Something (Wicked?) This Way Comes
by Paul Hahn
Not too long ago, a threat to the existence of both humans and mutants was threatened by a group of super-powered killers called the Neo. Excalibur was a team of mutants, mutants trying to be super-heroes, trying to serve and protect a world that hates and fears them. Excalibur responded to the Neo threat.
Excalibur left from their base at Muir Island to engage the Neo head on. In some ways, they won; the Neo agreed to return to their home, at least for the time being. However, while Excalibur was away, the Neo launched an attack at Muir Island. That battle did not go as well...
Doctor Rory Campbell, a criminal psychologist on the island's staff, lost his left leg to the fight. Doctor Moira MacTaggert, chief of the island, suffered through a beating and a near-fatale choking. Rahne Sinclair, a young mutant ward of MacTaggert's, suffered from an electrical shock. Lockheed, a small purple dragon, also suffered from a shock. Doug Ramsey, another young mutant, suffered a hard blow to the back of the head.
Rogue, one of two prisoners on the island, managed to stand her ground and fight the Neo to a standstill. However, the other prisoner, Copycat, aligned herself with the Neo and was taken away when the Neo retreated.
As for the island itself, well . . . it suffered quite a bit of structural damage. Quite a bit.
"It's gonna take weeks," Moira sighed to Rory as she sat by his bed in the main med-lab. "Weeks, months... before we're back where we were."
"We did our best," Rory frowned. He had begun coping with his new, prosthetic leg. "It wasn't enough. What really bugs me is that we lost Copycat."
"Aye," Moira said. "There was nothin' could be done. On the other hand, Rogue fought the Neo and helped us out . . . in my mind, that goes a long way t'provin' that she's nae an evil mutant... that she really does want to stay here."
Rory nodded. "The papers were sent in... with any luck, she'll be officially free of her sentence, deemed capable of returning to normal society. But how 'bout your team? Excalibur . . . they won themselves a victory, didn't they?"
"That they did," Moira nodded. "But we've quite a bit to go yet. They still have a lot to learn... and a lot of training to do together. They've gotten themselves into the public eye... now it's a matter of bein' seen for the heroes they want to be."
"Do you think any of those other arrivals are gonna join?" Rory asked. "We could sure use that Cannonball fellow . . . he's got plenty of experience."
[[He's referring to Cannonball, Magik, Sunspot, Moonstar and Thunderbird, who're currently at Muir, as seen in X-Force #1! - Paul]]
"I dinnae ken," Moira answered. "I'twould
be nice, but I'm nae expectin' it. We'll see, though... anythin's possible."
The Chalk and Cheese pub.
Tinya Wazzo and Peter Wisdom sat at the bar, eating breakfast. They had visited the pub a few times before, and had found the experience enjoyable. It was becoming a regular haunt for the two.
"Sleepy, eh?" Wisdom asked.
"Seems like I haven't gotten a good night's sleep in weeks," she shrugged. Tinya, as Apparition, was able to become intangible.
"That's 'cause we've all been working to rebuild your bloody island," Wisdom frowned. He was able to create hotknives from his finger tips, and either launch them or extend them forward.
"You did join the team, it's your island, too."
"Don't remind me... "
"Regretting your decision?"
"After that thing with the Neo? Of course!"
"Hey, I was proud of you," Tinya smiled. "Risking your life to save others... complete strangers, even."
"Yeah, well... the job needed doing. And you'd probably all be dead if not for me."
"Oh, sure," Tinya rolled her eyes.
"Hey, I've got more experience than th' lot o' you combined," he frowned.
"Right, right, mister 'Black Air'," she answered. "Speaking of which... we never did resolve things with them. I mean, you came to us from them, telling us about how they need to be stopped... yeah, the Neo took priority... but now that the Neo are out of the picture, are we gonna turn towards Air?"
"I wish it were that simple. Air's a government funded organization. Unless you're ready to take on the English government and make mutants completely hated and feared, I'd say not. We can't make a move against Black Air until they make a move against someone in public view."
"Tell me about it."
"So, what do we do 'till then?"
"Keep training, I suppose," Wisdom said. "Can't believe I just said that, but... we do need the work. And I figure someone's going to have to teach you all how to survive."
"Oh, and that's gonna be you, huh?"
"Of course. Just wait and see, girl
. . . the fun'll really be startin' soon."
Brian Braddock has been working undercover for, in his opinion, far too long. In an effort to keep tabs on the illegal and/or mutant activities of the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle, he infiltrated the organization, posing as the Red Pawn. He knew there was risk involved, and that his very life could be in danger while with the group... but he also knew it had to be done.
However, he did not expect to find such a terrible discovery about his father.
It seems that his dad was involved in the creation of some anti-mutant technology, creating early designs for everything from negation devices to mutant-proof bullets. The work was co-funded by the Hellfire Club and Black Air, and was sold to the island nation of Genosha in a finished state.
Brian sat at his computer, thinking carefully and clearly. It was his second computer, since he had smashed the last one in anger.
Genosha, on the outside, is a land of peace and tolerance. A land where mutants and humans live in peace? Sounds like that dream of Xavier's come true. But I don't buy it.
