X-Men Issue 2
By David Cousens
Cyclops ran through the corridors as fast as he could. He allowed his feet to slide across the highly polished floors so that he could turn the corners more effectively. His visor was indicating that he should turn left, the largest majority of heat signatures were coming from that direction.
Cyclops’ visor was only set to follow heat signatures, not direct him around the maze of the complex. He cursed himself for not thinking of this earlier. He stood with a wall composed of a titanium alloy blocking him from his teammates.
A beam of crimson erupted from Scott Summers eyes. The wall began to slowly glow light red. Unfortunately, his mutant power wasn’t an effective solution to get through the wall in time. His power was often a precision tool; Scott Summers required a less subtle approach.
"Rogue? I need you on my location NOW!" Cyclops ordered.
"Acknowledged." The southern female’s voice answered across the comm.-badge in Cyclops’ belt.
Cyclops grimaced in frustration. It had been over two minutes since the psychic link between the infiltration squad consisting of Gambit and Wolverine, and the rest of the X-Men had been unexpectedly terminated.
What the hell just happened? Gambit and Wolverine got past every security measure successfully, I knew I should’ve been there...
Rogue flew through the corridors with remarkable precision at breakneck speed. Her instincts had taken over. If Cyclops had called her specifically it meant that he thought there could be some serious trouble. Serious trouble could mean that Wolverine and Gambit could be dead.
With an almighty thud, Rogue collided with a wall.
Wake up Sugah! Y’all can’t be daydreamin' now!
Rogue reasserted her focus. Suspecting the worst wasn’t going to help anyone. Distraction could be fatal.
The beautiful southern mutant jumped back into the air. She turned around another two passageways and then saw her leader. Cyclops instantly outstretched his hand and motioned towards the impenetrable wall.
"Down there." He said with a hint of urgency.
Without a word Rogue continued to fly straight towards the wall, fists clenched. The wall buckled as soon as she impacted with it. Rogue moved through the thick metal wall like a hot knife through butter. Cyclops followed down the makeshift tunnel Rogue was creating.
Suddenly an unsettling high pitch noise came through Cyclops’ comm.-badge. He looked down at it while running.
Before Cyclops had time to determine what was possibly causing enough interference to block both electrical and telepathic transmissions, Rogue gasped in surprise.
"What’s he doing here?"
Cyclops was just about to ask whom Rogue she was talking about, when he jumped out of the tunnel and saw for himself.
"Magneto." He said acerbically.
Magneto, the mutant master of magnetism was floating in mid air, a blue aura illustrating his immense power. With the power of a god, the self appointed savior of mutant kind effortlessly deflected fire from several automated security drones, squadrons of armed guards and the complex’s numerous in-built defense mechanisms.
Cyclops couldn’t believe what he was looking at. There was a full-scale riot going on. Clearly the complex was a lot bigger underground. Cyclops inwardly repeated Rogue’s sentiments.
Rogue took to the air and started to attack the security forces. Cyclops’ mind began racing. This had nothing to do with the X-Men, was she helping Magneto because of feelings she still had for him? Cyclops breathed a sigh of relief. He saw both Wolverine and Gambit lashing out in all directions. Cyclops unleashed a blast of concussive force from his visor.
"’Bout time you got here, non?" Gambit smiled. Cyclops had to admire how even in the midst of a hectic firefight that encompassed an entire room the size of a conference hall; Gambit still had his overwhelming charisma.
Lasers, bullets and projectiles were hurtling in every direction.
"Gambit, what the hell happened here?" Cyclops asked while picking of attackers with his eye-beams.
Gambit flipped over a guard, kicked two others and landed perfectly.
"Everyt’ing was goin’ to plan until we lost the psychic link. Then alarms start going off, security start swarming and we realize that old bucket head was crashin’ our party." Gambit threw a handful of charged cards, which detonated an automated security drone.
