#1: Gather the Children-- of the Atom! Jun 19, 2019 12:28:26 GMT -5
Post by Charlie on Jun 19, 2019 12:28:26 GMT -5
Issue #1: “Gather the Children-- of the Atom!”
Written by: Brian Burchette
Issue #1: “Gather the Children-- of the Atom!”
Written by: Brian Burchette
Several Months Ago…
A thick cloud of black smoke rose into the grey sky, the smell of burning wood and mortar hung heavy in the air. The home burned, fire blazing brightly, giving the Rasputin family an eerie glow to their skin as they watched all of their belongings, their heirlooms, crumble into ashes. His mother was weeping; his little sister clutched him tightly, not wanting to look. He and his father were the only one’s who stood up straight and watched as their life disintegrated in front of them.
Piotr Rasputin felt conflicting emotions course through his rigid body. Anger, hate, and yet, pity, all seemed to come together in a tidal wave. Tidal waves are dangerous things, and if one is not careful, they can be swept up in an undertow that will drag them away into the uncaring depths of despair.
“Who did this?”
The family turned to see an older gentleman, his hair a mixture of white and gray, standing behind them. He had a look of sadness on his face. His eyes, however, revealed more. There was hardness in them, a coldness that came with years of pain and suffering.
“Who are you?” Piotr’s Father asked, stepping in front of the rest of his family.
The man tilted his head to the right and gave an understanding smile. “You do not have to fear me; I come to you as a friend, not foe.”
Piotr handed his sister over to his father, stepping forward to face the man in the dark trench coat, his Fedora being held in front of him.
“The people from the town did this. They came in the middle of the night and set fire to our home. We barely made it out alive.”
“Why did they do this?”
The young Rasputin hesitated, unsure of how much to tell this gentleman, but he had nothing to fear, for the older man put him at ease.
“It’s because you are different, isn’t it.” It was not a question at all, but a statement.
Piotr looked into those penetrating eyes, feeling them burn right into the core of his being. He stared back into them, setting his jaw and nodding his head. This man already knew, Piotr wasn’t going to hide it, and by the look this stranger was giving him, he knew he didn’t have to.
“How sad for them,” the stranger remarked. “Homo-sapiens, always trying to destroy that which is different. What if I told you that I could help you? I can take you with me, it will keep the rest of your family safe and protected. And in return, you can help me as well. You can join my cause. We may be different, but that does not mean we should hide. We were put here for a reason, and it is time that those like us… mutants… should embrace our destiny. Will you join me?’
Piotr considered the words, than turned and gazed again at his homestead, being laid to waste by fear and distrust. “I will help you.”
The man smiled warmly and placed his hat back upon his head. “I shall send my associates here to help your family rebuild. They will have a new place standing in less than a day. I promise you that.”
“Thank you. My name is Piotr Rasputin.”
“I know. I am Erik Lehnsherr. Welcome to The Brotherhood.”
Dublin, Ireland was having an unusual spell of warm weather for the time of year that it was. The Isle was not known for its tropical heat waves, but as the gentleman named Sean Cassidy made his way through the narrow streets, searching out the man whose letter he held in his hand, he couldn’t help but wonder if global warming had finally taken over.
He opened the door to the small pub, looking around at the handful of patrons that were milling about. It was the middle of the afternoon, so the little hole in the wall was no where near filled to capacity yet.
<Over here, Mr. Cassidy>
Sean jumped, startled by the voice. He looked towards the corner and saw a very well dressed bald man in a wheelchair nodding at him. He was several feet away, yet if this was the man he was suppose to meet, the voice had seemed like it was right next to him… or even closer.
When he sat down across from the man, he couldn’t help but notice the way this American was looking at him. It made him uncomfortable, as if he were on display.
“What kin I do for ya?” Sean Cassidy asked the man after a moment of silence.
“I think perhaps, it’s what we can do for each other…”
“Down in front!” Warren Worthington III cried as his pure white wings caught a down draft soared over the head of his buddy, Hank McCoy; grabbing a large robot and slamming him against the far wall.
“An exquisite execution, Warren!” Hank stated as he lifted his furry blue body into the air, leaping across the room and landing on the back of another robot. He let out a small growl and grunted as he ripped the head off another metallic foe.
“Of course,” Warren replied with a grin as he soared past him again, giving the doctor a grin so wide his teeth sparkled in the light.
“It must be the abundance of modesty that you contain that gives you your edge with the ladies.”
“That and a few other things,” Warren winked, but then was caught by a metal tentacle that wrapped itself around his ankle and brought him smashing onto the floor.
