive her first arrival signified the death of one soul entrusted to you. A death that broke your heart.

There was something about Lilandra’s alien brainwaves that disturbed your dreams to an extent that you thought that you were going mad. That scared you, didn’t it?

The thought that you, the most powerful mind on the planet could be losing control.

You lost control recently, didn’t you? You went against everything that you hold dear and abused your gift. You stole a mans mind, which infected you, corrupted you. You became Onslaught, the physical representation of everything that you oppose and this time you broke the hearts of those who loved you. You tried to kill them. You almost succeeded. You must never lose control again. Yet your dreams now control you.

You can’t help it can you. Your mind is still strong, but your body is weak. You need to sleep, you cannot physically continue without rest. You are afraid.

You are dreaming. You are in the dark. You call out but there is no answer, save the echo of your own voice. You cannot see where you are. You are not in control.

As you strain your eyes, you can make out some unearthly shapes. Your eyes must be adjusting to the light. You can see something. It is large. You try harder to recognise what it is that you are so close to. It is still unclear to you. Straining you pull yourself nearer to the object with your arms, your legs trail you awkwardly. You stretch out your hand, hoping that a physical connection will help you ascertain the silhouette’s identity. You touch it. It is cold, almost like...metal?

What on Earth is it that you are now leaning on? This thought makes you panic. Suddenly, you are falling. You feel restricted, yet at the same time too vulnerable. You are falling. Again you are enveloped in an uncomfortable darkness. You feel tense and anxious. You are vulnerable.

Wait! Is that a light?

Again you strain your vision and suddenly, unexpectedly you are no longer falling. You feel in control of your movements now. But you are floating?

You gradually realise that the light has now become many lights, each small yet beautiful. It dawns upon you that these are stars, yet you are not floating in the sea gazing from below. You are gently riding a celestial current as if you were born to. An odd feeling of tranquillity sets upon you. You entertain it, peace is a sensation alien to you. You gaze upon the beauty with the wonder of a child. Suddenly your attention is drawn to an oddly blue star. A pang of anxiety makes itself known and the contentment gives way to concern. You are drawn to this star.

You concentrate, giving the blue spectre your full focus. Without warning a second, much smaller apparition begins to emerge. It seems to be faint orange. You are uncertain. A third, darker sprite fades into view. The orange and purple begin to move erratically. It reminds you of fireflies dancing in the dusk. No not dancing, fighting!

The two begin to collide. Intertwined they start to silently spiral. Haphazardly they drop through the infinite chasm of space falling much like you had. You look further down wondering where the descent will take them. You see a familiar green and blue sphere. It’s Earth.

You hurriedly pursue, worried for your home. You must understand the situation in order to control it. You must be in control.

You are swiftly moving through the Earth’s atmosphere now, following the ebony trail of the celestial voyagers. You are now close enough to see that the faint images in detail. They are starships!

These ships are alien to you, a thought that you would surely find ironic if you had the time to dwell upon it. The amalgamated vessel is hurtling towards the surface almost deliberately. Suicide certainly.

You find yourself engulfed with black smoke without warning. You were so immersed when looking at the starships you did not notice that whatever is being vented from the merged vehicle was directly in your path. With your vision totally obscured you lack both understanding and control.

You hurtle backwards unexpectedly, no longer in control of your movements. You are being moved away by some unknown current against your will. Then, again without warning, you collide with the noise. Unbearable, uncomfortable, overwhelming noise. Your mind recalls someone once telling you that you never realise an explosion until it has already happened.

The smoke clears from your eyes, you quickly assess the situation. You can see that there is wreckage by the base of the volcano. You move closer to investigate the debris, then you realise there are two shards of metal from the crash that are being propelled to a direct collision with you. You cannot bring yourself to close your eyes, in stead they focus intently on the incoming shrapnel. You are unable to defend yourself. You are not in control. You manage to make out two faces; they are obviously different but connected somehow. You squint your eyes, preparing for the two symbols to impact with your face, you memorise them just before they blur together and-

You scream! You are awake again.

Jean Summers jerked her head up, startled.

"Huh?" She murmured quietly.


Jean looked at her long-time friend Hank slightly dazed. She smiled to reassure him.

"Yes Hank?"

Henry P McCoy raised his blue brow with a touch of concern. "You appeared to be momentarily distracted by something other than my intriguing exposition."

"Oh no. It was nothing" Jean hesitated and craned her head back towards the Mansion. "The Professor just had another one of those nightmares that have been plaguing him recently, that’s all."

Hank smiled. Jean was obviously concerned for their mentor. He stopped walking down the gravel path and put his large blue hand on Jean’s bare shoulder.

"It’s probably nothing to worry about. We all suffer from nightmares from time to time" Hanks tone quickly changed from sensitive to jovial. "However I did warn our esteemed teacher not to indulge his cravings for late night pizza. The cheese does strange things to ones mind!"

Jean smiled at Hanks attempt. He was right after all. It was just a dream that she sensed Xavier awakening from, one of the negative side effects of being a telepath living in a house with eight other people.

Still, I might tell Scott later...

A loud, youthful and exuberant voice bellowed across the courtyard.

"Hey c’mon guys! Lets get moving!"

A long column of ice that stemmed from the mansions interior quickly grew past Jean and Hank and circled around them in a wide arc. "I wanna play in the pool!"

Jean was comfortable again now. Playfully, she eyed the enthusiastic Robert Drake who was still generating more ice to manoeuvre him from side to side.

"It’s okay Bobby you can go ahead and play..."Jean retorted, mock-condescendingly. "Us grown ups will get there in our own time."

Hank was standing next to Jean using his considerable bulk to carry everything the pair needed for the pond. Two deck chairs, a beach ball, a picnic basket, towels and a few other accessories were all effortlessly balance on his left shoulder. Both Hank and Jean were dressed appropriately for this lovely sunny July morning. Hank wore swimming trunks and a cheesy Hawaiian shirt with an intentionally bad pineapple motif. Jean was dressed in a more elegant yet equally casual style. Her flame red hair was tied back perfectly. She wore sunglasses that at this moment were perched on top of her head in order to tease the Iceman more effectively. An extremely sparse bikini revealed her exquisitely shaped body although she wore a translucent sarong to refrain from looking obvious.

" ‘Us grown ups’ huh?" Bobby quoted, whilst standing upright and elevating himself effortlessly higher by extending his supportive ice column. "Well now..."

Hank took a step back, instinctively knowing his friend’s mischievous streak. He smiled nervously.


Jeans sarcastic expression gave way to one of light panic as Drake swiftly circled around them again.

"Robert Drake? Don’t you dar-"

Iceman span around the back of his two fellow mutants. With his arms extended he collided with them, soaring up into the sky with his friends as helpless passengers

"-AAAAAARRRREEEE!" Jean continued to scream as the trio sped through the sky clearing the distance between the courtyard and the pond in record time.

Bobby, whose torso was actually the front section of the ice sled, cheered. He was joined by Hank who couldn’t help but to laugh. Jean in contrast had just stopped screaming. Without warning Jean had become silent, her head as far back as her neck would allow with eyes as open as could be. Jean began coughing loudly.

Iceman looked concerned. "You okay there?"

"You’d best get us to the pond post-haste Mr. Drake." Hank advised. "I wouldn’t imagine that hurtling through the air at an immense velocity is alleviating Jean’s situation".

Iceman nodded.

Logan had his eyes closed. A chance to lie down and relax was something life didn’t allow the diminutive X-Man also known as Wolverine often.

His hyper-keen mutant senses allowed him to appreciate his surroundings fully.

The warmth of the morning sun, the playful giggle that Rogue made in reaction to something Gambit was whispering and the noise of splashing water that was being made by Cyclops and Storm, who were racing across the pond both trying to be the first to get back to the luxurious green grass.

Logan fully relaxed his weight into the deck chair that was supporting him. For once he could relax.

Wolverine detected a faint noise. It sounded like...coughing?

Wolverine opened his eyes a fraction, squinting into the sun. Straining against the blinding light, he made out something glistening.

Whatever it is, it’s sure movin’ fast.

He sat up in his chair and became aware of a very faint perfume and some deodorant, which was slightly more potent. Giving it his full concentration he was able to determine the voice what he was looking at, and more importantly who was coughing. With honed battle instincts, Logan leapt up to his feet and unsheathed his claws from his forearms, his eyes never leaving the airborne X-Men.

