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.
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".
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."