Wednesday, December 13, 2000

X-Men #7 - Worm in the Apple

"Worm in the Apple"

Written by Karl V.

Plots by Dave C

"Ouch," Cecelia reached her hand up to her head instinctively, "I'm eating this way too fast."

Bobby looked down at the pile of vanilla ice cream that was in the bowl. "Troubles?"

"Oh, you are absolutely the last mutant I want to see. Now, find me a mutant named Acetaminophen and I'll owe you one."

"A seat that men sit in? Cecelia what have you been doing at nights?" Bobby coyly played on her request.

Cecelia snorted. "Look Drake, I'm not in the mood for your high school joker antics. Let me and my frozen brain alone."

Bobby was silent and frowned. He silently hoped that Cecelia would open up to him, so he tried another tact. "You know, you had an ear open for me. I should return the favor."

Cecelia looked up, while sticking the spoon in the slowly melting ice cream. "Just the same old thing. I don't want the tight clothed, spandex life. I never did. But, now I've gone and said that I'd help out more than my five minutes."

"You know, there are part time X-Men. You can only do weekends, and not the four year term." Bobby winked at Cecelia.

Cecelia looked back down at the ice cream, and noticed the pool of white liquid getting closer to the top of the bowl. "I know. But, once they mentioned the codename thing. It just snapped right back in my face. I swear to god that I don't need any goofy word describing my powers for a nickname. I would be called Ouch, it hurts like a son of a..."

Bobby stopped her before she said anything further. "I know, I know. Look, we can have the unstable molecule fabric made into regular medical type attire. And, you don't have to have a codename. Although, now I'll be calling you Ouchie from now on...."

Cecelia slugged Bobby right on the shoulder. "Yea, you will."

"Ouchie!" Bobby laughed with fake hurt. "See you're getting used to your new codename."

Cecelia shook her head and continued eating the ice cream. "I should finish this before I let it go to waste."

"Cheer up, Cecelia. You know, you can always pick another part of the alphabet too. You can be a D-Man for Doctor-Man, C-Man for clinic..."

"Bobby," Cecelia thrusted a finger toward the main door, "OUT!"

She kept cursing herself for being convinced to stay. Rogue, you knew that damn Cajun was goin' to charm you like he always does.

"Hey petit, you comin' or no?" Le Beau's French Quarter accent grew heavy with concern.

Rogue began to fidget with her bangs. "I guess. But, I'm not gonna guarantee anything."

"That's good enough for Gambit. Now, how about you actually step inside the mansion. If La Morte is bad, I don't want it making you a ghost either."

Rogue took in a deep breath. "I appreciate the concern Remy, but like I told you a billion times before: I can handle things on my own."

"I know that chere. But, this thing is getting even bigger than you. And, that goes literally as well. These things just ain't machines. Heck, they even make Bastion look like a play toy."

Rogue reeled back at the mention of robots. "Of all the things to bring up, that was the last I wanted to hear."

Remy realized his mistake too late, and with his usual finesse compounded it more. "That's life. We always dealt with aliens, with robots, with things that always change who we are and what we are. We just got hit with all three at the same time. Something always new as far as the X-Men are concerned."

"Don't give me the "that's tough, it's life" speech Remy. Now, you are being an jerk by bringing all that stuff that I don't want brought up. I stayed out here to clear my mind, and not listen to you chatter all night about those blasted mutant making robots. Now, get in the mansion before I have to place you in there myself." Rogue stood up and clenched her fists.

Gambit's instincts made the third and final error. "Chere, you don't have to do this you know. It don't have to be like this."

"Remy!" Rogue's anger was just to be unleashed again, when a mental command interrupted.

'Rogue, Gambit. It's time."

"I was about to make powder out of you, Cajun. So, do me a favor and stay away as far as possible during our little trip back to New York."

Gambit managed to discretely dispose of a kinetic charged card. "I'll do that. I don't want anyone getting hurt because of little ol' me."


"Mr. Falk, I regret to inform you of your termination from this school." The head minister of the college seemed extremely nervous.

The tall man with a dark blue suit and black tie gave him a dark look. "Mr. Crucker, why is that?"

"Well, one of the faculty members was on vacation when they caught a news broadcast. Now, we've already confirmed with certain parties of your presence here..."

Falk was slightly confused. "Sir, if you don't mind me asking: What the hell is this all about?"

The head minister fumbled a cassette into a video cassette recorder attached to a television.

Falk watched intensely as it was obviously a news report.

"And, we have obtained some footage of the actual assault by the so called X-Men on that rocket launch." {As in seen in Hunt For Xavier...KV}

Falk blinked twice as he saw a man levitated by what seemed like a bird of flame. Falk recognized the face as his own. He tried to hide the growing frustration. Damn you Charles, you promised me nothing outside of the danger room.

The head minister took his opportunity at the double take. "Needless to say, we don't want trouble in our school. Unfortunately, word has already spread about this. There are reports of mutants even being able to copy themselves. I'm sorry Addison. But, I did manage to talk the board into severance pay for you. It should be more than enough for you to find another teaching job, and don't worry about the references. I'll still put out the good word for you. I truly apologize if some mutant freak decided to play copycat with your face, but the ramifications of keeping you around."

"Mr. Crucker, it is of no consequence. Equal Opportunity Employment laws never listed mutants. Besides, I know someone that will immediately take my resume." Falk left the office in fumes.
"Don't go and say it Red. I already know." Logan did not even bother to turn around to see who was behind him, as the wind carried the familiar scent of Jean Grey to him.

She knew enough that she couldn't sneak up on him, and there was no surprise to the her being discovered. "Look, I know that we've been through a lot lately. Everyone has a lot of history, including me. All I ask is that you try to take it easy on Rogue. She needs friends right now and not more enemies."

"Sorry," Logan lit up his stogie, "but she was actually thinking of going to ol' Magnus. He represents something that can take away that hurt she's been feeling all her life. You don't need your powers to know that Rogue has decided that those mechanical aliens are the ones responsible for that hurt."

Jean was starting to get impatient because Logan had a tendency to be stubborn, and also unfortunately correct. "I know. That's why she needs a shoulder rather than someone waiting to kill her. All I ask is you leave her to me, and I'll handle the emotion stuff."

"Fine by me Red. But, if she shows any sign of turning again, I'm going to take her out. We can't afford her switching sides."

Jean was startled by the statement. "Logan, she's been on the team full time for quite some time now. She's saved our lives more times then we can count. It's time we return the favor."

Logan turned to face Jean. "We've had a couple of times when we needed Magnus' help and he saved our hash. And, we still fight him afterwards. Sorry, Rogue has too much of a history to call in any favor." He tossed the finished stogie to the ground and stomped on it to indicate the conversation was grounded as well.

Jean was at a loss for words, Logan had made up his mind and there was nothing that she could do about it. She had one last tact in arsenal, and she spoke loud so he could hear her. "Well, okay, then I'll call in one of my favors. Just ignore her for me okay."

Logan did an about face and had his trademark sneer. "I'm not doing anything that might cause someone to die. Sorry Jean, but no one is calling in any favors until this thing has blown over. And, only I will decide when that is for the Southern Belle."

"You hardheaded arrogant.." Jean's frustration got the best of her, and she realized it too late. "...sorry."

"Don't be Red. You're right." Logan walked to the mansion, leaving Jean behind in thought.


"Logan." Remy gave the lounging mutant a nod.

He didn't even acknowledge the Cajun by looking up. "What's up Gumbo? If you've come to lecture about your little petite, then don't."

"No, in fact quite the opposite. I think your right about her. I know these things."

Logan looked up and raised an eyebrow. "So, maybe you're suggesting a double team. Red can baby sit only one of us at a time."

"Sometime I wonder if you gained Jeanie's power somehow." Gambit scratched his head.

Logan shook his head. "No, it just takes one to know one. But, trouble is she knows what we're thinking. So, let's not and say we did."

"True mes ami, but the Doctor and Bobby are going to provide enough distraction for us. Both you and I know what to look for and not use our minds to do it. Jeanie can't read instinct." Gambit brought up an ace of spades from his hidden deck.

Logan casually patted Remy on the shoulder. "Sometimes you manage to have your head screwed on right Cajun. You should make it more of a habit."

"I think about it, and maybe you should too." Gambit slyly smiled and gave Logan a semi salute with his two right fingers.

"Funny," Logan spotted Bobby and Cecelia coming out of the mansion, "I'll go talk to the lovebirds."

"Que? Bobby and Cecelia? You got to be kidding." Gambit let out a chuckle even at the thought.

"I can smell the pheromones from here." Logan pointed to his nose.

Remy shrugged in disbelief. "There no way a joker like him would go with someone with a bedside manner like that. Besides, Bobby still too much of a ladies man."

"Don't matter, it will make them even more of a distraction. I'm going to give Bobby the assignment of keeping the Doc alive if we tangle with that Prime Sentinel. Hopefully their antics will make our job easier."

"You pretty good for an old man." Remy walked out of Logan's range of hearing. "But, I know what keeps you distracted too. "


"The answer is no Sinister." Mystique said point blank.

Sinister's red eyes narrowed. "And, may I ask why?"

"It's all been done before. The only thing that would be different would be some half-brained name given to describe the group. Now, it's time I made a name for myself again. I've been too much of a team player, and it's especially obvious when I even think of joining the likes of you."

"You forget, we all save the same master. He extended your powers as well as mine."

Mystique shook her head. "You idiot. As long as he thinks we are performing his test, then he'll leave us alone. Any fool who is weak deserves to die anyway."

"You are so deluded. You will learn as I did that your leash is only so short." Sinister's face contorted into a more skeletal form. "And if you do not heel at the tug of the leash, then you will be put out of your misery by Death."

Mystique looked at the Horseman of Death in half astonishment, half disgust. "So, you are one of his chosen now. Good, then it's time you learned who your other Master is."

Death looked on as Mystique changed into a brilliant red reptilian like humanoid. "What?"

"Fool, ever hear of the Dragon and the whore? I'm both. Now, I've always waited for this." She pointed to the ground. "Bow."

Death felt a tug to his whole being, as he was forced to one knee. "How can this be?"

"The Devil needs his concubine. Another way he passes the test is by having offspring." Mystique relished the moment for a long as it entertained her. "And, he needs someone that can take many forms to carry out his deeds. A dragon is but one of them."

"No...I can not be...swayed. Death comes to even to the cows he chooses." Death attempted to rise to his feet to no avail.

