Epic X-Men #31: Sounds of War
"......settle the ongoing controversy! I would like to welcome the lead researcher of mutant genetics, Professor Charles Xavier!", the man introduces to an audience of press. A press conference created through a series of connections to tamper the fear of mutants. A debate between one of the world's most powerful telepaths and Washington D.C. Only in this case, Charles wouldn't use his special abilities stemming from the power of his mind. He would use his words from the depths of his heart.
"Thank you. Greetings to you all. It has been quite a while since I have done one of these. Still, with ongoing fear of mutants ever growing, I think it was time I stop any doubt I can about how humanity should treat this rise of a new species", Xavier said as an introduction.
"Be careful, Charles", Hank said as he stood side-by-side with Brotherhood member, and yet all-around great guy as conversations would reveal, Nightcrawler.
"No need to worry, Herr McCoy. If any trouble arises, Xavier will be gone before things escalate", Kurt said with a full grin.
"And I am scanning the crowd as I speak, Hank. I will be safe before anything can happen", Xavier said telepathically to Beast. They did prepare for this. Everyone did...................
*hours earlier in Genosha*
"Hank. You're staring again....", Bobby says suddenly as Hank snaps out of his daze.
"You are imagining all the ways this can go wrong, aren't you?", Bobby asks with his arms crossed and a sad look.
"I just.....I analyzed the Sentinel tech earlier and.....it has some crazy dangerous weapons inside", Hank says as he passes his hand through his hair nervously.
"Your eloquence is gone", Bobby notes.
"Why wouldn't it! Bobby, these mad men! They......they're are aiming to kill all of us and you are being sent to the front lines like a soldier in war! At your age!", Hank exclaims.
"Hank, I am almost 18. I-"
"Almost 18! You sstill have your full life ahead of ya and-"
"HANK! Please, calm down!.....For my sake....", he says in reservation.
"....I-I'm sorry, Bobs. You're right. I'm just....scared. I can only imagine how the person who is actually about to go through with this is feeling", Hank says as he puts his forehead against Bobby's.
"But we both know that they need me. I never thought my powers were anything special, honestly. Compared to Storm, anyways. Yet, apparently, I am supposed to be as capable as she is. If that is the case, then I have all the more reason to stay and fight", Bobby said more to himself than to Hank.
"That isn't necessarily, true. We could always get out of here. Hide.....just you and I, like we did in our forts when we were younger.....", Hank said fondly.
"My god, what I wouldn't give for those times again, instead of this...", he smiled.
"........Please tell me that is the new plan", Hank said weakly.
".........Try to stay strong for me, Hank. I will do the same. Love ya big guy", Bobby said. He hesitates for a moment before jumping into a hug with Hank. Had it not been for his increased strength, Hank would have held on with all his might. But snapping Bobby like a twig would be counterproductive to what either of them wanted.
"Love ya, too, Bobs", Hank responds tearfully before Bobby heads out to meet with the other Omegas.
*Elsewhere, near a certain someone's quarters*
He is quiet and unseen in the dark corner. Mind blank. Instinct completely taken over. He is the predator. He walks inside the room claws already drawn and ready. If he misses a single beat, it could all go wrong. By first glance, he would be the most vulnerable, the worst choice for this job. But he was the best for a reason. And he would not fail. The Master of Magnetism would die this day or he would.
This is a bad idea......As much as I really want to end this....They need him. You live this time. But one day, I will not hesitate, Logan thinks to himself before turning back and exiting out of the room.
He walks to his own quarters and jumps on his bedding, relaxing his muscles with claws retracted.
"If you were anyone else, I would have gutted ya' for pulling somethin' like that, Jeannie", Logan says aloud. Jean then walks inside rather confidently for someone caught as red-handed as the crimson hair that flowed around her head.
"And what by chance makes me different from anyone else, by chance?", Jean asks after standing in front of Logan.
"For one, yer a lot nicer to look at than most", he says with a smirk towards her.
"If that were true, you'd never get a job done the second a wide-eyed woman looked your way. And if I am not correct, you're supposed to be the best at what you do", Jean said in a matter-of-factly manner.
"Maybe that's just my ego talking", Logan shrugged.
