Epic X-Men #10: Rise of the Kingdom of Amahl
*Kilimanjaro Valley, Kenya; a month since Warren’s enrollment*
The sky filled with darkened clouds seemingly from nowhere to the outside observer, but that’s not what the tribe of this valley would tell you. That honor belongs to their goddess, a beloved young woman with hair as pure white as the snow that she could call down if she wished. Eye’s so blue that the sky on a clear day would be second to that beauty. Their goddess known as the The Walker of Clouds, Hadari Yao. But to a lone person she’d rather forget for the rest of her life, she was still Orroro Munroe.
The sky opened to let the downpour cover the plains, to give crops fresh water to replenish themselves. Yes, Orroro did this every day for the many tribes in the surrounding areas, but she did not mind it. The more she did, the more she connected she felt to Earth below her feet. Not that she used them much for travel when she could call upon the winds to carry her over to wherever she was needed. She was done for the day, though, having done her part for her people, she returned to the ground where her people waited.
“Dear Hadari, goddess of the plains, we thank you for all the work you have done for us this day and the many days before. Please, accept this gift filled with your favorite fruits and crops of this plain”, the tribal chief declared as some villagers came in with a large basket filled with different crops. More than Orroro would need.
”Thank you, cheiftan, but it is not necessary. I enjoy the work I do and I owe you all so much for taking me in-“
”Dear Orroro, don’t be so hasty to reject such a kind, yet lowly gift for a goddess such as yourself”, a low toned voice said in her head out of nowhere. A familiar chill ran up Orroro’s spine, but she ignored the feeling.
“-, yet I wish not to hurt your feelings on the hard work you did. Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful ensemble, but I suppose a compromise will have to do. I will bring my own basket and take a fraction of what was offered and we then we spread the rest to whoever of this tribe needs it.”
After the days activities and the villagers thoroughly satisfied for pleasing their goddess, Orroro headed back to her home, where she sought her bed. She remembered how it was to sleep on the plains, in the trees, and even on makeshift bedding from whatever she could find. Still, nothing beat an actual bed to sleep on. Sleeping soundly Orroro drifted into her dreams of the open fields that had started blooming many wild flowers, before it all suddenly took a turn for the worse. An earthquake signaling a catastrophe before the giant hand made from darkness incarnate that would close in on her, no matter how many times she screamed and begged not to.
When she woke up in sweats, she found the explanation for dream had returned to her. Yet, by the dear bright lady above, she would not yield to her walking nightmare. The man who perverted his will over her ever since she was young. He was Amahl Farouk, self-proclaimed master of the Astral Plane and Orroro herself.
“Dear Orroro, why the cold look? Did you not miss me when I went on my trip to the America’s?”, Amahl said. When Orroro gave no answer, he chuckled before continuing, “I suppose not, since you were not in your room that I made so nicely for you back in Cairo. Really, my love, I went above and beyond to be sure you were made comfortable. My most prized young woman of the many woman i had under my thrall. Hell, I would have sold my men to if it meant I could have you. Yet, you go off to some unknown lands, lands I scoured to find you. For shame Orroro.”
“Shut up! You think of me as a possession you could bend and twist to your machinations, but no more! I have met people who actually appreciate me and don’t see me as something that could do things for them! They took me in, fed me, and I had given nothing in the beginning! Yet, they still loved me. But you, you would use me, to lure men and women over to your part of the town. A sick rotten place filled with thugs, thieves, and backstabbers. A hater that place, almost as much as I hate you!!”, Orroro yelled to the giant man. “But no more. I would take death any day over serving you for a second more, Amahl.”
A deep frown etched on his features at Orroro’s passionate obstinacy. Yes, this would not do at all. He would have to retrain her once more, but that would come once he had her under his spell again.
”Young Orroro, I think you have forgotten yourself, who you are.....your place”, Amahl said sinisterly as invisible hands of mental energy encased themselves around Orroro’s mind. But Orroro did not yield, she would not yield. Through sheer will, she kept him out of her deepest thoughts, and through the sheer power that the electricity coursing in her brain, she made his job all the harder. With great strain, Orroro tried to lift her finger before moving to her second, third, and eventually, her whole hand. Then, raising an arm to Amahl, electricity started jump from fingertip to fingertip as she was getting ready to shoot her lightning towards him. Before she could though, Amahl changed tactics and hit her mind with a psibolt that jolted her body, stunning her as she was beginning to recover.
