Epic X-Men #16

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Epic X-Men # 16: Ready for War

*Xavier Institute for Higher Learning*

“Welcome to WWN, where we bring you news of today across our world. Today, we have news of a mutant army parading on the shores South East Africa heading North. Many cities in the mutants groups path are on high alert and prepared for a possible attack if they should begin. The president had this to say abou-“

The video was paused as Xavier turns to the four mutants that will go on this next mission.

”As you can see, students, it seems Magneto has begun his next move. I figured he wouldn’t start a war until he got a more sizable army at his disposal. Granted, mutants have been flocking to get to Genosha after the announcement he made that day he attacked the UN, but.....”, Xavier trails off as he studies the monitor.

“You believe Magneto has something else up his sleeve?”, Hank speaks the thoughts that Xavier believed. He smiled at the intelligence the Hank displayed to prove himself a threat in more than just physical combat.

“Yes. Unfortunately, what that is that he is after is a mystery to me.....but I think one of you may have an idea as to what he could be after”, Xavier says as he turns his attention to Orroro who was staring at the monitor worriedly. “Orroro, is there something you would like to share that could help us figure this conundrum out?”

For the moment, she hesitates. She swore she wouldn‘t speak of.....but she can’t stand by could she?

”’Ro?”

Storm looks to Jean, who looks to her worriedly after the stretch of silence drags from Storm’s inner turmoil.

“Professor.....there may be a goal in Magneto’s plan beyond causing chaos....I think it’s a distraction for higher security organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D. or superhero teams from the real target....in the North-East, there is a hidden nation”, Storm begins as she draws up a hologram of the world map and highlights a specific are between Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and many others. Dead center not marked on regular maps today.

No Caption Provided

”There? Might I inquire why Magneto would head there?”, Beast asks after Storm presents the area.

“When I was younger and I had escaped Farouks clutches, I wandered the wilderness of Africa to find my mother’s tribe that she had spoken to me of before her death. On my journey, I happened upon a young boy whom I had a history with back then. He had turned out to have been a prince of a hidden nation, known as Wakanda. They are a prosperous nation ahead of their time, with technological advancements that would be so coveted by the worlds different nations and businesses of today.”

The group studies the map in thought and astonishment at the idea of still hidden mysteries their world had to offer.

“And I suppose that Magneto wants the person creating this advanced technology?”, Scott asks.

“No. I don’t doubt that Magneto has his own fair share of genius inventors to help improve his society, not to mention his own genius intellect to accompany his power”, Xavier corrects Scott as he thinks back to the many conversations he had with his old friend before things went bad.

“It is indeed true that Wakanda’s technology would be a massive advantage for Magneto, the more valuable piece that lies hidden in Wakanda would be the material used to build the technology. A strong metal, debated to possibly be the strongest metal, called Vibranium”, Storm explains to her team.

“Vibranium.....yes, I think I remember my conversations with Fury about this metal before. There is another metal stronger than it called Adamantium, but Vibraniums uses go more for versatility as it is more conductive than Adamantium as a metal while being more durable than your average metal, protecting it from wear and erosion even when exposed to the elements longer than normal metal. These two metals are of what compose Captain America’s shield”, Xavier reveals to the group.

“Thee Captain America?”, Warren says as he is walking in. “If Magneto gets his hand on this stuff, then it will surely be bad news for everyone. We shouldn’t waste time guys, come on let’s-“

”Going somewhere?”, Moira says with her arms crossed and Emma looking just as annoyed. “Your wings are not fully healed yet young man! Ya march right back up there and get the rest ya need this instant!”

“Come on, Moira, I’m fine! Really! I have been practicing flapping my wings ever since they were rearranged into place. They don’t even hurt when I do this, see?”, Warren says as he demonstrates flapping his wings stiffly.

“Nice try, Warren, but ya need more time than that. I understand ya probably aren’t happy about being cooped up with us, but I promise ya it’s better for ya to fully rest and not risk damaging your wings from exertion, especially in a dangerous mission”, Moira explains firmly to the young man.

”Come on, Moira, I’m fine! Emma, you believe me, don’t ya?”, Warren says turning his attention to his friend next to Moira.

”No, I don’t Warren. This isn’t something you have a choice in, frankly. I don’t care how much you end up hating me for this, but you have only two options. Head upstairs willingly and relax for gods sake, or I Force you with my powers, Warren. There will be no missions for you to go on”, Emma says with no hint of yielding. With a defeated sigh, Warren slowly walks out with the women in tow.

“As I was saying, your next destination X-Men will be this exact area. Your goal will be to speak with the Wakanda nation’s leader and assist in whatever way you can in stopping Magneto from stealing what is possibly the most powerful metal on Earth. Since Storm knows the landscape better than anyone and considering how well she handled herself at the tunnels, this time you will be following her lead Scott. Be on your way my X-Men. God speed”, Xavier bids to them as they all walk to the Jet and head out to Africa.

No Caption Provided

********************

*Wakandan Plains*

No Caption Provided

The plane lowers onto an empty field on the edge of a jungle. Storm takes a moment to look around and admire the landscape as she reminisces walking these different hills and climbing the trees and cliff-faces. It still felt as much of a home as it did then.

”Well, we are here. What’s the plan?”, Scott asks as he surveys the area. Orroro has felt nervous throughout he trip after the Professor named her the leader for this particular mission. When she stepped forward with knowledge on Wakanda, she never expected to lead the mission. She wondered if Scott was annoyed with her about it, given that this was usually his role. Granted, he was never outwardly rude throughout the trip, but Scott had a poker face unrivaled by anyone she had ever met, outside of the Professor and Emma Frost. She vowed do her best to not bring failure to them this day as she would lead the charge.