"If I didn't know you, Logan, I would not have noticed anymore than the other telepaths in this entire building. And the world's most powerful psychics are all here in this building, no less. Emma, Betsy, Charles, Kwannon, and Exodus to be exact along with quite a few other", Jean lists off in argument against the comment.
"And why exactly do you know me so, well? You may have been in my mind a couple of times with some conversations, but never anything to in-depth beyond the first time we met. And you really aren't the first psychic I have dealt with. Far, far from it actually", Logan says defensively.
"But you have never met anyone as powerful as I. And........you and I both know what you were about to do would have been a mistake that could have risked everything we were trying to accomplish. You were payed. I get it. But the fact of the matter was, I knew that part of you was there that didn't want this. Not at this moment", Jean said calmly. "You still gonna try to convince me that it wasn't your conscience and it was just the opinion you had that I am too pretty to kill?"
Logan takes a moment to admire her. The way her red hair flowed wildly in perfect order. Her green eyes looking intently toward him. He can tell she was trying to keep a straight face, but her deep red lips couldn't help but form a smile as she could sense humor and attraction from his mind.
"I think I my previous assertion is correct, Jean. And it was a fact, not an opinion", Logan points at her in emphasis.
"Whatever. We both know you are a good boy under the gruff exterior. The fact that it was so easy to influence you this time has to do with your thoughts. Not my power", Jean rolls her eyes.
"Says the Omega Level Telepath", Logan says in a loud whisper that causes Jean to scoff. "Besides, if you are really so bent on this, you and I both know it would take no effort for you to fling me out of the room without making a peep to awaken, Magneto."
"Maybe......Why did you take this job, by the way, Logan? Magneto perhaps has the one mutant power that can effectively rip you apart limb from limb. I know you are the bet, but....suppose something went wrong.....", Jean trails off with a sad look forming on her face.
Logan sighs and looks to the ceiling instead of at Jean, suddenly not having the emotional strength to look at her sad face. "I lived a long enough life, Red. It's really not a big deal to me if I die at any time.....to be honest, I probably deserve it with the life I had led", Logan said honestly.
"But.....Logan, you can't truly mean that, right?"
"You have seen my memories. You have my permission to look again. You tell me", he says listlessly. What Jean says next has him looking to her in surprise.
"I have looked into your head, Logan. I know you are hurt....maybe even broken. But you aren't bad. You are a survivor, Logan. You have a high death count, I won't deny. Perhaps more than what you are capable of remembering. But I can see the person you are and.....you still try to be better. No, scratch that! You are better than any of the hypocrites who claim to be blameless. Who are ready to judge the life you have led without seeing how you got there to begin with. It doesn't make the acts okay, but you hadn't given up just yet. To me, that makes you a better person about 80 percent of people in this building....even me....", Jean says as she looks away.
"What?......Jeannie, you've said something along lines of this before. Why do you feel to be worse than someone like me?", Logan asks as he sits up.
"Well......when you choose to do something good, you do it because you know its right and you want people to live long good lives.....I do it to make up for this power that I have.......to turn it into something more than just something for death and destruction", Jean said as she looked at her hands, memories starting to resurface that she tried to bury everyday since that day.....
"Jeannie, what happened? Talk to me?", he says as he gets up and puts his hands on her shoulders. She doesn't respond, still in that place that reminds her of what she became to serve her penance.
"I was 15. I have had my powers for quite some time and gotten to a point where I had no need for my Uncle Charlie to visit every week to check on my progression for my powers. I could be a normal teenager and go to school with my best friend, Annie Richardson. My god, I could hug my sister, my mother, and father and pretend that I can't hear every single thing in their head. I could ignore the crowds of thoughts like mumbles in the background.......Then it happened.....", Jean said as reality began to fade and turn into Annadale-on-Hudson.
"This yer' home, Jeannie? Jeannie?"
Logan looked around and saw Jean watching a young red-headed girl talking and smiling with her brunette friend about different things like overbearing parents, boys, and school.
"Annie, my next door neighbor and best friend. Closer to me than my sister for the longest time before my power arose and still was to the end. I had been having migraines in the day for the longest time and nightmares in the night of fire and destruction, caused by me. She knew about it, too. She knew about me. What I was.....and she didn't care. My god, in a world full of bigots and jackasses, she saw me for who I had always been, not for what I could potentially do with this new power at my disposal. She treated me as normal. What made it more perfect? She even included my powers as if it were the most normal thing ever! Another part of me to love, without ever taking advantage of them", Jean described tearfully.
