Epic X-Men #24: Journey to Genosha
The X-Men rush in to Xavier's room to find Hank barely waking from unconsciousness. The room was relatively untouched, yet Xavier was nowhere to be found, confirmed by Jean and Emma after scanning the immediate area.
"I was ambushed......Exodus and Kwannon took the Professor", Hank groaned from his painful Hank. "Kwannon was the one who attacked me with her glowing knife thing."
"Glowing knife thing? Not entirely the most eloquent you've been", Bobby teases.
"Shove it, Drake!", Hank growled. Hank took a look around the room for where the Professor should have been. It was his job to make sure the Professor was okay. He turns to the wall and swings a punch, putting a hole in the wall casual in his fit of anger.
"I thought ye said that it was safe to come back, lad", Moira says walking in. "What is with all the ruckus, anyways?"
"We had just learned that the Professor was kidnapped. Hank is taking it pretty hard", Warren explains to Moira.
"Wouldn't you?! I should've been more careful! The trap was so obvious that I should-"
"-should have used that all-seeing precognition that ye must have got along with your powers, right?", Moira says sarcastically. "You couldn't have known those ignoramuses would have been ready for ya."
"It was a planned attack that was typical of the Brotherhood. We should have taken more note of their predictable strategy. Distract the main forces from the real threat. We should have seen it coming", Hank said.
"That part falls on me as team leader, Hank. Not you and right now, we are gonna need your head in the game if we are gonna get the Professor back", Scott says to Hank.
"You needn't worry about my focus, Scott. Nothing at this moment is more important to me than getting the Professor back", Hank said seriously.
*The Blackbird over the Atlantic*
It wasn't all that long before the team grouped onto the Blackbird. Scott went over strategies on infiltrating Genosha with Hank. Jean and Emma searched for Xavier on Cerebro, but were not surprised to not find him anywhere telepathically. Warren called Emma's contractor after insisting on paying this time for damages. Lorna and Bobby spent what little time they had to train in the Danger Room with Storm, with Lorna learning to generate a a forcefield similar to Magneto and Bobby learning to create ice pillars from a distance. Soon, it came time for Scott to go over the plan.
"Okay, team. Beast and I have been studying the geographical maps and satellite imagery of Genosha and we have determined that we can't simply use the cloaking on the Blackbird and enter the city from the front", Scott says.
"Data requested to S.H.I.E.L.D by the Professor have shown some interesting phenomena that periodically take place throughout the day. Apparently, the Professor requested this in case he would have needed to infiltrate Genosha to face Magneto. Whether he wanted to include us or not is something only the Professor would know", Hank explains.
"And not relevant. The data displays that there is technology located around the main nation. Electromagnetic wave pulses are used to disrupt technology that comes within the cities vicinity. Not only that, but there have been tellings of shifting geological planes of the island. And of course, powerful EM fields to make telepathic probing difficult even for the inhabitants of the island nation", Scott says.
"So, we can't fly to the island on the Blackbird?", Orroro asks.
"We can't fly to the main city on the Blackbird. Data doesn't indicate these EMP's anywhere else around the entire island. Just that vicinity, which means-"
"We are going on foot. Excellent", Emma says sarcastically.
"We have no choice. Genosha isn't just the home of perhaps one of the most powerful mutants on the planet, Magneto, but an entire nation of people who support Magneto reside there to defend their leader. The element of surprise is all we have, no matter how limited the quantity of it we got. We need to use it wisely and efficiently for the Professor's sake", Scott says. "Okay, team, suit up! We take off in five!"
So, they did, with Polaris sporting a new costume, similar to her previous, but without sleeves.