”From what I remember, we must head this way to get to the entrance into the city. Come”, Storm said as she walked by memories of long ago.

She soaked in the sunlight cascading across her skin, taking in the different sights and sounds you don’t get in the city. She was glad the mansion was relatively secluded compared to the city, where all you here are loud honks of New York and frequent flights from planes and helicopters. Not to mention the sirens. Those were the absolute worse. Here, it was just natures song.

Coming to a clearing at the side of a mountainous region, Storm looked around for any signs of somebody. She knew that if they didn’t let them in, getting them to help her help them prepare for Magneto was gonna cause problems.

”Do not be alarmed when you hear flashes of lightning and sounds of thunder. I am only trying to get their attention”, Storm explains. More accurately, his attention, since only he would make The connection of the unnatural weather to her, given their history.

So, she did. Swirling clouds to display a clear pattern of her location. Flashes of lightning to catch outward attention. Thunder to alert those inside their walls. Clouds that are stationary, rather than traveling with the winds across the land.

At first, there was no answer. Had Storm not seen how things worked with her own eyes long ago in that great nation, she would have given up, but instead, she stood proudly, looking intently towards the exact spot where they would be. Her memory and faith pay off as she sees a glow from seemingly nowhere before it opens up to reveal a city concealed by advanced technology that blends it in to the environment. A cloaking shield that opens up to reveal a man dressed in a black suit with circuitry hidden beneath its surface made by the very metal Orroro described. She knew this well, for the honor of being King also came with the responsibility of becoming the Black Panther, modeled after their panther god Bast. Behind their King, were a group of women, who trained and patrolled day and night to guard the King from invaders.

No Caption Provided

“So, it is true. You have returned”, the young man yells from a distance. “But, do you come as a friend?”

Storm is surprised initially by this and a little hurt given what they had before. Still, things had changed and she still was a mutant. No doubt he was the first to hear reports of a mutant invasion on Africa before anyone else.

”Yes, your majesty. I come as a friend....Actually, more than that. I come as an ally alongside what little help I have brought with me today. I have heard of the reports of mutants heading this way and I suspected a vile mutant named Magneto would surely be targeting Wakanda for obvious reasons”, Storm explains from the same distance, so as not to spook them.

“If what you say is indeed truth, then you and your friends will find no issue in putting these bracelets on to dampen your mutant abilities. A precaution for entering into my kingdom in a time of crisis”, he says as he holds up said device made to do just as he described.

”Agreed”, Storm says as she disperses the weather while traveling towards him with her team in tow. She smiles to him while offering her hand willingly for him to place the device over her wrist. “Greetings, T’Challa. It is good to see you again. I know my timing after all these years is inconvenient, but-“

”Actually, if what you say is true, your timing couldn’t be any better. Wakanda may have a lot more to defend itself against outsiders, but we have never faced anything like Magneto before. It has brought fear into the hearts of my people to say the least, so any knowledge and help you bring is greatly appreciated”, he says. Though no one could see it, Jean could tell there was a smile beneath the mask as he spoke to Orroro. The waves of feelings from both individuals made her giggle. Orroro took a step back with a blush when she had remembered her friends who were watching the exchange after putting on their respective mutant dampeners.

“My friends, this man is the king of Wakanda and close friend, King T’Challa to his kingdom, or Black Panther to outside nations“, Storm introduces, “these are my friends and team. Cyclops, Beast, and Marvel Girl are all who band together with me as The X-Men to promote peace between humanity and mutantkind, which sometimes may require us to stand up for either side in times of conflict.”

”Welcome, all. As I have told Storm, your arrival has proved timely. These brave warriors behind me are my guards, the Dora Milaje, with this woman as their commander here, Okoye. Come, we have much to discuss at my palace.”

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*******************

*Wakandan Palace*

No Caption Provided

“Welcome, X-Men, to my home.”

Storm had a smile on her face at the reactions the three had as they traveled across Wakanda, seeing all the advanced technology they had at their disposal. It was the exact reaction she had when she first visited. It was a place unlike any other on the planet. To visit alone would be an honor in itself, but Storm had connections to the King. She wondered if T’Challa still felt as he did about seeing more of the world and opening Wakanda’s borders. Things he talked about were her when they were young.

“Oh. My. Stars.....and garters.....”

Beast especially was enthralled by the futuristic sights when they made way to the palace. It would be something he surely would be talking about for months on end when they got home from this trip. Now, they were in the throne room and heading to what Orroro remembered was supposed to be the way to the lab, where all the ingenious pieces of technological plans had been manufactured and sent to factories in Wakanda for mass production.

“Everyone, I’d like to introduce to you my sister, head of the Wakandan Research and Inventions Department and next in line for the throne should I be unavailable for any reason, Princess Shuri.”

No Caption Provided

“Do I my eyes deceive me? Orroro Munro, what are you doing here?! Come on, give your sister a hug you!”, ShurI said as she made way to pull Storm into a big hug.

”It is good to see you to, sister”, Storm said with a trembling smile. She missed this place very much.

“Sister, these are Orroro’s friends, the X-Men. She never gave me their exact names, unless America has become more eclectic in naming their children, but for now they will go by Cyclops, Beast, and Marvel Girl”, T’Challa gestured to them. “What is the situation on the mutants?”

”As expected, they have been causing havoc to many cities of Africa. S.H.I.E.L.D as expected has gone to assist wherever they can in multiple cities alongside different superhero teams like the Avengers and Fantastic Four. Are you heading out to help?”, Shuri asked without taking her eyes off of her tablet.

