Epic X-Men #2: Two of A Kind
*The Next Month*
“Alright, you two. It’s about time you both rest your wonderful minds and start having a nice refreshing glass lemonade”, Moira says walking into the the classroom that only Emma and Xavier used for the moment.
As the two telepaths talked aloud to each other, Moira reflected on Emma’s time here at the school.
The moment Emma arrived, she had quite the strong personality, one that reminded Moira of herself to some extent. But unlike Moira, who had a fairly good childhood, Emma’s attitude told one of the corrupt atmosphere’s. If Moira hasn’t been there with Charles when he pinpointed Emma’s location on Cerebro, the mutant locating machine made to increase Charles telepathic powers, Moira would have most likely ignored the signs of Emma digging into Moira’s head. Thankful for the knowledge and planning to see that Charles has everything needed to start his school, Moira kept on guard with help from Charles around Emma. Though Charles didn’t give exact details, he had warned Moira while he was on the road of Emma’s nonchalance about reading another persons mind without permission. Moira knew Charles wouldn’t force his ideals on her, but he wouldn’t allow Emma to probe further than the surface level. Despite these actions, Moira pitied the poor girl. And Emma knowing that was what most likely kept her beginning treatment towards Moira as less than welcoming.
Still, Moira wouldn’t allow this to be the state of their relationship. She would not fail another child when she saw them hurting. As Moira knew she would, Emma flourished under the new environment, with a kinder hand with better intent with discipline, Emma already showed so much promise, not only in mastering her powers in such a short time or her intelligence through her studies, but as an individual after warming up to both Charles and Moira. The mistrust was still there and the both of them wouldn’t pry, but they would be there when she was ready to open up.
”Thank you, Moira. The lemonade is quite acceptable”, Emma said to Moira.
”It’s no bother, lass. You two have been at this studying for quite some time, I figured you could use a pick-me-up, of sorts. How is she coming along, Charles?”, Moira asked her old friend.
”Quite amazingly. She is a prodigy from my standpoint. How easily she picks up on her telepathic lessons is truly astonishing. This month alone, she has managed to expand her range without being overwhelmed, block out other telepaths from her inner thoughts-“
”A lesson that is very much appreciated, Charles”, Emma chimes in suddenly.
”Professor, dear”, Xavier corrects. “As I was saying, with all that learned, we can add psychic pain inducement to her repertoire, as well as her excelling in the different class assignments Cerebro teaches her.”
“Thats marvelous, dear! I’m quite as proud as Charles hearing this. How do you feel after a month of living here, young lass?”, Moira asks with every earnest intent. Moira could still tell how uncomfortable it makes her for someone to be so interested in her with Emma’s uncertain response, but for the good of progress, Moira would continue her efforts.
”Well....it’s been rather nice. You’ve all been real kind and I thank you for it.”
“Your welcome, child. In fact, because you made such progress, I think it’s time I reveal to you another foundation for the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, something I purposely did hide until you were ready”, Charles said excitedly.
Emma truly did not know how to feel about this. As she watched Xavier wheel out of the room with Moira beckoning her to follow, she reflected on what she knew and felt. She knew Charles had his secrets, but even after all the training, she still could not pierce his defenses, as much as she tried with her all might. Charles never scolded her for it. In fact, since it would be a way for her to grow stronger, he purposely kept more things from her and revealed them slowly, which tempted Emma all the more to find those answers. He knew it would goad her to push and she knew it was what he was doing, but she couldn’t help herself. Even as the man slept, where his defenses waned significantly, she couldn’t dive any further than his surface thoughts, which at some point would fade into obscure images of his dreams. The most she could get would be what her empathy could feel from his emotions, which would disappear when he had awaken. Even now, with Moira, whose mind has been only as open as Charles would allow, it was now completely closed to her. Surprises made Emma uneasy, for there was no control for her over the outcome of the secret until he revealed what he hid from her.
They walked to the elevator and Emma watched intently as Charles wheeled inside the tiny room and unveiled a hidden panel that was hidden by the design of the elevator. A panel Emma had not noticed. When Charles presses the button, she felt the elevator move for too long than elevators should. Or maybe the nervousness she felt prolonged the wait. Either way, she couldn’t contain her amazement when the doors opened to reveal the sub-basement built on every side with chrome flooring and walls. It looked so futuristic and expensive. Just how much money did this man have and why would he want to spend it on children like her? Was he really so invested in a hypothetical future of peaceful coexistence between humanity and mutants that he would go to such lengths? It’s absolute insanity, she thought. The unfair part? She clearly heard Xavier chuckle, indicating he heard her thoughts and she was still blocked out.