"Heads up Cajun! We got incoming!" Wolverine barked. Gambit and Rogue snapped their heads to look at Wolverine, their own instincts coming into play. "Rogue! Go get Storm and the Boy Scout! Tell ‘em we might have trouble!"

Rogue instantly took to the air, heading towards Cyclops and Storm while Gambit somersaulted forward into the air, using his mutant power to charge the towel in his hand, and landed next to his Canadian counterpart.

"What is it?" Gambit asked, ready to use the now glowing towel as an offensive, explosive weapon.

Wolverine gritted his teeth checking the periphery whilst still gazing at the incoming X-Men.

"Dunno, but Ice-boy’s got Jeannie and the Beast coming in fast and Jean don’t sound too good!"

The pair looked up as Iceman rapidly travelled over their heads with his charges. He dropped the Beast who effortlessly landed, dropped the chairs and other accessories and bounded towards Iceman who was now approaching land, lowering Jean carefully.

Gambit and Wolverine rushed towards Jean who was doubled over coughing.

"McCoy! What in blazes is going on?" Wolverine growled.

The Beast did not turn around. "I do not want to hypothesise at this moment Logan. I am busy."

Normally a remark that dismissive would have enraged Logan, but he could see that the Beast was attending to the woman who he would give his life for. With McCoy being the only current X-Man with extensive medical qualifications, Logan was not going to argue.

Hank brushed back a strand of his blue hair. "Jean? Can you tell me what is the main problem you are suffering from?"

Jean continued to cough and gasp. "Choking!" She croaked.

The other three X-Men stood around concerned and uncertain with the situation.

"Eureka!" Hank exclaimed. "I do believe I have correctly hypothesised and can remedy the plight of our most attractive and resident telepath!"

Logan looked even more irate than before. "Well quit flappin’ your gums and do something McCoy!"

"Of course." The Beast moved his muscular blue furred body around to the back of Jean and placed his arms around her?

"Quoi?" Gambit exclaimed.

"Beast? What’s going on?" Cyclops shouted as Rogue held him aloft. "What’s happening to Jean?"

Rogue and Storm landed, and Rogue put Cyclops on the floor. He ran to his wife’s side.

"Give me just one moment fearless leader and I do believe she will be able to answer herself."

The Beast pulled Jean into the air, courtesy of his enormous blue furred arms and Jean unceremoniously emitted a rather loud hacking sound. A solitary fly meandered out of her mouth and flew off into the air.

"What?" The reason that Jean was in trouble was because she swallowed a fly?" Iceman burst into hysterical laughter, quickly followed by the rest of the X-Men.

Jean composed herself. She glared at Iceman with a gaze that would give even him the chills.

Iceman’s laughter subsided partially. He eyed Jean nervously.

"Now Jean? Just because I-huh?"

Iceman found himself suspended in mid-air and moving very quickly towards the pond.

"X-Men! Report your status! I sensed concern..."

Professor Xavier’s telepathic shout made all of the X-Men wince slightly. The abruptness of the mental call caused Jean to lapse in her concentration, dropping the mischievous Robert Drake into the pond.

"It’s okay professor." Cyclops responded through the mind link. "It was just Bobby being immature. Don’t worry, he got what was coming to him!" Cyclops smiled as he saw his old friend scramble to the grass verge at the side of the pond.

"Professor?" Jean interrupted. "Is anything wrong? You had another one of your nightmares. I wondered if I could help?"

There was a slight pause while Xavier collected his thoughts. The other X-Men had returned to relaxing and Iceman was standing at the side of the pond, spitting out what seemed like a whole lung full of murky pond water.

"Ugh! I think I swallowed some frog-spawn!"

"No thank you Jean." The Professor answered. "You and the others enjoy the beautiful day we are having."

"Okay Professor. If you are sure."

"I’ll be fine Jean. Thank you." The Professors voice said reassuringly in her head.

Jean turned to Scott who smiled at her. She smiled back, putting her worries to the back of her mind. It was a lovely day and the X-Men don’t usually have the luxury of enjoying their surroundings. For once she was going to let her responsibilities go and enjoy herself. After if Scott, leader and heir to the X-men could do relax then she certainly could.

"Oh gross! I’ve got pond weed in my teeth!"

Charles Xavier wished to himself that he could spend the day relaxing with his students. Unfortunately the dreams...the nightmares that had been plaguing him had left him feeling uneasy. He looked out of his office window towards the pond. He let his mind comfortably wash over the thoughts of his students. Logan and Scott were both relaxing, something that hadn’t happened for a long time. Jean and Ororo were enjoying a woman’s talk, Gambit and Rogue were flirting harmlessly and Iceman had just pushed Hank into the pond. Once he had been assured that they were content he moved away from the window, aided by his hovering wheelchair to his desk. He activated his PC. Seeing as he couldn’t relax he may as well check his e-mail.

Once his computer had finished loading and had logged on to the Internet he received notification that he had new mail, 5 Messages in total.

One from Moira MacTaggart titled: "Legacy report". This was almost a routine now. Moira would send her findings from Muir Island to chart any progress on her research of the virus that she was inflicted with. Another 2 messages from the Massachusetts academy, one from Sean Cassidy and another from Emma Frost. Forge and Kitty Pride had also e-mailed over the course of the night. Xavier was just about to read the first message when a new mail appeared. It was marked urgent, something which Xavier was specifically particular about. Everybody who had his e-mail address was told that only emergencies were to be marked urgent. It was also anonymous.

His curiousity piqued, he opened the enigmatic file. The body of the mail was empty, but carried an attachment that read ‘findings’.

He opened the file and wondered what it was that he was looking at. He had had enough experience with government files to realise that what he was looking at was classified and had been encrypted.

A lot of the message was unclear. It appeared that the document had been garbled intentionally to mask certain key words and names, however other paragraphs had been left untouched.

The only discernible sections seemed to be unrelated. There was a clipping that mentioned a volcano, something about a new technological device that was being forwarded to an undisclosed source, a theory about a new energy source and a reference to a star system?

Immediately Charles Xaviers mind began racing.

The dream I had. That was another star system I am certain.

"Computer?" The computer chirped in response, waiting for a command. "Enhance image as far as possible."

One of the benefits of encountering the Shiar Emperium is that once the X-Men had assisted them, they were given the advanced technology the Emperium possessed. This included a computer system that rivalled and surpassed any technology from this world.

The computer emitted a pleasant chord to indicate that it had finished the task. Charles scanned over the document carefully. At first glance nothing appeared to have changed. He continued to scroll down the images on his screen when he came across an image that had been obscured by the volcano clipping. The computer had managed to enhance another cutting. It read:

The new energon power source has not proved as reliable as we had hoped. Whilst the exposure does activate the ‘deviant’ chromosome in some cases it does not affect others. As an additional problem, the mutation of the subjects’ cellular structure appears to be random. Each of the mutated subjects DNA seems to respond to the substance in a unique manner. There is no apparent pattern that can be determined at this time. It is unlikely that we will be able to successfully utilise the energon compound to create a sufficient defence force.

However I do feel that the random mutation element, given the correct spin, could divert attention from the crash itself. The public has developed a disturbing level of curiousity and distrust of the government in recent months, which verges on paranoia. If we distribute this energon in certain area’s of the country it has been predicted that a certain number of individuals would be born with the x-factor chromosome active. It has been theorised by our top psychological and sociological analysts that should these mutants begin turning up in areas that are not related to the Xenotech we appropriated, the public’s attention and suspicions would be misdirected leaving us with no interference or fear of exposure. We could use the fear of this unknown society of super-humans to cover our operations.

The rest of the message was indecipherable. Charles read the message again. And again. He couldn’t believe his eyes. The implications of this message were amazing.

The government discovering an energy source responsible for the birth of mutants? A worldwide smear campaign to protect their findings? This directly affects everything I have based my entire life on!

"That’s if this message is genuine." Charles said to himself. "This could be a deception from any number of our enemies. I must be sure."

Professor Xavier used his mental powers to summon the X-Men.

The war room was silent. Each member of the X-Men looked at the enormous view-screen in awe.

The tension was palpable. For five minutes straight, each person had stared intently analysing the images in front of them, none of them saying a word.

"It-it’s got to be a trick." Iceman broke the silence. "It could be Apocalypse or Sinister or Magneto. Or even Arcade."