Mystique simply smiled as she reverted back to her more familiar blue skin form. "You are lucky that you will suffer more alive, otherwise I would kill you here and now. You may rise."

Death switched back to the more recognizable Sinister. "I will return. And when I am free of my Horseman's bond, you will suffer."

"Fool, the only thing you can do is fall off the Horse. And you will always be at the ready to ride again at his call."


"Hey Bobby, I have something for ya." Logan motioned Bobby away from Cecelia for a moment.

Bobby seemed puzzled that Logan was even bothering, but he followed along. "What's up short and gruesome?"

"You got to keep an eye out for the Doc. But, you got to keep your head about it. And, I'm talking about the one above your shoulders." Logan said matter-of-factly.

"What?" Bobby's shout made Cecelia wonder what they were talking about.

Logan shook his head. "I can smell those hormones raging in your body. You haven't stuck for someone for quite some time, and it's all coming back out since you spent that day with the Doc."

"No way. Come on, I'm desperate but not that desperate. I mean, I totally want to avoid someone that has a colder shoulder than me."

Logan shook his head. "Don't deny what's lurking in that head of yours. Otherwise, it will make matters worse."

"Fine, I'll keep my eyes out for the Doc. But, I'm not some drooling idiot after a candy striper."

Logan nodded his head in slight approval. "That's the way. Now if you excuse me, I have some other matters to attend."

Bobby jumped as a hand touched his shoulder. "What?"

"You okay Drake?" Cecelia looked at his troubled expression.

Bobby's face turned beet red as he tried to hide his face by lowering his head. "I'm fine."


"Hey Red." Logan walked up the slender figured mutant leaning on a tree.

She looked up as she brushed her blazing red hair aside to see Logan. "I'm sorry about earlier."

"Don't worry about it. The truth doesn't hurt me much anymore. It's just we're going into this thing with a pot on the stove and someone else is watching it. I just hope that someone don't take his eyes off of it, and is smart enough not to be burned by it either."

Jean quickly assumed what Logan's analogy meant. "I'm sure Remy can put aside his feelings if we happen to get into a confrontation."

"It's not just that we have a big pile of stink with the Southern Belle and the Cajun. And on the reverse end of the coin, we got a Bobby and the Doc."
Jean lightly smiled. "It's hard to imagine, but anything is possible. So, that leaves you and me to make sure that they don't slip up."

"I guess you didn't need to read my mind for that one. Guess that's my age creeping up on me." Logan looked around and sniffed the air.

"What is it?" Jean prepared for the worst.

Logan shook his head. "Nothing. Just making sure that no one is privy to what I need to say."


"We have two hot heads, and Bobby might as well be a rookie along with the Doc. And, these bone claws don't do much against a Prime Sentinel. That leaves you to face a bunch of mutants we don't know squat about, along with that Prime Sentinel."

Jean's smile instantly turned into a straight face. "Yes, I know. And, Prime Sentinels usually travel in a pack of threes. It makes me wonder if this is some setup for the other two to ambush us."

"I'll keep my nose out for them. I know their technological stink now. The nanotech gives the human host a bad case of halitosis."

"Seems like Bobby's not the only one sticking to the Doc." Jean winked.

Logan snorted at the observation. "Well, without the adamantium..."

"Now, you were worried about them?" Jean crossed her arms.

Logan shrugged. "Just stating facts. Bones break. Adamantium doesn't"

"Well, I need your expertise to spot the mutants weak spots as quick as possible. The body language speaks quicker than the mind sometimes." Jean placed a supporting hand on Logan's shoulder.

Logan nodded as he got the indirect command. "The senses are still good enough for that. I'll get the troops ready, hopefully we can keep the emotions pointed in the right direction."

"Okay, but make sure that you pair up Remy with the Doc, and Bobby with Rogue. Hopefully, Remy's and Bobby's wit will lighten their moods a bit."

"Will do."

As soon as Logan left out of hearing range, Jean thought outloud. "I just hope that we can all work together if a crisis does arrive. Scott, I really wish you didn't go with Hank and the Professor. We could use a calm mind right now." The only reply was a subtle breeze that gave a low woeful howl.

Saturday, July 22, 2000

Wisdom #1 - Exhuisite Corpse


"I was unaware that we had any such agreement, Mister Copperfield."

Copperfield's hands itched at his side, shaking nervously as if they had suddenly discovered that without the formed plastic handle of the case they had no function.

"We've known each other for along time. Taking this course of action so late in the game would just be fucking stupid." Copperfield sweated out, his mouth a thin line of determination and his forehead furrowed in a deep frown.

The other man waved his gun in the air casually, looking quite the dandy as he threw his eyes up towards the darkened sky and tilted his head to one side.

Copperfield's hands twitched once more and for a brief moment, they considered lurching forward and tearing the case out of that treacherous, gloved doppelganger of the other.

All too soon, the other's eyes turned back to him.

"I'm afraid, Mister Copperfield, that I have little time for any sort of game. My apologies."

Copperfield lurched forwards and the gun fired in the other's hand.

A single bullet sliced through the air and punctured Copperfield's right kidney.

In a beautiful flowering of colour, the bullet exploded from his back and the wall behind was redecorated with flowing crimson and thick, grey lumps of mass that clung to the wall and then slowly slid down leaving behind them the sweat of a trail, much that of a slug.

Copperfield's mouth gasped once, his eyes wide with confusion and tears forming at beneath the watery blue irises.

He fell to the ground and tried to force his head up to the look at the face of his killer but the effort was too great.

Then was a second explosion and his head shattered in frozen ice sculpture of broken bone, cartilage, blood and other fluids, and then collapsed in upon itself.

Copperfield's body shuddered and his hands clasped at the air once more and then moved no more.





Based on concepts and characters created by Warren Ellis

"I am Wraith. I had neither father nor mother: I leaped out of a lion's mouth when I was scarce half an hour old, and ever since I have run up and down the world, with this case of rapiers, wounding myself when I had nobody to fight withal. I was born in hell - and look to it, for some of you shall be my father." - Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus



There were seven daemons at the heart of London, seven vile creatures; Pride, Covetousness, Wraith, Envy, Gluttony, Sloth and Lechery, each one a representation of a specific atrocity or sin.

Pete Wisdom flicked his lighter open and brought the flame up closer towards the end of cigarette.

It blossomed in a halo of orange and red, illuminating his tired face.

"Sorry I can't stay." He smiled viciously, picking up his torn copy of The Screwtape Letters and leafing through it. "More important matters to attend to and all."

Pride bellowed in agony, the barbed wire cutting through its leathery skin as it struggled to be free of its bonds.

Its six brothers took up the cry, their distorted and warped voices filling the air.

Wisdom didn't flinch once, he simply maintained his viscous smile of smug satisfaction.

"I would say it's been a pleasure but I think we all know that would be lie." He announced once the daemon screams had subsided. Slowly he let go of the cigarette, allowing it spiral downwards to the burnt floor of the institution's complex. "Be seeing you." He nodded once and made good his escape.

Moments later the building flowered in flame.


The distant sound of laughter and traffic filled the air.

James O'Neill staggered, cold waters splashing about his malformed feet as he fled through the abandoned tunnels, flesh screaming with agony at every new injustice.

Many before him had passed through these corridors of grief and emptiness and many would pass down them once he had faded away into the cold void beyond death. He was not the first, of that he was entirely cognisant.

Before his ascension to daemonhood and his inauguration into the seven, O'Neill had been a resident of the cold sterile facility of what was universally known as the Institution.

Over the past century or two, the Institution had been harvested alien DNA and preparing simulacra for a variety of experiments; all of which involved the subjugation of those they believed inadequate in some way, shape or form or the other.

The rippled flesh that had composed O'Neill's flailing body for the past twenty years had itself originated with these experiments.

The introduction of two different strands of alien genetic material had created a brotherhood of thousands, the most important of which remained the last and final breed.

This new species was composed of many oddities, not least of all O'Neill.

The council of seven daemons of which he had, until recently, been a member of, had overseen the new breed's development and others - Michael Kirwin, Samuel Dern, Jonathan Hibberd, Joseph Liebowitz - had each added to the species' development, whether they knew it or not.

And it had ended in fire; in howls and burning, in fire and brimstone, in the rank stench of sulphur.

Now one man, one poxy, arrogant little bastard, had put an end to all their schemes.

The future was stillborn in their expectant wombs, all plans as dust.

O'Neill threw himself down into the water beneath him, the sweet smell of urine assaulting his nostrils. He rolled franticly in the filth, dowsing the flames that burnt his daemon flesh with the bitter water that had fallen through the gutters and accumulated here beneath the city.

Silently he swore one thing to himself:

The slow, painful and exquisite death of Peter Wisdom.


The door was wide open, an invitation of sorts that allowed safe passage across the threshold and into the heart of another world.

"Jesus Christ, this place looks like a bomb's hit it." A voice cried out in the wilderness.

Romany Wisdom dropped her bag in the doorway and waded through the litter of torn newspapers and empty bottles, stopping momentarily to look up at the shrine of post-it notes, nicotine sepia newspaper cuttings and monochrome photographs.

"Peter Wisdom, are you not up yet, you lazy arsehole?" She called into the dim light beyond the living room.

"Haven't slept yet." A voice from behind her responded.

She turned, her heart stopping a beat and calming as she saw the gaunt figure of her brother stepping over the bag and across the threshold, four litre bottle of semi-skimmed milk in one hand and cigarette smouldering in the other.

"Went out to get some milk and ciggies." He explained. "Got side-tracked."

"Mary, mother of God, you look worse than I expected." She mollycoddled. "The old man's going to be bloody turning in his grave."

"They haven't put him in it yet." Wisdom reminded her then with doubt added: "Have they?"

She looked down at her watch.

"Not yet. They will have if we don't get there soon enough though."

"I fucking hate funerals." He muttered, moving past her and depositing both milk and cigarette in the fringe, grinding the stub out in an empty I Can't Believe It's Not Butter box and slamming the door.

"Is Kitty coming?" Romany asked tentatively.

"Not bloody likely." Her brother responded with a sneer.


Kennedy #883267 unwrapped the thin plastic film from around the carton of cigarettes, fingers textured with rubber and organic materials to give the impression of life.

Since the late Sixties, he had wandered aimlessly through the sewers of London, uncertain and what and who he was.