From the elevator, Charles started his tour of the new area.
“Welcome to the sub-basement. This will be the base of operations of where we will dictate our plan of action for the future of mutantkind. If you see on your left and right, these doors lead two different labs. With Moira’s oversight, I directed the building of these labs to continue forward in mutant developments, one for scientific testing and building and the other a medical bay. Now if you follow me....”, Xavier said as he started to move forward. “Down this hallway that we are walking on, to your right is what I dub the Danger Room. You won’t find use with it, given the nature of a telepaths abilities not holding any real world application beyond living beings, but for new students with more physical power sets, the Danger room will act as a physical education room, albeit with more bumps and bruises that could be potentially available.”
That does it. This man was crazy. Not wanting to anger a powerful individual not in his right mind, Emma walked through the doors with him to find a room with a large console that had a window overseeing a bigger, empty room. Looking to her lower right into the room, she saw a door that she assumed was leading to the same hallway that the medical was around. When Charles presses a button, she saw different machines appear from the walls, ranging in different variations of deadliness. Some parts looked like an obstacle course, while others looked like clawed death machines and torture devices.
“No lasers, Charles? Pity”, Emma sarcastically remarks. Stupid response yes, but a normal response nonetheless for Emma when threatened.
“Make no mistake, Emma. This room is definitely not to be taken lightly, but I ensured protocols were in place to keep sure that no one using the room would be seriously harmed. For all intents and purposes, the room is relatively safe to use.”
With that, he turns off the Danger Room and continues over to the room across from the Danger Room.
“This is the security room, where surveillance on the entire mansion is made, as well as notifying me of the overall situation of the world.”
“Ever heard of the news? Very trendy thing people young and old use these days for that kind of info“, Emma says.
“I find them to be a little slow about information. If there is any problems I should know regarding mutants and humans, I can better prepare from a more unbiased standpoint”, Xavier rebuttals. “Now, to continue to the reason I brought you down here.”
Out the door and into the hallway, the three travel to the end of the hall, where a lone door stood. Leaning towards the center of the large X shape, Emma saw a circular light beam to Charles eye before opening. As it did, she hear an electronic male voice greet him inside. The voice she recognized to be the Cerebro program that Charles introduces as her electronic mentor. Emma had initially thought Cerebro was some sort of school course that Charles downloaded in an effort to be up-to-date with current technology. Now...this man may just be ahead of the times, surpassed by Stark Industries of course, discovered after taking her own private tour of the place, during one of her fathers meetings with the company, and meeting Tony Stark, a young genius about her age or a year older who occasionally took on the worlds crime rings as the metal armored vigilante, Iron Man. That’s what she gathered from his thoughts anyways. He was very fun.
“This, Emma, is Cerebro. You May recognize it as one of your electronic lectures, but that is a secondary function of its capabilities, to teach my students in my absence. It’s first function, though, is all-around more fantastic. With the helmet that you see at that console there, it can enhance a telepaths reach to global levels with the right training and practice”, Charles explained to the young lady, who kept looking at the very spacious and spherical room.
“I wanted so bad to see her reaction to this place, Charles. Now that I am satisfied with what I saw, I shall see to making us three some dinner. How would you two feel about some pot roast?”, Moira asks enthusiastically.
“That would be great, Moira. Thank you”, he says without taking his eyes off the awed young teen. Moira never blamed him. After Erik has left their lives, Charles has been a rather lonely man, as much as Moira tried to rectify it. Still, who but a fellow telepath like himself could truly understand the troubles and marvels that Charles witnessed as a psychic, and a powerful one at that. Emma’s arrival was truly a blessing and she thanked whatever lord listened and watched over her dearest friend for that blessing.
“So, I take it I am here to learn to use this device? For what purpose?”, Emma asks eyeing the helmet.
