Epic X-Men #12: Fall of the Kingdom of the Amahl Farouk
What happened? Why was she so shiny and....durable? Emma wondered about these questions ever since emerging from the wreckage of what was once the Blackbird. Did mutants get more than one power after they get their dominant one? Granted, Jean had her telekinesis with her telepathy, but it arose right around the time her telepathy became active. This suddenly arose years after.
Emma knew she should have been freaking out. She nearly got killed by one of her classmates and someone who’d she like to refer to as a friend. Now, not only had she survived a blast that clearly not only hit her, but destroyed the newly bought Blackbird on top of her, but now she has this new hard body to deal with.
Yet.....her feelings were empty. She barely could feel any semblance of anger, which came off as more slight annoyance than anything. Happiness was not even worth looking for. Sadness? That would be ridiculous even before this form came to be. It wasn’t only her feelings though.
Her senses of touch, taste, and smell were gone. She could hear and see just fine, but those other parts disappeared, almost as if she never had them. Worst of all, the part that caused her to feel something resembling annoyance was that she couldn’t access her telepathy. It was an empty existence.
If she could feel, it would be world shattering and sad....but she can’t. And it was ridiculous that she was spending so much time contemplating such a thing. This form not only saved her life, but it had shielded her from Farouk’s telepathy somehow, otherwise, she would have had his lackey’s swarming her the moment she set foot into town. But already, she was not only deep in, she was doing quite well to hide, despite the obnoxious hue of light that was sparkling from her body. If she wasn’t careful with it, someone would surely-
“What on Earth is that?!”
”It looks like one of the kids the Shadow King wanted.”
“Then let’s take her!”
Shadow King. Not the worst name in the world, but he could have chosen better.
clink clink clink
Emma looked up and saw that they were hitting her with what looked like sticks, stones, clubs, and a variety of gardening tools they had handy on them. We can check pain off the list of senses that were nullified.
“Look, I know you think you have any slim of a chance, but-“, Emma catches one of the weapons before speaking again”, you are stupidly naive to believe such idiocy.”
Emma then proceeds to handle the group quite handily. After looking at the aftermath, she saw head wounds in the exact places she struck. She didn’t think she hit them that hard. In fact, she figured she held back some. Perhaps it did something to her strength. She would figure it out later.
”Look over there!”
”What is it?”
Emma sighs as she struts in over.
“Hmmm.....Well, Xavier, it seems your student, Emma is alive somehow....Its a total conundrum how even Cerebro can’t seem to locate her for me....at least, not telepathically. The genetic scanners you recently installed seem to tell me exactly what Emma’s mutation is“, Amahl says as he concentrates on the holographic screen.
“What?”, Xavier said in astonishment. Was this some sort of trick? A cruel way for Amahl to taunt him?
”Believe what you want Xavier. Either way, it won’t matter. Soon, all will bow to my power!”
Turning to the still unconscious Hank McCoy, Shadow King rematches out to touch the mind of Hank. The result was of no question. With his new found power, Shadow King is capable of juggling between infecting the minds of billions across the planet, while still battling Xavier, and controlling Orroro. “Children, go out and deal with your friend. Dead or alive. It means little to me of the outcome, as long as it’s a winning one.”
As Warren, Hank, and Scott leave, Amahl relishes in the feeling of complete control, dominating mind after mind. The feeling was so euphoric, but there was one more to test it on. He turns to Jean, still unconscious since the initial battle against Orroro. With the power of Cerebro enhancing his own, he reaches out to Jean’s mind and explores the depths of her mind. He runs into different roadblocks, but soon he reaches his goal. Jean awakens finally.
”Rise, my dear. It’s time to face your mentor and show him who you now belong to.”
To Xavier’s horror, he and his chair are suddenly lifted from their place thrown against the wall. Before Xavier can manage to regain his bearings, Jean once more lifts him in mid-air and immobilizes him as she starts to attack his mind, with Shadow King keeping Xavier out of hers.