Over the course of time he had began to understand the nature of his resurrection and through a chance meeting with a sinister `countryman' of his, he had learnt that he was little more than a simulacra - a replica of the original man whose face he wore.

As he lit a cigarette and made his way up the steps of Saint Paul's, conscious of the itch that inflamed the serial number carved into the back of his neck.

The doors opened before him and he moved slowly past the various assembled troupe of tourists and visitors, some visibly disturbed by his appearance.

He moved in deeper before finally taking a seat at the back of the pews.

"You took your time." A voice intoned from behind.

"I'm sorry. I seem to have lost track of time." Kennedy responded.

The other stepped into the light, his crimson jacket looking disturbingly like a coat of congealed blood in the dim illumination of the cathedral.

"It doesn't matter. I've got enough time to kill till the year 2200." He shrugged.

Kennedy inhaled deeply, allowing his synthetic lungs to fill with the deep, discoloured smoke.

"Over the next two centuries this place will become the last place left standing in London. It will be the focus of daemonic invasion within the next ten years. By the time 2200 rolls around, it will be wiped of the surface of the Earth, along with the city that surrounds it and nearly every other city on this planet."

Kennedy looked blankly towards the altar, ash dripping from the end of his cigarette.

"How?" He finally asked, refusing to turn and look at the other.

His companion smiled darkly.

"It begins with a man called Peter Wisdom." He responded. "He's the one person that will begin the downward spiral for all of us. He's the man that will find off the daemons and, by his actions, bring the first Angel to Earth's doorstep. I'm still trying to work out which of the two options is worse; a world dominated by daemonic beasts or a world kept on life support as the Angel's plaything."

"How?" Kennedy repeated.

"In defeating the daemons, this Wisdom will leave the gates of Heaven wide open. By destroying Hell he will take purpose away from the Angels. They will send the first Angel here and cause-and-effect will follow."

"Wouldn't it solve your problems to just kill Wisdom now?" Kennedy asked.

"It depends on if you want to live in a world full of daemons."

"I don't live at all." Kennedy reminded him.

"Worse things happen at sea." The other countered.

Silence, then Kennedy twisted in his seat and faced the make-up stained features of his companion.

"Do you want me to kill this Peter Wisdom for you?"

"No." The other smiled. "I have investments in the 23rd century. I'd like to see the fruits of my labour when that time rolls around especially now that my theatre has been burnt down once more."

#883267 nodded and turned back to face the front of the church. A soft breeze caught his matted hair and when he turned once more, the other had vanished.


The rain tasted of salt, slow beads hitting his face as he watched them lower the coffin into the ground.

On this day, his father - the old bastard - was finally laid to rest.

Pete Wisdom nodded in respect once and tossed a handful of dirt in after his old man as the priest intoned:

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."

"We know Major Tom's a junkie." He added beneath his breath.

The mourners dispatched, leaving Romany and himself alone at the grave.

"He was a good old bastard." Romany whispered, grief choking her voice.

"For what we knew of him." Her brother muttered cynically.

He lit a cigarette and stared morosely down at the anonymous hole in the ground.

"Come on, I'll buy you a pint." He announced.

"You don't have to. It's already been paid for." She answered solemnly.

"Then I'll buy it metaphorically." He snapped.

The rain continued to fall as the two figures, brother and sister, left their father to his final resting place.


O'Neill staggered up into the light, his savaged features smouldering in the glare of direct sunlight.

The crowds parted as the corpse like figure moved through, elbows and arms igniting in flame as they came into contact with him.

Screams issued forth as the surrounding people exploded, insides pushing their way through splits in the skin.

And yet still the Beast continued to move, spreading his contagion through the crowds until he reached Nelson's column.

With hands still bleeding and flesh smoking with flame, O'Neill clambered atop the statue and spread his arms wide, a leper messiah before his crowd of burning disciples.

Slowly, the clouds shifted, pushing their way across the surface of the sun and in an instant, the world was his.


Romany Wisdom watched her brother as he grew progressively (or rather regressively) drunker. His speech became slurred and his eyes seemed to lose focus, as if he were glaring beyond the world in which every other bastard on the planet was forced to live in, day in, day out.

By half six he had already offended the vicar and by seven, they had both been thrown out, left to wander the streets.

It had grown late a lot quicker than she remembered. By six the sky was usually a shade of purple, a sign that summer was coming but today the darkness had set upon them as if they were still in late December.

She shrugged it off, living in London she had known stranger things.

Her brother muttered something and she turned to face him, watching as he hung desperately to the wall for support.

".and then I killed seven daemons, all last night it was, Romany." He seemed to be saying.

She placed her hands on her hips.

"What in God's name are you talking about, Pete?" She snapped.

He straightened up, seeming to sober as he continued to speak.

"Something is coming." He warned.

"What do you mean?" She asked.

His face was pulled tightly in concentration for a moment before realisation dawned and promptly dropped away once more.

"No, sorry. It's gone." He shrugged and lit a cigarette.

She watched walk further on and then calmly counted, in her own special way, under her breath.

"One-bastard, two-bastard, three-bastard, four-bastard, five-bastard, six-bastard, seven-bastard, eight- bastard, nine-bastard, ten-bastard."

She exhaled, calming herself and then followed on after him.


O'Neill looked over his kingdom of shattered stone and smouldering corpses, the face of Nelson peering over his shoulder almost in anticipation.

"Behold you have sent me out like a wolf amongst sheep." He cried in answer to a silent accusation. "And I brought this world to its feet, just for you. I am your first born, your first and last and always."

The sea of flesh beneath him writhed in agony, wails and moans issued forth from the gaping wounds that had once served as their mouths.

"I am the Wizard and you are my Oz." He smiled insanely. "I am Wraith, the last of seven sins. I am the only sin."


Kennedy #883267 watched the chaos break over the city, a tsunami of insanity and intolerance.

Patience had always been a particular virtue of his, the man who in some half-remembered life had been unprepared to go up against communist Cuba - and rightly so.

The city seemed to fold in upon itself, swallowed by its own epidemic of madness.

He staggered slightly and almost fell, leaning himself against the wall.

Within his chest cavity, the aching had begun once more - the pain that forever demanded feeding.

His desperate hands tore at his shirt, ripping it open and peeling back the layer of skin underneath.

Hidden within the mass of synthetic tissue a large cube glowed a dull purple. The top half of the cube was transparent, evidence of the immense strain such movements had upon him.

He needed to find a power source, something he could convert into the ambrosia that fed his simulacra's body.

He needed to `plug himself in', in so many words.

The sound of heavy footfalls echoed through the air and #883267 heard a strange voice whisper;

"One-bastard, two-bastard, three-bastard, four-bastard, five-bastard, six-bastard, seven-bastard, eight- bastard, nine-bastard, ten-bastard."

A man and a woman, the woman being the one who had spoken, emerged from the fog.

Both were tall and healthy though the woman wore glasses, an obvious sign of deficiency.

Kennedy stepped out into the light and held his hands up.

The man, caught unaware nearly fell back upon the woman. His breath stunk of alcohol.

"Stop." Kennedy stated blankly.

"I think you made that one clear, Johnny-boy." The man announced, still uncertain of his footing.

"`Johnny-boy'?" The simulacra questioned.

"As in the old JFK, all that bollocks. My friend Mark is related to you, you know that?"

#883267's brow creased in confusion but he decided to let the matter slide.

"I am in need of.recharging." He said with difficulty. "You will assist me."

"He sounds like a bloody Cyberman." The man smirked and turned to his companion. "Doesn't he sound like a Cyberman?"

"Yes, Pete." The woman sighed.

"Please." Kennedy #883267 begged, stumbling forwards.

The woman reached out her arms and caught him and then let go, gasping and raising her hands to her mouth in shock.

The cube at the heart of Kennedy's being glowed ominously within the centre of his chest.

"I am.the Wizard Oz." He stuttered, his mouth opening and closing now beyond his control. " .only.sin."

His voice fragmented and distorted with static as he repeated the words in an alien voice.

It was only then that #883267 realised he had been tricked. The other had altered his programming, infected it with some kind of language virus - a virus that would alert others to the knowledge of some threat beyond the simulacra's imagining.

How long had he been like this? How long had the virus resided within him, waiting for the right person to hear its words?

"What is it?" The woman whispered.

Only now to Kennedy #883267 understand who the man that confronted him was, only now did he understand that this was Peter Wisdom.

"I told you he sounded like a bloody Cyberman." Wisdom said seriously.

Kennedy opened his mouth a final time and repeated the words as Wisdom reached inside of his chest and tore the cube from his body.

There was a moment of pure static, gushing unwanted from his simulacra's mouth and then the world turned black.



The other watched the chaos unfold, liquid fire spreading throughout the peoples of the city, infecting each one of them and passed no judgement.

No smile crossed his abnormally pale features, no whisper of a grin but a strange sadness haunted his eyes, as if he were witnessing the beginning, or perhaps the end, of a vital chapter of history.

The 20th century had crumbled to dust, leaving nothing but a dissatisfied world still dealing with the problems that Thatcher and Reagan had brought with them.

Perhaps this `new flesh', to lift a phrase, was what the world needed.

Perhaps...but he doubted it very much.

The immediate future waited desperately to happen and in his third eye he saw Peter Wisdom take the cube from Kennedy #883267's chest - the cube that he had gone to great measures to acquire - and watched the simulacra repeat its message for the final time before its death.

He watched as the cube's fading purple light played across Wisdom's face and he watched as Wisdom gained his first clue as to its truly alien origin.

The images flickered before Wisdom's eyes and the other smiled and waved back at him, knowing that the cube's disorientating effect would bend the immediate future enough for him to signal to the future destroyer of Hell where he resided and more importantly where the daemon he had failed to finish was.

And then, as if no time had passed at all, Wisdom was there, standing defiantly amidst the sea of burning flesh and remaining miraculously untouched.

The Wraith laid eyes on him and the woman that stood several feet away and descended, long spider-like limbs clinging to the column until its uncertain and malformed feet touched the ground.

"I thought I fucking killed you." Wisdom sighed with distemper, the cube still in his hands.

"Ah, Wiiiiiiisdom." The once-man glowered. "You should know better than to assume that you could ever stand a chance of killing me."

Wisdom cocked his head to one side.

"Should I?" He asked. "Oh. In that case, you have my apologies, squire."

A puzzled look crossed the daemon's face.

"What do you mean?" It demanded.

"Well," Wisdom grinned, scratching the back of his head. "I'm taking your advice. By the way, you're melting."

