#2: Public Appearance Jun 19, 2019 13:08:20 GMT -5
Post by Charlie on Jun 19, 2019 13:08:20 GMT -5
Issue #2: “Public Appearance”
Written by Brian Burchette
Edited by Kevin Feeney
None of them knew how Professor Xavier had acquired a state of the art aircraft like the Blackbird, but while doing his weekly maintenance on it, Bobby had once noticed that several of the control modules were stamped with the corporate logo of S.E. He had asked the Professor if he knew Tony Stark personally, but the question had been avoided. Either way, the jet was speeding to its destination with Scott Summers at the helm, and Bobby Drake co-piloting.
“What’s the plan, Scott?” Jean asked. “We can’t just enter into LaGuardia air space without being looked upon as a threat.”
“We’re not even positive that the Professor is still there,” Warren remarked. “In fact, I think it would be kind of stupid to assume that he is. One short burst, calling for us, and then nothing. He’s obviously unconscious, or else he would be letting us know where he is.”
“I’ve already taken that into consideration,” Scott said, ignoring the hint of challenge in Warren’s voice. “I don’t expect to find him at the airport, but it’s where we have to start looking. In fact, you and Bobby are going with me to check out the scene in our civvies, hopefully we’ll find something that may lead us to where they took him, or at the very least, who took him.”
“Awesome, I’ll break my out my CSI do it yourself, fan kit. I got it in the mail the other day. I’ve been dying to try to it out.” Bobby said.
“Not the right time, Bobby.” Scott admonished.
There was a bit of silence, then Jean leaned over Bobby’s shoulder and gave him a peck on the cheek and a light pat on the shoulder. “But we do appreciate your trying.”
Bobby couldn’t help but grin. It was like having acknowledgment from a big sister; something he had wanted since he was a child. His younger brother was great and all, but for some reason, having a big sister had always been a childhood yearning that he had finally been able to realize when he had befriended Jean.
As they approached the boroughs from the Atlantic, Scott moved out of the pilot’s position. “Okay, Hank, its all yours. We’ll stay in contact through the communicators, but keep radio silence unless we really need to.”
“Guys, I think you should hear this,” Jean said as she flipped a switch to turn on the overhead speaker system.
“… breaking news from LaGuardia Airport. Police have reported that some kind of superhuman attack has occurred outside of the International Terminal. Reports are sketchy at this time, but a reliable source has informed us that one person is dead, and one has been detained at the scene. Earlier reports indicated that Professor Charles Xavier was involved in the incident. Professor Xavier has recently been acknowledged by many of his peers as the world renowned leader in the study of humans who are born with the extra gene that causes some to be given extraordinary powers. He has become a controversial figure in a very short time, with much of this country wondering what this means for the future of mankind. We will have more on this developing story as soon as we can. Now we turn to…”
Jean turned off the radio and they all sat in silence for a moment.
“Well this seems to be a development that should cause us to rethink our strategy,” Hank mused.
“We need to get whoever they are holding down there,” Warren said. “And find out if that’s the Professor lying dead over there.”
“It isn’t,” Scott said a bit too quickly. “If it was, we would have known; we would have felt it. We stick with the plan, except Bobby, you’re staying up here with Jean; Hank, you’re coming with us.”
“Ahh, you want me to play Sherlock Holmes,” Hank said. “How delightful; I shall endeavor to find the answers that are needed.”
“Okay, let’s move.”
The entire area had been blocked off and the police were combing the scene, the large man still lying dead near the limo, and the short man with the extremely long tongue sitting on the top of the squad car, was giving him statement.
“It was horrible. Here I am, minding my own business, and this guy here and the one in the wheelchair comes up to me, orders me into the limo or they say they’ll kill me. I tried to run, but that one grew huge and than tried to off me, and all. I was just doing what I had to.”
The officers were nodding, “You got any other name than The Toad?” One asked.
“Probably, a long time ago, but I don’t remember what it is, anymore.”
“Any idea who this guy was, or the other one?’
“No idea about this guy, but that other one, he’s the one I’ve seen on the television. Professor X-something. I’ve seen him before. He approached me cause I’m a… you know… a mutant. He asked me to come with him, wanted to use me as some kind of guinea pig. I refused. Thought he got the hint, but I guess he didn’t.”
“Any idea where he went?”