“Hmm....Omega Level Mutants. According to your Cerebro, Jean and Orroro are Omega Level Mutants. I am impressed with the sophistication and detail you have made with this device Xavier. I suspect you made it to find those of our kind, especially ones like your Jean and my Orroro....or perhaps, is it to find someone else. Jean, figure that out for me while I continue my work”, Shadow King says before once more taking in all the psionic energy from such negative emotions swirling from around the planet. Not willing to stop fighting until the end, Xavier reaches out and hammered at the defenses while avoiding being fried by Jean’s own telepathy. He prayed that it wasn’t too late as he stared into her eye’s filled with anger
*Out into the village*
Walking away from a mob of unconscious villagers, Emma proceeds to walk in a direction, checking every window to find any sign of Charles or the students. When Emma turns, she sees coming out of a distant house are her friends, currently under Shadow King’s thrall.
“I suppose you are angry to see that you didn’t kill me, Farouk? Well, I don’t particularly care about what you are feeling actually, so let’s just get on with this. Alright?”, Emma says before getting blasted off her feet by an optic blast. With no visible damage she gets back up, this time, readying herself for another one of his optic blasts.
When he shoots, she dodges and proceeds to run towards them. Strangely, she didn’t feel like she was any slower than she was out of this form. As she started gain way towards them, Hank pounces her from Scott’s side. He then proceeds to punch at her head multiple times. Though he wasn’t seeming like he was holding back, Emma felt nothing hurt or break. He then proceeded to throw Emma against wall hard enough to crack the wall. Looking at herself once more, she was completely fine.
”I’d say if you hit harder, you may just garner a tiny crack on me Hank, but it seems you are incapable of even that much. I thought this would be entertaining. I suppose I will simply have to end it earlier then I would have liked”, Emma said before rushing at Hank with a haymaker. When her fist connects with his nose, they both notice that it is bleeding, which not only served as a surprise to Hank, but confirmed to Emma her suspicions about her strength increase. With one more kick, Emma knocks Hank clean off his feet and into a group of boxes by another house.
“Alright, boys. Who’s next?”
Without missing a beat, Scott and Warren took two different approaches. Warren aimed from up high, Scott aimed from a distance. Emma dodges Scott’s beam, but was rushed down by a flying Warren. He threw into the wall, but she still felt nothing.
Grabbing the nearest thing she could find, in this case, a box, she threw it up at Warren. It missed its target and Scott proceeded to shoot Emma once more.
Changing targets, Emma zig-zagged to avoid Scott’s shots as she rushed at Scott to take him down. Scott dashes to the side, but Emma made a you turn before rushing at Scott again. Scott tried to anticipate her next move, but had actual experience in martial arts from the lessons she payed for as a young girl to deal with her fathers temper. Maybe when it was all over, she could discuss with Xavier about teaching the students some self-defense or have someone give them some lessons. Either way, Scott was a great shot, but had not any experience in defending up close just yet. Thereby, it was of little issue for Emma to ko him.
Two down, one to go. And On cue, Warren rush at Emma once more. This time, he carries up high like he had earlier. This oughta be interesting. With no issue anymore about falling from high heights, Emma swung her legs to kick Warren hard enough for him to drop her.
With the force from her enhanced kick, Warren struggles to retain consciousness before failing inevitably. Seemingly, Emma was a lot heavier than previously, so her landing came before Warren’s thankfully with again, no feeling of pain, giving her time to run and catch him before he could hit the ground. It was over. Now, to deal with Shadow King. Just as Emma was heading to the house, the house explodes as a massive cyclone destroys the building suddenly, flinging Emma way with its force.........
“Jean, I know you can hear me. You must fight him. If we don’t stop Amahl, he will truly be unstoppable. Think of the pain and horror everyone will be feeling from his influence, Jean. Can’t you feel it”, Xavier says to Jean.
With a simple gesture, Jean begins to squeeze Xavier’s throat slowly with her telekinesis. Xavier struggles to pierce the collective defense from Shadow King and Jean once more. This is it, Xavier thought. This is how my legacy ends. Hearing the collective screams of pain from torture. The true stuff of nightmares, and through Shadow King it grows.
”Gah!”, Jean suddenly cries out, suddenly releasing Xavier. After a coughing fit from the lack of air, Xavier analyzes the situation and it becomes clear.
That pain, it WAS affecting Jean. Xavier can feel her now. The stress building in her head as the result of Shadow King amping the them further and further. He can feel it, too, but he is more seasoned to blocking that out. Xavier though only taught her with her powers capped off with barriers installed. Jean isn’t immune to the collective pain. If anything, her powers are possibly making her more sensitive to it than before, so much that eventually, not even her defenses and the Shadow King’s combined could block it out.