The blond playboy cried out in surprise and pain as he felt a cold breeze whisk by him. He turned to see the mechanical monstrosity being frozen into an ice block.
“Go ahead, you can thank me now,” Bobby Drake said as he brought his ice slide up beside his team-mate.
Warren lay on the ground looking up at him with frustration on his face. “Yeah, real nice, Bobby, he’s still got my leg trapped; only now we can’t get to him to get me released.”
“Oops, sorry about that,” Bobby said. “I know you can’t see it, but I’m blushing.”
“A little help here would be greatly appreciated,” Henry called out as he leapt from one robot to the next, dodging their swings and the electrical bolts that were coming from the base of their arms.
“Be right back,” Bobby said as he took off.
“Don’t you dare leave me like... Oh for pete’s sake!” Warren said as he turned around to figure out away to release himself, only to see another robot hovering over him. “Well this officially sucks.”
Bobby weaved between the three mechanical villains that had cornered Hank, hitting one with solid ice balls that knocked it back, giving Hank the room he needed to spring from the corner launch a counter-attack that sent him flying into the air and landing on two of the robots backs and slamming them into each other with the force of a pile driver.
“Not bad, fuzzy!” Bobby laughed as he froze two more, knocking them over on his return trip. “Now excuse me while I go get our friend out of trouble.”
“I don’t need your help,” Warren shouted in anger while desperately trying to pull the metal rope from his leg, while dodging the final menace. “Well… okay… maybe…”
“Don’t start molting on me; I’ve got your back.”
Warren watched the metal rope turn to solid ice; then brought his fist down on top of it, smashing it all to smithereens. He was getting to his feet when he saw Bobby go flying into Hank, both of them landing hard into the wall; falling to the floor, stunned.
The blond mutant turned to find himself facing the last robot, which had grown to five times its size. His eyes seemed to bulge in his head as he narrowly dodged a large fist that slammed into the metal floor.
“Umm, guys, you can both wake up now.”
He flew past the other fist that swung at him, hoping to get to his friends, when he saw the giant metal golem begin to rise in the air. It thrashed about for a few seconds, trying to get its footing, when a large ruby blast of energy struck it dead center; shattering it into a million pieces.
Warren turned in the air to see the remaining two students standing in the doorway of the exercise room. Scott Summers was placing his ruby quartz glasses back in place, a dour look on his face. Next to him was Jean Grey. Jean. The most beautiful woman he had ever known; and he had known a lot of women in his young life. You weren’t the son of one of the richest men in all of the United States without getting some fringe benefits.
Conflicted between his happiness of seeing Jean and his annoyance of the save from Scott, he blended the two emotions together and found himself angry.
“What the hell did you do that for?! I was taking care of the situation!”
Scott strode into the room. “Not from where I was standing. You were out-gunned and out-classed ten to one. With both Bobby and Henry down, you should have went for the fail safe and turned off the program.”
Warren flew down to within an inch of his face. “What purpose would that have done? When we’re out there,” he was shouting, his fingers pointing to the outer world, “We’re not going to have some fail safe switch that will turn off the danger!”
“There is no danger out there,” Scott said, his voice remaining neutral.
“Than what has the Professor been training us for? Answer me that, Mr. Star Pupil!”
“He’s been training us so that we can keep control of our powers, Warren. So that when the time comes for us to enter the real world, we can be prepared.”
“Okay… prepared for what?!”
“Boys!” Jean shouted.
The two young men realized that Jean had left them and was helping Hank up; Bobby still lay on the floor unconscious.
They broke off their exchange to help their fallen comrade.
“We better get him down to the infirmary,” Scott said as he examined Bobby. “Could be a minor concussion. I’d still like to know what you three were trying to do. You had nobody monitoring you.”
“Scott, not now,” Jean chided gently.
The Summers boy said nothing further as they carried their friend from the room, but the looks that Warren and Scott gave each other spoke volumes.
“When did the Professor say he was going to be back?” Bobby asked a couple of hours later as he lay in the bed in his room.
“Before midnight is all he told me,” Scott answered, leaning against the door to the dorm room.
Henry McCoy had finished checking his pupils for the third time since the incident. “Do not worry, my young friend, I have it on good authority that we will not be ratted out. And since the bump on your head is not concussive in nature, the Professor shall remain none the wiser.”
“Until he reads our minds,” Bobby mumbled.
“Yes, until then,” Hank nodded.
Scott grunted, “You’re just lucky that Henry leapt ahead about seven years of schooling. The Professor would not have been happy if we had had to drag you to a hospital. His near genius intellect saved your butt.”