"Its near Africa and Madagascar. It's gonna be hot", Lorna shrugged on the plane
Scott wasn't too happy about the choice, but there wasn't time to argue or make her change. They needed to be up in the air and over the ocean towards Genosha. Moira stayed behind to watch the kids as per usual, with the added bonus of meeting with the construction workers and architect about the damages done to the mansion. The team was silent as they contemplated their roles on this mission and what was at stake. Soon, they saw the island in the distance, a contrast between the metal city and the lush forest area surrounding it. That forest was where they would land. They turned on the cloaking device, in case someone was watching for them, traveled at distance around the island until they were far enough from the city to approach the island. They land their plane in between rocky cliffs at the beach of the island. It was closed in enough to hide the plane should by chance anybody look for the plane.
"What of the tide, Cyclops?", Iceman asked as Angel took off to get an overhead view of the place.
"Marvel Girl, come with me", Cyclops directed before he used his optic blast to carve in the rock at different cliff to create a giant boulder for Jean to lift telekinetically. Jean then dropped the boulder in front of the plane and started focusing on the next boulder Scott was carving with his optic beam. They repeated it until they formed a sort of rock wall around the plane. Jean then telekinetically moved the sand to set the boulders deeper in the sand to hold them in place.
"Lets hope that holds long enough for us to do our thing", Scott says looking at their finished work. "Alright, team, let's move."
Scott led the team through the thicket, following the map of Genosha closely. The team remained relatively quiet, whispering among themselves to pass the time as they hiked through.
"Hank?", Bobby called as he ran up to Hank who was looking at his electronic tablet filled with different information S.H.I.E.L.D had on the island, as well as any changes on the island as a whole.
"Codenames while we are on a mission, Iceman", Hank said without looking away from the tablet.
"There is no one around here. I think our identities are safe from the bugs and birds of the place", Bobby answered.
"What do you want?", Hank said tiredly.
"I want to talk to you, Hank. No one has said a word throughout this trip, but you seem to have taken the Professor's disappearances hardest", Bobby explained to Hank with clear concern.
"He wasn't taken, Robert. He was kidnapped", Hank corrected with annoyance clear.
"Stop it. You know what I really meant", Bobby said sternly.
"Then that probably should alert you that I am not in the mood to recount my failures. So I will ask you kindly, just this once, to mind your own business", Beast told his old friend.
"But it wasn't your-"
"Cyke! I am gonna get an up high view from the trees", Hank called out as he started climbing up the trees nearby with fluidity.
Speak with your mind, Hank. We can't spare to alert anyone of our presence. Angel, you follow Beast up high. The rest of us will keep up the pace on-foot, Scott said in his thoughts.
"Roger that", Hank affirmed in Scott's head.
"Bobby", Bobby heard Jean in his head.
Yeah, Jean?, Bobby thought.
"Don't worry about Hank. He will come to you when he is ready", Jean said gently.
But I want to be there for him, but he just won't......he won't let me in, Bobby said sadly in his head.
"Maybe he doesn't want to worry you", Jean offered.
Too late for that. After that outburst earlier today, all I can do is worry about him. I wish I could care less sometimes, but I can't just wave off his pain, Bobby expresses thoughtfully in his head.
"And who exactly is the telepath here?", Jean joked.
Bobby chuckled at that, but quickly quieted to not get caught by Scott. He then thought further to Jean in their connection, Thank you Jean. I needed a little pick me up.
"Figured you would. Trust in your friendship with Hank. Even if he doesn't come to you, your worry expresses how much you care for him. He will treasure it", Jean consoles through the connection.
"Okay, everyone. I think its time we stop here for the night, since the sun is starting to go down. Hank, help me set up the fire. Marvel Girl, Angel, Storm, go find some more firewood to get for the night before the sun completely sets. Queen, Polaris, Iceman, set up the tents. Remember to speak only through the telepathic connection. We have until sunset", Scott says though the telepathic link and then he starts gathering sticks in the clearing of the forest they came to.
*Out in the wood*
"This forest is incredibly strange", Storm says as she helps gathering her pile of sticks alongside Jean.
"I would agree given the fact that Magneto rules this island, yet only uses a small piece of it, but you don't mean it like that, do you?", Jean asks curiously.
"This island has an ongoing flow of energy in the very roots of the trees, the plants, even the very ground beneath our feet", Storm describes.