“Too.....m-much....”, Jean says with clenched teeth. “Make it stop.....”
”Pity. I was hoping she would have ended you, Xavier. Pathetic. I suppose with no other use from you, I will simply have to-“
”I SAID STOP!!!”
Suddenly, Jean snaps and unleashes a telekinetic blast that obliterates Amahl’s body completely, as well as Cerebro with him. When the deed is done, Jean falls, laying there as she watches the aftermath of what she just done. Seeing her lie there, Xavier pulls himself over to where she lays and comforts her as the negative emotions slowly fade.
”I.....I killed him.....I promised I wouldn’t lose myself, but......it was too much, Uncle Charles”, Jean says with tears starting to fall.
”I know, child. It’s alright. You actually may be very well have saved us all, Jean”, Xavier said.
”Oh no, Xavier. She merely delayed the inevitable”, Orroro says as her eyes darken before flashing into a light. Sensing the danger, Jean puts up a telekinetic shield to block the resulting explosion of air.
After just landing, Jean and Xavier look on in awe as they watch Orroro bring about a great tempest that is filled with pouring rain that starts to fill the land with a rising water level, violent winds, and flashing lightning.
”SCOTT! WARREN! HANK!”, Jean cries out as she sees the three lying unconscious.
”Enough, with the hysterics. They are fine. They will have a few bumps and headaches, but they will get over it”, Emma said harshly as she strides over to Jean in her shiny new form.
“No. It’s Mother Theresa. Yes, its me, girl.”
”Emma, I’m glad to see you are unhurt, but we will need you to help us see what’s going on in Orroro’s head”, Xavier says promptly.
”Afraid not, Charles. This form unfortunately prevents me from accessing my telepathy. I’m about as useless as those three lying over there”, Emma says pointing at the boys, who are now waking up.
”Emma? Jean?”, Scott say, no longer hostile from Amahl’s influence.
”Fascinating. Emma, why had you not told us about this new diamond-like form you are in”, Hank says as he taps at her arm to test its durability.
”Because its a new development after Scott nearly killed me”, Emma bluntly says. Though Emma started it more as a fact, Scott winces at that, remembering it vaguely as if it were a dream from someone else's point of view.
“Wow, that’s pretty cool, Em’”, Warren says before a sudden gust of wind blows at the six mutants. “So, what do we do about the embodiment of a geologists‘ worst nightmare here?”
“Emma, I need you to try to return to normal. I know you are unfamiliar with this form, but you have to try. Imagine what your skin felt like before you transformed. What it looked like. Anything to get you to change back. After, us three will infiltrate Orroro’s head and see what’s going on”, Xavier declares as he watches the young woman casting lightning down.
”Sounds like a plan. Us three will get the civilians of this village away from the center of this storm”, Scott says before leading the group away to do just that.
Taking Xavier’s advice, Emma envisions her caucasian skin, soft, and delicate. Perfect in every way. Suddenly, she begins to feel a rush of emotions, ranging from fear to relief to darkness emanating from around her. She feels the wind blow on her skin, the rain in her hair. Opening her eyes, she sees her wet clothes and skin. She was back.
”Oh thank god. I felt....well, I couldn’t feel anything. I’m back now. I’m with you guys all the way”, Emma says with newfound determination and confidence after conquering this new development.
”Wonderful. Okay, girls, reach out and touch Orroro’s mind...”, Xavier declares before concentrating on Orroro himself.....
As the three telepaths travel into Orroro’s head, they are met with a darkness that begins to swirl around their Astral bodies and takes them from Orroro’s head to the place they have been before, back when Jean’s powers re-manifested. The Astral Plane.
Where the mind affects the world around them. Reality is relative to the perspective of the psychics based on their will and imagination.
But this time, it now has a new ruler, one whose dreams are as dark as his very soul. Off in the distance, there is a castle built on the nightmares of the tortured that Shadow King has absorbed.
“I can feel Orroro’s mind, somewhere in there”, Xavier says as he focuses in on Orroro’s signal.
”Professor, what is this place”, Jean asks as she looks around nervously.