”No. I would actually like to know if we have had any strange going ons around our borders”, T’Challa says, which causes Shuri to look up at him surprised before returning her attention to her tablet.

“....So, far, we have no signs of any activity outside our walls. Should we be expecting anything?”, Shuri asks inquisitively.

“Possibly. Orroro believes that Genosha might be targeting Wakanda-”, T’Challa explains.

“-with these attacks being distractions from us being real targets?”, Shuri finishes for him.

“Is that a possibility? We are largely unknown to the overall public, with only very few key individuals who know of our existence”, Okoye asks when the thought is voiced aloud.

“When Magneto’s involves, anything is possible”, Scott says seriously. “Though you may not be known to the world overall, mutants can come from anyone and everyone.....”

”....Including Wakanda”, Shuri says as she thinks about what Cyclops is hinting at. “You think our existence could have been revealed to Magneto by a fellow Wakandan?”

“As leader of Genosha, Magneto personally believes that one day, mutants will rule over mankind. If a hypothetical mutant believes in the same ideals of humanity being inferior or wants to profit off the spoils of war that this could bring-“, Beast explains further to where Shuri understands completely.

”-then they would hold allegiances to what they believe is the winning side....”, Shuri finished. “I still see no signs of Magneto or any mutants outside these walls. I will keep you posted.”

“Thank you, Shuri. I suppose until we have further word on the situation, you all can stay in the palace as my guests”, T’Chlla said.

********************

*Jean’s Guest Room*

She looks out over the city as the sunshine pours through the invisible barrier. As a little girl, she imagined herself as a Queen as any little girl would in certain phases of their lives. When the servant showed her guest room to her, she had ensured to contact Xavier to update him in the situation and their well-beings. Though they were on a mission, Jean wished on some level she were simply visiting to enjoy the sights with her closest friends....

Thinking about what she had just thought, Jean had indeed gotten closer to these students of Xavier. A second family to fill the void after separating from her own. Many go to school to better their education to get a good career. The irony in Jean’s life was she needed to be safe from the madman that she may just end up fighting anyways. After seeing so many times super-powered beings take advantage of those weaker than them, Jean never felt like there was any choice but to stand up for them. Nowadays, it was about those around her who could fall into danger than it was about herself. What could happen if she weren’t there for Scott, Orroro, Hank, Emma, or Warren?

Speaking of the people she cared so much for, she reached out with her mind to them. From her minds eye, she peered into the mind of a guard to watch Shuri And Hank.

No Caption Provided

“Fascinating. And all this is created through a single material that exists only in Wakanda?”, Beast asked as he was getting back from touring the Vibranium mines with Shuri.

”Yes, as far as anyone knows, only Wakanda, though we may have some evidence that their could be deposits somewhere in the Antarctic that were used to make Captain America’s shield. Mostly though, the greatest source is here. In fact, the suit my brother wears is actually a material laced entirely with Vibranium”, Shuri says as if she were telling a secret to Hank.

“That suit was a beauty when I first laid eyes on it. Still, why not make a completely Vibranium suit instead of fabric and Vibranium?”, Beast asks scratching his head.

”Well, that is because it is still metal, one of the hardest to break in fact. Meaning very uncomfortable. So, we settled for lacing it into the material or creating transports and weapons. Full-bodied Vibranium was a no-no, especially with its capabilities of absorbing and redistributing sound. Sheesh. They make for good loud-speaker at parties though”, Shuri says happily as she brings out a tube with a glowing material.

No Caption Provided

“My-my-my, this is truly an extraordinary material. What is the energy that surrounds it?”, Beast says examining it closer.

“It is the radiation that it naturally secretes in its natural state before we go through smelting process to not only kill all the foreign bacteria and radiation, but to properly morph it into what we need“, Shuri explains before putting it back with the other deposits. She then pulls out a device and hands it to Beast. “A gift for spending time with me and resparking some ideas I had through our discussion.”

”Oh, no, that isn’t necessary. I wanted to have this discussion. To learn of this great place, the technology, and rich history, I could not be more grateful”, Beast said.

”Too bad, because I am giving this to you. A vibranium device that creates a spherical shield construct that an absorb kinetic and other kinds of energy to build up and redirect it like the Black Panther suit. Take it and install it in your plane. It will be a life saver in your line of work”, Shuri says as she holds out the device to a truly astounded Hank.

Beast seems more than fine. I think we can leave him be and check on the others, Jean thinks. So she surveys the grounds until she comes upon a Dora Milaje who can see Storm and an unmasked T’Challa walking into the courtyard.

No Caption Provided

“You know, Orroro, I had gone and visited your mother’s village a while back. It was how I learn that you had gone to America”, T’Challa said.

“You had? I...why did you visit?”, Storm asked, not knowing how to process the information.

“To check on you. Geological scans showed while I was visiting London that there had been cyclone activity in that area...violent activity. I was worried....Then I go to find out you were taken hostage by a mad man. Why didn’t you call? I would have-“

”You are the exact last person I would have called in that instance?!”, Storm said forcefully before realizing what she had just said. “I-“

”Its fine, Orroro”, T’Challa said dismissively.

”Listen!”, Storm yelled with Thunder roaring from the extremity of her emotions. She calmed herself and spoke in a trembling voice as she recounted what happened to her. “I didn’t mean it like that. I meant that I didn’t want you anywhere near that kind of danger. Do you remember the man I told you I was running from?”

“Yes, Amahl Farouk. It was the story that inspired me to have father’s scientist work on telepathic shielding for our city. We used data from threats like Modok to compose them”, T’Challa said.