"Eh?" The daemon proclaimed.

It looked down at its melting body.

"What's happening?" It demanded.

Wisdom's smile grew fractionally.

"I take you're aware of the concept of consecrated icons, usually metals or liquid - holy water and crucifixes, if you like."

The daemon's eyes grew larger.

"Well this odd little whatever it is cube seems to be having an adverse effect on you, mate." He said and lit a cigarette with his free hands. "Turns out that in the occult periodic table there's a companion element to each element on the regular common or garden periodic table that's why crucifixes and holy water are lethal to vampirs and the like." His smile grew again. "Looks like this little bastard was built by someone or something composed of a metal that corresponded to one of those lethal occult elements. Sorry about that."

"B-But this can't be happening. I was going to kill you...and so gloriously too." The daemon protested.

"Save the sodding melodrama, it's time to say goodbye." Wisdom beamed as the daemon's leg collapsed under the weight of its rotting body. "First and last and always, my arse. I fucking hated that Sisters album."

The daemon opened its mouth to howl a final time and Wisdom raised his foot, kicking the bastard's head clean off its body.

It bounced twice before turning to a sizeable liquid stain on the pavement.

He shrugged, tapped some ash from the end of his cigarette and turned to face Romany.

"How in the bleeding hell do you manage to pull shit like that off?" She asked.

"Lucky." He shrugged. "Fancy a pint?"

"Metaphorically?" She asked.

"Bollocks to that." He grinned and walked off in the direction of the nearest pub.

Wisdom #5 - Forgive Me Please for Hurting So, Don't Go Away Heartbroken

The city was dying.
Acrid fumes filled the skyline, just as they always had yet the streets no longer moved to the rhythm of footsteps, of capitalism or of the lost art of commuting.
Trains fell silent, traffic ground to a halt.
People began to recede from the veins of the city, back into the safe places where they could confess their illness to the four walls they called home.
Yet there were also those who had no place to go, those who had been forced out into the veins of the city, some by fate, some by design.
During the first wave of the illness, this ragged and suffering soldiers were the eyes of the front line, watching as the plague moved from Marble Arch to Northwood Hills and all across the city.
Some days it would travel through the tube system, bacteria riding the empty carriages of the Hammersmith and City line.
Other days it would emerge on Oxford Street, or Piccadilly Circus, scouting the rough terrain of the city for victims.
And some days it would be everywhere. In every home, in every office, in every corner of the city, the disease was present.
Beneath London there remained six glistening corpses, insect ridden and infested by variants of the disease. The seventh had made up onto the streets where it had given birth to the illness.
It had remained there for just a few hours but now, five months after its conception, the virus still lingered on.
No one had been able to give answers to what it was.
No one understood why it never moved outside of the city and no one knew who's shoulders the blame and responsibility lay on.
The news carried updates for relatives as they cut the city off from visitors, marking it as a plague area, quarantined until bureaucrats and painted officials had diagnosed it.
Experts on Muir Island examined the significance of its lack of pattern as WHO twiddled their thumbs in the face of the illness.
No one knew what to say.
Brian Braddock and Alistaire Stuart appeared on BBC News 24, arguing as to how the epidemic should be handled.
Still no one did anything.
The city went silent.
No one spoke of what happened inside it, there was no more news to convey to the outside.
Eventually the story began to die down; people stopped paying attention to it. They simply assumed that whatever it was it would sort itself out for better or for worse.
Across the world, heroes and villains continued to wage their war, with all their secret headquarters and grudge-matches in Antarctica and gaudy catch-phrases and marketing franchises, the world soon forgot about London and what happened within those city walls.
And then one day, an aged man showed up at the checkpoints and perimeters.
He wore a suit of Saville Road tailoring and a shock of grey hair adorned his head.
His name was Erik Magnus Lehnsherr.
The world outside called him Magneto.


Based on concepts and characters created by Warren Ellis

"I told you from the start,
Just how this would end.
When I get what I want,
I never want it again."
- Courtney Love,

Kitty Pryde had learnt to hate London.
She hated the way it always smelt of smoke and she hated the way it would get drunk and then give her that stupid idiot look of pure innocence and worry if it had offended her because it had drunk too much.
She hated it.
She hated the way it wouldn't get out of bed in the morning, the way it woke up cursing and snarling and then stopped when it saw her, a warm smile spread over its face.
She hated the way that it had caused her so much pain and yet still she found herself caring for it, her fingers hovering over the 0181 code before finally hanging up.
She hated the way that despite the fact that it fucked off and left after she'd asked for more time, she was still looking for it.
And most of all she hated the way she was worried sick now it was finally dying.
For a moment she thought she caught the distant but familiar smell of Marlboro.
She turned, anticipation running through her but when she confronted the source of the imagined cigarette smoke, there was nobody there and she was alone again.

Pete Wisdom laughed violently, a thin trail of spittle running down his chin and into the sink beneath him.
It had been a month since Joanna's death. A month in which he had desperately tried to come to terms with what happened and each time had failed miserably.
He had gone outside less and less, shunning the city he had always loved in favour of the squalor and damp sanctity of his flat. The phone remained off the hook and his stash of cigarettes and booze had almost ran dry.
Which meant that he would have to go outside soon.
It was a prospect he did not relish.
Both Romany and Niall had attempted to get in contact with him but he had refused to answer the door, listening to their repeated bangs on the door and yet he seemed to have lost the motivation required to get up and answer.
Once upon a time he had thought he knew his limits. Once upon a time he had thought that he couldn't get any lower than the point he had reached.
Now he knew different.
Now he knew that no matter what happened, he would always have somewhere lower to drop back into, perhaps somewhere worse than the place he was in now.
He lit his fortieth cigarette of the day and sat down on the cold linoleum of the bathroom floor.
Silently he began to cry.

There was something familiar about London.
Something in the sickness and death that a struck a chord of remembrance in him. Something that he understand on a deeper level that his conscious mind would permit, a level too deep for comfort.
'Genosha.' It whispered in his ear, over and over again: 'Genosha.'
Yes, there was something of Genosha here and it was represented by the sickness and death he saw on the streets of the city.
The place was devoid of life now the heroes had given up attempting to deal with the situation.
This wasn't the glamorous of heroic duels over American horizons that they had become accustomed to. No, this was far more human.
Every street, every stone spoke of tragedy.
During the early stages of the contamination the semi-active Excalibur team had prodded about the outskirts of the city but uncovered nothing.
They didn't have the jurisdiction to think for themselves anymore.
Now, more than ever, they had become the European X-Men - an extension of what one man believed to be truthful and just; a belief system that had failed the world on countless occasions.
There was no wrong or right here, only illness and that was one foe that no X-Man could truly face.
When the Legacy virus had slain thousands of mutants and began to contaminate humans also, the X-Men had dealt with it in a farce like manner. Their attitude betrayed their incomprehension of tragedy. Though many may have fought and died for the beliefs of their beloved Professor Xavier, none of them quite understood why.
Confronted by a foe who could not be cut into by adamantium claws or struck down with lightening
bolts and the X-Men soon lost their interest.
If it couldn't be mutilated or desiccated, if it didn't have a recognisable face then it was brushed under the carpet and hoped that it would eventually go away. In short it was assumed to be docile.
But diseases are very rarely docile a concept that Xavier's cavalcade of mutants and freaks had much difficulty in understanding.
But like all cities, this one had an immune system.
First came the front, the Joker in the pack, the face the city would show to the world as its protector and then would come the true anti-body: the real individual who acted as the city's lifeline, its guardian.
In the case of London it was assumed and even 'proven' time and time again that the protector and guardian of London was a former agent of Black Air, a mutant with the ability to disperse knives of sunlight from the tips of his fingers.
The real truth of the matter was somewhat different however.
The real face of the city was a woman.
"Hallo, Erik." A smooth, feminine voice whispered from behind him.
He turned, slightly startled to be caught off guard before reminding him that he had no enemies here - only brothers and sisters in tragedy.
The woman stood alone in the empty streets, her dark hair billowing in the germ infested winds.
She made no attempt to protect herself, she knew that the city would not allow her to become sick.
She was its last line of defence, the only individual who could redeem it from the clutches of the illness.
She was the city's guardian and protector.
Her name was Romany Wisdom.

With a heavy heart, she removed her glasses, placing them down on the desk before her terminal and rubbed her eyes with her fingers.
It was dark out, the cold whispers of midnight sending a chill up her spine.
She hated being on Muir. It wasn't that she disliked the company of her friend and colleague, Moira MacTaggert, its just that Muir held so many memories for her...memories of a time when she was almost a different person.
She wondered about him frequently, wondered if he wanted her to hate him or just forget about him.
She wondered what he was doing now and whom he was seeing. She wondered if he was still alive.
With Brian and Meggan now officially retired, the reinstated Excalibur team had become more closely related to the X-Men to the point that now their job simply seemed to consist of enforcing American laws and morals on European countries - countries that didn't want or ask for they're particular brand of attention.
Along with Kurt and Piotr, she had been reassigned to the team, the sole English representative of which seemed to be the young hero, Union Jack.
She had appointed the dubious task of leading the team, something she had argued Kurt would have been more apt to deal with but no one listened to her.
Excalibur was now her responsibility.
Of course it might have helped if the authorities outside the X family actually paid any attention to her but as far as governments went she was ignored.
In most of Europe, Excalibur were regarded as the interfering eyes of the X-Men, something the 'locals' didn't take well to, and in some places they were even outlawed - their presence on the soil of certain countries being regarded as a violation of the state for which America would ultimately be blamed.
This volatile situation rendered them powerless.
And so they sat there, twiddling their thumbs whilst the countries they were appointed to enforce went to Hell around them.
Her back ached, the pain of spending several hours leaning forwards, hunched over a computer array finally dawning upon her.
Slowly, she leant back in the chair, gasping a little as her back protested.
The world around them was changing.
There was no longer any need, desire or reason that justified Excalibur's existence. In the face of what the world was becoming, in the face of what it had become, there was no longer any need for superheroes.
They were outmoded, left over relics from the Cold War and its government financed defence programmes.
She was no more suited to protect the world than someone like James Bond was.
The world needed to learn to solve its own problems, it was about time all the respective legions and pantheons of heroes and villains got real job.
She smiled to herself as she pictured Captain America and Reed Richards queuing up for their weekly dole cheques.
The computer screens continued their routine analysis of the situation in London, the growth of the illness and just how much of the city it covered.
Kitty Pryde however had given up for the night.
Quietly, she closed her eyes and allowed herself to drift into a dreamless sleep.
Around her, the computers continued to whisper secretively to one another.