”The Astral Plane, Jean. Professor has told me about it, but I have only been here once during our lessons, yet it feels more familiar than that”, Emma says thoughtfully.
”You feel it, too?”, Jean asks, with Emma nodding affirmatively.
”We’ve no more time to dwell on it. Orroro is in trouble and it seems the Shadow King has grown too powerful to have need of a body anymore. It’s time we end it, once and for all”, Xavier says. The girls had not seen the Professor like this. So determinedly angry. Still, knowing the threat that Shadow King poses, they hold no other argument.
Making headway, they find a group of flying creatures fly towards them from the castle.
“Professor, what are those things?”, Jean says with trepidation.
“Psionic Constructs creates by Farouk. Do not hold back, girls. Slay them!”, Xavier says as his form changes into that of a Gladiator.
The girls watch as Xavier slashes at the creatures one after the other. Soon, with another wave coming, Emma snaps out of her amazement and runs toward. With her confidence in full display, her minds eye transforms her Astral Form into that resembling a Queen, ever so powerful looking and glimmering like the diamond body she had in the real world. She was every bit as graceful as she was dangerous as she destroyed each Astral Fiend one after the other alongside Charles.
Jean on the otherhand was not so self-confident. She had a lot of training yeah, but the feeling of not having control had grounded her in place. She feel as if she couldn’t move, for if she did, the ground would fall beneath her....and just like that, cracks were forming around Jean as the trouble from her mind manifested in the world around her.
“Get yourself together, girl. If you don’t, Scott and the others are not gonna live through the dangerous weather back home. Just trust yourself! You’ve trained for a long time in this and have just as much the spunk as anyone I know, only surpassed by yours truly. Come on, Jean! We can’t do this without you”, Emma said extending her hand to Jean. “Use your imagination, Jean. Imagine your support system and take each step with every victory you have had, from the smallest triumph to the greatest of celebrations.”
Closing her eyes, Jean remembers all the people who she met along the way. Taking in every moment of love, success, and wonder. Every problem she came across, she had surpassed stronger than ever. With her first step, she felt a stabilization within her as everything outside of her began to repair itself. She felt as if she were flying, riding with glorious, powerful wings. Somewhere deep inside, she heard an ancient, resonating voice in her being.
”Show then what you truly can do.”
The three mutants destroy monster after monster, each mutant using their various psionic abilities in their own way. Xavier using his experience to clear out most of the astral enemies. Emma measured her attacks precisely, making sure to change up her style depending on the size of the enemy. Jean relies on her raw emotions to drive her stubborn nature to power through them all.
Eventually, the three make it to a throne room where they see Orroro held up in a cage. Seeing the three telepaths, she gets up with newly found hope shining in her eyes. But before they could proceed to free her, down from the dark thundering clouds came a monstrous being. The embodiment of Amahl Farouk finally manifested into the horrific dark beast with terrifying features. Giant Claws on his hands and feet, spikes erected from his shoulder blades, elbows, and his legs, a muscular build, and a giant grin filled with large sharp teeth. The Shadow King has appeared and is itching for one final fight.
“Welcome, Charles, Jean, Emma. Welcome to your final resting place. We all know what you came for, so.....come and get her!”
With a wave of his hand, he surrounds Orroro’s prison in a dark veil, drowning out her pleas and screams under its fabric.
”Shadow King, you may think your power will be the key to your victory. You are wrong! For the sake of not only the girl’s life, but all life who share my home, I will strike you down!”
With a rallying cry, Xavier charges at Amahl, swinging his sword to strike every opening he saw and raising his shield to block incoming attacks from his opponents claws. Shadow King though was not backing down as easily, ensuring that each slice left its mark on his defenses and engaging his claws with Xavier’s sword. Evenly matched as they were, Shadow King began to draw energy from the psionic power of the Astral Plane itself and what he had reserved from Cerebro earlier.
“Emma, we need to help the Professor!”
“Yes, and you will do that. I have a different task to do”, Emma said as she flew up to Orroro’s holding place.
Though the cage with the veil outwardly looked simplistic, when Emma touched the fabric, she felt different whispers of doubts and fears invade her being and blind her from reality. Of course it had to be symbolic, how bloody annoying, Emma thought to herself. With a the power of her mind, she visualized a pair of giant scissors that could cut through the worst of the toughest fabrics made from harsh words. When she uncovered the cage, she saw the entrance to Orroro’s cage had no door. Emma sighed as she began to work on cutting through the cage.