Logan stayed listening intently to Jean's story and readying to pin point the source of her guilt, though the focus on this friend of hers gave Logan hunch about where it came from.
"But, those damn migraines.....signs of my powers growing beyond my control. They started out as my telepathy only, but soon grew to involve my telekinesis knocking down random objects. Anyone who noticed, I would blame it either on someone else, or took the fall for neglecting to physically put the object there the right way. Anything to appear normal. Clumsy and careless, perhaps, but normal. I dismissed them and assured Annie that they were temporary. That I would have them handled. She worried about me, but she trusted me no less. She suggested we throw a frisbee between our yards, like we used to as kids. My mother warned us to be careful of the street.....oh the irony!", Jean laughed bitterly.
Logan than saw it. The frisbee take flight higher than little Jean threw it.
"A migraine came just as I released the disk and my tk launched the toy higher than I intended.....Annie ran after it.......she didn't see the car. I did. I saw the criminal driving it. I saw the police chasing them. I saw Annie focusing only on the frisbee, not seeing anything else. All of it, in my head. Perfect detail, better than any camera could record. I felt the pain from the car that hit her. I felt the panic from our parents added to my own as I screamed in absolute horror at my friend fallen in a large puddle of her blood. Dying in front of me after I ran to her side", she said tears streaming in her eyes. The scene began to darken, a detail Logan assumed represented Jean's state of mind, rather than what happened.
"Everyone came out. All the neighbors, looking to see why poor little Jean screamed at the top of her lungs. I could feel the pain from Annie, the pity from the onlookers, and the sorrow from our parents. I wailed. My own pain and guilt was enough. I wanted to hide and scream, but everyone could see us, including Emma and Uncle Charlies, who happened to be on Cerebro at the time at the school. I don't know if its coincidence or if one of them heard my cry, but the combination of stress and grief was the last straw that tripped the vestiges of control I had on my power. A telepathic sweep that knocked everyone out on the street out before a tk explosion took place. The cars flipped, the cops, my parents, everyone near me tossed onto the yard, thankfully. The rest fell where they stood. At that moment, I connected to Annie telepathically, connecting her mind to my own as it started to die", Jean said as the scene became misty and everyone disappeared.
"My god.......you were so young Jean, how could you possibly have-"
"It worked for a moment. With Annie connected to me, I had used my own will for us both to live to temporarily stop her from dying.....I was unconscious, but alive in my own head, as was Annie. Then, I saw the light. So, warm and welcoming. Welcoming us both.....I was dying. Annie was taking me with her into death. There was nothing I could do. I was still too inexperienced to cut the connection on my own. The rest is hazy, not just for me, but for Emma and the Professor as well. They are unsure of whether someone broke the connection or if it weakened enough to snap as I nearly died, but I survived somehow. Comatose, but alive in my own head. Alone with my thoughts that witnessed against me the guilt. I shouldn't have lived. I killed my best friend for my own carelessness", Jean cried.
"Jeannie. Had this not happened, would you seriously have even joined Xavier and his band of mutants?", Logan asked suspiciously.
Jean looked at him with her watery eyes, completely distraught.
"I wanted to make up for it. I hid the guilt as best I could because I needed to work at forgiving myself. To be better. Yet, the more time goes, the more they grow. I learned that so many people got hurt that day Annie died. Some, old ones who still are in pain to this day from the injuries sustained. Others traumatized by the nightmares caused by my psychic wave. Then there were the missions. Like when I went to officially meet Scott. His bullies became victim to my powers when I lost it. They may have been mean and complete dicks, but they were still too fragile to take an attack from an Omega Level Telekinetic like me. Later, I killed someone again. This time, it was an evil mutant. A psychic that threatened everyone. He deserved his fate, but it didn't kill him completely. It set him free from his mortal body to a place where he became more powerful than he could ever imagine. We barely managed to beat him, an act that could have been avoided had I any semblance of control of my powers in stressful situations. Even recently, Warrens death set me off. I threatened the lives of my friends in my angered grief, Logan! I am not good in any way, Logan! I am a walking time bomb waiting to be set off! I am the epitome of what they classify a dangerous mutants. And it can take no more than a simple thought to kill a crowd of people. And I can feel every single one of them and who they are as people! You are good Logan because you don't pretend to be something you know you aren't. You may have an animalistic rage that you work on, but you don't deny that you're a danger to everyone near you.........I am just a fraud", Jean says as the illusion fades and she falls to her knees.