“Nope. I was trying to stay alive ‘cause of that one, and when it was all over, he was gone.”
“Hey Detective,” came the voice of an officer. “This guy here says he has information for you.”
The detective turned to see an older man walking towards him, with a full head of white hair combed straight back. He wore some kind of deep red body suit, and he carried himself with the dignity of someone who had led a hard life, but had made it through intact.
“Who are you?” Detective Sanders demanded.
“My name is Erik, and I’m a mutant, a mutant who wants to help catch the man who has done this, and if not stopped, will do even more harm.”
“How do you know that?” The detective asked suspiciously.
“Because the man you are looking for, Charles Xavier, he is my brother. I am Erik Xavier, and I am on your side.” He replied with a small, sympathetic smile.
He was in Cairo, Egypt, the sun beating down on his face, the crowded narrow streets gave him a slight case of claustrophobia; yet, he was happy. He was young, he was on an adventure, and he could walk.
Charles stopped. He could walk? That didn’t make sense. He wasn’t able to walk anymore… not after the…
He stopped that thought. It was a memory he didn’t want to relive. It was the day that changed him in more than just the physical sense. He hadn’t walked in years, so was he in the past? No. He was in his mind, in his own memories.
Fighting the urge to stay in there, in the days where he had been at his happiest, he struggled back to consciousness; opening his eyes to find two people staring back at him. The young woman with brown hair and brown eyes wore a red costume, long cloak flowing behind her, and a headdress that she wore like a crown. The young man next to her was wearing a powder blue, skin tight, uniform. His eyes were hazel, but it was his hair that stood out. It was pure white, and not only made him look older than he really was, but made him look vaguely familiar.
“He’s awake,” the young woman mused, looking at the Professor like a lab animal. “Should we alert Father?”
“I’m sure he knows, Wanda,” the young man said.
“Who are you? Where am I?” Charles demanded, and instinctively reached out with his mind to gleam any information he could from his captors. He was shocked to find that their minds were blocked from him. They were shielded, but not of their own doing- the shields were coming from someone else; someone who was protecting them.
“My name is Pietro, Professor, and this is my sister, Wanda. We are here to make sure you are well, after your journey.”
Charles stared at the young man more intently, and recognition flowed over him. Of course! He was the spitting image of…
“Hello, old friend,” came the voice of Erik Lehnsherr as he entered the room. He wore a deep red outfit, carrying a helmet under one hand.
“Erik,” the Professor whispered. “After all these years…”
“Yes, too many, really. Help him to his chair, my son, and than you and your sister are dismissed.”
Pietro gave the bald man a nervous look and than turned to his father, “Are you sure, Father? Wanda and I would rather…”
Erik raised his hand in a dismissive wave, “I understand yours concerns, but I am quite safe. I am more than protected from him.”
The quick glance at the end of the room, towards what appeared to be a two way mirror, was not lost on Charles, and he shot a quick mental probe in that direction, only to find that he was once again blocked, but this time it hurt. As if he had been mentally swatted away, no more than a fly batten away by a human.
Wanda raised her hands and Charles floated from the cot that he had been laying on, and was gently lowered into his wheelchair.
“We will return soon, Father,” Wanda whispered in her father’s ear as she kissed him on the cheek.
Although Erik smiled warmly, his eyes never left Charles, and the two men said nothing as Lehnsherr’s children left the room.
“It seems, Charles, that we have much catching up to do.”
“So what can you tell us about your brother, Mr. Xavier?” The detective asked the man- who looked exactly like the man who had just sat down, miles away, to speak to his old friend.
“I’m afraid that my brother has gone off the deep end, Detective. His research into mutants has left him rather unhinged.”
The Toad sat by, nodding his head in agreement. “Oh I can vouch for that.”
The detectives partner walked up, “We need to talk for a moment.” He looked at Erik, “We’ll be right back.”
As Toad and Erik gave each other a look, the two detectives walked over to the dead body that still lay in the middle of the road.
“This whole thing reeks, if you ask me,” the first said. “All this mutant crap that is starting to creep up around us; mark my word, this whole thing is going to turn into a huge mess. Bunch of freaks, if you ask me.”
“Never judge a book by its cover, Tom. I’ve heard the name, Xavier before. Think I saw him on one of them PBS shows or something. Seemed like a level head guy. Sort of an egghead, but good enough.”