“It wouldn’t have been enough. That day you are speaking of was the day he found me. I thought I would be a prisoner for life had it not been for Jean, Emma, and the Professor“, Storm said as she saw a fly stuck on a spider web. “After I was freed, the elder had encouraged me to live a better life than the humble village. Since then, I had been a student of Xavier’s, learning to use my powers in ways I would have never thought possible, with a new belief that with this power, I can teach others a better way than what evil men like Magneto and Farouk had taught.”

“I am sorry I wasn’t there”, he says taking her hand. They were silent for a long moment, which Jean took as an opportunity to leave them alone. Okay, so Beast and Hank are fine. All that’s left was-

“Jean?”

“Scott! What are you doing here?”, Jean exclaimed as he walked into her room.

“Wanted to see how you were doing after not finding you anywhere”, Scott said.

“I am fine. I was checking in with the Professor before taking a look at how Hank and Orroro were doing”, Jean said.

”You were spying?”, Scott asked teasingly.

”Yes, actually. Not in an invasive way though. I was just checking on them, I swear”, Jean says as her cheeks tint.

”Relax, Jean. I am only teasing”, Scott said with a smile.

”You? Teasing?.....Are you sick?”, Jean says jokingly while feeling his head.

“Hey! Stop that”, he laughs with no real force behind the command. “I don’t know what it is but I feel more....relaxed I guess.”

”I can tell. It looks good on you”, Jean says observing his playful behavior. Why wasn’t he like this all the time, Jean wondered. She didn’t even think there was this side of him.

”You mean I don’t usually look good?”, Scott says with a smile.

”Okay, now I know you and Warren have spent way too much time together”, Jean laughs. “Scott....”

“Yes, Jean?”

”Don’t you ever wish things could be like this all the time for us?”, Jean asks. Jean was forever grateful to the Professor for giving this chance for them, but she would have been lying if she said she had not dreamed of being normal for once in her life.

“I.....I suppose. I don’t know. It’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but being an X-Man has given me.....purpose after the whole thing with Essex”, Scott said reflecting on his old caretaker for the first time since seeing Alex.....Alex....

”You don’t have to face him if it makes you uncomfortable Scott. Just a simple telepathic suggestion and-“

”Thanks, Jean, but no. I can’t give up on Alex just yet. As much as I am dreading it, I want to have the chance of getting through to him, before....”

Scott trails off into silence. Not wishing to ruin the silence, Jean simply hugs Scott as they watch the view of the city. As they were beginning to relax further, a female voice from behind suddenly speaks.

”Ms. Grey, I am sorry for interrupting you, but the Princess has summoned you....”

********************

*Wakandan Research Lab*

“Thank you for doing this Ms. Grey. Orroro had spoken highly of yours, your friends, and your Professor’s telepathic gifts. According to her, Modok was much lower on the food chain than comparatively, so in preparation of this possible battle, we have been in need of an upgrade on our psi shielding. First though, we need to measure your energy output psionically”, Shuri says from behind the glass as she fiddles with different buttons and switches.

Jean was sitting on a stool in a small room with a helmet set promptly on her head. She was a little uncomfortable being a spectacle, but for the sake of safety and science she was honoring the wishes of the princess. What amused her though was watching Beast looking over Shuri’s shoulder as he geeked out over the technological marvel in front of him.

“Okay, Jean, I would like to test the machines to see that all is in working order. So, what you shall do is communicate a thought to me mentally. Just a small one to ensure me“, Shuri says to her in the microphone connected to the console.

”You know, Hank, it’s impolite to drool on the princess”, Jean telepathically says with a smirk.

“Yes, Hank, it is. I will excuse it, but that is usually considered high treason by royal law”, Shuri says as she holds in her laughter. Hank pales when he turns to see a Dora Milaje pointing her spear at Hank.

”Ahem. You’re kidding, right?”, Hank asks in a higher pitch than he normally speaks in.

“Of course, Hank. It’s all perfectly fine”, Shuri says with a smile. Hank then looks back and sighs in relief when the trained guard giggles. “Okay, Jean. You did excellently. Now comes the real test. Psi-shields have been engaged. This time, we will test the lengths of your powers and how well they hold up. Our scanner may use Modok as a way of scaling, but he is not the threshold. So, what I would like you to do is produce psychic waves. The room you are in and the machine you are hooked to are specially designed to withstand great energy outputs, so you should be fine to go nuts with it. On my signal, you let it rip. Ready........and.......start!”, Shuri says as she presses a button to start the testing.

Closing her eyes, Jean starts producing raw telepathic energy, at first only slightly. On the monitors, her readings are below that of Modoks general readings, yet her pulse is reading very high.

“Do not fret, Jean. I promise you we will be alright. This test is entirely safe and would only improve if you give it your all. It can take it. Just let go of your inhibitions”, Shuri encourages gently as she keeps her eyes firmly on monitoring Jean’s brain activity and vitals.

With that coaxing, Jean let’s go a little more, going to levels that would cause slight pain to anyone in mere proximity. Normal for moderate telepaths of her caliber and even below. As she does, she is suddenly taken back...

No Caption Provided

“.....Shuri, I think you should turn it off.....”, Hank says as he watches Jean trembles with a look of turmoil on her face.

“I......Hank, these readings.....”, Shuri says astounded as the readings slowly rise further and further up the scale and her brain activity increases in multiple sections of her brain. Her pulse raises too as more psychic power is generated.

“Shuri, please.....”, Hank pleads as he sees Jeans tears fall. Suddenly, he gets an image........

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“......Shadow King”, Hank utters.

”You saw that too?....She is already topping our charts, but her brain activity tells of her only having more in store”, Shuri says as she watches the monitors in awe.

“Shuri, TURN IT OFF!!!”, Hank yells distressingly.