”Well”, he starts as he puts the headgear on and flipping some switches in front of Emma. With that, the lights dim in the room and a holographic image of the Earth with two groups of lights scattered across its surface appears. “You will be sensing the minds of everyone on the planet, but our goal is to choose from the number of mutants that exist on Earth to see if there would be an interest in our school. It cannot be just any mutant though. If I had the capability, I would invite everyone here, but like humans, not every mutant is ready to accept just what they are, which most notably means they probably wouldn’t be so receptive to a school specifically created to learn more about their true nature. There are also some who don’t have their mutant powers just yet, so we wouldn’t want to turn their worlds upside-down just yet. So, without diving to deeply, we will passively scan the minds, looking for someone wondering about a certain place where they can be themselves. The white being the most that makes up the population on Earth is humanity. The red is where are fellow mutants are.”
For a moment, Emma marveled at the sight of so many like her on the face of the planet, represented in tiny lights. She felt Charles presence grow, too, a presence she remembers having been with her multiple times when she first became a mutant. How long has he been watching her? It sounds incredibly creepy, but given who this man is, perhaps it could have been for the best. Now, she wanted a turn wearing the goofy helmet.
“So, what do I do? Put it on and think?”, Emma asks as he hands the helmet over to her.
As he adjusts some knobs and presses buttons, he explains in an undertone, ”Quite the contrary. You will be listening. It will be a situation similar to blocking out other people’s thoughts, but instead of completely ignoring them, you will sift through them. Cerebro will do the filing and organizing. Once you find someone, we will go ahead to meet them in person and invite them to join our school”.
As Emma focused on the different voices, the scene behind her fades from her thoughts. It is so easy to be in this room, to forget where she is and be entranced in so many lives. Charles knew this well, so he made sure to not be so abrupt when he spoke to her, but loud enough to gain her attention.
”What have you found, Emma?”, Charles said to her with his own mind.
Before Emma could give her reply, she catches something strange. A presence that had just awakened louder than any of the others. Her curiosity consuming her, she imagines walking closer to the light that called to her, though it doesn’t seem to realize it is doing it to begin with. A new mutant.....a girl just like Emma and Charles........
*Annadale on Hudson*
A red-headed girl, walking from school to her home with her best friend, turns to her friend who happens to be looking at her with visible annoyance.
”Okay, Jean, what’s going on? I know you said you’ve been having a headache, but you have been acting really weird since. Daydreaming in the middle of conversations and class, forgetting what you’re doing in the moment after said daydreams, and now, you look like you aren’t even interested in what I am saying. I mean, seriously, Jean, what is it?”, exclaims Jean’s next door neighbor, someone Jean considered to be her bestest friend in the world as a child, and still does to this day.
“Sorry, Annie. I just...thought I heard something”, Jean responds uncertain.
”And now you are hearing voices? I don’t know, Jean. Maybe we should tell your ma. Maybe-“
”No!”, Jean says quickly interrupting. “I am fine, really! We would worry her for no reason. I don’t think I am ready to give my parents more reason to be any more overprotective than they already are. The fact that Sarah and I are the only kids left who haven’t gone off to college just yet, is enough for them to schedule family time weeks upon weeks. Right now, I just want to spend time with my best friend. Please?”
With a sigh, her friend relents to Jean’s plea. With that taken care of, the girls finally stop in front of Jean’s home.
“Hey, I know what we haven’t done in a while. How’s about toss a frisbee back and forth for a bit? First one to ten owes the other ten bucks?”, Annie suggests.
”You’re on. Easiest ten bucks I will earn”, Jean says running to one end of her lawn as Annie run to the beginning of her houses lawn. She missed times like these, where it was just her and her best friend. Where she could pretend that she was just a normal girl and not the hated mutants they always seem to slander on tv.
”Hello, girls! Remember not wander into the street!”, Elaine Grey, Jean’s mother, calls to them.
”Yes, mom”, Jean says while rolling her eyes. She is fifteen years of age, yet she and her dad still sees her as their little girl. Its annoying in some ways, but Jean still appreciated the care nonetheless.
Jean manages to catch the frisbee coming at her, but as she readies to throw it back, a headache rises upon the release of her grip. That is when she felt it, her telekinesis blows the frisbee higher than Jean intended.
”Hey, no fair! I get the free point! No ’special gift‘ allowed! I’ll get it!”, Annie yells before chasing after the frisbee.