”I am disappointed Orroro. We could have done this the easy way, but I suppose we will just have to show you who rules this land really”, Amahl said as the village people started to flock mindlessly to his command.
”No”, Orroro said under her breath.
With that one act, Amahl knew he had won.
“Now Orroro, are you gonna be a good girl and open yourself to me, or should one of these villagers give a convincing argument as to why you should through the act....of combat!”, Amahl said as a lone villager pulled a dagger and started walking to child who stepped forward as an offering.
”Stop!”, Orroro said suddenly before Amahl could follow through on his threat. With a sigh of defeat, she felt him encompass every part of her, and she knew that this time, she wouldn’t be seeing the light of day the same way again.
”So, this is the area, Professor”, Jean asked as she pushed Charles wheelchair around the busy marketplace.
”Yes. Jean, if you listen carefully past the many thoughts, you can feel a powerful psionic nexus emanating from this area. Somewhere in here, a mutant of incredible power lies”, Charles explained. Jean tried to do as Charles described, blocking’s the voices, the feelings behind a wall she erected herself and sensed the exact energy Charles described.
“Professor, what could possibly be generating so much psionic energy in a place like this”, Jean asked as she continued to the hotel room that she and the others had gotten with Xavier’s blessing.
“It’s never usually a what, but a who, Jean. I believe that our mutant might possibly have some relation to whatever this is. So be cautious, we don’t know what we are facing”, Xavier said as he led Jean further into the area. “Stop. Turn into this alley.”
Following Xavier’s orders, Jean made sure to keep an eye out and her mind open to find any thoughts hidden in the dark crevices of this place. As they did, suddenly stopped at the sight of a young woman in seemingly tribal clothing standing lone in place. Jean had usually been remarked by her crimson red hair, but at that moment, she felt if she were compared to this chic here, there would be no contest. The exoticness of the woman’s pure white hair was so mesmerizing to watch, a perfect compliment to her blue eyes. If only her stare were more of a friendly smile instead of an emotionless one.
“Hello?”, Jean gave in greeting, but no response came. Reaching out with her mind, Jean found that she was blocked off from the young lady’s mind, met only by some of the darkest feelings she had ever experienced. She recoiled instinctively from the shocking rush of those feelings.
“Stay vigilant, Jean. We don‘t entirely know what is going on here, but I am pretty sure that that young lady is our mutant”, Xavier revealed.
The next thing they knew, the woman downturned her head which shadowed her eyes from their view. That soon didn’t matter as a telltale gust of wind blew before the young woman opened her eye’s with a brilliant light emanating from them. Flash of lightning, booming thunder, and powerful winds blew as a demonstration of what they were facing. Before they could ask for some answers, a fog rolled in to cover the girl. By the time it dissipated, she was gone, as did the Dark feeling that came with her.
”.......Jean, we need to find Scott and Warren. We will need to discuss just how we are gonna approach this one”, Xavier said after the calm had set in.
*at the hotel that night*
“A mutant that can control the weather?! Are serious?!”, Warren exclaimed.
”From what I saw, that seemed to be the case. There was also something about her mind filled with a darkness, equally as intoxicating as it is terrible”, Jean described while reliving the memory.
”No. That wasn’t Orroro. I have reason to believe that the darkness we sensed was the work of another telepath. One I may have encountered prior”, Xavier reminisced.
”How powerful was this telepath when you met them, Professor?”, Scott asked.
”I don’t know”, Xavier said as he strained to catch the memory lost. “It isn’t so much that I remember, but have a feeling so instinctual, a deja vu if you will.”
“Well, we won’t be getting any answers this late at night, so I say we turn in and go out looking for the mutant once more”, Jean suggested as she stretched and was gonna head to the room.
“Agreed. Rest up. We will be going on an exposition tomorrow”, Xavier then said as he wheeled to the room.