”NO! Are you crazy?! Modok’s powers alone are capable of frying someone’s brain enough to give them slight brain damage. Our shields are built to withstand that kind of power, yet not only is she topping our charts with more to spare, she has pierced our shields casually. The fact that we aren’t on the floor convulsing from the sheer psychic energy is due to that room made of Vibranium that is containing the energy. Even then, look at the shuttering! She is pushing the limits of our technology. If I turn it all off, that built up energy is released like a f**king time bomb and everyone within a 10 mile radius will be done for! The person who needs to stop is her”, Shuri points to Jean.

“Jean....Jean, its Hank....”, Hank says into the mic before another image appears in their heads.

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“.....Jean you have to stop!”, Hank says after snapping out of his daze.

”Go. Lock the door and enable the emergency defenses for this room. Tell T’Challa get over here after this is over. Whatever you do, though, do not, I repeat.....Do. Not. Open. That. Door. For everyone’s sake”, Shuri tells the woman before turning to Hank with a helmet. The guard promptly exits the lab and enables the security measure Shuri said before turning on the monitor to watch.

”Hank, put this on. An extra layer of protection”, Shuri says as she hands him a psi-proof helmet. He puts on the helmet and continues to get to Jean.

“Jean, please, listen. This is Hank. You are fine. Everything is okay, but I need you to power down, before innocent people get hurt.....Jean...”

One last image enters her head......

No Caption Provided

.......before she gives out and falls unconscious briefly. The psychic energy begins to dissipate and Jean awakes with panting breaths in Hanks arms as he and Shuri look he over.

”Shuri, I came as soon as you called”, T’Challa runs inside with Storm right next to him before running to Jean at the sight of her breathless on the ground.

“Jean?! Are you alright? What happened?”, Orror asks worriedly.

“Well....brother....I got the data”, Shuri says simply to T’Challa. “.......we need to update everything.”

*********************

*Jean’s room*

“JEAN!”

Scott runs into the room and looks over Jean everywhere. He was acting as if they had told him I were physically injured, Jean thinks amusedly.

”Scott. Scott, I’m fine!”, Jean consoles.

”I am so sorry, Jean. I knew I should have been there, but-“

”Scott! I’m. Fine! I told you to spend some time for yourself and I am glad you did. If anyone could use some time for themself, it’s you”, Jean said with a smile.

”It was probably a good call. Though no one was seriously hurt, there was that possibility. The less casualties, the better is what I say”, Hank utters before studying Jean. “......Jean, what happened back there?”

”......I don‘t know, Hank....I think I may need to speak to the Professor when I get home about this experience”, Jean says sadly. She thought she was pretty okay after all was said and done, but given the events that had transpired, it went from just fine to traumatizing in mere seconds.

“So long as you get the help you need, Jean. We will be here for you to if you need to talk. At anytime you need us”, Orroro says earnestly as she hugs Jean.

“Thanks, everyone....what would I do without you all....”, Jean says as she looks at the three of them appreciatively. Her friends....her family......

The moment is ruined as sirens ring across the city.

“It’s the alarms systems. Someone has breached our walls. All of you to the throne room. You will meet with the King promptly”, a Dora Milaje guard says as she leads them to their destination.

No Caption Provided

Walking into the throne room, they are met with commotion as T’Challa discusses with the group of elders and governors over the right course of action regarding the invaders.

”My counsel, I would like to introduce our mutant allies whom have engaged the Brotherhood of Mutants in battle before. They will be of great service or us”, T’Challa says as the X-Men walk towards the meeting.

“How do we know we can trust them?”, a governess asks suddenly as she glares at the group.

“We can trust them. In fact, they have been incredible help to our defenses. As it is, our improved defense structure these past few days with them have done wonders. Our only concern though is this mutant right here”, Shuri explains as she pulls up a display of the mutant woman in red.

”Wanda Maximoff, also known as the Scarlet Witch”, Cyclops speaks first. “She is a tricky one. Her powers deal with otherworldly energies called Chaos Magic, according to Doctor Strange.”

”You know Doctor Strange?”, another governor asks suddenly.

”Not personally, though the Professor has connections who know the good Doctor”, Beast briefly explains to the group.

“Magic? I don’t believe we have a scientific counter to it, but we do have our spiritual aspects. I think engaging our ancestral runes from Bast’s priests should do well to hold off the Witches powers”, Shuri thinks. “Next, we have these fellas....”

The room is silent as a picture of two individuals are brought up. The shorter one in a leather jacket with jeans and a white tank top and the other in a one piece suit with brown stripes, clawed gloves, and fur accents on the collar and arm.

“....No, information?”, Shuri asks.

“I’m afraid these ones might be new ones or just forces Magneto had yet to unleash”, Beast answers as they all study the new individuals.

“Unknown variables. This oughta be fun”, Shuri jokes before moving onto the next pictures of the red-skinned mutant and a purple female ninja brandishing a katana.

“Bennet du Paris, Aka Exodus. He is an Omega Level Telekinetic with high order telepathic powers and teleportation abilities. I think it’s best if I handle him”, Jean says before looking to the woman in purple. “The woman is not on S.H.I.E.L.D files, so we can’t give much on background beyond that her name is Kwannon, but she goes by the name Revanche. She is an alpha level telepath who favors martial arts mixed in with psionic constructs of pure telepathic energy.”

“Interesting. Can you do that as well?”, Shuri asks curiously.

”Uh.......no....”, Jean admits.

“Okay, then. Moving on. I think we are all familiar with Magneto here, electromagnetic control on global levels and all-around psychopath leading an army. Anything I am missing?”, Shuri asks.