What’s been going on? All day, Jean’s powers had been acting up. Things falling over, kids getting tripped by an invisible force, and all accompanied by the telltale headaches Jean has been getting throughout the day. Luckily, Annie had not noticed thankfully, or else she would have definitely let her mother know. Perhaps, after this, she will give Uncle Xavier a call, the man who was but a colleague to her father, but had been there since Jean was little, around age 9-10. Ever since her powers arose and Xavier helped her gain better control, Jean had lovingly referred to him as Uncle Xavier, not truly realizing at the time the difference between friends and family when it came to adults because apparently, only children could have friends, but adults had family who they shared with their children. At least, that was what Jean had always thought or cared to perceive. By the time she did learn though, it was kind of a thing that just stuck.
Hearing sirens in the distance getting louder, Jean them suddenly was in a car driving hastily as the police were chasing her...no, not her. She was in front of her house, but she knew the car was coming and in that vision-
“What’s is it Emma?”, Xavier asks.
”The girl.....her friend is dying and- AAAAAHHH!!!!”, Emma cries out before her thought can be finished. With Cerebro amping the psychic feedback, both psychics cry out in pain as psychic energy starts emanating and overloading the machinery.
*A minute before in the mansion kitchen*
”Oh, Charles. It warms my heart to see ya so excited. You really are living your wildest dreams.”
As Moira goes to start filling the plates, her head starts to hurt as she hears a ringing. She thinks it over curiously before coming to the conclusion as the lights flicker on and off.
Moira dashes over time the emergency elevator to the sub-basement in the kitchen hidden in the pantry. As the door opens into the underground lab, she runs across the halls over to Cerebro. Looking at the monitor, she becomes shocked at the psionic scales going too high for the machine to take. Feeling the headache and ringing worsen and knowing that she has to cur the power in times like this, Moira turns before falling by a bigger psychic wave coming from Cerebro. Now on the floor, clutching her head in pain, Moira calls out, with no answer coming, to Charles to turn the darn thing off for Christ sake....
*Back on Annadale-Hudson*
“ANNIE!! WATCH OUT!!!”
The warning came too late though as Annie heard the beeping of the horn but could not react quick enough to get out of the way. It all happened so fast, yet Jean could remember every detail in slow motion. The car passing by and Annie flying over the hood of the car before landing on the street. Jean ran to her friend with the Richardson's trailing behind after hearing the blaring of the horn. How Jean knew that was not her concern, at the moment.
“Annie?! Annie, please wake up! Annie!!”, Jean called as she tried to shake her friend awake.
”Oh god! The girl.......Her friend is dying....”
”Who’s there?! Who said that?”, Jean asked confused. So much commotion took place around her, with her parents comforting the Richardson’s, the police taking in the guy who apparently committed grand theft auto, and-
A faint familiar voice, coming from-
In the blink of an eye, Jean found herself in a dark place with stars all around her. In front of her, her best friend looking into what looked like a doorway into an ethereal light. Behind her, she saw a blonde girl she had never met, who looked just as confused as she.
”Jean....I can hear....grandma....”, Annie said staring firmly into the light.
“What? Annie, no, your grandma died when you were five. Remember? Come on, Annie, we gotta get out of here somehow”, Jean said as she grabbed hold of her friend, who wouldn’t budge from her spot.
”Listen, Jean?”, the blonde says walking up to her. She looked about Jean’s age, but was clearly not from Jean’s neighborhood giving her expensive looking clothes. “I’m pretty sure asking your friend is a lost cause. It might be best to look for a way out without her.”
“What? No! I’m not leaving her! I don’t even know who you are and frankly I don’t care!”, Jean tells her before turning back to Annie, “Annie, please, we gotta go.”
“Emma is right Jean. You saw for yourself that Annie was hit. She is slowly fading, only tethered briefly by yourself. You must let go, so that she may rest.”
Jean turns to find her Uncle Xavier standing next to the girl, whose name is apparently Emma.
“Charles Francis Xavier”, rings a sinister voice across the planes. “For so long, I’ve been dying to meet the great professor. A pity it was under such morbid circumstances.”
“Who’s there?! Reveal yourself?!!”, Charles calls out into the ether. Though the entity is concealed in the shadows of the Psionic space, Charles could feel its presence, a dark one that made his astral body shiver.
”In due time Charles, but I think it would best if I made my first impression clear as to who of the two of us is superior, Xavier”, declared the voice before a tidal wave of psionic energy started to head towards the group. In response, Charles imagined a great wall sturdy enough to take the onslaught. Such was the way of the Astral Plane, where a telepath can shape its planes with the power of their imagination and willpower. Even being such a seasoned psychic, Charles has yet to feel a power that could rival his own so easily. He had hoped that one day, Jean and Emma would be those psychics who would, that until that day, he could guard them from a corrupting Force such as this one. But here he was, straining to hold back the psionic storm pounding around his defenses. He needed to get the girls out before dealing with this Force of nature.