The books crowded around them, row upon row and shelf upon shelf.
This was the domain of literature, a library of arcane knowledge. Here, every little spell, every little ritual had a price and the woman with the asking price was still behind on the rent.
Lehnsherr looked about, quite obviously impressed.
He had not seen such a collection of volumes since he passed through the Cambridge University Library of Shadows and Inconsistencies last.
In some ways he still missed Cambridge.
Not that the breeding grounds of the English middle and upper classes had made him feel much at home but like all cities, Cambridge also had a face and a protector.
Lehnsherr had made it his duty to introduce himself to the guardians of nearly every city the world over - from Glasgow to Bombay; he knew them each by name.
Some took his presence a little better than others, some actively sought to murder him, perceiving him as a threat to the industrial wastelands they had been born to protect.
He became aware of the young woman looking at him, her eyes hungry for the key to redeem the heartlands of her desire and childhood.
Quietly he turned, replacing the volume he had been reading, his white hair falling over the shadowy blue water of his eyes.
"Miss. Wisdom, your city is very ill." He announced. "I have travelled to the Parliament of Cities and visited each one in turn. Moscow and New York have said that we should allow you to pass along the natural course of architectural evolution, to allow your city to pass away and let a new city rise up in its place. Others, much closer to your home, such as Manchester and Cardiff have fond remembrance of this city's former guardians: architects, poets, Roman soldiers. As Berlin pointed out, we owe a debt to Nicholas Hawksmoor, the guardian before you and so it has been decided
that you shall be redeemed - hence my presence here."
Romany was quiet, not saying a word, just simply watching as he drew a small package from the inside of his jacket pocket.
It was wrapped in parchment, a bow of lace tied around it to bind it together.
"The Egyptian Sun God, Ra, gave me this to pass onto you. It was originally an artefact used in Mesopotamia to seal a new city's defences, it was later used by Allan Quartermain in 1898 to heal the city of corruption imposed by the God of natural creation, Amon, who claimed that all cities were an abomination to his true order of creation and to nature itself. This
will be the second time it has saved your city, Miss. Wisdom."
Carefully he transferred the Sun God's gift from the withered, rough skin of his own hands unto the comparatively soft and gentle skin of her own palms.
She took it, her fingers coiling up about the package and gently undoing the lace bow that Quartermain had tied around it after its last use.
"It is required that after use, you add a little piece of yourself to the package before sealing once more hence Quartermain's bow of lace, the last possession of his one true love. What you choose is entirely up to you, Miss. Wisdom, however I would advise that you make sure your choice is worthy and think very hard before selecting the offering."
She nodded quietly, the shelves of her occult bookshop bearing silent testimony to her reception of this new and most delicate artefact.
With gentle fingers, she prized the parchment away from the package, revealing an old wooden box.
Shaking slightly, she drew out the talisman from inside.
It was small, crafted from paper, an origami sculpture of a magpie.
"Beautiful isn't it?" Lehnsherr smiled.
"Yes. Yes it is." Romany whispered. "What shall I do with it?"
"Take it to the Thames, Miss Wisdom and allowing it to float through the course of the city. It shall bring purification with it, healing the city as it passes through. Once its task is completed, it shall return to you. Once this is done, returning it to its box and after adding your own tribute seal it once more for future generations. I shall return one day when another requires it."
"I don't know how to thank you." She said, the tears forming in her eyes.
"There is no need to thank me, Miss. Wisdom. Since your birth you have protected this city admirably. Your brother, with all his bluff has served as a distraction to the world but you have always been the true heart of this place. When your brother's first powers awakened, when he first took human life and was imprisoned, your father's sadness written upon the faces of all of your bloodline that was when we knew that you would be this city's saviour. The power which your brother wields so brutally
is not, as some may suggest, a gift of genetics. He is not a mutant. The power he wields is a curse, a test from Ra. He failed the Old One's test and proved himself unworthy to be Hawksmoor's successor. That was when the Parliament turned it attention to you. Be safe, Romany Wisdom - be safe and know that your city will be ssaved and forever in your debt. You have the
potential to be the greatest champion of any city on Earth."
She whispered her thanks; eyes still fixed upon the origami magpie.
When she finally looked up, several hours had passed and the emissary, Lehnsherr had left.
Cupping the magpie in her hands, she ventured outside, travelling down to the shores of the dark and filthy waters of the Thames and allowing the paper bird to float downstream.
Silently she watched it sale away.
She had already chosen her offering to the gods.

Kitty Pryde awoke with a start.
The sun was shining through the blinds and a gentle warmth played against her soft skin.
On the screens of her secretive machines, a different story was told. The city she had been prevented from helping was transfigured, alive once more: a new Heaven and a new Earth.
She smiled, tears dripping from her eyes and down her cheeks, leaving soft trails to indicate their gentle passage.
The city which she loved and, in turn, hated was redeemed.
Somewhere in its heart she could smell him on the city's breath, that horrible acrid taste of smoke and the hauntingly familiar accent.
Her lost love and the city he was sworn to protect was alive again in this, the springtime of his salvation.
She wept salty tears of joy.
Once more, he had journeyed back from the underworld and was breathing once more, no longer a pillar of salt.
The man who she had lost, the city she would never once tread within again had been restored, perhaps not to her but it was enough to know that it would continue to exist for all the centuries to come.
She sighed joyfully.
He that was once dead to her heart breathed once more. Romany Wisdom took the small red and white carton, turning it over in her hands. It had been opened, one cigarette removed from it but the rest where intact.
Carefully she placed it inside the old wooden box and then placed the magpie on top of it.
With gentle fingers she wrapped it in parchment once more and reattached Quartermain's bow.
Her sacrifice to the gods complete, Romany Wisdom placed the box beneath the counter of her shop and then stepped outside, locking the door from the outside.
On every street, on every cobbled stone in the city, there was nothing but gratitude.
London lived once more.

Thursday, July 06, 2000

X-Men #6 - Collecting Moss

X-Men #6 Marvel Universe: Transformed

"Collecting Moss"

Written by Karl V.

Plots By Dave C.

Cecelia managed to undo everything she had done. If Professor X had the time to lecture her, then she figured no one must need medical attention. Fortunately, just as she sat down to relax, she heard the creak of the front door.

"Doc, glad to see ya!" Drake immediately slid up to her and jumped on the loveseat.

Cecelia practically flipped over the side of the it in order to distance herself from the over jubilant X-Man. "Drake, do what you do best and chill."

The other Doctor of the X-Men, Hank McCoy, entered with a big blue furred grin. "As always, Bobby manages to get accosted within the first five seconds after entering the household."

Bobby gave Hank a roll of the eyes. The other X-men didn't seem as willing to share in the small festivities.

"What happened?" Cecelia pointed the question to Bobby, in the lowest whisper possible.

Bobby shook his head. "Not now, I'll fill you in later."

Scott seemed morose, as Jean held his hand in support.

"Don't worry, she's done this before. She'll be back." Jean patted Scott's shoulder.

Remy LeBeau looked at Jean, then lowered his head at the obvious mention of Rogue.

Cecelia instantly figured out it was Rogue. As Bobby had told her, Rogue had been the one most hurt by the revelation of Energon, and no doubt probably attempted to take it out on the robots.

"Where's the Professor?" Scott's concerned voice resounded through the front room.

Cecelia pointed in the direction of the Cerebro chamber. "He's down there...trying to find out what's up with our little purple ghost."

"La Morte returned, in here this time?" Remy's interest was piqued, as he had been the first one to spot the unusual spirit.

"Yes," Cecelia nodded, "I had a clearer shot than you though. It's human from what I can tell. I didn't have time to determine the sex."

Bobby's snicker ended up a hack as he was jabbed in the ribs by Cecelia. "Ouch."

"I do believe that Ms. Reyes meant the gender of the so-called "Spirit of the Mansion"." McCoy winked at Cecelia.

Scott looked to Jean. Jean tried a scan upon the house, and she could detect nothing.

"I don't sense anything now. Maybe, I should go help the Professor." Jean gave Scott a kiss, and then departed for the Cerebro chamber.

"Okay, I stay up here and be a chaperone for these two." Scott jokingly pointed to Reyes and Drake. Reyes instantly jumped over to the bigger couch, where McCoy had decided to sit as well.

Scott finally managed a smile on his face, as he had found a bit of distraction for his thoughts.

"Funny, don't you have a laser show you need to go to tonight?" Cecelia retorted.

Although Scott wasn't prepared for such an original badly timed zing, he tried to keep his light-hearted mood. "No, we did that bit already tonight."

Cecelia silently sat as she tried to figure if that was a comeback or what. She decided to change the subject. "Where's Wolverine?"

Upon cue, Logan walked bare-chested out with a towel covering the lower half. "I was with Puck and the gang for New Year's, then came back here. I did catch a whiff of you Doc, but I didn't bother to come out because wanted to finish cleaning up."

Remy looked at Logan. "The petite flew the coop."

"Figures, she was latching to ol' Magneto. I guess she's gone to her old ways."

Remy didn't care much for Logan's attitude and leapt right next to him. "No, she do what she always does when she angry. She flies away, then comes back and regrets it. She just need some air."

"Think what you want Cajun." Logan went upstairs to change, as Scott signaled Remy not to follow.

A knock at the door startled everyone. Scott went to the door and opened it. Rogue was standing outside with her arms crossed and head down.

"Come in." Scott smiled.

Rogue walked with a heavy heart. "I guess I should learn by now. The amount of times I've gone off and went away like that. But, I still have my opinions on what we should do."

Jean gave Remy a shake of her head, as Scott continued. "I do agree with some of what you said. But, with powerful robots like those, we have to decide on a more effective means to get them out of here."

"I know, the thing took a couple of my best shots and all I did was dent it." Rogue half smiled at Scott.

"Well, I guess that's my cue to make it ten minutes. If the strongest of you just dented those things, then you'll need a full doctor by your side. No offense Hank." Cecilia's offer startled everyone.

McCoy smiled. "None taken, and I would agree. But, you still need a nomenclature for your mutant ability and your stature. "

"In simple terms, you need a codename." Bobby translated for Cecelia.

Cecelia gave Bobby a look. "I did have to take other courses than medical to earn my doctorate, Drake."