Meanwhile, as Shadow King began to strike at Xavier’s shield, he is hit from behind by a raw psionic energy. Looking behind him, he sees a luminous halo of light surround her figure. Inside it, Jean summoned her energy and blasted out towards Shadow King as the voice whispered again to her as she saw visions of a shuttle flying through space to the Earth, a boy of brown and white hair and a girl of red hair about his age, a red-headed woman with her back turned to Jean standing by a man with a red diamond above his red eyes concealed in shadows, and multiple images of her and her friends that passed to quickly to take in all at once.
“Show him what you can do. Show me what you can do. Prepare yourself for my homecoming, Jean.”
With Jean distracting Amahl, who was defending against her focused blast, Xavier takes the opportunity stab him from behind with his sword. With a cry from pain, Shadow King bats Xavier away and summons his might to meet Jean’s power with his own. Jean feels herself faltering, but she doesn’t relent just yet. Just when their powers seem even out, Shadow King feels the bonds of Orroro’s prison unravel from his grasp.
With Orroro freed and sent by Emma back to her body, Emma summons a lance filled with psionic light and pierced Shadow King from the side. As Shadow King cries out from the pain, Xavier come from the side and slice at Amahl’s leg. Then, Xavier positions himself behind Shadow King, who is still blocking Jean’s assault. Summoning all their strength, Xavier and Emma summon a focused blast each on Shadow King, who becomes overwhelmed by their collective might. With a scream of fright, Shadow King’s form is obliterated. They have won.
“Professor, is he....”, Jean trails off as she watches the spot where Shadow King seemingly had perished.
“Afraid not, Jean. We only dispersed his psionic form across the Astral Plane. He allowed it in a lsat ditch effort to survive. Had he held out longer, he would have used the last of his energy and expired”, Xavier says.
”So, he is gonna come back?”, Emma says incredulously.
“Yes. But, he cannot return to the real world without a body, or else he will risk perishing once more, but I have a feeling he will find a way around that. I promise that before that time comes, you both will be more prepared. I am sorry for the pain you all had to go through”, Xavier says somberly.
“Professor, you could never had known that someone like this would have existed”, Jean argues.
”Right.....In any case, it seems we all have a lot to think about when we get home”, Xavier says as he leads them all out of the Astral Plane.
*back in the real world*
Opening her eyes, the sight of a clear blue sky filled Jean with a sense of great relief. It’s over. Finally, its all over.
”Welcome back”, Scott softly said while sitting beside her.
”Weren't you supposed to get everyone out? Why are you here?”, Jean asked.
”Well, I was gonna get you out, but then the rain stopped suddenly. So, I just waited here until you woke up”, Scott said with a shrug.
”How thoughtful of you”, Emma said as she awakened. “Where is Orroro?”
Scott looked back to where Orroro was speaking with Warren. After Hank situated Xavier into his chair, he wheeled over to Orroro.
”How are you feeling?”, he asked Orroro.
”I am better, thanks to you all. I didn’t really think I’d get my life back after being taken within his clutches again. It took so much out of me to escape the first time, I didn’t know if I could do it a second”, Orroro said as she reflected on her experiences.
”Well, the very fact that you didn’t give in completely was a great help to us all, Orroro. Constantly fighting against Farouk split his focus and allowed us to gain an upper hand when we really needed it. We thank you for that”, Xavier said with a smile to the young woman. “With that said, I originally came looking for you to offer you a place at my school. With Shadow King gone, know that you now can freely make your own choice.”
Orroro looked back at the damage on her village from Shadow King’s tyranny. It would take time to rebuild. They would need her, wouldn’t they?
”Go, my child.”
Turning around, Orroro saw her adoptive mother, Ainet, smiling at her.
“Mother, but the village-“
“Will still be here, stronger than ever. You can be so much more than what we can give you here, Orroro. Go. Experience life beyond this place. Beyond Africa. Learn more from yourself and return wiser than you were previously”, Ainet encouraged.
She gave her mother a hug, tears rolling down her face. With her decision made, she traveled with group back to the nearest city. There, for the first time, she took a plane outside the continent to where her new home would be at the Xavier Institute.