There was more silence.

"I don’t know Bobby." Cyclops said his eyes still remaining fixed on the screen. "For some reason I get the impression that, as horrifying as it is, there may be truth behind it."

A collective shudder was felt across the room.

Wolverine walked closer to the image. "I’ve seen a lot of classified documents in my time, if somebody’s gone to the trouble of faking it fer our benefit, they’ve done a helluva good job."

Gambit raised his hand to his chin and gently stroked his stubble. "Could we find out where dis came from an’ check out the authenticity for ourselves?"

Wolverine looked over his right shoulder at Gambit. "You thinking what I’m thinking Cajun?"

Gambit nodded but maintained his gaze. "Could be. If dis is a forgery I can tell you. Come across enough in my time."

Wolverine turned to Cyclops. Even though Wolverine and Cyclops had come to blows in the past over Jean, Logan now had the utmost respect for Scott Summers. "If we go find the genuine article I could tell you if it smells as old as it looks."

Cyclops looked at the Professor. Charles had been his mentor and surrogate father since he was thirteen years old. He didn’t need his mentor’s ability to read thoughts at this moment. He could see the expression on Charles’ face. He was trying to mask it, but the founder of the X-Men feared the accuracy of these documents. He also believed that they were true. He didn’t want to, but it all seemed to make sense in a very perverted way.

"Hank, help the Professor analyse the attachment with the mansions computers. Use them to check for any evidence of tampering. And be thorough."

"We’ll try to find out where the file was sent from Scott." The Professor’s hover-chair moved towards the control console of the war room, he began to tap commands into the console. The Beast walked over and sat in a chair adjacent to the professor.

Cyclops turned to his wife. "Jean? I want you and Bobby to check with Moira and Sean. See if they received a copy of this. It may even be a good idea to with Domino if you can get a hold of her."

He looked at the others. "Storm has already left the mansion to check in on Cable. I asked her to help my son with something. She’s flying to Hell’s kitchen so we won’t be able to contact her yet, we’ll let her know about this as soon as we can."

The others nodded waiting for instructions. Wolverine, Gambit and Rogue were probably the best suited for the next task Cyclops had in mind. Wolverine was stealthy and had many years of experience of infiltration and reconnaissance. He was also very useful in case they ran into trouble. Logan can get the job done and fast. Gambit was a trained thief. He was born to break into places and steal things without leaving a trace. Rogue was the heavy hitter. She would be held in reserve in case they were discovered.

Cyclops was concerned about the emotional stress this might out on his team though. Gambit always liked to play things close to his vest and remain in control of the situation. Wolverine had been led to believe things about his origin before, which had all been falsified by one enemy or another. Each time a lie surfaced it only led to more confusion about Logan’s past, something which Cyclops was hoping to avoid. Wolverine becomes easy to manipulate when he is faced with another possibility of his uncertain past. Should this be a set up, Logan could easily slip into a berserker rage and the plan would backfire horribly. The person that worried him the most was Rogue.

If this energon story turns out to be true, then Rogue was cursed with her mutant powers as a means of distraction. Rogue has always been the X-Man who was least comfortable with her situation, mainly because it meant that she could never touch another human being unless she wanted to steal their memories and possibly kill them. This has tortured her for as long as she can remember. She has found herself plagued with the desire to be touched by someone even more recently. Ever since her powers were negated by the robot "Nanny" in Antarctica and she spent the night with Gambit she has been taking risks by making skin-to-skin contact with others. If she found out that she had suffered for all of this time just to serve as a distraction for the public who knows what effect that would have on her. Cyclops himself then realised that he too had sometimes felt he was cursed. Would this affect him later on? He ignored the thought. He had come to terms with his mutant ability years ago. He would help the others do the same if needs be.

"I want the three of you to be ready to leave as soon as we have a lead on the location of that e-mail. We are going to find out whether the information was accurate or not and then see how this situation will affect us. Idle speculation will do us no good at this time."

Wolverine nodded grimly. He was happy that the X-Men were not going to take this sitting down. Since Cyclops had returned as leader of the X-Men he felt that things were beginning to work again. He had the utmost respect for Storm, but he felt that Cyclops was always the natural leader. Gambit’s

Dark red eyes flickered towards Rogue and then moved back to Cyclops.

"How’re we gon’ play dis one Cyke?"

Cyclops stood tall. He had already formulated his strategy as soon as his eyes had left the view-screen.

"Gambit, you and Logan take the point. You’ll break into the complex and find the documents as quickly and quietly as possible. Keep a low profile. Rogue, you’ll wait with me outside in case Gambit and Wolverine are discovered, we’ll need to get them out of there at the first sign of trouble. Jean will keep us psi-linked at all times while she waits with Bobby in the Blackbird in case we need to make a fast exit."

Rogue looked longingly at Gambit for a moment. She snapped out of it as soon as he returned her gaze. "Just one thing Scott?"


"How come y’all know that we’re gonna be breaking into a complex?"

Cyclops smiled almost cynically. "Well, they always store classified documents in a hidden complex!"

"The Blackbird is clear for take off, kids. Be careful."

"We will Hank. And no stealing my donuts from the freezer this time. You just keep playing with the computer!"

"Will do Snowball. Mansion out."

Iceman’s levity aside the atmosphere in the Blackbird was tense. One thing was certain; things would certainly change by the end of the night. The turbines ignited and the X-Men’s converted stealth fighter took to the night sky.

"Okay, the link is established." Jean confirmed. The X-Men could now all hear each other thanks to Jean’s telepathic link. Wolverine and Gambit left the hanger of the jet via its metallic blue loading ramp. Both of them were silent. They still had a good few hundred metres to travel before they reached the unmarked installation.

The Blackbird had managed to land undetected by flying in cutting the engines when they were close to their destination, Jean Summers, the Phoenix used her telekinesis to lower the jet down gently in the cover of the forest which encircled the enigmatic complex. The Beast, using his technical knowledge and the extensive Shiar technology at his disposal had been able to determine watermarked co-ordinates that were partially visible on the notepaper. Although both Cyclops and the Professor had remarked upon how easily it was to discover they had no choice but to follow the trail. Wolverine and Gambit had been briefed to find any mention of the word energon while the Beast and Professor Xavier were going to remain at the mansion searching through restricted files for any mention of the volcano, Xenotech or star systems.

With the darkness as cover, Gambit and Wolverine darted from bush to tree going unnoticed. Gambit hesitated and peered past the tree that was hiding him. His dark red eyes assessed the situation. His instincts were gnawing at him.

"Logan? You notice sometin’ odd ‘bout dis?"

Wolverine heard Gambit’s voice in his mind. He stopped and looked around. He cursed himself for not noticing earlier. "Yeah Cajun. There’s no guards."

The night became as silent as it was dark. The clouds fortunately obscured the moon, something Storm would have normally seen to had she been around. The X-Men would have preferred the night to be foggy, but it was eerily quiet and calm.

Inside the Blackbird the X-Men stirred. "A secret installation with no guards?"

"Bobby." Cyclops politely silenced his friend. "Proceed with caution. Expect anything."

The leader of the X-Men suddenly remembered a riddle he had heard once long ago.

What is the one thing that everyone seeks, but no one truly has?

Cyclops wondered why that particular question had come into his mind. He decided to dismiss the thought, his friends were relying on his full concentration.

Gambit surveyed the complex again. He motioned towards a tree not far off his position. Wolverine nodded. Security camera. The damned thing covered the exact area that they needed to cross. They didn’t have time to find another route. Something had to be done.

Remy LeBeau, ‘the Ragin’ Cajun’ deployed his trademark smirk. He flipped out a playing card and hid it inside his jacket. With the card obscured, he could kinetically charge it without drawing attention. With a speed that defied even Wolverine’s enhanced perception, Gambit threw the card at the camera causing a very quiet, very contained explosion. Only a faint orange glow was left on the tree.

With the camera gone, the duo examined the locations of the other cameras, determining how to break in. Wolverine made a hand motion to Gambit.

Like two dark spectres they began to move towards their goal.

Cyclops felt something stir within him. He knew that the two X-Men out there were the best choice, yet he always had the same nagging sensation when he was relying on someone else.

Cyclops realised why the riddle had come to him.

You always feel that no matter how good your team is, they would always do better if you were there.

Because if you were in their place, you would be in control.