Drake acted like a wounded child. "Okay, well then?"

"Do I really need to pick something?" Cecelia looked at the others.

Hank nodded. "Well, we could call you the Doctor, but we may be sued for copyright infringement."

"How's that again?" Cecelia asked.

Jean rolled her eyes. "Never mind Dr. Reyes. When it's time, I'm sure you'll come up with something. But, we will yell Medic if we need help right away."

After everyone else settled down for the New Year's night, McCoy went to go reread the documents to find any mention of Cybertronium in the files the X-Men had acquired.

"You could have come here personally Sinister. I don't care for holograms."

Sinister's "apparition" didn't reply. Mystique allowed an inward smile. She knew Sinister was arrogant and always made a habit of making an actual appearance whenever he could. Mystique would have to find out what is keeping Sinister's interest besides his visit here.

"And, I would be idiotic enough to possibly come and be in my own trap which I set. I think my hologram projection will serve a better purpose for now."

Mystique ignored the rebuttal. "Just get on with it."

"My dear, I believe we have been extremely ignorant. Fear is power, and no one is grabbing the power. For the longest time, we mutants have been feared. Where is the power? I say it is high time we get the power of this fear to our disposal."

"What about the X-Men, or whoever else wants to stand in our way?"

Sinister rolled his dark eyes. "We have always tried the direct approach my dear. Now, it's time for something more subtle. The government's anti-mutant propaganda campaign has instilled the worst kind of fear in flatscans, and no one bothers to use that fear to the advantage. We can do things without the X-men coming to save the day. After all, the Mafia can do things without the police coming to bother them."

Mystique hysterically laughed. "A mutant Mafia, I believe there is something called the Inner Circle."

"They are a bunch of misled arrogant fools who believe a small piece of parchment is power. No, it is time for something new, for something that uses the true power of fear. And, when they realize what they have created, it will be too late. We will have control of everything, and make their worst nightmares come true."

It was Mystique's turn to roll her eyes. "It's been all said and done before Sinister. What makes it so different now?"

"Would you believe a group of Sentient alien robots with the capability to transform? They are the ones that brought Energon here, and they will provide an excellent pause in mutant propaganda. Just enough for a small group of mutants to start gathering connections within certain circles of power. And, by the time it focuses back on mutants, we will be the ones making the headlines."

Mystique smiled. "Your lucky I saw the news on the X-Men Sinister. Otherwise, I would say no. Now, the question is: What part do I play in this scheme of yours ?"

Sinister tried to hide his smile of getting the hook, line, and sinker. "For now, just your approval. I will speak to you later. I have more pressing matters at the moment. {See Recent Cable issues for what Sinister has been up to...KV}."

The hologram disappeared and left Mystique to her own thoughts.


It took a couple days for McCoy to gather every little bit of information about Cybertronium. After briefing about half the team on the matter, they all sat in variant states of disappointment. The weakness that had been uncovered didn't turn out to be quite the ace up the sleeve as they were led to believe. Rather, it was the joker that laughed at the team to taunt them. Still, even the smallest weakness used to the fullest could prove effective, and the team began to discuss on how to use the information to the best means possible.

"So, I guess these things need something like suntan lotion, to protect them from the elements." Cecelia tried to put in the best analogy she could.

McCoy nodded. "A very rough human interpretation of it, but I guess it's our closest one. Good call Doctor."

"So, it ain't much of a weakness after all." Rogue's disappoint made her go silent.

Scott attempted to salvage the situation. "No, it's just finding out how they get burned. And, what would burn them."

"Well, according to what the big rig robot said, it almost seems like it would make them more susceptible to something." McCoy rubbed his chin in thought. "Maybe, it's like an extra skin they need to protect them against mechanically specific-driven viruses."

Rogue stood up, and had a sudden thought. "You know, while I was given that thing a lecture it probably didn't deserve, I brought up the Phalanx."

The X-Men were silent at Rogue's words. While Beast walked up to Rogue, she took a step back.

"My dear, you may have something there. If not the Phalanx, maybe something similar. Perhaps, we should call Cable and obtain a sample of his T-O virus. "

Scott shook his head. "It's too risky. If it got out to the wrong hands, we'd all be in a worse position than we're in now."

The doorbell rang and interrupted everyone's train of thought.

Bobby zoomed out of the kitchen, practically flying across the room. "I've got it!"

Scott turned to Jean. "Who is it?"

Before she could answer, Professor Xavier called her with a psychic message.

"Sorry honey, but you'll have to ask Bobby for a change. The Professor needs me for a moment." Jean gave Scott a kiss before going.

After a couple minutes of talking to the people outside, Bobby closed the door. "Oooookay."

"What is it?" Scott immediately sensed Bobby's look of concern.

"These group of guys and gals just came up, and said something about being sorry for what they did. They tried to make amends by tracking down some Prime Sentinel that killed a Private on a military instillation. {For the start of this conversation see the end of NeoKnights #6-KV}. They said they failed because she was with a team of mutants that protected her." Bobby shook his head.

"And, the proof is all in here, I think." Bobby held up a video tape. "Man, I would've actually preferred the Jehova's Witnesses." He mumbled more to himself.

A ring of the phone broke the silent pause, as McCoy picked up the phone. "Professor McCoy speaking, how may I help you? Oh my stars and garters, you can't be serious! My word what a wonderful..."

McCoy had to hold the phone away from his ear, as shouting boomed from it and into the room.

"Hank?" Scott crossed his arms, he knew things came in threes. This was the second.

Hank smiled and gently put the receiver back on his ear. "Please, my friend. I had no idea she meant this much to you. Yes, I will come immediately."

"Hank?" This time Scott practically demanded to know what was going on.

"Hold on." McCoy told his unknown friend on the other line.

Rogue, Logan, and Remy entered the room after hearing the yelling. Of course, Henry McCoy was so overwhelmed with the news, he didn't take care to notice their presence.

"We have hit upon a magnificent opportunity! My friend, The Spider-man, has recently been witness to a poor woman's tragic mishap with Energon. He believes her to be a mutant!" {The Call ended right before Spider-Man #6}.

Scott saw Rogue almost fall down the stairs. Here comes the third, he thought to himself.

"It's all true then. We're just some freaks created by an alien energy source." Rogue's words were barely whispered.

Hank realized his zealousness too late. "My dear, he simply called for a second opinion. We don't know for sure."

"The documents, this woman. Hank, we have all the proof we need. We're no god given gift, we were created by an alien energy." Rogue's tears began to well up as she tried to hide them.

"Great, so now we call ourselves the Fantastic Eight or something?" Logan stormed out of the house.

Scott tried to do the hopeless. "Look, settle down. Nothing is set in stone, yet."

"Don't ya get it Scott? I mean, it's all true. Those robots are responsible for us. What we've been through. I don't care if our government made it worse, but they are the ones who brought this damn Energon to Earth." Rogue's attempted to stop her tears.

Remy grabbed Rogue and turned her around. "Listen to you. You sounding just like Mags more and more, each time this Energon be brought up. I made my mistake with the massacre, and I sure don't want you to make a big mistake like mine. You keep trying to pin the blame on these iron giants, but you should know better. It make a demon out of you chere, just like that Ol' Eric. If you think by committing some sort of robotic genocide is gonna be cure for what you been through, you're dead wrong. In fact, you'd be a worse traitor than me."

Rogue promptly smacked Remy. "If that's what it makes me, then fine! We know everything! There's no more mystery, and the time has come for someone to pay the penance! And, for me, I'm starting with those robots! Whether they're actually alive or not!"

Rogue flew out before Scott could intervene. Scott picked up a psychic message from his wife.

Sorry honey, you and the Professor are a bit too late.

Minutes seemed like hours as Charles and Jean finally made it upstairs to the main room.

"What happened?" Jean asked Scott.

Logan came back into the house, slamming the door behind. "It's simple Red. We're all the governments lackeys. We have a team of mutants who have a killing Prime Sentinel on their team, all caught on tape which Iceman's holding there. The Beast has a bead on someone whose just been made a mutant by that Energon. And, Rogue's gone and flew off to join Magneto's Rapid Anti-Robot Assault Team."

Scott muttered in Jean's ear. "What he said."

The Professor tried to remain calm. "Hank, tell your friend that Scott and I shall accompany you. If it is true, then I must see it first hand for myself. Scott will come with us, just in case this is some type of elaborate trap."

"You know, I like it better when you tell me about this stuff, more then when it actually happens in front of your face." Cecelia told Drake.

The Professor gave Dr. Reyes a look which made her jump. "Such is the life of the X-Men, Doctor. Now, since three of our members will be gone, we will require one of your seven minutes. I have seen to it that a suitable uniform has been made for you."

"Yes, sir." Dr. Reyes took the uniform from Jean.

"Logan, I want you to look over Bobby's tape. I trust you can spot military videos as well as military documents."

After managing to calm down a bit, Logan lit a cigar. "I can do that for ya Chuck."

"What about Rogue?" Remy finally managed to get something out.

The Professor looked at Remy with a compassionate gaze. "I am sorry. We must let Rogue choose her own path."

"Even if that means teaming up with Eric? You gonna let one of your own slip again?" Remy's eyes were as cold as his statement.

The Professor turned stoic. "If she is to truly turn sides just like Colossus once did, she will realize the err of her ways. I just pray that she does not travel down that road far enough to not turn back."

Remy walked out of the mansion, with his question obviously not answered to his satisfaction.

Cecelia walked over to Bobby. "So whose going against this mutant team?"

"Me, you, Phoenix, Wolverine, maybe Gambit, uhh...I guess Rogue if Gambit manages to talk some sense back into her."

Cecelia looked at Bobby. "Well, I hope we can get ourselves together, since it looks like everything is going down hill. We need to be rock solid if we're facing even one Prime Sentinel, plus a bunch of mutants we know nothing about."

"Well, there's always a compromise. Maybe we can collect moss." Bobby smiled at the quick thought of the analogy.

"Cute," Cecelia said matter-of-factly, "but only one problem. We're still going downhill."