"Really? Is that bad?", Jean asks as she looks around uncomfortably.
"I am not sure. That energy being build up usually means that is in use. That there is activity going on across this entire island. All except for the Genosha. There are two certain areas where the electrical currents are coming from on this island that I can see", Storm says as she continues to concentrate.
"Wait, do trees have electrical currents?", Jean asks perplexed.
"Only for transferring the water and nutrients typically. But....this forest has so much activity, I would be expecting to them to be moving. And this energy seems to be separate for the second current, which is leading into what looks to be city-like in structure", Storm says when she looks to the direction towards where they are headed.
"Hey, guys. Whatcha guys talking about?", Angel says as he flies from above the trees.
"Storm believes there is something more to this island beyond Genosha", Jean explains briefly as Storm notices a shift in energy. "Wait.....the Astral Plane...."
"What is it, Marvel Girl?", Angel asks with concern.
"The psychic fields just shifted.....they are being pulled in that direction", Jean points to the very direction Storm was watching.
"Marvel Girl! Angel! Ready yourselves for-"
*the camp; a minute earlier*
"The hell?", Emma exclaims curiously as she looks to the direction that Jean, Warren, and Orroro had traveled.
"What is going on?", Lorna wonders as she senses the energy currents Storm had told her about when they got there.
"Girls! Are ya gonna help or am I doing this on my-"
"Hush, Drake!", Emma snaps. "Scott, something is wrong."
"Emma, we should really be speaking tele-"
Before Scott could finish, a loud scream unheard aloud is rung in all five of their heads. The pain was incredible as they had no choice but to feel every bit of terror from the red-headed messenger screaming psychically for her life.
"JEAN!", Scott instinctively runs towards her direction, with the team running behind him.
"For god sake", Emma says before grabbing a flashlight and running to catch up. As the group kept running past the trees, they heard booms of thunder and a great roar, before it was all silent. Emma tried to reach out to any of the three, but could not sense a single thought. There was a deep primal hunger though, one that made her skin crawl.
"Queen, Marvel Girl, isn't responding to my calls! Can-"
"No, I can't. I have been trying to reach her the entire time, but after everything went quiet, the psionics went silent the same way. It feels as if they disappeared. The only good thing I can confirm is that they don't feel dead", Emma says as she keeps a sharp lookout for them.
"Keep trying!", Scott said as he and the other four took a look around.
"Polaris! How are the electromagnetic fields?", Emma called out to the flying woman.
"They seem to have relaxed if that makes sense. There was a build up of energy Storm had described earlier, but neither of us could tell what it meant. I think we have our answer now", Lorna explains as she takes an aerial view of the area.
"Polaris, Queen, if either of you sense a single change, I don't care how small, alert us all. We cannot afford to lose anybody else", Scott says firmly as they continue their search.
"Build up of energy?", Beast asked.
"Sorry, Beast. We didn't know whether we should have approached you about it or-"
"Polaris, we will have time for apologies later. Queen, transfer what she knows to Beast", Scott directed as he took another look around.
"...........Fascinating. The build up of power signifies activity. Perhaps we may incite more of it", Hank says thoughtfully. "Queen, did you get any details from the other team as to what they were facing?"
"Sort of at first. This place generally was making things difficult for us to communicate with telepathically, yet they were wondering about the unusual activity of this island. Once Jean screamed, I could barely I pick up different emotions by having to be the one to facilitate our connections. Jean was totally silent throughout before Storm and Angel were taken", Emma said as she recalled what she had sensed earlier.
"You had described before that the psionic field had shifted direction, right?", Hank asked.
"What are you thinking, Beast?", Bobby asked as Hank put it together.
"Queen, I think whatever the entity was that took the three of them, their first priority was the telepath of the group, so-"
"So, I am most likely next?", Emma said, understanding clearly what Hank was determining.
"I would ascertain so", Hank confirmed.
"Cyclops! The electrical currents just shifted. Something is coming our way", Lorna alerted for all to hear.