“Oh good, now I get the lecture from big brother,” Bobby muttered.
“You want a lecture,” Scott started. “Let’s start with the fact that…”
Hank raised his blue furred hand to silence him. “Please, Scott, let us back track for a moment. Near genius?”
The three of them stared at each other for a moment before Scott broke it by sighing and walking out the door. Hank turned to the youngest member of their exclusive school and winked at him.
“Thanks,” Bobby said with a grin.
Jean Grey walked down the hall of the mansion, heading towards the library to finish up her last paper when she heard the clearing of a throat. She turned slightly to see Warren standing at the end of the corridor with his arms folded in front of him.
“Going my way?”
“I have a feeling that I’m not fast enough for your way.” She smiled in spite of herself.
“No problem, we can always stay in the far right lane,” he replied with a wink as he walked up to her. “I was just about to head to the kitchen for a snack, care to join me?”
“Well, I was headed in the other direction, but I guess I can spare a few more minutes, and I could use some caffeine.”
They walked toward the kitchen together, an odd silence between the two of them. For Jean is was rather amusing as she watched, out of the corner of her eye, and saw him opening and then closing his mouth several times. For Warren, it was just plain uncomfortable.
There he was standing next to the most beautiful young woman he had ever seen, and he couldn’t think of a single thing to say… well nothing that wouldn’t come out stupid or like some kind of cheap pass.
Entering the kitchen, they both grabbed sodas and Warren began to make himself a sandwich. He dropped the knife twice, banging his head on the counter on his second retrieval of the item.
“You’re a bit clumsy tonight.” Jean mused.
“Yeah, don’t know why. I guess that work out was more exhausting than I realized. Sure I can’t make you a sandwich?”
“I’ll pass, but thanks. Well, it was nice talking to you, Warren.”
As she turned to leave, Warren blurted it out without realizing it. “Do you want to go to the movies this weekend?”
She stopped and turned back around. Her smile lit up the room, and his heart. “Oh Warren, I already am.”
“With Scott?” It was half question, half statement.
“Yes, with me,” the voice of Scott Summers said from behind Jean.
They both turned, startled at his sudden appearance.
“You sure you don’t have an extra power of stealth, because you’re getting very good at appearing without being heard.” Jean said with a little laugh.
Scott smiled at her. “Guess it’s the training. I thought we were meeting in the library?”
“I’m on my way now, just stopping to get some caffeine. You want anything?”
“I’ll get it and meet you there,” he said as he squeezed her hand and watched her walk away. She looked back once, smiled, and turned the corner.
Summers turned back to see Warren, who was blatantly watching her leaave. “You just think everything is yours, don’t you?”
Warren cleared his throat and went back to making his sandwich. “I don’t know what you mean.”
Walking up to the young, blond man, he leaned into his left ear. “Yes you do. Warren Worthington the Third, heir to a fortune, and already following in his daddy’s footsteps.”
The knife, which was layering mustard on a slice of wheat, stopped moving. “Don’t go there, Scott.”
“Then don’t go near Jean. You’ve got a lot of nerve asking her out when you know we’re dating. You can have any woman in the world, Warren, don’t even try to go after mine; you’ll live to regret it.”
Warren swung around, his face on fire. “Are you threatening me?”
The ruby quartz glasses stared directly into the other man’s eyes. “If that’s how you want to take it, go for it.”
“Just ‘cause you’re the teachers pet, doesn’t give you the right to bully us around, or threaten us. If Jean decides she wants to go out with me, there’s not much you can do about it, is there?”
Scott scoffed. “Trust me; Jean doesn’t want anything to do with you.”
Warren couldn’t help but smile. “Now if that were true, you wouldn’t be in here acting like a jealous boyfriend, would you?”
The last statement hung between them for an eternity. Finally Scott Summers turned around and walked out of the kitchen, leaving Warren alone with his thoughts.
Professor Charles Xavier’s plane landed on time and his personal assistant, Royce Lindsey was waiting for him. He wheeled the foremost leader of genetic research, towards the black limo that was parked in the handicapped spot, just outside of LaGuardia airport.
Opening the car door, the large man lifted Charles easily from the chair and placed him in the back seat. He picked up the chair, folded it, and placed it in the trunk. As he closed the lid, a figure was standing next to the car, and next to him. He was dressed in only a pair of shorts, and his girth was enormous.
“Hey there buddy, can you spare a life?”
Reacting on instinct, Royce’s body suddenly grew an extra five feet, making him over twelve feet tall. People began to scream at the sudden appearance of the giant that had sprung up in their midst.