She flew so fast that the wind caused friction burn. Rogue stopped in the middle of the air, as she cried heavily into her hands. She looked up to see a light, a most wonderful brilliant purple shining array of beauty. A single small hand stretched out from the glow. Rogue immediately took off her glove and hoped to make the briefest contact in an effort to find out who this strange person was. As Rogue's hand came within a centimeter, the figure disappeared before her eyes.Now, she had a bigger dilemma on her hands. Report this back to the X-Men and face them again, or still go on her own way. Her thoughts went back to when her powers first manifested. Someone died because she didn't have knowledge of what her capabilities were. Now, she had a choice again. Someone may die if she doesn't impart the knowledge of this appearance, and the fact that someone started to actually come through. Besides, she could always leave once she reported it.

Sunday, June 11, 2000

X-Men #5 - Starting things off with a bang…

X-Men Marvel Universe Transformed #5

"Starting things off with a bang..." Part 2

Written by Karl V.

Plots by Dave C.

"Excuse me Mr. LeBeau, but did you just say get him?" The Beast had the "we should wait for the others" look.

Remy gave a half nod, his French Quarter accent grew strength due the tension of the predicament before him. This was certainly one situation that three lone X-Men couldn't handle, but it didn't stop the Ragin' Cajun. "That was what I said Monsieur Beast. We don't want Mags tearing up those aliens because we don't even know what they made of, and whatever it is might hurt everyone else..."

"Yes, the documents I perused stated Energon is quite explosive." The Beast quickly added.

The Iceman pondered for a moment. "I can chill out the robots. You two handle old bucket head."

"That is hoping those robots aren't built out of a cold resistant alloy." The Beast gave a sheepish grin as Drake gave a dark look.

"Enough of the bickerin', we need to stop this right now before those tin cans become the biggest grenades in New York City." Remy slipped some cards in his hands and charged them up, and ran toward Magneto's direction.

The Beast followed as the Iceman headed in the direction of the two fallen robots.

Magneto prepared to make a full assault on the tallest of the robots. The Grim Reaper raised his hand and prepared to extend his touch of death to it. The robot stood up, as it's optics blinked back a bright blue.

"Please, even though I am...currently incapacitated, I beseech you not to do this thing." Prime's eyes blinked out again. "You stop you bad mutant!"

Magneto didn't even hear the first part. "I will show you what you made us."

He released a full blast at Prime, as everyone stopped in their tracks. The X-men expected an immense explosion, and Magneto expected the robot to be falling apart piece by piece before his eyes. The second time this night, everyone was surprised.

"My stars and garters, it stood up to one of Magneto's most powerful attacks." The Beast was wide eyed with awe.

Gambit tried to hide the obvious concern. "Don't fret now, Mags just assumed that heap of scrap can bend to his whim with the simplest of his attacks. Let's get him before he decides to make up for it."

The two continued to sneak their way to get a good position on Magneto.

The robot's optics blinked back to blue. "We did not intend for this to happen. We came before your species fully evolved. Please understand that what was done was not by us. Please cease your attack, as it will harm the innocents of this city."

"Let's rush Mags before that robot has another glitch." The Cajun ordered the flipping blue Beast.

The beast simply acknowledged with a cannonball straight on Magneto's back. The Beast found the usual electromagnetic force field bubble, instead of his mark. Magneto turned to see the furred X-Man.

"Why is it that Charles' children must come out and play at the wrong time?" Magneto prepared to blast McCoy away with a em pulse. Magneto had no chance as a big huge hand grabbed him.

"As I said before, you must desist with..." Again the lights went dim in the optics of Prime, "...your bad attitude because you'll have a fat chance with me fat head!"

Ironhide had finally fully reactivated, only to discover he was encased in ice up to his head. "Hey, what's the big deal?"

Drake formed a pillar right by Ironhide's face. "I am. You can call me Iceman. And, we're trying to stop that other human from hurting your leader more than he already has been. It's obvious he has a serious glitch. So stay here and chill out for a moment. We humans can handle this without your help."

Ironhide was attempting to free himself, but the ice was incredibly dense. It would take sometime to break it, so it gave Ironhide no choice but to agree with the human's demands for now. "Alright, but I don't have to like it."
Somewhat satisfied with the response and curious why the robot had a Southern drawl, the Iceman turned to see how he could help his fellow team mates. He only saw the Master of Magnetism being treated like some prized rag doll in a monster movie flick. Iceman couldn't help but have his mouth drop in awe. It wasn't the fact that the robot had a grasp, but the fact it was keeping it. Of course, this situation was entirely new for Magneto as well, and the Master of Magnetism acted appropriately for his demeanor.

"UNHAND ME!" With great exertion, Magneto forced the hand of Optimus Prime open and flew a safe distance away from the robot. Magneto sank to the ground, the very wind had been squeezed from him. Gambit and the Beast went to his side.

"Just in case you didn't notice, the robot is trying to be nice." Gambit surprised Magneto by offering a hand of support.

Magneto spat a small bit of crimson to the ground. "I don't need your help Judas."

"Fine be that way." After gazing back up to view the scene, Gambit looked at the other robot trapped to the building by what seemed a huge iceberg. "Look like Drake filled his end."

The Beast's offer was not turned down. "I guess the Y2K bug effects alien robots, instead of our computer systems."

Humor was ignored as Magneto rose into the air. "I don't care how protected these machines are against magnetic forces. But, I will find out the extent of their counter agents."


{Dave scribed this part- KV}

"Okay. This had better be good." Mystique growled quietly. She knew well enough that you never show any sign of weakness in any given situation. As long as you seem in control you still have some. She stood defiantly in the dark and slowly turned around in an attempt to canvas the area. All of Mystique's instincts were warning her that she wasn't alone. Mystique had received a message sent to one of her falsified identities, Mallory Brickman. The message gave only a time and place. This alias is one of Mystiques most influential guises. Mallory Brickman was the wife of the powerful senator Robert Brickman, a man who held a great deal of power in the White House. Until Mystique 'replaced' her that is.

Normally Mystique would not take such a personal risk as to walk into something that could be a trap, but she was intrigued. Not only had somebody had managed to discover her true identity, but they also mentioned a word that she had heard her 'husband' worry about recently. Mystique has based her life as a mutant spy upon the fact that knowledge is power. And the shape shifting mutant wanted to know everything she could about "Energon".

"Now really, Mystique." An almost inhuman voice echoed from every angle, taunting the blue skinned woman. "I'm surprised how you've managed to live this long. You have the ability to manipulate your cells and yet you haven't altered your eyes to see in the dark yet!"

Mystique cursed herself for making such an amateur mistake. She quickly regained her cool.

"What do you want, Sinister?"

A low chilling noise responded Mystique's question. "That's more like it. I'd hate to think that I've chosen the wrong person to deal with."

Mystique's lip twisted as she saw Sinister finally appear from the darkness. Sinister is a mystery to everyone. Mystique had suspicions that Sinister was over 100 years old. She had found out that Sinister was driven by a fascination of genetics and had been observing certain mutants in particular. He probably had numerous identities in place as well. Sinister was a manipulator Mystique had realized. Well, it takes one to know one.

Sinister walked up to Mystique and looked sneered at her condescendingly. Mystique returned his gaze defiantly. He smiled and continued to slowly pace around her.

"If you just called me here to watch you pose, I'll be greatly disappointed."

Sinister stroked his pale chin and started to smile, revealing his demonic, pointed teeth. "Raven Darkholme, I propose a deal that will be mutually beneficial..."


"Finally, the calvary has arrived." The elated Beast greeted the other X-Men a smile, as he gave a thumbs up to the Generation X kids that brought them here.

Cyclops instantly assessed the situation, as Hank had briefed them earlier on the Sentient Robots that were powered by the very Energon that made humans mutants. There was no doubt Magneto was attempting to vent his rage on these two creatures. It appeared that Madrox, the Multiple Man, had successfully kept the crowd at bay with his duplicates. Also, Drake had contained one robot with a huge formation of frozen water.

Cyclops realized he was taking too long to assess the full situation as the silent Rogue whizzed right by him. Damn, I hope he doesn’t get to her like he did Colossus.

"You ain't doing one thing against those big overgrown Sentinels." A heavy Southern accent filled the air, as Rouge floated right next to Magneto.

Magneto's brow furled in slight irritation. "We should join forces and destroy these things before they cause more wanton destruction."

"I don't care Eric, like I said you ain't doing a thing to them." Rogue's rage was apparent, as she clenched her fist.

Magneto tried to hide a smile, as he knew her ire was not meant for him. "So what is taking you so long my dear?" He gestured to the big red and blue robot.

"I..." She hesitated as she stared at it.

Optimus Prime's optics blinked out again. "Please forgive me mutant lady."

Rogue bowed her head, then rose it slowly. "It's all the same... The Kree, The S'hiar, The Dire Wraiths, The Skrulls, and the Phalanx. All of ya damn aliens have a conquest complex, and I don't care if there is a good or bad robot. All I care is that you aren't here to make more lives miserable."

The blue glow to the optics returned. "If that is how you feel, then do what you must." Optimus gestured with open hands.

"Okay." One simple word as she wanted to reserve her strength for her hits. She bolted toward Optimus and released a volley of fists at the giant robot.

Optimus reeled as his face was being dented bit by bit by Rogue.

"Hey, cut that out ! You might actually hurt him!" Ironhide was now fully struggling to get out of his titanic ice cube.

Optimus' eyes faded out again, as a stare of fear came over the robot. "You're a bad mutant lady now! Stop trying to hurt me!" Optimus made a full swat at Rogue, as the others gasped in horror.

Fortunately, Optimus was a very poor aim in his condition as the huge hand whizzed right below the dodging mutant.

"I ain't gonna hurt ya, I'm just gonna tear you apart for what you did to me." Rogue continued with her attack, as Optimus became her punching bag for her rage.

Optimus continued to stand tall, or wave like a child trying to shoo away a stinging wasp depending on his state of logic process. Magneto watched with somewhat twisted satisfaction as the other X-men tried to figure out an even worse situation: How to stop one of their own from doing what Magneto started.

"Jean, any success at tapping the robot's mind since it is sentient?" Cyclops feared the negative response.

Obviously struggling with the unique situation at hand, she shook her head. "It's like trying to read Bastion's thoughts. I don't get a thing. We need a hacker and not a mind reader."

The X-Men's leader sighed. He didn't know how long the robot would wait for Rogue to stop or act in self defense. Obviously, this robot was malfunction despite it's sentience, acting like a coin that is constantly being flipped by an unknown source. Quickly guided by instinct, he released a wide beam of crimson light between Optimus Prime and Rogue. Rogue turned to see Cyclops' eye visor glow with another fully charged blast at the ready.