“Only that he is an Omega Level Mutant like me, Jean, Exodus, and the Scarlet Witch. His fine control over the electromagnetic spectrum is so precise that he can to control the very iron in a persons blood if he wishes it to be. Not only that, but along with his psi-proof helmet, his EM shields can scramble telepathic powers, making it all the more difficult to breach his defenses. Only telepaths on Xavier’s and Jean’s level could possibly breach that, but given Exodus is on the field, I think it is best if I face Magneto alone”, Storm says to the assembly.

”No. Facing a madman as powerful as that is out of the question Orroro. If you really are planning this, then take any one of my guards with you. Or one of your teammate, anything to have your back”, T’Challa exclaims. The counsel of people look in shock at their king from his display of anger.

”I understand your worry, but it wouldn’t be a good idea to put anyone else in his path. If anyone should aid me, it must be from afar, since no one can get close enough to him with his shields activated. I know I don’t have what it takes to beat him just yet, but I think can at least take down the shields. When I do, you must not hold back anything”, Storm says determinedly.

Suddenly, the palace rumbles as multiple booms sound from different areas.

“They have breached the palace”, Okoye says before another rumble happens.

”No, scanners indicate that it’s being cleaned from its base. Magneto is trying to lift it!”, Shuri exclaims wide-eyed.

“Very well“, T’Challa finally complied with Orroro before putting his mask on. “Shuri, lead the counsel out theough the back way and alert our soldiers to not engage Magneto until they are given the signal. Be careful, Orroro.”

“I shall”, Orroro affirms to him before taking flight.

The rest of the group disperses, with Cyclops walking beside Shuri to guard her. As they do, they are suddenly met by Revanche and the larger man from before.

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“Wakandans, you have one chance for surrender before me and my ally here slice through the lot of you. Reveal to us the location of your weapon cache this instant”, Kwannon says to them as she conjures a psi-blade from her knuckle.

Scott then looks to the grinning brute who takes two man ing steps forward with a large toothy grin, displaying sharp teeth to go with the claws of his hands.

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“Please, by all means refuse. She has been having me be good this whole time and I am hankerin’ to rip the flesh off of the lot of ya”, the man says.

”I have. My friend, Sabertooth, is a wild one. The minute I release him, I may not be capable of stopping him in time before you all perish”, Kwannon warms further.

“Get behind me, Princess, I will handle this”, Scott says before firing an optic blast that hurls Sabertooth into a wall at the end of the hall. He then fires at Kwannon who uses her telepathy to anticipate his shots before he shoots them, dodging every optic beam with simple easy.

“That is entirely unnecessary”, Shuri tells Scott before firing her gauntlets at Kwannon at rapid speeds. Though the first many shots miss Kwannon, the improved psi-shields keep Shuri’s mind cloaked from Kwannon’s telepathy, which gave Shuri her chance to shoot Kwannon away finally.

Before the group could move forward, Sabertooth gets up and stretches a little to work out the kinks before readying into his position.

“Nice shot, but you won’t get any more on me this time”, Sabertooth says before running forward, dodging every shot Scott and Shuri make. When he just about gets close enough, Shuri moves in front of Scott and puts up an energy shield that Sabertooth slices at repeatedly with great ferocity.

”All of you, run and lock yourself in the nearest room. Me or Scott or one of the guard will come for you soon”, she says to the group. When she turns, she finds that the shield is punctured by Revanche’s psi-blade and is promptly slid open before it completely dissipates.

The two make use of their respective trainings to evade their attackers as best they could, but with so little room, it doesn’t take long before Sabertooth nicks Scott’s side and throws him away. Meanwhile, Shuri and Revanche are at a stalemate as neither gives the other an opening.

“Your efforts are useless. If you’d just surrender, your life could have been safe”, Revanche utters as she tries to pin Shuri who blocked her attack with an arm energy shield from her gauntlet.

“No one would be safe with a madman like Magneto leading a country. I will not simply stand and watch my home crumble at the hands of invaders who selfishly seek what doesn’t belong to them”, Shuri says with gritted-teeth.

“Such honor is admirable, but it will ultimately be your downfall”, Revanche says before jumping back, which causes Shuri to stumble forward. Just then, a shadow appears over her and she turns to see Sabertooth raise his arm ready for a strike.

“NO!”, Scott yells as he fires a wide range optic blast at Sabertooth, which promptly sends him flying out the room through a newly made hole by Scott’s optic blast. Scott then runs to Shuri, to check on her, only to be struck in the head with a psychic katana from Revanche.

“Why do you people oppose your own kind? Why?!.........So, your Xavier’s lackey’s, interesting. What other secrets are you hiding? Gah!”

Before she could delve deeper into Scott’s head, Shuri blasts Revanche into the wall and catches Scott before he could fall. She then carries him away from Revanche who is busy recovering from being stunned by the blast.

“We have no choice, Scott. We must use another route out of the palace”, Scott heres Shuri day before losing consciousness.

**********************

*the Wakandan lab*

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Exodus destroys the door with ease as he enters the futuristic laboratory. Floating, skins the schematics before finding a computer to enter his usb drive in and download the information. If he could, he would have preferred storing the information in his head, but he was no technopath, so he would stick to the tiny device as his master had commanded.

”Better not get any viruses on their computer“, Jean says from behind him in the small room where she tested her powers.

”Well, well. The girl comes back for round two, eh”, Exodus chuckles. “You needed help last time we fought to defeat me. I think you would do well to surrender to me.”

“And I think you should come over and say that to my face”, Jean says without moving from her spot.

“Very well, I will do you one better”, Exodus says before disappearing and reappearing behind Jean. “I don’t think you can handle me from up-close, so I will make this as quick and painless as possible.”