"Cyke, he was surprised to see us here! I t’ink he’s here for the same reason we are." Gambit paused for a moment and then smiled cockily while he floored someone by hitting the person with his quarterstaff without looking. "Guess he’s just not as good as we are."
Cyclops’ looked through the chaotic maelstrom of bodies and gunfire uneasily. This was supposed to be a simple break in. Gambit and Wolverine sneak in, find out if there’s anything to the claims that professor Xavier received and get out. Not only had they not expected their arch nemesis to turn up, they certainly hadn’t predicted a firefight of this magnitude.
Watching the battle was unsettling. Magneto had been missing, the X-Men had assumed that the young mutant Joseph was actually their arch enemy, but just before Joseph left he had alluded to doubts of his identity. When Joseph contacted them to verify his doubts it had worried all of the X-Men. Magneto had chosen to lie low, which meant he was planning something. What reason did he have for suddenly reappearing?
Wolverine and Rogue were holding their own in the ensuing anarchy. Magneto was unloading a torrent of energy and holding the majority of the forces at bay.
Scott Summers quickly assessed the situation. The mission still needed to be completed. The X-Men needed to know the truth about themselves. He needed to know.
"Wolverine! Rogue! Minimize the casualties. We’re not here to kill anyone!" Cyclops shouted over the near deafening noises from the combat.
Wolverine snarled at Cyclops’ order. "Yeah sure Cyke. I’ll just see if they want a game of poker instead!"
Cyclops ignored Wolverine’s sarcasm.
"Gambit? Follow me!"
Cyclops jumped into the middle of the chaos and disappeared.
Gambit’s dark read eyes squinted in an attempt to understand what was going on. Then he noticed Cyclops on his periphery, sneaking out through a door.
Cyclops and Gambit had managed to leave the battle undetected. They headed down an unmanned passageway.
"What’s the plan"
"We’re going to do what the X-Men always do." Cyclops said determinedly. "We’re going to complete our mission."
Gambit smiled inwardly.
"According to the watermarked coordinates we received, the documents should be just around this corner!"
Both X-Men slowed to a stop. The only thing the two X-Men could see was an apparently abandoned corridor. Dusty, dingy and apparently disused.
"Hmm. Sure looks quiet, don’t it?" Gambit remarked flippantly.
Cyclops looked around. "Oh yeah, secret facilities in the middle of nowhere with the security forces the size of Cuba never use all of the rooms."
Gambit smiled at his leader. You want to do it?"
Cyclops turned right to face a wall with a small scratch on it and smirked. "Sure, why not?"
Cyclops employed his mutant power against the false wall. It crumbled away almost effortlessly.
"Well, that sure worked better than the first wall!"
"Stay alert. There may still be active security systems around here."
The two X-Men slowly and silently walked through the hidden corridor. The darkness intensified, making it hard to see anything. Gambit got a card from his pocket and gave it a low bio-kinetic charge. The glow from the card was enough to light the immediate area, but not enough to give their position away. They continued down the long passage, which was actually starting to feel like a tunnel.
There was a small light now, coming from the far end of the passageway. They had made it to the secret room.
As they entered the room both X-Men looked around the room for any traps.
The room was small and obviously not visited frequently. It had a very sterile, clinical air. The room was composed of metal walls and had a line of cabinets stacked up against the far side. There was surprisingly only one computer in the whole room.
"Nothing. They must’ve been a bit overconfident." Cyclops said, slightly bemused.
Gambit’s stomach twisted. He realized that if they didn’t expect anyone to get this far, then they obviously didn’t intend for this information to be leaked. He hoped that the message didn’t confirm that mutants were used a cover up for something else. He had to.
"Dis’ don’ make sense." Gambit looked over his shoulder anxiously. "I ain’t ever busted into a place ‘dis well guarded and found the grand prize open for the takin’."
Cyclops nodded in agreement. "I know." He brushed back a strand of hair. "It’s too easy."