Royce swung his fist and landed a punch that seemed to go right into the soft flesh of the man next to him, and then he became stuck.
“Poor guy, you might be bigger, but you ain’t gonna take down The Blob ‘less I wants you to. And pal, I don’t wants you to.”
Something wet and slimy wrapped around the bodyguards throat, and he was pulled backwards. As his arm was still stuck in the Blob’s stomach, he suddenly found himself being strangled by what felt like an extremely large tongue.
“That’s myy buddy, The Toad. He’s a real pal, ya know. Hey, you’re not lookin’ to good. Kindda turnin’ blue.”
The Toad, who was squatting on the top of the awning, dressed in leather and bizarre looking goggles on is face. His mouth was wide open and the elongated tongue of his was shaking as he continued to strangle Royce.
“What is going on out there?” The Professor shouted out as he turned in time to see his friend and bodyguard fall to the ground with a large crash, causing the ground to shake and even more people to scream in panic.
Guards had appeared and began to fire upon the one called The Blob, but the bullets seemed to be absorbed right into him, and then repelled, three of which hit two officers, who dropped to the ground; one dead, the other dying.
This is impossible, Charles thought, I should have detected them. I can’t seem to get into either one of their minds. I don’t understand.
“Enough playing, Blob, get him out of there and lets go.”
The Blob picked up the car and turned it on its side, shaking it as if it were nothing more than a box of candy. The passenger fell out, tumbling to the cement and landing on his stomach. He raised himself up by his hands.
“Who are you? What do you want with me?!”
The Toad smiled and spread his arms out, “Greetings from The Brotherhood, Professor. Our leader has sent us to retrieve you. It seems you both have some unfinished business that he would like to take care of.”
One last chance, Xavier thought as his mind went back to a discussion he had had with Scott Summers, only months ago. He didn’t want to do it, but it was coming to pass, as he feared it would. He closed his eyes and sent out the message.
Four Months Ago:
“You wanted to see me, Professor?” Scott asked as he entered Charles’ private office.
“Yes Scott, please have a seat. I wanted to let you know that for the next few months, I am going to be making several trips abroad. Although my staff will still be here to help you all finish up your studies, I’m looking to you, Scott, to keep the classes trainings up. You’re a natural born leader, and I’m depending on you to keep them in line and trained. I want you to especially focus on team work. It’s very important that they continue to practice on how to fight efficiently as one unit.”
“Of course, Professor, but if you don’t mind me asking; is something wrong?”
The Professor’s eyes were intense, but calm. “Not at the moment; however, we must be prepared for the future, Scott. The facts about mutants are just now really starting to come out to the general public, and who knows which way the wind will blow, once the discussions begin. I will do my best to speak on our behalf, but history in this country has shown us that fear often leads to bigotry.”
Scott nodded in agreement. “I’ll make sure we stay on course, Professor.”
Charles let out a heavy sigh. “One more thing, Scott: I hope this never comes to pass, but if it does, I want you to be prepared. Someday, I may need your help – all of you. If that day does happen, than I want you to know that there in sub-basement three, the code to the room on the far left is EL22413. In there, you will find uniforms that I will expect you to wear.”
“You’re starting to worry me, Professor.”
Xavier shook his head, “No, Scott, don’t be. I’ve just done everything I could to prepare, in case of an emergency, and this is my final instructions. Now, one last thing, and we will be done. If I ever need all of you, if there is a real threat or danger to yourselves, or to me, I will give you a code phrase. If you ever receive it, than you know that it is time to put all of your training to work.”
“Okay, Professor… what is the phrase?”
Bobby Drake was in his room, lying on his bed with his Advanced Physics book lying open, next to him. He had discarded it for a Playboy he had purchased in town the week before.
Warren Worthington sat in the kitchen, eating his sandwich and stewing over his confrontation with a man he knew was his friend, but was having a hard time believing it at the moment.
Hank McCoy was in the main laboratory that the Professor had created for him at the beginning of his senior year. It was in sub-basement two, and where Hank spent almost all of his time now. For as the others were about to graduate with college degrees, the genius of Henry McCoy had propelled him into an early doctoral program.
Scott Summer and Jean Grey sat in the library, going over history books as they each worked on their own final essays. Occasionally they would each sneak a glance at the other and smile.
The message came to all of them at the same moment, loudly, and in the center of their minds: To me, my X-Men!
Scott’s blood ran cold as he looked up at Jean. The phrase had been given, the time had arrived, and he knew that their lives were never going to be the same again…
To Be Continued