Logan remains speechless for a good while, trying to find a way to assure her of how wrong she is. How none of it was her fault. But all he found himself capable of is a hug. Silent consolation as she weeped. It was then that Scott walked in.
"Jean?....Logan, what happened?", Scott asked as he ran to hug Jean.
"........I think you would do well to hold her, Summers. She more than anyone needs it. She is gonna have to tell ya herself, but I don't think she is in a place to do so right now......Think you can do that, Slim?", Logan asked.
"Of course", Scott said before talking to Jena gently. "Come on, sweetheart. I got you. Everything will be okay."
"Jeannie?", Logan calls out. Scott stops and turns attention to Logan, while Jean makes no move to look Logan in the eye, or anybody for that matter. "........I am nowhere near as good as you are, Jean....I doubt anyone is, actually. If you trust that and see things from our point of view, you can see it. Remember that."
She doesn't answer, so Scott worriedly looks at her and then Logan before turning to exit the room. Logan then turns to the wall and punches it hard enough to put a deep dent in the metal. His hand hurt, but now he was in a foul mood. So, he went out for a run to clear his head.
*Later, a couple hours before the press conference*
The sun was nearly setting over the horizon of the waters. Soon, the Professor would head to D.C. to try to advocate for peace between mutants and humans as he always had, with Beast and Nightcrawler there to run interference should trouble arise. This time around the globe in public. The other team would be consisted of Cyclops, Wolverine, Kwannon, Queen, Sabertooth, Colossus, Quicksilver, Pyro, and Havok would head to the main Sentinel factory, where an operating system dubbed 'Master Mold' overheaded production while Trask headed to the press conference. The world's superheroes were on alert all over the planet at S.H.I.E.L.D.S warning about the threat against innocent mutants. The X-Men were on their own, specifically the Omegas. Magneto, Scarlet Witch, Exodus, Blink, Magma, Storm, Iceman, Polaris, Marvel Girl, and the newest member, the Omega Level British Telepath, Psylocke, were all ready for the battle. This would be the last good-bye until the war ended. The rest of the mutants were already sent away by Blink to an unknown location to everyone but Magneto, the psychics, and Blink herself.
"Are you sure this is enough, father? The city still looks rather unstable", Wanda asks worriedly.
"Polaris and I are positive, Scarlet Witch. We ensured that the building were stable enough to use for cover. It is the best we can do given the circumstance. It's not pretty, but it's enough", Magneto assured his daughter.
"You better hope so, Magneto. A lot is on the line. People's lives", Beasts says.
"You think I am not aware, boy? I have seen more death of our people since before you were even conceived. You can be assured that it won't be me that is holding back in this time. I hope the same can be said for everyone else", Magneto says, causing Jean to flinch.
"It's alright, Jean. I know you have been pretty uncertain of your powers in the training sessions and I understand completely", Scott said as he held Jean's hands.
"Not exactly", Jean mumbles sadly. Scott has a confused look at that remark, but continues nonetheless.
"Uh, be that the case, Magneto is right. I know you know that, but I can't stress enough the importance of you not hesitating. If something were to happen to you, I....I-"
"Point being, Red, don't hold back. Give 'em hell. We will see you after", Logan joins in. Though this conversation didn't really include Logan, Scott nodded in agreement rather than snap at Logan for overstepping. Jean needed to hear that people needed and believed in her. Jean looked to them both and gave a nod and the first genuine smile since her talk with Logan.
"I won't. I promise, Scott. And....thank you, Logan", Jean said. Logan just winked at the two of them before heading over to the plane.
Meanwhile, turning over to the sky hovered Lorna Dane watching the waters. She was calm and ready to face the biggest obstacle since facing Magneto on Asteroid M. Her powers being uniquely qualified like her fathers, she and he were agreed to be the most important mutants on the battlefield.