While the two of them spoke in a hushed whisper, Scott, Warren, and Hank made their way through the gathering crowd, stopping only when they could go no further. They could see the Professor’s driver and bodyguard lying in the road, still grown, and obviously dead.
“How exactly are we going to get closer?” Warren asked with his arms crossed.
Hank, who was dressed in a trench coat with a fedora pulled low over his face, looked around at the scene. “I don’t see a way that we can, at the moment. I’m afraid we are going to have to use the virtue of patience before we make a move.”
Scott nodded in agreement, “Hank’s right. There is nothing we can do yet, but observe. Warren, those two men that are standing by the Professor’s limo… they’re a little too far for us to see their faces, so it’s up to you to get a good look at them.”
Warren’s eyes narrowed as he studied the face of the man who seemed to be squatting on the trunk of the car. His eyes were blocked by large goggles, but he was obviously short, even when crouched. As he turned his attention to the other one, the white haired man, for a moment it seemed as if their eyes locked. Warren got the distinct impression that the man recognized him, but than his gaze moved on.
“Ten to one the guy on the back of the limo is a mutant. Or a circus freak.”
“You don’t recognize either of them?” Scott asked.
“Nope, neither one of them, and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of… WAIT! I seem him! I see the Professor! He’s in trouble!” Warren’s voice had continued to rise at what he was seeing, and by the end of his sentence, his civilian jacket was ripped apart as the pure white wings that had come to him at the age of 13 burst through and spread wide. He took to the air, ignoring the protests of Scott and Hank.
“What the hell is going on?” Scott barked, but even the future Dr. McCoy was speechless. He did hear the gasps from the crowd around him, though, and a few murmurs of concern.
Before he could relay this to his teammate, he saw Warren diving towards the middle of the crime scene, only to suddenly see a man standing there, a rather large man who’s body seemed to gleam in the sunlight. As Warren dove towards the large metal man, he was struck by the steel fist and was flung backwards into one of the police cars.
“Oh my stars and garters,” Hank murmured.
Scott broke the tape as he bounded towards the scene, Hank leaping close behind. He hit the communicator attached to his ear as he also discarded his jacket, revealing the skin-tight outfit with the large X on it. “Marvel Girl, we’re under attack! Code names from here on out! Angel is down! Back up is needed, I repeat, back up is needed.”
“We’re on our way, Cyclops.”
As Cyclops and Beast drew closer, they saw what Angel had seen. Charles was being held by a man who Scott immediately thought looked a bit like Jabba the Hut.
Why weren’t the police doing anything?, he wondered.
Beast also saw the same thing and leapt straight at the large man, only to be struck suddenly as he came down. He did not see his attacker, only the blur of a figure as it went by.
“Hypothesis – speedster.” He stated to himself.
“You are quick, animal man, but not as quick as me. That’s why they call me Quicksilver.” Pietro said as he came back around and struck him again, causing Beast to swing around from the punch, nearly losing his balance.
Scott approached the second man man, who he would soon discover called himself The Blob. “Let him go!” He ordered, his right hand going up to his visor. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
The man laughed, “You can’t, dumb-ass! I’m The Blob, nothing can hurt me, but I can snap your Professor’s neck with a flick of my wrist, little boy.”
One minute ago, as the two detectives discussed their next move; they heard the warning cry of an officer and turned around to see a man with large wings heading towards the one called Erik Xavier. Before they could react, another large man made of steel came out of nowhere and struck the flyer, sending him smashing into a police car.
“What the hell is going on?” One of them shouted.
“Look!” The other one cried as they watched two other men coming towards them, both in uniforms, one looking a blue and furry… and snarling. It was at that moment that the creature was struck by something that neither of them could see. It was as if a large wind had spun him around.
The police were pulling out their guns and both detectives ran over to Erik Xavier.
“What is going on here?”
“I am sorry that you and your people are caught in this. These are my brother’s people. Mutant’s that have been misguided; brainwashed into believing that they are superior to all others. My people have been tracking them down for some time now.”
“Yes, we are called, The Brotherhood, and we stand for peaceful co-existence between mutants and homo-sapiens. Tell your men not to shoot; there are too many innocents around here. Please, allow my people to try and take care of this for you.”
They hesitated for only a second and then nodded. The one named Tom turned to a close by Sergeant. “Do not open fire! I repeat, do not open fire! Get this crowd of people away from here! NOW!”