"Who controls the past commands the future. Who commands the present conquers the past."

--George Orwell

Thursday, September 09, 1999

A World Transformed #2 - The Coming Of Giants, Part Two


A World Transformed #2 - Cover

Issue Two: "The Coming Of Giants, Part Two"
September 1999
Written and Illustrated by Bryan Richard Shipp

The Transformers: powerful warrior robots waging a neverending battle across space and time. Autobots and Decepticons, fighting a war of long-forgotten ideologies, now trapped in a cycle of violence that threatens to consume them all. They have traveled across the ages from their homeworld of Cybertron to a blue-green orb we know as the Earth. But this is not the Earth we know; it is a world transformed, a place of mutants, superheroes, and villains. It is a world where nothing is as it seems. . .and these alien robots will soon find that those they thought were allies and enemies are not. They will find that there are greater threats than each other. . .

"I live! Now! Now, let all Autobots suffer the wrath of Megatron!"

Megatron laughed as he watched the Autobots and the Decepticons around him awaken from their millennia-long sleep. The Decepticons, their processors still addled from the damage they had taken, only recently repaired by the Autobot computer, Teletran-1, heard the voice of their leader and ran to his side, leaving the Autobots alone and still-strewn around the command center of the Ark.

"Decepticons, report your status!" Soundwave called.

In turn, Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Rumble, Ravage, Buzzsaw, Laserbeak, Reflector, and the Constructicons all called to Soundwave, acknowledging their presence. Soundwave scanned the gathered Decepticons, then glanced at Megatron, their leader. Megatron had heard the roll call, had noticed the missing Decepticons, and his optics narrowed.

Near the front of the bridge, Optimus Prime rose from his command chair and looked around. His gaze leveled on Megatron. "Tyrant! You survived, as well?"

"I am Megatron! I am power incarnate--nothing can defeat me!"

A calm came to Optimus Prime’s voice, as if he spoke prophecy. "You will lose, Megatron. You will never come to the power that you crave so much."

Megatron screamed. "You shall not live to see either my victory or my defeat, Optimus Prime!" He leveled his fusion cannon at the Autobot and fired. Optimus Prime was flung backwards into the control panel, a black hole torn in his armor. Megatron continued firing wildly, striking the walls and ceiling more often than the Autobots gathered in the control room. With one final blast, he blew a hole through the ceiling, and the rock of the mountain collapsed into the bridge, sealing away the Autobots, crushing them in a massive cave-in that Megatron and his Decepticons, being higher in the Ark, were immune from.

As the dust from the cave-in settled, Megatron shook his head in disgust. "That will not hold them long, and we are yet too weak and too few to battle them now. Come, let us leave, and regroup! For when my wrath comes, no Autobot shall survive!"

The Decepticons flew out of the Ark through an open hatch in its belly, seeing for the first time the world Optimus Prime’s rage marooned them on. The landscape around the mountain the Ark crashed into was populated by green trees and buildings. The Decepticons immediately recognized these buildings and the vehicles around them as a base of war surrounded by tools of destruction. Gathered around in the base were tiny creatures, soft-looking and weak.

"Starscream, what are these things? Parasites?" Megatron raised his fusion cannon and aimed it at the creatures. Several broke and ran, scattering like mecha-insects.

Starscream stared at the creatures, probing them with his internal sensors, analyzing the data with his vast scientific knowledge, information gathered from millions of years of being a scientist. Even as he studied the new information, he watched out of the corner of his eye as Megatron tightened his arm against recoil, a sure sign that he was ready to fire.

"Megatron, wait! These are organic lifeforms, creatures like us, only smaller, weaker. Look at the weapons and equipment they have arrayed here--surely they might be of some use to us?" Starscream reached out, touching Megatron’s arm, knocking its aim untrue.

Megatron grabbed Starscream by the throat. "How dare you ruin my shot! Your insolence is quickly becoming intolerable, Starscream--I can see now that the time has come to crush the life out of your spark!"

"Megatron, wait!" Soundwave stepped forward. "Starscream is correct--these flesh creatures are potentially valuable to us. I am detecting a massive communications network extending across this planet, as well as nuclear power signatures. If these flesh creatures have created this level of technology, they could prove extremely valuable to our cause."

Megatron stared at Soundwave, wondering if he, too, was challenging Megatron’s authority. No, Soundwave is too loyal to me, he would never dare such an act. Megatron put Starscream down. "You have a temporary reprieve, Starscream. If these flesh creatures truly have the technological capabilities Soundwave says they have, then we must enlist them to our cause." He turned to face Soundwave. "Soundwave, you are our communications specialist." He waved at the fleshlings arrayed below. "Communicate with them."


Corporal Jack Arsen stared up at the enormous 30-foot-tall robots that had come out of the alien spacecraft. He’d been assigned to the Sector 17 base at the foot of Mt. St. Hillary two years ago, and his time there had been mostly peaceful--he had nothing to complain about. When his C.O. told him that the reason he’d been assigned to Sector 17 was because of his linguistic talents, which were needed to decipher the script within the alien spacecraft buried in the volcano, he could hardly believe it. But then they showed him the Ark, and his world changed. For two years, he’d been trying fruitlessly to translate the alien language. But he had no clue which symbols correlated to which sounds, which phonetic combinations made sense in the alien language and which didn’t, or even if the aliens used the same general syntax that most human languages shared.

Now, holding his headphones close to his head and watching the robots towering over the hill above him, apparently engaged in a heavy argument, Arsen wished nothing more than that he had never even heard of Sector 17. The silver one with the black cannon looked especially unpleasant. . .never in all the science fiction books he’d ever read did anybody predict that the first contact between humankind and aliens would be in an isolated Oregon military base with a nearly 40-foot robot with built-in weaponry.

Suddenly, the argument grew silent. Arsen, concentrating so intently on listening to the robots that he was staring off into space, now focussed again on their behavior. The blue robot with the shoulder-mounted cannon was walking toward him. He sat perfectly still, hoping his fear wouldn’t be obvious to them from his wide eyes and quavering jaw, hoping he wouldn’t soil himself as the robot leaned down over him and said something in its native language.

Arsen tapped his chest. "I am Jack Arsen. Jack Arsen. Who are you?"

The robot said something very quickly, punctuating it with something that sounded suspiciously like Arsen’s own last name. Then, before Arsen could move, the robot reached out with a single finger and touched Arsen’s forehead. He felt a surge of electricity run through his body, and then he blacked out.


Soundwave watched impassively as the tiny human collapsed in a heap next to his monitoring equipment, then stood. He watched as humans wearing combat armor and carrying machine guns ran out of the various buildings of the military complex, watched as the tanks rolled their cannons toward him sluggishly. He turned his head to look at Megatron.

"Linguistic and historical data acquired. Preparing to communicate with the flesh creatures."

Megatron snarled. "Then do it, Soundwave! Or I may have to expend precious energy destroying them all."

Soundwave nodded, then turned around again. He raised both his hands in a gesture of peace, displaying that he was unarmed. . .a lie, but nevertheless it would be effective against the primitive minds of these humans.

"Do not fire," Soundwave said. "I mean you no harm."

The movements stopped, and a thin man wearing what Soundwave, thanks to Arsen, recognized as spectacles came out of what appeared to be the central building in the military base. Soundwave waited as the man crossed to the end of the line of human soldiers.

"Welcome to Earth!" The man opened his arms wide, as if to embrace the Decepticons. "I am Ambassador Frank Cullen."

Soundwave nodded, and an odd silence passed over the base, as if neither was certain how to proceed. Finally, Megatron stepped up next to Soundwave.

"Tell them we want their energy, and their aid in fighting the Autobots."

"No!" Starscream stepped up next to Megatron, and the Decepticon leader stared at his insubordinate Air Commander. Ignoring him, Starscream said to Soundwave: "We cannot enlist their aid in the war effort yet--it would frighten them. Tell them instead that we would like to explore their world, learn about them. No, wait--even better." Starscream grinned. "Tell them we have missing comrades who might be injured and dying, and that we must find them before it is too late."

Megatron stared at his Air Commander. Starscream returned the gaze. "Fleshlings are like Autobots--weak, sentimental fools. They’ll be eager to help us if they think we have wounded."

"How would you know what fleshlings are like?" Megatron snarled.

"I was. . .am. . .a scientist and an explorer. Remember, Megatron?"