Gambit squinted at an apparently innocent looking bookshelf. Instinctively, he pulled out his quarterstaff and thrusted it into the shelf. There was a violent sound of metal crunching against metal. Cyclops spun around to see a very confused Gambit staring into the wall.
Gambit hesitated. "Whoever wanted us to find this information helped us more than we thought."
Cyclops remained silent. Gambit continued.
"I realized d’ere was a hidden camera in this wall, so I smashed it, Cajun style." Gambit looked over his shoulder at Cyclops. "The camera’s power was cut! See?"
Gambit stood back to give Cyclops a clear view. The punctured hole in the wall exposed the circuitry that was connected to the camera. Although there was not much left of the camera, there should have been sparks coming from the wiring.
There was a moment of awkward silence. Scott Summers brushed his hands through his hair and sighed.
It has to be a lie. It has to...
"Come on. We’ve got to get moving." Cyclops’ voice did not betray his emotions. "You start looking through those cabinets, I’ll see if the computer has anything."
The young charismatic mutant nodded and retrieved a lock-pick from his pocket. Cyclops looked at him quizzically.
Gambit smiled in acknowledgement. "It’s all about style..."
"If you do not desist, you will all suffer. Immensely."
Magneto’s words somehow managed to be heard above the chaos. A few of the security guards flinched in fear. They didn’t ask to become part of a massacre. Until today, they had all been grateful for their high paying yet simple job. The most they had done before was scare some of the local wildlife off from the complex. It was safe to say that none of them had ever gone head to head with a god.
Rogue was beginning to panic. At this moment she didn’t care whether the government had been manipulating mutants for decades. She didn’t have the luxury to.
Rogue had spent some time with Magneto in the Savage Land once. They became friends. They were almost something more...
She knew how he acted. She remembered how quickly Erik Magnus Lensherr turned from the passionate man she cared for into a savage, cold being that mercilessly stole the life of Zaladane.
Worse, she could see that he was going to snap very soon if something wasn’t done.
Magneto raised his arm majestically, bright blue energy flaring around him.
"So be it." Magnus’ eyes thinned. An intense look of hate came across his face. "You have ignored my offer for help, and consequently doomed yourselves."
Rogue flew up in front of the domineering mutant.
"Magnus, you don’t have to do it like this!" Rogue pleaded.
The contempt in Magneto’s eyes faded as he looked at the beautiful young woman.
"Don’t I Rogue? If my sources are accurate, I—we have every right to destroy every human on this planet!"
Rogue’s mouth opened in grim realization. "You know..."
Magneto enveloped Rogue with his force field that effortlessly deflected his attackers relentless barrage
"I received an anonymous message which detailed some very...disturbing facts that could challenge everything that we have been lead to believe."
Rogue looked down to the floor, fear and doubt rendering her blind to the onslaught coming from below.
"Rogue?" Magneto caressed her cheek tenderly. He moved her head gently so that she was looking him in the eyes. "That’s why you’re here too isn’t it?" He said softly.
Rogue met his eyes and her lip trembled.
Magneto held Rogue against him. "Do not fear, we shall get through this. Together."
Wolverine hacked away at the security guards with his claws, ensuring that none of the wounds he inflicted were fatal. He looked up to check on Rogue.
A low guttural sound began to come from Wolverine. "What?"
Cyclops spun around from on his chair and faced Gambit urgently.
"Dis has all of the keywords on the front cover summary."
Cyclops walked hurriedly to the cabinet that Gambit was positioned by.
Gambit swallowed and slowly handed the folder to Cyclops. Cyclops placed the folder delicately on the table.
"Project: Dark Glass."
Cyclops paused before opening the folder.
"I don’t think this was ever meant to be seen." He remarked.
He took a deep breath and then opened the file. A quick inspection revealed that it contained the same documents as Professor Xavier read. Cyclops slammed the file closed. His heart was racing.
"Okay, we have what we came for, let's go!"