*Kilimanjaro Valley of the Serengeti*
The following day, Xavier and Jean had not found that same presence in the area, which made them draw the conclusion that the mutant had left Cairo. Expanding his reach, Xavier directed the group to Nairobi, a city nearest to the area where there was an influx of the same psionic presence.
After renting a car, the group headed out into the plains, taking in the different Lantis and animals as they passed by. Xavier smiles at the joy this trip was bringing him. Among all the city life and hatred they faced, it was nice for them to see the beauty of everything. All that finally stoped when they came across a lone cumulonimbus cloud amongst an empty sky. Both Jean and Xavier felt more than the eeriness vibe that cloud gave off, the same dark presence they sensed from the marketplace in Cairo. This was it.
They approached the entrance to the village, where Orroro stood at its entrance. These four were absolute fools. They had no idea of the forces that they’d face this day.
“Wanderers! This village is under my protection. You would do well to turn back to the safety of wherever you came from. Fail to heed my warning, then prepare yourselves to face mother nature’s fury”, the young woman yelled to the group.
“Trying to save them, Orroro? How incredibly benevolent of you, but I am afraid I can’t let you do that. I want the man in the wheelchair brought to me”, Amahl spoke in her head.
“Warren. I want you to head back to the city. The psionic energy has flared by our arrival and the girl does not seem receptive to our presence. Call to the mansion and tell Emma to get to Cerebro. We may need her”, Xavier explained before turning his attention to the young woman.
”Roger”, Warren affirmed. As he was about to take flight, Amahl reached time his mind and tweaked the instruction in his head. With a devious smile, he basked in his assured victory.
“Child, I am Charles Xavier. I know not of what troubles you to our arrival, but I assure you that whatever it may be, we may be of help”, Xavier shouted to her as he approached with Scott and Jean in tow.
”He wants you, Xavier. Please, you must leave”, Storm begged.
“I’ve heard enough. If you wish to keep resisting me, then I suppose it’s time I teach you a lesson in what happens when you disobey”, Amahl said as he took hold of her once more. With a simple thought, thunder began to boom as the wind began to pick up at Amahl’s command through the young mutant goddess. “Kill the red-head.”
With that command, Orroro took to the sky and summoned powerful winds to sweep the group and separate Jean from Xavier and Scott. Jean struggles to stand, but Storm hurls a bolt of lightning down on the girl. Direct hit.....or so Orroro thought as she saw the girl had her hands up still standing and no worse for wear.
”JEAN!”, Scott called readying his aim at Orroro.
”GO! She wants me! Get the professor out of here. I will be fine!!!”, Jean yelled. Though she outwardly exuded the confidence, she felt the fear gripping at her in uncertainty. She had never faced anything so powerful in all her life and had only several months of training. None of it prepared her for this.
”Do as the girl says, boy”, a rang in Scott’s head. Scott looked around for the source of the voice.
”Scott!”, Xavier called out as villagers began to gain way. He tried to infiltrate their minds again and again, but something powerful was blocking him from reaching them. Thankfully, Scott‘s optic blast swept across the group of villagers as he made it to Xavier and put him back in his chair.
“Scott, get me to that building over there. That is where the strongest resonance of psychic energy is coming from”, Xavier said pointing the way.
“She will be fine for the time, Scott. But we need to put a stop to whatever is controlling the young mutant. The longer we wait, the more likely it will be that Jean will be put in a position where she must decide her life or her attacker. We must make haste, quickly!”, Xavier commanded.
With a moments hesitation, he finally obeyed Xavier and took him inside away from the bad weather and the hostile villagers.
”Charles Xavier. We finally meet again. I am Amahl Farouk, but to your boy, I will except my king or master. Your special treatment comes from the last time we met back on Annadale, when young Jean’s powers first arose”, Amahl reminisced with sly grin. “I was thoroughly impressed with how you dealt with my psionic wave on the Astral Plane and managed to save the girl from certain doom.”
”What are you talking about? I have never-“
”Don’t act like you don’t remember. Truly, you have never faced a rival to your power such as mine, right?”, Amahl gloated. Despite the arrogant facade, Charles saw the crack in the demeanor. He was truly an egotistical maniac and Charles had to make sure he didn’t do anything to make him snap. Lives were at stake and if Xavier were to have his way, he would have to play along.