"It is a beautiful view, isn't it. I always loved to watch the sun set from here", Magneto said as he hovered beside her. She didn't answer, but rather looked below to see Quicksilver running supplies back and forth non-stop, choosing to keep busy rather than progressively become more worried about the threat of his sisters life coming, with nothing he can do to prevent it beyond taking her away against her wishes.
"He is a really hard worker", Polaris thinks aloud without realizing it.
"Yes. I don't say it often, but I am quite proud of each and every one of my children in who they have become in different ways. I do mean every single one of them", Magneto says.
"I am sure Wanda and Pietro would be happy to hear it", Lorna says dismissively before turning to hover away. She is grabbed by the arm though. She glares at the man in warning as he repeats himself firmly.
"I mean every single one of my children."
"I heard you the first time. The problem with that is that I am not your child. I haven't been since I was born and I am choosing to continue as such", Lorna says before pulling her arm away. Magneto sighs, but this time lets her leave as he turns back to the view. Lorna lands on top of another building for a moment to herself, not realizing a flash of energy behind her.
"Is that statement applicable to every one of us, or just Magneto?", a female voice says behind her. She turns in shock to see Wanda walking up behind her.
"So, you heard everything? You mad?", Lorna asked as she turned away.
"No. I understood your anger from the beginning when you first yelled at father after he came back from Asteroid M. But you hadn't really spoken to Pietro and I, even after arriving on Genosha. I would have assumed you were angry with us too,, but you didn't fight us really the last time we saw each other", Wanda said thoughtfully.
"I....I don't know how to feel about you or Pietro, really. You are associated with you know who, but none of what he did to me has anything to do with you. Nor have either of you been unkind to me about the choices I made. The part of me that wants be safe tells me to keep my distance, but I remember telling Havok about not breaking the left over bonds of family you have left based off petty emotions that you don't particularly know the whole story on", Lorna says.
"You.....are a lot more perceptive than I took you for. I hope that doesn't offend you. I just figured you were an angry young woman", Scarlet Witch admits embarrassingly.
"I am. I have been ever since this Brotherhood bull started to target me. You two though, somehow, don't fall in with them in my eyes. Maybe because you never approached me.....why?", Polaris asks curiously.
"You made yourself clear. My father is a very assertive man. Too much for his own good really. I don't blame any of your choices, but didn't want you to think otherwise by my approaching you. Pietro though has been aching to talk to you", Wanda reveals.
"It's true", Pietro says suddenly, surprising the two of them. "Ya know, Wanda, she has time to get used to me. You have no excuse for not seeing me coming."
"Shut up, jerk!", Wanda laughs. Lorna laughs with her at Pietro's antics as he runs back to what he was doing.
".....You know what, I think you guys are alright. So long as you don't go offering invitations to be in the Brotherhood anytime soon, I think we'll be just fine", Lorna says gladly to Wanda.
"That is perfectly alright with me. And, contrary to what everyone believes, not everyone who lives on Genosha is in the Brotherhood. So.....once we fully rebuild the city after all this....you are welcome to stay here. You don't even have to be near Magneto. You can have place at the opposite side of the city if anything", Wanda offers.
".......I'll think about it, sis", Lorna says, causing Wanda to smile happily.
Everyone is just about loaded up on the planes to head out and leave the Omega's on the island. Emma takes one last look over the city to think of what-if's, something Emma doesn't think of often. It was pretty futile after all, but one can't help but wonder what would have happened if she never did come here. Would things be worse for Genosha? Would it have been worth it to keep Warren alive had she known he would do this?
"Hey, Em'? We are just about to leave", Scott says as he walks up to her.
"Very well. I will be heading over to the plane in a minute", Emma says without turning to Scott.
"You know, Emma, Warren probably preferred this happening. He probably would have gone mad if he heard that Genosha was destroyed", Orroro said thoughtfully.
"Of course the idiot would have. He cares too much to not want to come running the second he hears I am in danger. My very own guardian angel that I never wanted, but had anyways", Emma said.
"We will avenge him, Em'. You have my word on that", Scott says as he puts a hand on Emma's shoulder.
"I appreciate the intent, Scott, but you're wrong. That factory is a single arm of a giant many-legged beast. Warren won't be avenged until every single one of them pay. Still, I thank you for the thought. It's wonderful to see you both still care", Emma stated.