Before he can do anything though, Jean suddenly disappears as well. The door shuts closed tightly, trapping Exodus inside. Angered at being fooled by an insignificant girl, he Exodus hurls a telekinetic bolt still the door. The Vibranium absorbs the impact and promptly unleashes the energy back at Exodus, causing him to hit the wall behind him. He gets up frustrated further and tries for a telepathic scan.

”Hurry, Beast. Turn on psi-shields“, Jean implores Beast from behind the room, who was on a tablet connected to the systems.

“One active psi-shield enhanced by our favorite red-head, coming.....right up!”, Beast says as the machines whir to life and Exodus is effectively trapped.

“Fools! No prison can contain the great Exodus for long! If you value your lives, you will release me this instant before I lose all patience“, Exodus says as he thrashes at the room with telekinetic blasts repeatedly to no avail.

“How long do you think it will hold him, Hank?”, Jean asks. Before he can answer, Jean gets a sense she had not noticed before in the room. “Beast, look out!”

Took late. Right behind Beast was the shorter man they had seen from security previously. In one swift move he grabs Beasts head and knocks him into the wall next to him hard enough to knock Beast unconscious.

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“Sorry, Red, but I can’t have ya alerting anybody. Nothin’ personal”, the man says in a low growl-like voice.

“Wolverine! Release me at once!”, Exodus yells from the small room. The man doesn’t react beyond snickering at the other mans torment.

“You’re not releasing him”, Jean asks tentatively.

“Nah. He’s a douche and my priority was only to get this drive back to Magneto ASAP”, the man says as he takes the drive from the computer terminal.

”I can’t let you go with that”, Jean says snapping out of her perplexity are this walking contradiction.

”Really?”, he says with a smirk.

”Yes, Logan. I ca-“

Before Jean could finish, the man pins her to the wall with two metal claws out and the middle one threatening to extend at the bottom of her chin.

”A goddamn esper. I’d ask if ya liked what ya saw, but the very fact that you could see what’s inside means you’re too powerful to keep around. Nothin’ personal, kid”, Logan says.

********************

*Outside the palace*

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”I can feel it. The Vibranium is under this palace. I just got to-“

Before he could finish his thought, a flash of lightning strikes his shield, prompting him to drop the palace.

“Magneto!”

”Ah, we meet again, child. I see you have gotten a new costume. The black suits you greatly. I do hope this time you have seen the folly in your ways”, Magneto says.

“You may have had the upper hand previously, but I have gotten more powerful since our last confrontation. With it, I will not fail in stopping you!”, Storm says with thunder roaring across the skies.

“Tempting, but perhaps some other time. Wanda, if you please.......Wanda?”, Magneto says before turning to where Wanda was previously. Surrounded in a bubble of magical energy, WaNDA endeavors to blast at the magical prison that contains her chaos magic.

“Hurry, Orroro, the runes have captured Wanda. Take him before she breaks through them”, Okoye shouts.

Magneto turns to Storm and puts out his hands in time to fortify his shields against a repeated lightning assault one after the other. Gathering the energy from Storm’s attacks, Magneto shoots back a blast of electromagnetic energy that momentarily shuts down the electronics of the area like an EMP, while also successfully throwing Storm back.

“I see you have been expecting a confrontation beforehand. I guess if you went to so much trouble, I will oblige this once in a battle of our powers. Just know that you will lose, child”, Magneto says as he raises metal from around the area and flings them at Storm.

Before they can hit her though, Black Panther jumps in front and activates a kinetic shield to absorb the impact of the different metal.

“Orroro, take to the skies while I have his attention!”, Black Panther commands before unleashing a pulse of energy at Magneto. The pulse doesn’t break through, though Magneto does make some effort to maintain his balance given the built up force. As Storm takes the opportunity to fly up, Magneto sweeps T’Challa side with but a single gesture.

“Skies above, heed my command! Unleash your fury upon my adversary”, Storm shouts as she raises high into the dark clouds above.

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As the skies rain down bolts of lightning onto the shield of the Master of Magnetism, Storm electrifies herself with more and more power from the gathering clouds. The winds rush around her and Magneto violently as he maintains his shield. In efforts to stop her, he raises his hand to throw more metal at her. As he does though, he is suddenly flanked on all sides by the Dora Milaje as they shoot energy blasts from their spears. With a wave of his hand, he sweeps the woman away from him.

Before he can return his attention back on Storm, T’Challa activates a function in his suit where the Vibranium are powered up with energy, forming a small field to protect him as he charges into the shield and clasps at the surface. When Magneto pushes him away, Black Panther gets back up and shoots a concentrated blast at Magneto’s shield once more. Having enough of the mans insolence, Magneto gestures to him and tears apart the suit before flinging T’Challa away.

As he turns back to Storm, she has charged enough power in herself. Unknown to the Master of Magnetism, Storm had a play of her own where Shuri has laced her suit with Vibranium that travels from all over her body to her bracelets that held her cape. The built up energy would be necessary for a kinetic force to be properly unleashed, which was where the distraction from T’Challa and the guards were needed. The next step was a risky play, but she moves forward with no options left. With the built up power of the elements, Storm charges her body, summoning the winds to swirl around her as she flies directly down at Magneto at high speed.

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The resulting impact is an incredible explosion of energy that tosses back not only the people near it, but even large structures like the Panther statues are broken and thrown off. What is left is a crater with Magneto still left standing, panting while looking down at an unconscious Storm.