The white haired man smiled a wicked smile. “I suppose, Toad, that you can go play, now.”
The Toad returned the grin, “You, Mastermind, are an asset to this organization.”
As the Toad leapt into action, Jason Wyngrade chuckled. “Of course I am. A far greater asset than even Magneto realizes.”
Cyclops stood frozen, unsure of what to do. He couldn’t risk Blob hurting the Professor, but he had to do something. A quick glance to his right showed that Beast was losing his battle with whomever he was fighting. No help there. He had to risk it. Perhaps a tight, focused beam at his arm would release their mentor. Yet, what if it didn’t? What if he failed and the Professor was killed? Could he live with that on his conscience?
He didn’t have to answer the question as Angel came swooping down from behind The Blob, grabbing at the Professor and taking him out of the large man’s arms.
“No problem, one eye, I’ve got him! Now let her rip!”
Scott’s jaw set as he let loose with his optic beam, nailing Blob dead center. His jaw tightened even more when he realized that the blast had no effect, and the huge mammoth was still standing… in fact he was laughing.
“Now that tickled. My turn.”
Beast was doing everything that he could to get in a swing at Quicksilver, but as swift and agile as he was, he just wasn’t fast enough. He quickly decided that retreat was the better part of valor as he made a giant leap out of the speedster’s path.
As he flew into the air, he found himself surrounded by several dozen oversized vultures which began to attack him. He flailed his arms wildly as he hit the ground hard, the buzzards pressing their advantage.
Quicksilver laughed, knowing that his sister had done her magic, and done it well. He turned his attention to the one attacking Blob and headed towards him. Just as he was about to reach him, the hood from one of the police cars came out of nowhere and was suddenly in front of him. He had no time to stop and ran full tilt into the piece of metal. He bounced off of it and fell backwards onto the pavement.
“I don’t know who you are,” the voice of Marvel Girl said, “But you don’t mess with my boys.”
Even though Cyclops fired again, he could not damage Blob at all, until he saw the ice form under the man’s feet. A small smile crept across his face as he fired one more time, giving himself nearly full strength, and this time when it struck, The Blob lost his footing and fell to the ground.
“I say we give this guy the cold shoulder,” Iceman said as he came in on one of the ice-sleds he had been practicing, and let loose with enough ice to freeze The Blobs arms to the ground.
“Thanks for the assist,” Cyclops nodded.
“Anytime, boss man; by the way, where is the Professor?”
Scott turned to point, only to find that their mentor was no longer anywhere to be seen. His head went back and forth in confusion, scanning the area, but there was no sign of him.
“Dammit, we’ve been set up!”
“And now you’re going to be taken down,” The Toad exclaimed as he came bounding down upon Cyclops, knocking the team leader to the ground.
Iceman let loose with another blast, but at the last second, the ice bolt swerved from its intended target and struck Cyclops, knocking him unconscious.
“Now that’s the way to work as a team,” The Toad exclaimed as he winked at The Scarlet Witch, who hovered above the battle with her arms stretched out in front of her.
Marvel Girl focused, lifting up the same piece of metal that she had used to knock out the speedster when she heard the Professor’s voice behind her.
Jean stopped, turning around to see the Professor wheeling up to her. “They are too strong. We must retreat, now.”
“Are… are you sure?”
“Look behind you, and you tell me.”
She turned to find herself face to face with the man made of metal, “Who are you?” She demanded.
“Colossus,” he replied with a Russian accent and then flicked her across the chin. She fell to the ground unconscious.
Angel had flown up into the air with the Professor when the man suddenly faded out of existence. Stunned, he hovered there for a moment, unsure of what had just happened. Then he noticed the young woman in red, also hovering, smiling sweetly at him.
He arched an eyebrow and smiled back, soaring towards her. She held out her arms, almost as if she was inviting him into her embrace, but then her fingers began to move as did her lips.
His smile faded as quickly as the Professor just had as he felt his wings become heavy. He looked behind him to see that they had been transmuted into lead, and then he plunged to the ground. The last thing he heard was the laughter of the young woman before he struck the Earth, and everything went to black.
The members of The Brotherhood gathered around the fallen X-Men, as the police and detectives came up to them as well.
Detective Tom Cochran spoke, “Thank you, Brotherhood. We’ll take it from here.”