Humanity, throughout history, has always held prejudices. There is no possible way that an entire nation would just say that they will treat mutants equally... is there?
This bars much further investigation,
I'd say. I might think about presenting this to the Inner Circle itself.
If things aren't on the up and up, these fellows would probably know. And
if they aren't on the up and up, then Excalibur will probably be needed.
"Still at it, Kurt?" Piotr Rasputin asked.
"Ja," Kurt Wagner answered. He sat at a computer as well, trying his best to research for any info on the Neo.
"I doubt you will find anything on the internet that we did not find in Black Air's files," Piotr frowned. "Especially since you know very little about computers."
"This is an iMac," Kurt replied. "It's all point and click... I can't go wrong."
"You can't go far, either," Piotr grinned.
"You're right, of course," Kurt sighed. "But I don't like this. All we can do is wait? But, what happens if they decide to strike again? Chances are, they'll hit here again first. Logic dictates that they would eliminate their enemies as soon as possible, and Excalibur was the only threat posed to them."
"Moira has already said she will be upgrading our defense systems," Piotr shrugged. "Wisdom has offered to help. Between them, I'm sure a reasonably formidable system can be created. And we shall train."
"Always train," Kurt sighed. "I hate training."
"We all do."
"But we all need it."
"Perhaps we need a more uptight, anal leader."
"Mein Freund, if you truly wanted that,"
Kurt grinned, "I'm sure I could oblige."
Doug and Rahne sat on the western edge of the island, looking out towards the Atlantic. Lockheed the dragon laid across Rahne's shoulders.
"He likes you," Doug pointed out.
"I suppose," Rahne replied. "Though he should know, I'm nae interested."
"You hurt his feelings!" Doug exclaimed, joking.
"I... I dinnae mean to... "
"Relax, Rahne," Doug said, grinning. "I was kidding! He's okay... he's a little guy, but I think he can take rejection. Come on, loosen up, girl! Why are you so uptight?"
"I'm nae uptight," she said. "I just . . . I dunno... am I uptight?"
"Yeah," Doug nodded. "Not that I'm some party animal, mind you... but you're a bit tweaked. We need to get you to relax, loosen up, and have a good time."
"I... " Rahne started.
"Woooohoooo!!!" Rogue's voice broke apart the quiet afternoon setting as the young mutant flew through the sky. "He did it, he did it! Ah'm free! Free as a bird!"
She landed next to the other two with a big smile plastered over her face.
"Didja here?" she asked. "Doctor Campbell sent in all the paperwork, and Ah'm free! Well, not exactly free, since Ah'm kinda a ward of the island 'till I turn eighteen, but... free enough! No more prison cells or power dampeners for me! Ain't'cha excited?"
"Congratulations, Rogue!" Doug said back enthusiastically.
"Er, yeah... congrats," Rahne added.
"Ah tell ya, it's gonna be great," Rogue continued. "Though Ah cain't exactly control my powers much yet, I'll wear gloves an' all that, keep from makin' any accidental skin-to-skin contact. Ah'm gonna get to hang out with ya'll, and join the 'B-Team'."
"B-Team?" Rahne asked.
"Yeah!" she exclaimed. "We're the trainin' group for Excalibur... right?"
"Beats me," Doug shrugged. "They don't tell me anything."
"Lady Moira doesn't want me tae fight," Rahne said.
"Oh, you gotta be kiddin', right?" Rogue asked. "They're not gonna let us join in on the fun?"
"'Tis nae fun, 'tis dangerous!" Rahne said.
"Not t'me," Rogue said. "Ah got these powers, I'm darn near invulnerable!"
"It's that kind of cocky attitude that could get you killed," Doug frowned. "My powers don't make me very combat-ready. I'm fine sitting on the sidelines."
"Oh, you two are borin'," Rogue frowned. "Don't you guys want to have fun? A little excitement? A little danger?"
"Um, well," Rahne said. "I think . . . I think I see danger up there... "
"Huh?" Rogue asked. She followed Rahne's gaze into the sky, where she saw a giant ball of energy rocketing downwards towards the ocean. "What in... ?"
The ball smashed into the waves as it made impact, sending a huge crash of water outward.
"What do you think it was?" Doug asked.
"A meteor?" Rahne asked.
"Ah'll find out!" Rogue exclaimed. She took off, flying towards the point of impact.
"What happened?" Meggan asked, approaching the other two kids.
"Something crashed," Doug said. "Rogue went to see."
Rogue flew head-first into the water, looking for whatever it was that crashed. She could feel how the water was warm, almost hot. Then she caught site of the object. She swam over and grabbed hold. She carried it out of the water and over to the island.
Nightcrawler and Colossus had since joined the others on the shore as Rogue approached.
"What was it?" Kurt asked.
"Not what," Rogue said, "who!"
She flew in close, holding a body in her arms. He had no shirt, but wore tattered black pants. He appeared to be in his twenties, though he had long, silver hair. The face, however, was one Rogue would never forget.
"Oh mah lord," she said. "I know this man!"
"You do?" Piotr asked.
"It's... it's... Magneto!"
Next issue: You really need us to tell you what's happening in Excalibur #14?