“Not bad, but not enough. A shame that such power would be wasted on such futile efforts as this. You would have been a most prized member of our Brotherhood had you any sense. Pity“, Magneto says before raising his hand to finish Orroro off. Before he could though, he is suddenly attacked by an onslaught of laser blasts from soldiers on stand-by. Barely having enough strength to keep up his shield, Magneto backs away from the blasts looking for shelter to hide behind to gather his strength.

“Don’t repent one bit men!”, Okoye commands the army as they drive the Master of Magnetism away.

“Enough!”

Suddenly, the army is hit wave after wave by incredible amounts of red energy. Scarlet Witch has freed herself from her restraints.

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”Father! We‘ve no choice! There is too many of them and we have used too much of our energy to keep going! We must retreat!”, Wanda says as she puts up a shield for her and her father. The man really hated that she was right, but if he were to succeed in the long run, he would have to take a loss now.

“You have one this round, X-Man. But I will remember this and I won’t lose again”, Magneto tells Storm who was starting to awaken.

With a nod from her father, Wanda summons her chaos magic and teleports her and her father away. The Wakandans rejoice heartily after the two mutants disappear from sight. T’Challa walls up to Storm and promptly carries her away to the infirmary to care for her wounds.

**********************

*back in the lab*

He was hoping for panic and pleading to keep her alive, but that wasn’t what he got.

“....well, I’m waiting”, Jean said to him completely unphased. She was scared as hell, but she hid it well given the experiences she had been through. Logan could tell from her heartbeat she was scared, but the fact she held such a good poker face had him curious.

”I have been stalling this entire time. Shouldn’t ya be hurling mental bolts of energy at me?”

”Shouldn’t you be extending the metal blades engraved in your bones through my skull”, Jean rebuttals. “Yes, Logan, I am a powerful psychic and as we speak I am digging into your head a bit, but the places you explicitly want me to stay out of, I am staying out of.”

”Why?“, Logan asks confused suddenly as he retracts his claws.

”Because I know you don’t want to hurt me. I know your intentions, as confusing as they are, aren’t malicious, unlike the minds I have felt ever since they got here or the others in New York”, Jean says confidently as he backs away. “I respect your privacy, despite your lack of respect for my personal space.”

“Well”, he begins as he retracts his claws. “Ain’t ya just a picture perfect example of virtue.”

“Like it or not, I know evil. I have witnessed it personally in more ways than one”, Jean said looking away.

”So, what? You are a leading authority all of a sudden on what makes a good man? Trust me, Red. I’m not good news. If yours seen all the things I have done in my life....the people I have killed.....”, Logan says seriously to her. She studies him for a moment before looking away again to hide what’s inside.

“If killing someone is the threshold that makes a bad person.....I guess I am not the virtuous girl you think I am“, she says before turning away. This actually surprised him. What kind of f**ked up superheroing was she always up to? What were these people making her do to make her say that, of all things?

“Look, Red, I-“

Before he could finish, the room that held Exodus finally exploded, giving way to his awesome telekinetic power.

”No more hiding behind walls”, Exodus said as the servers and different machines exploded in reaction to his rage. “This time, X-Man, your life is forfeit!”

”Red, look out!”

As Logan begin to jump at her to get her out of the way, she encases him in a telekinetic shield before she creates another around herself to block Exodus telekinetic blasts. Encasing Hank in one of his own, she lifts the trio out of the lab and into the cloudy skies before lowering them all quickly to the courtyard below. When she safely set them down and away, she flies at Exodus full force and enters a battle that has them crashing into different structures.

“Damn. Guess she never had a thing to worry about with me, huh, kid”, Logan says to Hank who was readying to pounce at him, which he stops dead in his tracks in surprise at the remark to him.

”You knew?”

”Takes a lot to surprise me these days. Your friend being one of them”, Logan says as he watches Jean match Exodus attacks one after the other. “Here! Take the USB and destroy it. Can’t let a bad guy like Magneto get his hands on this kind of thing. Ya hear?”

”Uh.....sure...”

Without another word, Logan walks away at Kwannon’s command of retreat for the entire Brotherhood.

“Blast it!....You have one this time, X-Man, but you have not seen the last of Exodus!”

With that proclamation, Exodus disappears in a blinding light. It was over. Wakanda stands triumphant in a battle against some of the most powerful mutants on the planet.

**********************

*two days after*

“I suppose this good-bye?”, T’Challa asks as the X-Men ready to board their plane.

”With Magneto gone from Wakanda and rebuilding going well, it is about time for me to return home”, Storm says.

”You could regard this as your home. You are always welcome. As are your friends after the intense battles they have fought for a country not their own”, T’Challa says as he remembered the injuries sustained from the team and reflecting on how much worse it could have been he the X-Men not came around to help.

”Of course. Perhaps someday I will return, especially if Wakanda ever has need of me again. For now, my place is with the X-Men. Take car, T’Challa. You have made me proud of the kingdom you have built”, Storm says as she hugs him before entering the plane.

As he waves them off, he silently makes a promise to himself to reserve a place for her at his court. Hopefully, she would agree the next time she returned......

********************

*Genoshan Citadel*

“So, Charles is the one responsible for bringing together these children who keep opposing me?”, Magneto asks Revanche in his throne room.

”Yes. I got it straight from the mind of the one called Cyclops”, Revanche explained.

“Charles.....why must you ever be so stubborn you bastard.....if Charles is raising an army than we have more to worry about than before. No one knows me better than Charles Xavier and given how well-trainers his students are, it’s imperative that we start getting more vigorous in our training as well. Revanche, Exodus to double our training regime’s in preparation for more inevitable confrontations with X-Men”, Magneto commands.

Without another word, Revanche complies and exits, leaving the leader of mutantkind to ponder his next move.

*******************
End of Chapter