Mastermind, or Erik Xavier, as he appeared to the law officers, shook his head. “As much as I wish I could do that, my friend. These mutants are extremely dangerous, and I’m afraid you don’t have the ability to hold them… yet. I suggest, though, that you tell your superiors to begin building a facility that can house these evil mutants, because the time is coming when they will all need to be locked up, and The Brotherhood will not have the room to do so.”
“Now wait a minute,” one of the officers started to say, but never finished as all the heroes and villains seemed to just simply vanish before their eyes; even the dead body that had started the whole scenario.
“What just happened?” One of them asked.
“I don’t know,” Cochran replied. “But we’re going to have a helluva lot of paperwork to fill out on this one.”
In reality, The Brotherhood still stood where they were. Mastermind had cast a simple illusion to make it appear that they had left.
“Collect them. Magneto wants them all brought to the base.” The Scarlet Witch said.
“I don’t mean to be a David Downer, here, but we’re missing one,” The Toad said as he watched Colossus break the ice that had pinned down The Blob.
They looked around.
“The ice-boy,” Mastermind spat. “He got away.”
Wanda turned to her brother who nodded and zipped off in a flash.
Pietro shot through the surrounding region, scouring the entire area. He raced by the spot where Bobby hid more than once, but seemed not to notice him. Finally he returned to the rest of the group.
Iceman watched them talking, obviously upset at his escape, and then they turned to leave. As they did, he noticed that the one called Quicksilver glanced back in his direction for a moment, and Bobby held his breath… but than the speedster turned back, and they left.
As The Brotherhood got in their own jet and Mastermind took the controls, Colossus sat next to the son of Magneto, changing back into his normal form.
“Why were we after these people, friend?”
“Because they are not true believers. They do not understand that the world will soon come to hate and fear us. As my father has said, they must be eliminated for homo-superiors to claim their rightful place as the next step in the evolution of man.”
Peter Rasputin said nothing, but he couldn’t help but wonder to himself why all men could not get along to begin with. Wasn’t that the way for humanity to make itself more evolved… for everyone?
He glanced back at Pietro, but the young man turned away, refusing to look at him.
Their conversation had been long, but civil. In the end, though, both Erik and Charles had come to realize that what had separated them and their friendship- their hugely different beliefs- was still there.
“So nothing has changed?” Charles asked, knowing the answer. The sadness in his voice did not go unnoticed by his one-time best friend.
“No, Charles, I’m afraid it has not. I really did not expect it too. You were always a man of ideals, and that was and is a noble quality, but one that cannot exist in a world that has already shown that its hatred for anything different causes immediate fear and danger from those who will not accept change.”
Charles leaned forward, “We can show them that change is alright, Erik. They can be taught that just because someone is different, does not make them something to be eliminated.”
Erik shook his head, sadly, “Just as Hitler showed us, or Byron De La Beckwith, or James Earl Ray? Or perhaps Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney? And those are just some of the famous ones. The ones who took off the white sheets, the thin veil of decency that they hid behind. No, Charles, this is a root that must be pulled from this Earth before it even gets the chance to grow.”
“What are you going to do, Erik?”
“I’ve already done it, Charles. I’ve chosen to play their game, and by doing so, I’ve had to make sacrifices. You and your students, to be exact. The Brotherhood will be looked upon as heroes, while you and yours will be declared outlaws. I will gain the trust and the love of the American people, and then the people of the world, just as Martin Luthor King, Jr. did; however, I will not let the narrow minded and the bigoted eliminate me, or my followers. And I will make it where others were not able too… the White House. Then, and only then, will Homo-Sapiens finally get what is coming to them.”
“It’s ludicrous,” Charles whispered. “You could never become President. You’re not even an American.”
“Erik Lehnsherr isn’t, you’re right, old friend. But Erik Xavier, the poor older brother to the mutant terrorist known as Charles Xavier, is. And his story of triumph over his family’s humiliation will be the kind of story that the media will latch onto, and when they do, I’ll rise to power rather quickly.”
“We’ll stop you.”
“You’ll try,” Erik admitted. “And each time you do, you will just add fuel to the fire, and make my cause even more important to the American people.”
As the man called Magneto walked towards the exit, he turned back one last time. “I am truly sorry, old friend, but your dream has already died before it even had a chance to be planted.”
To Be Continued