Soundwave watched the argument impassively, then returned his gaze to the small human standing before him. "I am Soundwave," he said, "and I must act quickly. We have missing comrades who may possibly be lost somewhere on your world, wounded and dying. We must be given leave to search for them."

Ambassador Cullen nervously looked around him, then returned his gaze to the giant robot. "I--I’m sorry to hear that, but your presence on our world might cause a panic among my people. I cannot simply let you leave. . .if you would prefer, we can search for you. . ."

Soundwave shook his head. "No. You would not know what to search for. Is the only reason you will not allow us to search for our brethren because your people would fear our size, should they see us?"

"Well, that’s one of the reasons, yes. . ."

"Then behold!" Soundwave turned to Starscream and told him to transform. Starscream did so, his body shifting and compacting into an F-15 air superiority fighter. Turning back to Cullen, Soundwave continued: "We are Transformers, we all have the ability to shift into different forms, for disguise. Now, with your objections assuaged by this new information, I must insist that we be allowed to search for our comrades."

"But. . .how can I be certain of your motives? That you will return, once you leave?"

Soundwave looked away from the ambassador as he thought. . .and as his optics fell upon the drive section of the Ark, protruding from the mountain where it had crashed long ago, he turned back to Cullen. "We will eventually have to return to our ship, Ambassador Cullen. Stored within it are our fuel supplies and repair equipment. You can be certain that we will return."

Cullen nodded. "Very well. But I’ll ask that one of my people accompany you on your search, that we can learn more about you and help you in whatever way we can."

Soundwave paused for only a second. "That will be acceptable."

Ambassador Cullen motioned for Major Peter Harmon to accompany the Transformers, and the attaché stepped up to Soundwave, who knelt and held out a hand for the Major to climb onto. With that, Soundwave nodded to Megatron and Soundwave.

"Well done, Soundwave." Megatron turned and narrowed his optics at Starscream. "Do not think this excuses your treacherous words, Starscream." Turning to the other Decepticons gathered on the hill, Megatron called, "Seekers, transform! We leave here immediately!"

The two remaining Seekers, Thundercracker and Skywarp, transformed into twin F-15s and took off into the air, followed by the Constructicons, Soundwave, Reflector and Megatron, who flew in their enormous robot modes. Cullen watched them leave, and his heart sank--only three of the robots had disguised themselves. As he watched the Transformers leave, he knew he had been manipulated.

Then, from deep within Mt. St. Hillary, another rumble shook the ground beneath his feet.


In the Ark, Optimus Prime stood in the midst of the smoke and dust of the destroyed rubble which had left him and his Autobots trapped within the Ark while the Decepticons escaped. The look in his optics was one of defeat--he had failed to destroy the Decepticons, had failed to protect the Autobots on Cybertron, had failed in his mission to bring energon back to the depleted stores of Iacon. . .and now the Decepticons were once again loose, free to wreak havoc on this world that he had crashed them on.

"We’ve got to go after them, Prime! We outnumber them almost 2-to-1, we can take ‘em!" Cliffjumper said, balling his small hands into fists.

"No, Cliffjumper, we must gather our forces and regroup. The Decepticons will not grow in number in the time it takes for us to take a logical, instead of emotional, action." Prowl said, frowning.

Prime looked at his most trusted advisor and nodded. "Yes, I agree with Prowl. We must see how badly we are damaged, see what we can do to repair the Ark and return to Cybertron."

Cliffjumper flung his arms up in frustration and walked away from his leader.

Prime surveyed his troops in the Ark’s main chamber. All were present, with the exception of Crash, Roll, Burn, Overdrive, Downshift, Camshaft, General Grimlock and his elite. Prime frowned. "We’re missing friends."

"Fan out! Look through every deck, every room until you find the missing Autobots! But do not leave the Ark--we don’t know what kind of environment exists on this world yet, and we’ll need to learn more about this world before doing anything here." Prowl watched as the other Autobots fanned out, searching through the darkened spacecraft. Prowl turned to the Ark’s main computer, Teletran-1, and played his hands over the controls. "Teletran-1’s badly damaged, Optimus. But it’s already released an explorer probe. . .I’m going to patch in to its signal, see what we can find out about this world.

Prime nodded and began picking absently at a damaged section of wall plating.

After a while, the Autobots returned, each of them reporting that they had found nothing. By then, Prowl had bypassed Teletran-1’s damaged circuitry well enough to patch into the data feed from the explorer drone.

The tiny machine showed them a world rich in life--organic life. Flesh creatures scurried all across its surface, going about a rich and peaceful life. As Optimus Prime watched the images on the viewscreen, anger bubbled up within him. Anger at Megatron, that he was free to destroy the peace of this world. Anger at himself, for crashing them here and enabling Megatron’s inevitable rampage. And conviction. A conviction that he must not allow Megatron to harm these creatures.

Optimus Prime’s hand clenched into a fist. "Autobots, we have found ourselves stranded on a world unlike any we’ve ever seen before, a world in which tiny, organic creatures will be confronted with the enormous power of Megatron and his Decepticons. We must do what we can to protect them, and we must find out everything we can about them and our missing comrades. We begin our search immediately. Autobots, transform and roll out!"

The Autobots transformed into their disguise modes and followed their leader out of the docking hatch beneath the Ark’s thrusters onto the unfamiliar soil and bright sunlight of their new world. As they drove over a grassy hill, Optimus Prime braked so hard he almost jackknifed. There, arrayed below them, was a military base belonging to the flesh creatures of this world. . .and their collective weaponry was aimed directly at Optimus Prime.


"Yes, they lied. Yes, they can’t be trusted. . .but you can’t just shoot them on sight!"

General Carlton Preston frowned down his large barrel chest at the shorter, thin ambassador. "Mis-ter Ambassador, I can do whatever the hell I like. I am the officer in charge of this installation, and by God I will defend us against the onslaught of these robots! They’ve already taken down one of my men--the doctors don’t even know if Corporal Arsen will survive his ordeal. Shocked through with at least 5000 volts, from what they told me. That will not happen to another of my men. Is that clear?"

Cullen turned away and dabbed a bit of sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief. As he stuffed it back into an interior coat pocket, he hit upon an idea. He swung back toward the General. "Then let me go out there. Alone. If they harm me in any way, then your people can fire on them all they want--you’ll have only lost me."

The General snorted. "I can’t say the prospect doesn’t please me."

"Then let me go! You’re risking nothing by not killing them immediately."

Preston shook his head. "Nope, I can’t put the safety of this country in jeopardy just so you and a bunch of robots can have a pleasant little tea-time." He pushed past Cullen and began to walk toward the radio where he would order his men to fire.

Cullen’s eyes narrowed as he watched the General’s broad back receding. "Don’t make me invoke Clause 18-C of the United States Ambassadorial Code, General."

Preston turned around. "What the hell is ‘Clause 18-C of the United States Ambassadorial Code’?"

"It’s a short, little-used clause which gives me the power to take over this base, relieve you of command and use your personnel and equipment in whatever manner I choose to further diplomatic relations between this country and another."

"Those robots aren’t another country."

"No, they aren’t, but they represent another country, and by the laws governing my position I cannot allow you to fire on representatives of another country without them first firing upon us. And if I can’t convince you, then I will force you."

A bright red blush of fury tinged the General’s skin, travelling up from where his collar was buttoned too tight around his massive neck, over his chin across his face to his scalp. His fists balled into hammers, and Ambassador Cullen--half the General’s size, if that, stood like David facing Goliath, his calm posture and steely eyes every bit a match for the General’s forceful impotence.

Preston pointed one large finger directly at Cullen’s face. "I’ve never heard of this Clause 18-C, Mister, but there’s no way in hell I’m going to take the risk of letting you take my command away from me. You’ve got five minutes, Cullen. Get your ass out there and talk to your robot buddies."


Optimus Prime stood, transformed, in front of the rows of tanks, trying to convince them that he and his Autobots meant them no harm. The tanks did not seem to be listening. Prowl, standing behind Prime, frowned at the Autobot Leader’s strange behavior--being knocked unconscious in the crash seemed to have damaged something vital in Prime’s logic circuits.

Meanwhile, Jazz, standing beside Prowl, was swaying gently, one hand next to his audio reciever. Prowl glared at him in irritation. "Is there something wrong with your stabilizer circuitry, Jazz?"