"Scott! Wait!" Gambit ran back to the cabinet. "Lets take de whole lot!"
Cyclops hesitated for a moment.
"Fine." He nodded. "Just do it fast. You’ve got thirty seconds, and then we’re going." Cyclops said authoritatively. "Rogue and Wolverine can handle the security, but Magneto’s another matter."
Rogue threw herself in front of Logan’s brutal attack. Logan fell back to the floor, landing on some of the security attachment. He picked himself up quickly.
"What in blazes are you doin’ Rogue?" Logan snarled ferociously. "If ya hadn’t noticed, that’s the X-Men’s arch-enemy!"
Rogue flew closer, but kept her distance. "He’s on our side Logan. He’s here for the same reason we are!"
Logan sneered with intense hatred. "I’ll never be on his side."
Magneto floated nearer to the two X-Men. "Rogue is correct Logan, this situation requires that we put aside our differences for the moment."
"Never call me Logan! Only my friends call me Logan." Wolverine began to sound almost Feral.
Magneto unleashed a small electromagnetic pulse, which catapulted everyone but the mutants back across the room. Magneto sighed. "Fine, Wolverine. If it makes you feel better about yourself, I can tolerate your melodramat—!"
Wolverine felt the blood pumping through his veins as he leapt for Magneto. Rogue flew into Wolverine’s attack for a second time. Only this time Logan hadn’t been able to restrain his attack at the last moment. If Rogue didn’t have Ms. Marvels power of invulnerability she would have been eviscerated by Wolverine’s bone claws.
Logan screamed like an animal baying for blood. The sound sent chills down Rogue’s spine. Logan stared at Rogue with the eyes of a predator. Rogue started to feel afraid.
Magneto’s face twisted with rage. He raised his hand at Wolverine ready to attack. Suddenly a beam of crimson and a flaring card flew past Magneto’s face.
"Eh? Cyclops?" Magneto’s faced suddenly matched Wolverine’s. "And the race traitor."
"Stand down Magneto!" Cyclops shouted.
"Cyclops, don’t!" Rogue shouted. "We’re on the same side this time!"
"Sure don’ look like we’re on the same side!" Gambit said whilst charging an entire deck of cards.
Cyclops frowned angrily. "I don’t have time for this! We’re leaving!"
Wolverine growled at Magneto and Rogue and then turned clearing a path through the guards. Gambit turned and looked at Rogue, a flash of jealousy overcame him. He offered her a quick glare and then ran after Cyclops and Wolverine whilst ducking gunfire.
Rogue looked at Magneto apologetically. Magneto smiled at Rogue compassionately and let out another E.M. pulse which knocked the remaining security enforcers to the floor.
Rogue flew across the room quickly. She hesitated and looked back at Magneto. He smiled and then flew directly upwards, manipulating the alloys that composed the ceiling to create an exit.
"Scott?" A tender voice whispered.
"Jean! You re-established the psychic link!" Cyclops responded mentally.
"Whatever was causing the interference has just stopped." Jean Summers explained. "Scott, we have to leave, now!" Jean said urgently.
"Why? What’s happening?"
"The interference worked for our benefit. As soon as the interference ceased the complex started sending out distress signals. Bobby thinks we’ve got about two minutes until the reinforcements arrive!"
"Don’t worry, we’re on our way!"
Cyclops ran ahead blasting open the doors as the X-Men came to them.
"We have to move fast! They’ve called in back-up!"
Gambit swore under his breath. He eyes were darting around looking for any traps that Cyclops and Wolverine might have missed. Cyclops unleashed his mutant power and the main doors opened effortlessly, allowing the X-Men to sprint out of the complex and into the perimeter grounds. The chill of the air hit them fast in comparison to the heat of the battle indoors.
Gambit looked over his shoulder to ensure that Rogue was okay.
Gambit skidded to a halt, dirt from the ground flew up as he slid across the floor.
"Cyclops! We’ve lost Rogue!"