“Scott, go out to help Jean. I might be here for some time”, Xavier told Scott. With no argument, Scott took off to the open plains. “So, Mr. Farouk, what will it take for you to release the poor girl.....”
*meanwhile, on the plains*
The wind whipped violently around Jean, trying to pull her up from her spot as Orroro cast lightning bolt after lightning bolt. With movement made more difficult, Jean anchored herself telekinetically as she kept telepathic tabs on Orroro’s intent. When she called to the clouds for another lightning strike, Jean would launch herself telekinetically being careful as to not get caught in the wind.
So Orroro changes tactics, choosing for an up-close assault over long-range. Charging up the electricity, Orroro changed the winds direction to propel her to the stumbling red-head running for her life. As Orroro started to get closer, a red beam of light from nowhere hits Orroro away from Jean.
Looking the way the beam came from, she saw Scott struggling to hang onto a giant boulder lodged into the ground as the gale forces blew against him.
Recovering from the attack, Orroro takes flight again, staying higher up in the sky this time. If Scott were to hit her, she would have a long hard fall, but that is if he could hit her. Scott tried to aim high, but as soon as he tried to aim, he would almost slip from the boulder. Perfect.
Looking up to the skies above, Orroro raises her arms to call forth a flash of lightning powerful enough to destroy her foe.
”Scott, look out!”, Jean called to Scott telepathically after reading an attack to come.
As a lightning bolt flashed down, Scott took the warning and let go of the rock just in time to avoid it being shattered on impact by the force of the lightning bolt. Scott covered his face as debris from the rock flew outwards everywhere into the swirling winds, taking him with them.
”Don’t worry Scott, I have you”, Jean said as she caught him with her telekinetic gifts. Pulling him down, Jean set up a shield to block all lightning strikes Orroro threw at them. “Scott, we are sitting ducks out here. We gotta find shelter!”
”Agreed. Come on, run!”, Scott said as he shot upward at Orroro. Using the open space to her advantage, Orroro maneuvered back and forth to dodge optic blasts from the desperate young mutant. Seeing her opportunity, Orroro shot a bolt down that barely missed Scott, yet Scott’s rash maneuver caused him to lose his footing and fall to hit his head hard enough knock him out cold.
“Oh god, Scott! Please be okay. Please be okay.....” Jean sighed as she found a pulse active.
*inside away from the tempest*
“Your students are strong, Well trained, Xavier. Yet, sooner or later, they will fall to their master”, Amahl said to the professor.
As Amahl tried to stabilize his connection to Scott, Xavier intervened in attempt to keep Scott out of the hands of the same forces that rule these people and Storm’s own mind.
“Finally Xavier, you face your destiny”, Amahl laughed.
”Amahl, I was hoping to get you to see reason, but I understand that my efforts are futile. You have to juggle the minds of those under your thrall, I am fully prepared to give every ounce of my strength to stop you for good”, Xavier threatens.
”Bold words Xavier, for someone who doesn’t realize the forces he faces. You see, I am no mere mutant, but I am a force of nature. I am all the negative energy I take and through me it comes back stronger than ever. Behold Charles, negative energy and hatred by humankind of this Earth”, Amahl said as he unleashes a psionic wave of hurt, fear, and anger at the Professor, who always professed that with reason, people could move past their fear and see that mutants were just like them. Yet, feeling all this emotion in its rawest form, Xavier’s stance wavers and Amahl takes that chance to break past him into Scott’s mind.
*back to the battlefield*
”Come on, Scott, wake-“
As Jean was attempting to wake Scott, an optic blast shoots out, barely missing Jean. Backing away, Jean tries to regain her footing as Scott turns to aim another shot at her.
Xavier’s voice rang in her head as she finally made the connection. Putting up a forcefield in the nick of time, Scott lets out an optic blast full-Force onto Jean’s shield, the force throwing her back many feet.
“Scott, whoever is doing this to you, you have to fight the-“
Before Jean could get another word, a lightning bolt hits near her foot. Looking up she sees Orroro flying towards her once more.