"Hmm? No, Prowl, I’m just listening to some of the music of this world. They really know how to move and groove here!"

"Yes, of course they do," Prowl said dismissively. "If you don’t mind, Jazz, we’re trying to make contact with the flesh creatures. . .and I doubt any fears they may have will be calmed by your gyrating."

Bumblebee snickered, and Prowl turned back to see a flesh creature--they certainly didn’t seem that small on Teletran-1’s viewscreen--moving rapidly toward Prime. The look on Prime’s face was one of utter curiosity, as if he’d never seen such a creature even though he had been present at Prowl’s briefing.

"Hello, flesh creature," Optimus Prime said. "I am Optimus Prime, an Autobot. We come from the world of Cybertron, many light-years from here, in peace. Tell me, have you seen our mortal enemies, the Decepticons? We must destroy them."

Prowl screamed inside his mind and rushed forward to stand next to his leader. "Optimus," he said quietly, "maybe you should let me handle this."

Prime looked at his second-in-command in surprise for a moment, then nodded. "Yes, I--I think you should, Prowl."

Prowl knelt on one knee, then leaned forward to better face the human, who was still only a bit taller than Prowl’s own head. Looking at the human evenly, he said, "You don’t understand our language, do you?"

The flesh creature looked up at him and said something in two beats. . .probably a single word in their language. Perhaps a greeting? Logic dictated that he would get nowhere with guesswork. . .he decided to begin with the most rudimentary language, one understood by any intelligence in the universe.

In the ground, he sketched with one enormous finger, I ^ I – II.

The flesh creature stared at what he had drawn with a curious look on his face, and Prowl began to wonder if the creature truly understood what he was gazing at. Then, it reached down and, with its hand balled into a fist, traced in the sand II ^ II – IV. Prowl sighed. . .the creature plainly did not understand even rudimentary mathematics. V, being the symbol for 10, would--

The creature rubbed the dirt flat, replacing IV with IIII. It then looked up at Prowl and smiled.

Prowl nodded. He had been hasty. . .V perhaps stood for 3 on this world, though why they would want to use it for 3 instead of 10 boggled his logic circuits. Perhaps he could take it to the next step, then. . .it wasn’t logical, but he felt it was a risk he would be able to take. After all, if it worked communication would go that much faster, and if it didn’t, well, at least he would know roughly where he stood in ability to communicate with these flesh creatures.

Prowl swiped the ground clear with one enormous hand, then wrote a series of 1’s and 0’s out. Binary code was the simplest language that could do any real communication--two symbols, infinite possibilities. As he began writing the symbols, the flesh creature apparently recognized what he was doing. He held out a single finger and mouthed something to Prowl, then ran back into the building from whence he’d come.


A viewscreen shrouded in darkness displayed the events in the main courtyard of Sector 17. A single figure watched from the shadows, fascinated by the proceedings.

"So Optimus Prime allows his first officer to handle his diplomatic relations for him. Interesting. I believe it has more than something to do with our objective." The voice that spoke out of the darkness was calm and soft, with a faint rasp of metal on metal.

"Indeed, Overseer," another voice spoke in the darkness. "Our agents are scouring the globe for the objective. We have not found it yet."

"You will search harder, then. We are now racing against not only time, but the Autobots and Decepticons who will no doubt begin searching, as well."

"We will find it, Overseer."

"You had better, Gotterdamerung. You know the price of failure in this."


The sun had long since set by the time the Autobots and the humans began any real communication. Ambassador Cullen, recognizing the code Prowl wrote in the sand as Binary, got the chief of computer operations for Sector 17, Major Dan Childress, who began translating the code. Prowl, finding a human he could "talk" to, began writing more and more complex statements in the code. Childress, upon finding Prowl’s code making little sense, realized that the Autobot had moved from representing mathematics to representing his own language--and presented Prowl with a CD containing the translations of Binary Code into the English language, as well as digitized versions of the Oxford English Dictionary and several textbooks on English grammar. Prowl took the CD, though he didn’t know what to do with it--until Jazz realized what it was, transformed into sports car mode, and played the CD in the Compact Disc player Teletran-1 had included in Jazz’s redesign. Once he read the data, it was a simple matter of transferring the data to the other Autobots via serial relay. The process took a mere 10 minutes, and when it was done all the Autobots could communicate easily with the humans in their own language.

"I am Prowl, second in command of the Autobots. This is our leader, Optimus Prime," Prowl said. "We have come to your world in peace, but I fear we have unleashed an extremely dangerous force here."

"I’m Ambassador Franklin Cullen. Welcome to United States of America, on Earth. Tell me, is this force you describe another group of robots such as yourselves who look like this?" Cullen held up a picture that the base cameras had taken of the massed Decepticons.

Prowl’s optics automatically zoomed in to view the picture more closely, and he nodded. "Yes, those are the Decepticons. He haven’t much time--we’ve taken valuable time from our search already by learning to communicate with you. Where are they?"

Cullen frowned. "They told us they had missing friends, possibly wounded. They showed us that they could transform, so we let them go find their wounded. They told us they would be returning to the spacecraft, because it had their repair equipment inside. We sent an observer with them. They wounded one of our men, though--the one with the shoulder cannon touched a linguist and shocked him."

Prowl nodded. "That sounds like them, all right. Manipulative deceivers. That spacecraft is ours, the Ark. We crashed here in it because the Decepticons ambushed us and lost control of the ship." Prowl did not look at Optimus as he said this, but Prime’s optics fell to the ground at his feet. "It also sounds as if Soundwave--the one with the cannon--extracted the linguistic data from your fellow’s mind. A far faster process than that which we Autobots use, but it comes at a price. I would be surprised if your linguist ever regained the knowledge plundered from his mind." Prowl shook his head, frowning, his right hand balled into a fist. "Can you track your observer?"

Cullen nodded. "Yes. Come with me, I can get the base techs to do it." Cullen began walking back to the main command building of Sector 17, and the Autobots followed, careful not to step on any of the vehicles clustered in the courtyard.

Cullen pointed at one of the communications officers. "You, there, patch me in to Major Harmon."

The officer nodded, began working the console in front of him. General Preston walked up to the Ambassador.

"Your five minutes are long over, Cullen. Glad to see you’ve got these tin cans falling in line."

"On the contrary," Prowl said from where he was looking into the command post, "we are neither tin cans nor falling in line. We are simply trying to locate the whereabouts of the Decepticons."

The General sneered at the Autobot. "Let me tell you something, tin can, your buddies wounded one of my men, and it takes all my willpower to keep my men from blowing you off this planet. So shut the hell up."

"They are not our ‘buddies’, as you so quaintly put it. They are our enemies. We must find them and stop them before they plunder your world. If you had attempted to stop them, they would have destroyed you and your men. You do not realize how extraordinarily powerful Megatron is."

"I think you seriously underestimate our weaponry."

"You certainly underestimate the Decepticons’."

Suddenly, a burst of static blared from the loudspeakers in the command center, causing all the humans there to cringe and cover their ears while Prowl looked on impassively. The communications tech lowered the gain, then turned to face the Ambassador and the General.

"Nothing, sirs. Just static."

"Can you trace the signal?" Cullen asked.

"Already did, sir. It’s fifteen miles south of here."


Five minutes later, a U.S. Army Blackhawk landed in the area indicated by the trace. They found a damaged radio and the badly crushed body of Major Peter Harmon. The reports filed by the investigation team stated that his bones were pulverized, as if he had been crushed completely by an enormous fist.


Prowl stood in the Ark, Optimus Prime next to him, looking out at the sea of Autobot faces staring up and him and Prime for guidance. He looked at Prime, then at the Autobots, and started to step forward to address them. Prime laid a gentle hand on Prowl’s shoulder, and when Prowl glanced back at him, he nodded and stepped forward.

"Autobots, hear me. We have crashed here on this world, Earth. We have no way of knowing how much time has passed, but we do know that the Decepticons are free to roam this planet and do as they will. We can be certain they will attempt to conquer these people. We cannot allow that to happen. We have been given permission to search for the Decepticons, provided we remain disguised, and provided we take observers with us on all ventures.

"Ours is a difficult task. We do not know how our Autobot brethren on Cybertron fare, and until the Ark is repaired we will not be able to find out. Until that time, we must do all that we can to aid the humans of this world. And, I fear, you will have to do this without my help."