“For gods sake girl, let her go!”, Xavier hears Emma yell. Turning his attention for just a moment, he sees Jean and Emma trying with everything they have to pull her from the vortex now pulling them to that light.
“You’re gonna lose them Charles”, the sinister voice taunts.
“EMMA! Get Jean our of here!”, Xavier calls out.
”What do you think I’m doing?!!“, Emma argues back. “Dear lord, Jean, let go of her!!!!”
”I LITERALLY CAN’T!!!!”
Jean lifts her arm to reveal that she has a chain from nowhere appear on her wrist, connected to the dying best friend.
”Oh, for the love of- Charles! Do something!”, Emma yells to Xavier.
”Charles!”, he hears from the darkness. This one was familiar.....
”Charles, turn the blasted thing off!!!”
Cerebro....the experience of Jean’s powers suddenly reawakening fully must have triggered something that glitched the system. He can faintly feel Moira’s mental pain among the array of psionic energy on the plane. The feedback from this chaos must be overwhelming to the non-psychic. Xavier turned attention to Jean and Annie, where in the background, he heard screams. Jean may be emanating that same mental backlash. He had to end it somehow, but how.....
”It’s over, Charles. You’ve lost. You won’t die, but I can’t exactly say the same for the girls. I look forward to our inevitable meet up”, the voice says as it halts its attack and it’s presence leaves with faint laughter.
“Hang on, Emma!”, Xavier says as he heads to the girls.
The resulting battle of minds though and the distressing situation the girls have found themselves in have now caused chaos on the plane, making his travel difficult. Xavier would not give up, he could not give up....but would it be enough, he suddenly thinks as he sees them starting to enter the light.
”Charles!!!”, Emma cries out as she starts to disappear into the light with Jean and Annie.
But before Charles could feel Jean and Emma totally disappear, another presence appears, one much larger than Charles. It couldn’t be the evil presence he fought before. No this one felt more ancient....warmer.
”So, this is where evolution has led humanity? Such a waste for potential such as this to be snuffed by the cycle that birthed it. Listen, well, for it is not your time, yet my children. Live, become many, and forget this time. And as for you Jean, someday, we will meet again.”
And with that final declaration, Charles felt something take hold of his Astral form and throw him back to reality.
*Back at the Institute*
Xavier opens his eyes, blinking as his eyes adjust to the light seeping from Cerebro.
”Oh, thank heavens! Don’t scare me like that ever again, Charles Xavier!!!”, Moira exclaims as she hugged him tightly.
”Charles, what....happened?”, Emma says as she wakes from her place.
”Do either of you remember anything that transpire?”, Moira asks.
”Not .......entirely. I remember showing Emma how to use Cerebro and she.......connected to Jean!”, Xavier says as he looks at the smoking console.
“Johnathan’s child? Oh the poor dear. I hope she is okay”, Moira says.
Turning his attention to the blinking holographic screen, what Xavier reads changes his tune to from recovery to that of haste.
“Moira! Get me my chair!”
”Slow down, Charles. Ya just woke up from a large psychic backlash and-“
He didn’t listen further as she finally brought him his chair. Pulling himself up, he speeds over to the door, until Moira steps right in his path.
”Moira, please, I have to go!”
”No, Charles. You don’t have to do damn thing. Your health is important to me and think of the poor girl that was there at the center of this mess. You need to take a breather and rest up before running off to god knows where!”, Moira scolds with arms crossed.
”Moira, look at the projection up there”, Xavier says pointing in back of him. Doing as he says, Moira looks up, becoming so stunned at the information presented, that she doesn’t bother to stop Charles when he wheels around her. Curious as to what is going on, and too tired to attempt to understand the scientific garble spilling from the woman’s brain, Emma turns to the screen in front of the holographic globe.
“What is an Omega Level Mutant, Moira?”, Emma asks.
Moira at that moment does not answer as she sees exactly why Xavier would run to Jean. Not simply because he knew her since she was a wee laddie. Not just because she had just gone through a traumatic experience with her psychic powers. Cerebro has just revealed another mutant who could not only surpass Charles one day, but rival that of his once dear friend, Erik Lenshurr, now known as the Master of Magnetism, Magneto.