"Of course we would still care. You are friend, Emma", Orroro answered earnestly.
"Ro' is right, Emma. We all never stopped caring even after you left. We actually missed you for a good while", Scott admits bashfully.
"You're both sweet. I just needed a moment, is all. I am just about ready. And this time, we will make sure that there will be nothing left to rebuild with when we take those bastards down", Emma states confidently as she begins to walk away."By the way, one more thing, Scott. I have rethought my codename."
To the two onlookers, they assumed Emma meant the current mission. Yet, in her heart, Emma swore vengeance on more than the factory. She would use every connection to target the bastards in the shadows as someone new.....
"Call me the White Queen."
*Present Time at the conference*
"Mr. Xavier, many have documented mutants as dangerous as the Brotherhood of Mutants have been throughout the world. Because of this, some are calling for a managing of the dangerous ones. What would you say about this?", a random reporter asks to the man at the podium in his wheelchair.
"That is a good question. It is indeed true that there are very dangerous mutants out there. Some as dangerous as any other normal human-"
"You mean any other supervillain?", Trask interrupts.
"No, I mean regular man and woman with a gun, or a bomb, or a knife. They have their advantages as mutants have theirs. But, like how not every human is ready to rob the First National Bank, not every mutant seeks to dominate mankind. Most in fact wish to live normal lives, which is what Genosha provided for a time before it was attacked viciously by unkind men to swept in their fear to realize they meant no harm", Xavier says firmly.
"And what would you say about ones like Magneto, who threaten the world as we know it?", Trask asks.
"I say we deal with those individuals as we would other villains. We bring them to justice by the laws of the land. And thankfully we do have individual organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers, and the X-Men there to handle those threats so that the people can go on with their lives peacefully. Therefore, I see no need to involve any management differently from how it is done now. Such an act though could put this information in the hands of the same dangerous individuals who had a hand in the destruction of the only safe haven mutantkind had in this rather difficult time", Xavier presents confidently to his opponent.
"Ah yes, the X-Men. Isn't it rather curious how this superhero team is one full of mutants? In fact, its odd that their name has an 'X' at the start. May it perhaps represent their leader? A certain mutant who was revealed by the same Sentinel technology that made to hunt mutants? A certain, Charles Xavier!",Trask points. It was then that a smaller version of the giant Sentinel the X-Men faced long ago comes from behind and grabs at Xavier. "You all see! They are everywhere! It is important that we act now before they infiltrate everyone of our governments!"
"Kurt!", Hank calls as he springs into action against the Sentinel that has Charles. Meanwhile, in a puff of smoke, Kurt teleports Xavier away from harm and then ports back to help Beast with the Sentinel.
Meanwhile, the Magneto stands in the midst of the city in the wide open, ready to be bait as a Sentinel army approaches.
"Be ready all! It is time!", Psylocke says telepathically as the Sentinels fly ever closer.
From above the clouds, Storm witnesses devices put at different locations around the island begin to emanate energies that range from the surface all the way to above Earth's atmosphere. Had she been at full-strength, she probably could have destroyed the machines before the Sentinels had arrived. She was not quite powerless yet, but she no longer could summon enough bolts to destroy a single machine before the Sentinels begin to blast towards her in the clouds.
"Wretched metal, abominations! Just as before, you all shall fall to the might of the Master of Magnetism!!!"
He gestures toward the Sentinels, only to find they are not as magnetic as they should be. They falter in their paths, but not quite as much as he had hoped and he ends up at the defensive.
"Those sly......they changed the materials to non-magnetic metals", Magneto says as he puts up a magnetic shield. He then finds it strengthened by another.
"If that is the case, then it would be wise to combine the might of the Mistress of Magnetism to the Master!", Polaris declares as she blasts one Sentinel with a concentrated magnetic energy pulse that obliterates it on contact.
"Guess this it, Jeannie", Bobby states from his hiding place.
"Yeah, it is. Just follow instruction and you will be fine. We will", Jean says telepathically.
"For Genosha!!!!!!!!", Exodus yells as he starts to hurl multiple objects at the Sentinel. The mutants begin to shoot from their hiding places as Polaris, Storm, Magneto, and Exodus play bait for the robot hunters. The war has begun!