It did not take long before they heard large thumps of footsteps. With a resounding roar, they see a monster that seemed made up of vines, plants, and rocks. It had large teeth and big red eyes. Alongside it was Brotherhood member and brother to Scott Summers, Alex Summers (aka Havok) and a blonde mutant they had not seen before.
"So, rumors were true. You guys did come to invade Genosha", Havok said with arms crossed.
"What did you guys do with Marvel Girl, Storm, and Angel?", Scott asked.
"Better question, what is that thing?", Bobby said as he pointed to the monstrous creature.
"X-Men, welcome to Krakoa, home to the nation of Genosha!", the blonde said loudly as he gestured to the monster.
"Krakoa?", Bobby repeated questioningly.
"Yes, a mutant island. Literally. I am Cypher, and my mutant ability is too understand any language or learn it without needing to be taught", the mutant named Cypher explained.
"That's a mutant ability?", Bobby asked shockingly.
"Cypher? Stemming from the word decipher, which is to convert a language into something legible for others to understand", Hank said thoughtfully.
"Exactly! Someone gets it! The amount of times I needed to explain that...", Cypher says with a smile while shaking his head.
"Cyclops, that thing is where the collective of energy is coming from", Polaris states pointing to Krakoa.
"I can sense a great distribution of psychic energy coming from it as well. It is definitely our culprit", Emma agrees.
"Havok. Cypher, we do not wish to fight. We came looking for Charles Xavier and believe Magneto had something to do with his kidnapping after Brotherhood attacked the school. Now, our teammates have been taken or attacked. We honestly don't know. Help us find our team and the Professor and we will leave peacefully", Scott said to the two.
"Magneto isn't even here! We don't have your Professor and we don't have your team, Scott. Its best if you just cut your losses and leave", Alex said.
"Why is that exactly, Alex? What is Magneto planning?", Scott pressed without relent.
"Krakoa, did you really take their people?", Cypher asked the giant being. The being answered with low growl, a response that Cypher seemingly understood judging from his nods. "Alex, Krakoa did take their team. Magneto has yet to deliver on his promise of food for the island recently. In the past, Magneto would offer humans as morsels for feeding, which sated it for some time, but because Magneto had left it hungry, it sought out mutants as rebellious action."
"It eats people?", Bobby asked in trepidation.
"In a way. It feeds on psychic energy from most living things, though mutants seem to hold a certain abundance, especially ones with psionic abilities and connections", Cypher explained further.
"Alex, this is crazy, you can't honestly think that this is a good idea, siding with Magneto", Scott implored.
"He is doing it for the benefit of every mutant here. Those who oppose him should rightfully expect him to fight back. Scott......Magneto ordered me to tell Cypher that Krakoa's next meal will be mutants who step foot on the island outside the city", Habok admitted finally.
"Beg your pardon?", Beast asked again in shock.
"You heard me. I didn't want to tell him because....despite all appearances, Scott, I don't want you to get hurt. But we can't have you ruining everything like you and the X-Men have been doing the whole time. If you won't heed my warnings, then........Cypher", Havok says before giving a single nod. Cypher is apprehensive briefly before relaying the word to Krakoa.
"Alex, Alex, wait!", Scott called as Alex kept walking away. Krakoa roared a monstrous roar that echoed across the island. Birds flew off in fear of a predator. It was not the animals who were the prey though. "X-Men, spread out!"
Iceman started freezing the monster's arm as Scott blasted its head with an optic blast. Polaris took to the sky and started to concentrate on something she had been practicing. She felt the magnetic fields surrounding the area and concentrated it into a single concussive blast electromagnetic energy. When it hit its target, the creature roared in pain as its form fell apart.
"Uh...we won?", Bobby said puzzled.
"No, its still here", Emma said with her hand to her temple.
"Watch yourselves", Scott said as the team looked around cautiously.
"AAAH", Emma screamed as vines from a tree pinned her to it. It was then that the ground began to shake and break apart, taking the tree and Emma away from the team and down a newly made chasm.