Cyclops and Wolverine simultaneously halted and turned around.
"Damn it Cajun! NOW’s not the time to scare us! We’re on a clock!"
Gambit’s temper flared. "Drop it old man! Where is she?"
Cyclops selected his visor to locate Rogue’s comm.-badge. He breathed a sigh of relief.
"She’s just coming now."
Rogue flew in from the horizon. As soon as Wolverine saw Rogue he ran towards the blackbird again fueled by rage. Cyclops and Gambit turned to run. Rogue flew alongside them.
"What took so long?" Gambit asked irately.
Rogue paused for a second. "Uh...Ah ran into some more security back there. It took me a couple of seconds to shake them off.
"Is dat so?" Gambit sneered.
Cyclops looked at Gambit who had his eyes fixed on the blackbird, avoiding eye contact with anyone. Rogue looked guiltily at Gambit. Cyclops frowned, the tension was palpable.
"Hey guys? Did you get what we came f--"
"Can it Drake! Just get this crate in the air!"
Iceman was shocked by Wolverine’s ferocity. He turned back in his chair and began the launch sequence. Jean looked concerned. "Logan?"
"Not now red." Wolverine replied, somewhat calmer.
Phoenix and Iceman looked at each other with mutual concern. Cyclops and Gambit hurriedly entered the stealth jet. Rogue followed a second later.
"Bobby, lets go!"
With Cyclops’ order Robert Drake commenced flight.
The blackbird started to rise in the air, clearing the trees it was hiding behind. Inside the metallic blue jet Rogue went to sit next to Gambit who looked at her with a piercing stare before turning away. Rogue folded her arms defensively and sat at the back of the plane. The X-Men remained silent for the flight home.
Professor Xavier and the Beast watched the blackbird land in the hangar bay. Professor Xavier clenched his palms together anxiously. He could sense the ill feeling on the plane.
The Beast was took off his glasses and polished them on his sleeve. He brushed back his long blue hair and stared intently, waiting for news from his comrades.
Steam shot from the blackbird to level it’s descent. The landing gear made a heavy clunking sound which echoed ominously. The landing ramp lowered.
"Logan? How did--?"
"Save it McCoy!" Wolverine snapped harshly as he pushed past the large blue furred scientist.
Beast looked inquisitively at Gambit as he followed down the ramp.
"Remy, what hap--?"
"I’m going for a ride." Gambit said dismissively.
Beast looked at the Professor bemused. Professor Xavier shrugged his shoulders in response.
Hank sighed inwardly. He looked as the next X-Man debarked the jet.
Rogue looked up at Beast. She opened her mouth and tried to speak, but something within her wouldn’t allow her. She flew off into the air without making a sound.
Henry McCoy rolled his eyes to the ceiling. He reluctantly made eye contact with Iceman.
To his surprise he was greeted with a smile, albeit a half-hearted one.
"What happened Bobby?"
Iceman shrugged. "I don’t know pal. The trip home wasn’t exactly pleasant."
"We didn’t complete the mission did we?"
"Actually old friend, we did." Cyclops walked down the ramp with Jean at his side. Both looked grim.
Cyclops outstretched his hand to give the attachment to the Beast. He turned to face Xavier.
"Well sir, it appears we’ll have the answers to our questions, whether we like them or not."
Professor Xavier looked at his students and then closed his eyes.
"That’s what I was afraid of."
Gambit drove angrily down the country roads of Salem Center. He pushed his motorbike faster and faster as if it would somehow solve his problems. The harsh wind slapped his face as a bitter cold reminder of his problems.
She was waiting for him...
The night was still cold and dark, which suited Gambit fine. He just wanted to vent his frustration in any way he could.
He squinted down the road. Something had caught his attention. A small light was emerging far down the road. Gambit assumed it was a car. He didn’t slow down. The car would have to get out of his way as far as he cared. Fueled by rage Gambit irrationally decided to accelerate as fast as his bike would go.