"Cyke, don't make me choose sides. I don't want to be your enemy but they are the ones responsible for all of our troubles."

Rogue's statement didn't phase Scott, as he stood ready to release his next optic beam. "I'm not making you choose anything, but if you don't stand down now I will choose to stop you."

Magneto took the opportune moment to make a move. "Rogue, I think it is time you choose. Do you choose to let the government use these robots to further their own agendas, or do we stop what they have started so long ago?"

She came to an empty house, again . Well, she thought, at least she had furniture to greet her this time. Cecelia Reyes had finally decided to drop by the mansion, for some odd reason she couldn't fathom {The first time was when Bastion had unceremoniously atomized everything in the house..}. She had lucked out, and got off early for New Year's Eve. She didn't know why, she just hoped that the small clinic she worked at had not found out she was a mutant. She shelved the bad thought for the moment, and decided to start calling out names.

"Bobby?" She cursed herself for letting that name come first. After sharing a day with the Iceman, she found out there was really nothing cold to him. She tried to shake the feeling of an actual chemistry that might be there. The doctor falling in love with a patient was something all medical students are warned about, but she wasn't a psychologist. Perhaps, her profession extended beyond the scalpel that day. She didn't want to even contemplate the perhaps not.

She continued through the whole roster that she knew. With no luck, she plunked down on a love seat. Again, she thought too much about the implication of choosing the LOVE seat. She quickly did a hop, skip, and a jump to the couch and laid down. Frustrated with her confused emotions, and the fact they were even confusing made her cross her arms and pout.

"Why did I let myself slip like that?" She mumbled out loud.

She looked around to see if the usual timely entrance of someone coming in and overhearing her happened. She didn't even have luck with that. She saw the remote stuck in the crevice of the couch cushions, and turned on the TV.

"We now interrupt programming again, to bring you up to date on the mutant attack in New York City. A group of mutants, including the terrorist Magneto and the X-Men.."

Cecelia frowned at the X-Men being dubbed terrorists, and hoped she would indeed have a complete night off from healing the wounded.

"...and strange robots which had the capability to transform into vehicles. There is no conformation whether this was an elaborate setup, or the actual thing. Many movie producers have denied any doing in the actions, and have stated what has happened was actual. The Government has, of course, denied any involvement as well. All that can be said is that what has happened may be a precursor to something more, if the government has gone to such great lengths as to hide their newest Sentinel forces in the guise of vehicles. Or perhaps the greatest hoax initiated by a special effects artist wanting to get attention..."

Cecelia turned off the TV. She instantly looked through the mansion for medical supplies, preparing for the worst case scenario imaginable. Of course, she remembered about what Bobby told her about these robots. She didn't quite expect something to happen this early, of course she reprimanded herself for the thought. Even though she was an X-Man for "five minutes", she learned just how fast crap happens when you decide to fight the good fight.

It was while making the furniture a veritable makeshift menagerie of hospital beds, that she caught a little hint of a glow. She went to the remote again, thinking she must have pressed the power button too long. She saw the TV which was indeed turned off, and she noticed the glow was further away then she thought. Instinctively, she surrounded her body with her psioplasmic force field. She walked tip-toed and tried not to make the wood floors creak while she stepped. The glow grew more pronounced, as she whispered a Latino expletive. Here she was in the face of danger, by herself. She silently hoped that Bobby might save the day, if anything came out of that glow. Then she cursed again for wanting the winter bound knight in armor to come to her rescue.

She finally made it as the light from the glow cast a faint pall purple across the kitchen. She looked and saw a figure in the middle of the glow. She couldn't quite make it out, but it was something humanoid as far as she could tell.

"Help Me, help me please...." The figure instantly disappeared.

Cecelia was completely enthralled by the oddity of it all. A little neon humanoid did more to distract her attentions from Bobby and the other imperiled X-Men. She felt the ground, and examined it. She would do no good here, and would have to report this to McCoy.

No sooner then she stood that her brain was hit with words.

Welcome Cecelia, please excuse my tardiness. I didn't realize you were here.

She turned to see the bald headed man in a wheelchair come right next to her.

"You may can the mental siesta in my head, and actually speak to me...sir."

Charles Xavier smiled, a rarity when he had such words spoken to him before. Usually, he would lecture the new recruit, but he decided otherwise. "As you wish. I was down in the room with Cerebro, and had the Psi-shields up. That is why I didn't detect your presence here right away."

"Well, since you were doing whatever god knows what, the X-Men are in trouble..."

Charles nodded half way through her sentence. "I know child. I picked up your troubled thoughts, as well as theirs."

"Well, then I guess you know what I saw, since you can pick my brain."
The Professor folded his hands and rested his head on them. "Yes, quite an unusual experience. It was the reason I was down there. Gambit had told Beast about the odd occurrence, and I hoped to see if I could detect anything with Cerebro."


The Professor was starting to get a bit irritated at her posturing, but his concentration was more on his fellow students and the unusual phenomenon. "I detected a familiar presence, but could get nothing more. It was like a flash of thought, then nothing."

Cecelia shrugged. "I guess it's typical for here. I have things set up for the X-Men. I can handle any medical injuries, and you can go back to chasing that ghost..."

The Professor's face furled at the audacity of a pupil giving him an order. "Need I remind you, dear girl that I am still the proprietor of this house. And as such, I have every right to consider an unauthorized intruder on my domain."
Cecelia gulped at the thought of being kicked out like this.

The Professor continued, as he smiled inwardly at the reaction he wanted her to have. "Now, I suggest you do not bark orders to the person who has invited you into his home. However, your suggestion.." He was real careful to emphasize the word, "...seems the best path to follow at this point of conjecture."

She wasn't quite sure how to react, but the Professor took yet another opportunity.

"You are welcome." He began to push the wheelchair back to the study.


"I'm sorry Scott, but Eric does have a point. As long as they're around, the government is going to keep trying to pin the blame on us for whatever happens."

"You're exactly right Rogue, and that is why you need to stop your attack. They may have even have gone as far to set up this very situation."

It looked as though a light bulb had been turned on over Rogue's head, but Cyclops had not congratulated himself yet. He used the brief moment of respite to his advantage.

"Look, we can blame the tool for our condition, we need to blame those who used it. And, they are all most likely too old or already dead for any real justice to be done. What we need to do now is stick together, so we can prevent any further blame from being placed on us. Or else the dream will fail and we will continue to live this nightmare." Cyclops extended his hand in the offer.

Rogue looked at her fellow team mates then at Magneto. Magneto didn't give any retaliatory rhetoric and stood silent as he observed the robot who just stood there waiting for them to make a decision.

"Cyclops, the damage has been done. The tool will always be used against us. And as long as they are here, we'll always get the short end of the stick. Eric, don't be smiling so fast, because you're wrong too. You always point that finger at people or things trying to repel something that died a long time ago. I'll gonna weigh my options and choose what's best for me, because that's what we all should do. And, right now I think the best thing is to get these blasted robots back to where ever they came from, if force by necessary. And, I guess I can't be a party to either of you two, because you are both at the extreme ends of the issue. I need something in the middle, and no one fits the bill. So, I guess that's my cue to leave."

Gambit opened his mouth to say something, but decided not to do so since it would be a futile effort. Rogue flew off into to the horizon, leaving the other X-Men one more concern.

Magneto didn't care whether the robot was an involuntary tool or not, but the fact of him being a possible pawn for a government set up grated more on him. "She is right, and you know this. We should join forces and dispatch of these "tools" before the government uses them against us."

"We are not tools for anyone's use." Optimus finally interrupted.

Magneto looked at the robot as though it didn't even rate a response. "I did not ask your opinion. Not matter how sentient you may seem, you will always have a rudimentary program running your thoughts."

"We all have our defaults. Yours happens to be the very persecution you experienced to those you humans without special capabilities." Optimus' optics blinked out.

"Don't say another thing, mon feur." Remy shouted to the robot, as he dreaded what might come out next.

"J'em appelle Optimus Prime." Like a little kid, he extended his large blue hand for a shake.

The former thief mockingly saluted to the robot. "I'm afraid I'm too petite to shake your hand friend. But, merci for the offer. And, the name is Gambit"

Magneto was fortunately caught off guard with the unusual exchange between Gambit and Optimus Prime, then Prime's retort. "Tell Charles that I will not allow these robots to be continued to be used against us. As I have told him many times before, he will be the death of his own dream."

Magneto flew off into the distant horizon, as a whir, click, and hiss of gears and hydraulics were heard. Optimus had returned to his truck form.

But, it did not stop the continuing deterioration in his logic chips. "I stopped the bad mutant!"

The X-Men all couldn't help at least a half smile at the robot's antics.

"Yeah Optimus, and I'm gonna stop the rest of these fleshy creatures for you!" A smaller red walking robot had entered the fray.

"Gears, these are our friends! They're not bad mutants! They're X-Men!"

Gears grumbled. "I'm always too late for anything. I really hate this. If not some Spider creature, then some really weird flesh creatures. This is annoying."

"Why, they even have graced the presence of Spider-Man. He must really be talking a blue streak about alien robots being here on Earth." McCoy gave a nudge to Iceman who had slid up next to the Beast.

"Bluestreak isn't here Earth creature, and I'm glad for it. I don't need to hear his excessive vocalizing about himself." Gears transformed and rolled up next to Prime.

The Beast watched with intense curiosity. "Is it me, or did that one take a little longer to change back to his vehicular form?"

As if to answer his question, a beep came over Optimus Prime's communicator. A long pause, and Prime produced an answer, albeit in an odd way: As though he were answering someone else's question {See Transformers #6 for the other side of the conversation}.

"Cybertronium makes us work better, quicker, and we don't have bad things happen to us."

Cyclops turned to Beast, who gave an indirect nod. Their attentions turned toward the red robot as he walked closer to them.

"Now, that was one cold shoulder you gave me." Ironhide stated as he transformed back to his red van form.

Iceman smiled. "I could have done worse, but you seemed like such a nice robot."

"Well, what do we do now oh gracious leader?" The Beast queried Cyclops.

Cyclops thought for a moment. "The situation here is done, let's try to contain the damage done for now."

The others nodded in agreement, as Madrox and the Generation X kids finally came up to the X-Men's side.

"Oh man, I really wish I didn't have to play crowd control. I wanted a shot at those overgrown Tonka toys." Madrox made his duplicates disappear with a snap of his finger.The X-Men gave a half smile, while the Transformers started to depart among the regular traffic.