"Follow her!!!", Scott said as Beast picked him up and jumped off onto Iceman's ice to follow Polaris and Iceman.
Underground was a cavern with plant life surrounding the area, with water flowing and some trees and rocks tossed aside from the movements of the terrain. If their friends had not been in peril, each one of them, Hank especially, would have admired the view and possibly camped there for it being so relatively hidden from view. As the group maneuvered over the different logs and rock, they had found more nature working against them as water tried to flood them, boulders were flung from nowhere, stalagmites fell from the roof, and trees toppled over. Everything was against them, but they had each other's back. When water flooded the area, Iceman froze a wall to bar it off. When boulders threatened t crush them, Cyclops blasted them away or shattered them completely. Stalagmites falling were stopped by a new ability Polaris had learned where she generated a shield to repel objects. Trees would be caught by Hank or shot at by Scott. They worked as a unit until they came aross a new part of the cave where vines hung and tangled with one another.
Wrapped in the very vines were none other than their team and some other skeleton's from previous victims, some of who were alarmingly wearing S.H.I.E.L.D uniforms. This mutant island has had many victims from the looks of things, but the X-Men would not allow their teammates be the next.
"Scott, let me down!", Emma yelled as she pulled at the vines. She was in a shimmering diamond form even in the darkness. "The island can't absorb my psionic energy in this form, but I can't escape these vines. You must cut them down with your optic blasts."
Scott obeys Emma's wish and frees her and the rest of the X-Men from their prison. He ran to the unconscious Jean Grey as he found vines digging under her skin. The very sight made him sick to his stomach, so he pulled them out quickly. No way would he allow Jean to be food for someone else any longer. It was then that multiple Krakoan monsters appeared and threatened to close in on the X-Men.
"X-Men, protect the others!", Scott said in the echoing cavern. They all sprung into action with Scott hanging back to protect the team. Beast matched strength with one of the monster, who began to wrap vines around his arms. They seemed evenly matched until Hank suddenly felt his strength begin to fail him and disappear. The monster through him to a wall, where more vines wrapped around him, no matter how much he struggled.
"NO!", Iceman yelled. He ran towards Hank, only for a monster step in front and block his way. It wrapped vines around Iceman, but Iceman froze the vines solid and broke away. He then froze it solid and ran around to free Hank. It was then that Iceman froze the vines, which seemed to have done the trick as Hank burst free. "Hank, you're okay. I won't let them take you again."
"Bobby....your powers.....", Hank panted as he rested. "Ice is a poor conductor of electricity. This islands energy currents....I have been thinking that they are acting much like how brain works. The most active parts generate the most power. You freeze them..."
"No more power! That's why you're the brains, big guy", Iceman commended. He then turned to the plant monsters as Hank was blushing from the compliment. Pointing his hands at the beasts, Bobby unleashed his frost blasts as they covered the monsters. This managed to slow them down, allowing for Polaris and Cyclops to blast them back.
"Great job, Iceman! Keep going!", Cyclops encouraged as the tide began to turn.
"Perhaps....I might be of assistance", Storm said suddenly as she struggled to get back up.
"You should rest, Storm. Save your strength", Scott said.
"I saw what Iceman did. The power was cut off by the power of the freezing cold. If it is the snow and ice that will save us, then let the temperatures drop by my very command. Let the frost encase as water begins to freeze!", Storm says as the sun began to be blocked out by clouds forming over this part of the island. It was then that Iceman felt it easier to generate ice with his powers. No longer fighting the temperatures from the tropical weather, Bobby felt the moisture in the air and used it to freeze over the entire area.
All was calm as it was cold. The X-Men once more come out on top as the victors. That night, they shared tents to keep warm as Storm and Iceman ensured to keep the weather freezing cold for the duration of the night, as Jean and Angel rested from being drained. Earlier the next day, they made it to outside Genosha's walls and embarked on the next part of their journey to finding the Professor.