A murmur of disbelief traveled through the assembled Autobots. Prime raised a single hand, and the Autobots fell silent once again.

"No, I’m not going anywhere. . .at least, in body. But I fear these few moments of lucidity are only fleeting. I know Prowl has already sensed that there has been something odd about my behavior since our awakening." Prowl nodded. "My condition will only deteriorate as time progresses. At least, until it can be found."

"Until what can be found, Optimus?" Bumblebee asked, stepping forward.

Without a word, Optimus Prime cracked his chestplate, then opened it fully with his hands. A T-shaped panel slid forward and opened, revealing the empty Matrix bay inside.

Next Time: "Beyond the Space Bridge!"

Wednesday, September 08, 1999

Cable #1 - Foreshadows

Cable #1


By Karl V.

The rain beat down upon him with unrelenting hostility. The added weight of the water drenched attire didn't affect him much as he remained silent while he continued to walk down the street. Several that passed by him gave him an odd stare as though he seemed out of place in this world, and as well that they would really never get the chance to know how right they were. Despite his evidently strong physique, a metallic left arm, and left eye that glowed, there was a lot more out of place with Nathan Summers. Born to a cloned Mother and real father, Nathan Summers was thrown into the future by his parents to save his life. Ironically, in that Future his life was still threatened since he was infected with an Techno-organic virus. His mutant powers of Telekinesis kept the Virus in check throughout the years, but with an intense hurting sensation beating upon his brain all the time. To him, his pain paled in comparison to those who suffered agony through a tyrant in his future. He has come back to this time to stop that one threat which ruled it with an iron fist: En Sabah Nur, also known as Apocalypse. He was destined to be the one last vital link to the salvation of the future, one of the many reasons he also carries the moniker of Cable. Mired in this role to bring Apocalypse down, Cable made one final decision in the matter. No more tricks no more games and bring a final end to his mission.

He entered a small café a sort of last stop before he carried on fully with his task. The waitress was a polite, very attractive blonde. Nathan grimaced at the reminder of his short love fling with another waitress.

"Hi, I'm Jenny. I'll be your server today. Would you like the special?"

"Just a cup of coffee." Nathan interrupted before she could tell what today's special was.

She walked off to grab the pot of Java.

He sighed heavily as he noticed the downpour suddenly stopped. He glanced up to see an exquisite ebony woman walk in the door. The waitress almost spilled the pot of coffee as she entered. The woman held herself like royalty and beamed an aura that she was treated like a goddess. Unlike the rest of the dining room residents, Cable seemed to pay more attention to his cup of coffee than to this woman. She walked wistfully over to his location and sat across from him. He put down the mug and gave a stoic glance at the woman.

"Ororo." Nathan spoke her name then took another sip from his mug. "I suppose this just isn't a visit to catch up on old times."

"What an ironic use of words coming from you Nathan. As you have guessed, this isn't a normal visit." Ororo politely shook her head at the offer of coffee from the waitress.

Nathan coyly smiled. "I expected Scott or Jean to show up. But, as soon as the rain stopped, I figured it might be you."

Ororo glared at the man for a moment. "You know very well that I would not use my powers in such a trivial matter." For emphasis, she wrung her white water soaked hair as the fluid poured into Nathan's half empty mug.

The waitress saw the minor infraction and figured them for an arguing couple. She quickly switched the old mug with a new one. She politely smiled as Nathan made a barely audible thank you.

"What on earth brings you to such a lowly hovel?" Ororo noticed the run down appearance of the café.

"Nothing." Nathan sank his feelings into his next sip of fresh coffee.

"I don't need to be a telepath to know your hiding something. The way you look at that waitress reminds you of another. Perhaps a former acquaintance of yours?" Ororo tried to coax Nathan's feelings out.

Nathan nodded his head. "Long story. But, I think it has enlightened me to say the least."

"Ah, it gave you a reason to go kill yourself by charging headfirst into your destiny without thinking?" Ororo's bluntness was responded with a stare of shock.

"Don't give me that look Nathan Summers. As a battle hardened soldier, you should know full well the danger of rushing head long into danger."

He gave a defiant look that reflected his growing realization that Ororo was right. He wallowed in his mug of coffee.

"Well, it doesn't matter much now. Rachel paid me a visit a while back and filled my head with something about the Twelve. So much has happened lately, I can't think straight about what I'm supposed to do."

Ororo could only stare at the man in surprise. "You really must have been serious with this woman if your let your feelings be known."

Nathan sighed heavily. "It doesn't matter much now. I don't have time to gather another force up and train them to beat Apocalypse and his minions. I have to do it myself."

"Nathan this is a burden that was originally placed solely on your shoulders. You are blatantly ignoring the fact that you need help." Ororo said with sharp stubbornness. "And it's of even more importance since your sister gave you a premonition about it."

"The only thing she spouted off before she left was this would all clear up and fall into place." Nathan prepared to drink the last bit of coffee as he raised his mug.

Ororo could only stare blankly at the Nathan. "Everything would clear up?"

"OATH!" Nathan shouted out loud as the mug came crashing down on the table and the emptied its remaining contents upon Ororo's lap.

Without thought and out of pure instinct, Ororo quickly created a small breeze of arctic wind to chill the hot liquid. She quickly cursed beneath her breath as the rest of the café customers noticed the small altercation.

"Damn muties." One local muttered hatefully under his breath.

"Come on. We're no longer welcome." Nathan tossed a couple of dollars on the table as both exited the café.

"IT CAN'T BE THAT EASY." Nathan's yell caught the attention of some pedestrians.

"Calm yourself Cable." Ororo grabbed a hold of his right arm. Nathan relaxed as he backed off from Ororo's touch.

Nathan shook his head. "The Storm cleared up, it's so simple it's ridiculous."

"I know it does seem rather trite even for Rachel." Ororo nodded in agreement. "But evidently since my code name is Storm, we can not ignore the message. I'm meant to be the first of your so called Twelve."

"Well, if the first part of her message was so blatant, that can only mean the second part is as well." Nathan began to think.

Ororo already figured out Rachel's message by herself. "The only way to have everything fall into place for you is to have a mutant with such powers."

"Domino." Nathan said unenthusiastically.

Ororo shook her head as she could tell Nathan's demeanor. "That is the pang of a former love talking, Nathan Summers."

Nathan ignored her remark. "I have to track Apocalypse down. And to do that, I need to find his four Horsemen. He always manages to keep them around in some shape or form. I don't have the time to go find X-Force and get Domino."

"It seems that destiny has another path for me to follow. " Storm seemed to ponder her decision for a moment. "I can gather the Twelve for you." Nathan's blank stare was the only response given.

"Do I take that as a yes?" Ororo tried to focus Nathan on what she had just said.

"Fine. Tell the others then retrieve Domino. I have some Horsemen to dismount." Nathan walked off and disappeared into the night.

"Yes, sir." Ororo said sarcastically as she called forth the winds to whisk her away.


As Cable walked down the barren, broken down part of the neighborhood, he had the overwhelming sense that he was being watched.

"Looking for something?" A voice shouted from behind as the sound of an energy weapon made Cable jump for his life. A smoldering hole was left where Cable had stood.

"OATH!" Cable cursed as he thought an old statement that Jean and Scott had taught him. If you go looking for trouble, eventually it will find you. Those words rattled in his head as he faced the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse.

Famine, War, Pestilence, and Death all greeted him with their weapons at the ready. Cable immediately recognized the Horseman of Death.

"NEMESIS!" Cable shouted out loud.

The glowing skeletal figure laughed from within his new transparent armor shell. "The Dark Lord has sent me to end your worthless existence. Once I kill you, I can kill your younger mirror image!"

Cable's mind raced with thoughts as he wondered why Apocalypse sent his Horsemen after him. As he dodged a volley of blasts, he tried the standard procedure of using psychological warfare to get information from his enemies.

"I doubt even Apocalypse's improvements could help you." Cable stated coldly as he hit the specter of Death with a sharp left fist. The other Horsemen stood down as the two stood toe to toe.

"I don't need any improvement to defeat you or Grey!" Like the grim reaper, the Horseman swung his club like appendage at Cable. Nathan reeled from the blow as it swiped his face. "The Dark Lord now has greater concerns than you! So, you must be really getting weak!"

Cable was more shocked from the last statement than the hit. "What?" Cable stood up and rubbed his chin.