Jean telekinetically released Scott to focus her energy on getting away from both mind-controlled mutants. Since Orroro was keeping strong winds mostly in the immediate vicinity, Scott was only carried a small distance as Orroro chased Jean away.
Gotta take her out of the sky, Jean thought to herself. When she saw a break in between Orroro’s attacks, Jean shot a telekinetic concussive blast at Orroro. The attack is suave as as Orroro is thrown off balance. Using this chance, Jean tries to gain further distance. That changes when a stream from Scott’s optic blast suddenly appears in front of her. Looking out, she could barely make out the shape of Scott on the rock, using it as a point get a good aim on Jean.
”Crap”, was all Jean got out before she put up a shield to block the optic blast. “Scott! Stop, please!”
His blast was continuous stream that was starting to take a toll on Jean after running, blocking, and dodging for so long. It was then that something hits Scott from the side and swoops up into the sky.
Warren then swoops Jean off her feet and starts heading to the village for shelter from the coming storm.
“Hey, beautiful. Am I late?”
”No. You are exactly on time”, Jean said with relief. Jean hugs Warren close as she finally relaxes for the first time since she got there. That moment is short-lives when Warren and Jean are suddenly hit by a rush of cold air assisted by a small hail storm, with Warren taking most of the hit. The two fall a good few meters until Jean gets ahold of her bearings and lowers the two down telekinetically.
”Aw man. I’ve got ice pellets in my feathers”, he said as he flaps his wings to gain warmth and get the ice out.
”Come on, Warren. We gotta keep moving”, Jean said pulling Warren with her. As they start to run forward, the two are hit widened- radius Optic Blast. Hitting the ground hard, the two are knocked out cold, ending the chase once and for all. They lost.
*At Orroro’s home*
In the room where Amahl and Xavier had been stationed the entire time, Xavier’s face is the picture of utter disbelief as he senses Jean’s mind and Warren’s suddenly go silent.
”I swear, Farouk, if you-“
”Don’t worry, I have confirmed through your Scott Summer’s that both appear to be alive. You fought well, Xavier, but you have lost”, Amahl says triumphantly as Orroro and Scott bring in an unconscious Jean and Warren. When they put the two mutants on either side of Farouk, he strokes both of their chins as a taunt to Xavier, who still battles him psychically with a battered will that seems to keep breaking as the battle rages. “Your students fought hard, but it only prolonged the inevitable, Xavier. Warren’s mind will be of no issue to take, for even behind the facade of lai-back individual comes a mess of fears that they won’t voice to anyone out of judgement or mistrust.”
As Farouk explained, Warren’s eyes open with darkness encompassing his pupils before returning to normal.
“Welcome, Mr. Worthington. Always served the finest, but never one to serve others. That changes today....as for your psychic....she remains stubborn and rebellious to my coaxing. It is of little issue. At some point, even she will succumb to my will. A very powerful ally given how long she lasted against Miss Munroe.”
”What is your interest with the girl’s anyway, Farouk?”, Xavier demands as he keeps his on guard for any other attacks Farouk is preparing.
“I am King, Xavier. A king needs a kingdom to rule, with subjects to lead into battle. With ambition like mine, it is only natural that I target the entire world”, Amahl says in grandiose fashion.
“And how do you suppose to do that, Farouk? Even if you had that much power at base level, you wouldn’t accomplish such a feat while holding my students hostage. What are you planning?”, Xavier presses.
Farouk doesn’t answer yet, but let’s the sound of jet, a new one that Charles has recently purchased for faster travel across the world. Now, it is the transport that will lead Amahl to his final victory.
”Its my understanding that you built a machine called Cerebro, something your student Warren was supposed to have Emma use from the safety of the mansion”, Amahl says with a sly smile.
Xavier’s eyes bulge at that remark, saying, “How did you know that?”
“Well, let’s just say I tweaked the instruction before he left. I presume you have worked on it to be portable?”
”Yes, Xavier!!! The final part of my plan has been set in motion as your students will bring me the device that shall lead them to their future. A future where I rule over all of humanity! And you, Charles, will have a front row seat to witness the downfall of everything you have built to bringing peace between two species who utterly despise the other. Such feelings fuel my power and make me what I truly am! The great and all-powerful- SHADOW KING!!!!!!”