Gambit glared intently at the light, waiting for it to move.
Gambit heard a faint noise coming from the light. He tried to make it out but he was travelling too fast. Suddenly his instincts started warning him that something wasn’t right. He tilted his head slightly in an attempt to ascertain what the light was coming from. He noticed that it was stationary. He sounded his horn.
"Get out of de road!"
The light grew bigger and Gambit realized it wasn’t coming from an artificial source. The ragin’ Cajun slammed hard on the brakes. The smell of burnt rubber filled the air as the tires screech unceremoniously interrupted the eerie silence of the night.
As the smoke faded from the road, Remy LeBeau discovered that he had stopped just a few metres from the glow. He looked at it with the wonder of a child.
The beautiful light twirled in a fascinating, unpredictable purple pattern.
It’s flickering glow made Gambit forget about everything that had been troubling him.
"If I knew the French word for wow, I’d use it." Gambit whispered in awe.
A small noise began to resonate from the centre of the warm glow. It broke Gambit out of his trance.
The noise was faint and trembling. For some reason it reminded Gambit of a girls voice.
"Who are you? How do I help?" Gambit shouted into the wind.
The strange energy field’s movements became erratic and almost nervous. Without warning the light flared brilliantly. Gambit was forced to shield his eyes from the sheer intensity of the light.
A moment later he rubbed his eyes and looked to see...nothing?
He looked around his surroundings. He could see trees, hills and the moon, but nothing even remotely resembling what he had just encountered.
Perplexed he turned to face his bike. The tires would need replacing, and the brakes would need a check.
Gambit brushed his brown hair back.
"Well, I don’t think anybody saw that one coming."
"How are the tests going Hank?" Iceman asked reluctantly.
The Beast turned around from his desk and looked at his young friend.
"I can’t tell yet if these claims are true, but this energon is a fascinating substance either way."
Robert Drake moved his eyes uncomfortably around Henry McCoy’s lab. Beast looked at his friend with concern.
"Are you okay Bobby?"
Bobby Drake hesitated. "Sure I’m fine, I’m just worried about the others."
Iceman leaned on a wooden desk.
"I mean Wolverine’s gone through this crap before, not knowing about his origin and all, he’ll get over it even if it is true. But what about Rogue and Scott?" Their powers stop them from doing things you and I take for granted. To find out that somebody has actually manipulated you and turned you into a mutant to distract the public from some covert operation..."
Iceman stopped and pulled his hair back. He looked up into his friends eyes.
"What would that kind of knowledge do to a person?"
The Beast smiled reassuringly. "Robert, I am certain that our fearless leader has come to terms with both the benefits and drawbacks that are associated with his genetic heritage."
The expression on Hanks face changed to one of deep concern. "Although one does wonder how this might affect our favourite southern belle..."
The room grew colder...
"...and then we left in the blackbird."
"And Magneto didn’t oppose you?"
"No Professor." Cyclops replied. "It did appear that Wolverine was in conflict with him, but Rogue seemed to be defending him"
Cyclops shrugged and looked at Jean who was resting in a night gown across the room. Her eyes met his and she smiled softly.
"We all know that Logan has...problems with Magneto. It is possible that he just snapped." Scott said.
The Professor looked at his first student thoughtfully.
"You don’t sound like you believe that Scott."
The young man sighed exhaustedly. "I trust Logan, sir. We may have had our differences in the past, but I trust him with my life."
"You think Magneto provoked him?" Xavier inquired.
Cyclops shook his head. "No. I could just sense that Wolverine wasn’t just indulging his rage."
He looked his mentor and surrogate father in the eyes. "But why would Rogue defend Magneto?"
A deafening silence impacted the room as soon as the question had left Cyclops’ lips.
The tension was almost unbearable.
"All X-Men report to the war room at once." Hanks voice came over the intercom on the professor’s desk. "We have our answers..."