"You're no longer a threat to the Dark Lord, Cable. You've grown complacent and fragile. This will be almost too easy to kill you. Nate Grey will hopefully be more entertaining than you." The Horseman of Death pointed at Cable as the three others began to fire upon him.

Cable's thoughts ran as quickly as his legs. Apocalypse has BIGGER concerns other than me! Cable quickly scanned the three other Horsemen with his regained capability of telepathy. They were only standard constructs that were built by the madman. This meant Cable could go full-fledged and not worry about the consequences.

Cable concentrated with all, as his eye grew brighter as he sent a hail of telekinetic bullets at the three robots. The robots took the projectile head on as they continued lurching towards him. Cable writhed in pain as the Techo-organic virus took advantage of the opportunity to spread itself.

Cable cursed as the robots came closer and raised their weapons. He pushed pass his pain and shot out one more round of telekinetic projectiles. For a moment, they stood motionless, then they fell apart piece by piece. Cable grimaced in pain as the last Horseman of Death stood over him.

"What a waste." The Horseman raised the club arm at Cable.

Cable coughed as he tried to speak as he stared down the several holes in the appendage, meant for releasing the Horseman's lethal energy weapon. "The least you could do..." Cable quietly regained his composure, " tell me what is more important."

The Horseman only laughed sinisterly. "All that you need to know is that it could be right under your nose and you wouldn't even know it."

Cable had a sudden thought. "Well, in that case I'll just take it from your head." With a telepathic burst of energy, Cable entered the mind of the Horseman. The Horseman glared in shock at the intrusion of his mind but it was too late. The Horseman fell forward as Cable echoed one last command to his entire body.

Sleep well. Fortunate for me the psionic plane was 'repaired' and your armor didn't compensate for that contingency. It's just too bad you didn't know as much as you let on.

Cable bent down by the body for a moment, got back up, and left the comatose Horseman behind. He knew the Horseman would have to deal with Apocalypse for his failure. Cable stopped for a moment as he could still not help but have the overwhelming urge that he was being watched.


In one of many secret sanctums, Apocalypse pondered. "This was one of but many possible futures that could have unfolded Ozymandias."

Ozymandias, a man imprisoned in a body of stone by En Sabah Nur, walked over next the big blue armored figure. "I still do not get why you sent the four Horsemen after the Askani'son. Surely, they will fail in their endeavor to eliminate him."

"So be it. It has always been the survival of the fittest. If Cable wins, then he has proven himself to be the stronger. Eventually, he will succumb to that which is stronger than he." Apocalypse intentionally pointed to himself.

"And what of these new arrivals, what importance do they hold? Why are we to focus our attentions on them instead of the Askani'son?" Ozymandias changed the subject as he always sought to free himself from Apocalype's hold.

"Where Cable needs twelve to alter my destiny, they only require one. One that holds a link to the very thing which is a weakness to everything, including light itself." Apocalypse seemed to mutter the words than actually tell the man.

The incoherent babbling of his Master confused Ozymandias. "I do not comprehend your meaning."

Apocalypse slightly chuckled in a demeaning manner. "You are a fool trying to find a way out of something from that which you can not break free. It is late and I grow weary of this topic. Rest assured no one will thwart what is meant to be." Apocalypse departed into the shadows as Ozymandias teleported away.


He knew it was going to be one of those nights. After getting back to his temporary headquarters, he tried to explain to his decision on his completing role to his two friends.

"BY THE BRIGHT LADY! Have you gone completely mad?" The small squat alien asked Cable in a fury.

Cable shook his head. "Blaquesmith, I can't ignore this anymore. I need to find Apocalypse and end this now."

Irene Merryweather, the female reporter who documented Cable's exploits, spoke up. "Look, the bug eyed ingrate has a point. I mean, haven't you taken the time to notice what's going on lately? There's been some big inexplicable boom in technology. Some of the reports seem like something from your time than ours."

Cable glanced at Irene for a moment. "Well, this may have something to do with what that Horseman of Apocalypse said. Either way, I'm going to find En Sabah Nur and bring him down. I just thought I would be nice enough to ask for your support in my decision."

"Gee, how thoughtful." Irene replied coldly.

Blaquesmith shook his head. "You are unwise to tempt fate without the twelve."

"I have someone who is gathering them for me." Nathan retorted quietly.

Both responded with surprised stares.

"Look Apocalypse moves too much but he does leave a trail. By the time I find him, Storm will have gathered the twelve I need." Cable hastily explained.

"And Storm is?" Irene was at a loss.

"Leader of the X-Men. Well, was leader of the X-Men." Cable shrugged. "She decided to gather the rest since she is one of them."

"Oh great, I have to write a journal about twelve people instead of one?" Irene was horrified by the possibility of such a daunting task.

"No, that won't be necessary." Cable prepared more of his equipment for the journey ahead.

At a loss for words, the two remained quiet until an unwelcome visitor teleported in their headquarters.

"YOU!" Blaquesmith sneered in disgust. "Why are you here servant of Apocalypse?"

"Answer his question quick." Cable grabbed his Psimatar lance, a weapon that channeled his telekinetic energy and could release it in a powerful blast.

"I have come to tell you that even the great Apocalypse has a weakness." Ozymandias' voice of sincerity caught the attention of the trio.

"Well, if there's something let me hear it." Cable listened intently for the reply.

"All the Dark Lord mentioned was that it was a weakness of everything even light itself." Ozymandias teleported back out before Cable could ask any more questions.

"Oath, what on Earth could that have meant." Cable rubbed his chin.

Irene rolled her eyes. "Nothing on Earth. The only thing capable of taking light is a black hole."

Cable fumed in frustration. "It figures. Something we could never bring to Earth is Apocalypse's only viable weakness."

"Askani'son you think in too abstract of a term. We simply need to harness the very energies of the black hole." Blaquesmith sighed with the equal emotion of Cable.

Irene was puzzled by the reactions. "Did I miss something? You've found out the guy you've been after your whole life has a weakness and your not happy about it."

"Even in my future, there is no weapon that can harness the energy of a black hole." Cable stated in a stoic reply.

"Oh." Irene joined the pair in their silence as a bright light of hope quickly faded into the darkness.

Finally, Irene broke the long eerie quiet. "What next?"

Cable thought for a moment. "I'm guessing that this technological boom and Apocalypses' new concerns are related somehow. That would mean an alien presence."

"Whoa, that's one big leap there. How would you know if it was aliens involved?" Irene was a bit startled by the explanation.

Cable pointed to his head and spoke to Irene telepathically. "I got my other power back."

Irene glared at Cable and could barely reply. "So I see. And I guess you can detect them somehow?"

"Yes, but I can't get a fix on who or what they are, just that they are here." Cable said with a bit of sarcastic twinge on the last part.

"Ok, Fox Mulder." Irene shook her head at Cable's attempt to joke.

"We have wasted enough precious time." Even with his short stature, Blaquesmith managed to knock both of their balance as he quickly walked in between them. "We need to get more data about these aliens if possible."

Blaquesmith began to utilize his knowledge of Terran computer systems to the fullest extent. "This may take some time." He stated as he hit several encrypted files on his first search.

Elsewhere in a remote military base...

"Another breach has been detected." The Airman stated with much chagrin.

"See to it you impede their progress. This is becoming a very bad habit as of late." The Colonel angrily replied.

"Yes, Sir." The Airman began to work on defeating the electronic intruder.

"This is Colonel Sesimen. It seems yet another breach has occurred." The Air Force officer reported over the communications system.

"This rash of events is rather irksome." A feminine voice hissed back. "Resources are low since we have sent others to handle these blatant mistakes. You will need to send our cooperative venture out for his field test."

"The Canadian contingent will be severely depleted if he is sent too early." Col. Sesimen replied back.

"Give explicit orders only to engage and disable their hardware then have him return at once. We can not afford any loss at this point."

"Yes, ma'am." The Colonel switched the radio frequencies.

"This is Colonel Sesimen. I have explicit orders from the Overseer to have Weapon X released into combat readiness. His mission is to find the target base and disable all equipment which may present a high level of risk to the National Security of the United States."

"Mission parameters received and understood. The current Weapon X will be placed under your jurisdiction during the mission." The Canadian officer replied back.

"Excellent. A trace has been established and we are sending the coordinates now." The Colonel relayed the message back to his Canadian counterpart.

"Coordinates received. Weapon X will depart within the hour."