*Xavier Institute for Higher Learning*
“Alright, Charles. We are all here. Why the telepathic summons?”, Moira asked after all the students had taken their places in Xavier study.
”Yes, Moira. I have been thinking a lot about what happened in Africa. How unprepared we were for mutant threats, such as Amahl. Even more, Emma has been in discussion with me about teaching you all some self-defense after her encounter with Scott, Warren, and Hank“, Xavier explains.
”Don’t remind me. I still feel the aches in my nose”, Hank complains as he looks over at a smug-looking Emma.
”Yes, well, to that end, I have thought about the threats that mutantkind poses on the innocent. How anywhere in the world, a mutant can lose control of their powers, or use to gain an advantage over the weak. The world needs an impartial party of individuals who will defend both groups from each other”, Xavier says to the young students.
”Charles, you can’t be serious? They are just kids”, Moira objects suddenly.
”Moira, they have more power and experience then most mutants their age. They are uniquely qualified more than anyone to deal with this growing problem“, Xavier retorts.
”Yes, but humanity already has its champions. The Fantastic a Four, the recently made group called the Avengers, SHIELD, and not to mention our own police force and the many vigilantes out there with their own unique super-powers”, Moira rebuttals back.
”I would like to point out, Moira, that most of those supers, namely individuals like Iron Man, Spider-Man, and even that vigilante in Hell’s Kitchen are around our age”, Emma chimes in.
”That’s not the point! You all have your lives ahead of ya. Ya don't need the burden of the world’s problems hanging on your shoulders”, Moira argues to the bunch of young mutants.
”I agree, Moira. This is not a requirement by any means. This is an offer I am reaching out to them. I have already talked to Scott about him being the de facto leader of this group. But should none of you wish to join us, I understand. This school will still provide you the educational benefits it did before this idea came to pass. But, I cannot bear the idea of mutants who don’t understand the things that happen to them be treated as criminals for things out of their control, Moira. Please, this is not a kill squad I am trying to form. It will be dangerous, granted, but the goal is to defend those that need it and being examples to humans about the good in mutantkind and to mutants about using their powers wisely”, Xavier says confidently. “So, what do you say everyone?”
Scott is the first to speak. “Professor, you know I have already confirmed my acceptance, but I wanted to vocalize that I truly believe this is necessary. I know from experience about those that would take advantage of their gifts and mine to further their selfish ends. I don’t want that happening to anyone.”
Orroro is the next to speak. “I am in the same boat as, Scott. Being under Farouk’s thumb was an experience that no one should go through. If I can help those similar to my position, I would do it with everything I had in me”.
Jean then next to speak. “I have not had such an experience, but I can feel the pain from Scott and Orroro as if it were my own. To think that there are those out there who would do that to wonderful individuals like them makes me sick. I won’t stand by and let others be hurt the same way. I couldn’t if I tried.”
Hank brings his own thoughts after Jean. “It is not mere selfishness that is the problem. Mutants now may not have their own homes to go back to. The Mansion can be that place for them. I’m in.”
It was Warren’s turn after. “If you are looking to expand this home to others, I will see what I can do to convince dad about investing in this place. Know, though, that either way, you have my support as a team player.”
Emma was the last to speak. “I am not looking to be into all those superheroics. Tights are not me. With that in mind, I won’t be just a student here. I will look to do the behind the scenes work on Cerebro and training with the others.”y“Thank you. All of you. I have only known some of you for several months, yet I could have never been prouder of anyone else than this group at this moment. As your teacher, I will do my best to teach you all that I know and share with you my dream for this world. To that end, in honor of that extra gene we all possess, from this day forth, we are X-Men”, Xavier declares.
”Well, Charles, you have a fine lot supporting ya in this. Don’t think I will be left out of this. If you really are seeking to do this, them ya best believe that I will be assisting in this. I don’t like this, and I still believe you all deserve better than such a life, but I can not argue with your enthusiasm. I will be with Emma here to help ya, Charles”, Moira says determined.
”Thank you, Moira. Alright, X-Men. We have a lot to train you all for. We will start with a Danger a Room session”, Xavier says before releasing them to go to the sub-basement. Before he follows them, he looks out his window thinking about one sure threat they will end up facing one day. Little did he know, that that day would come sooner than they anticipated.