X-Men Evolution NEXT

First Strike

Waiting impatiently at an empty back parking lot, the members of the Brotherhood are either leaning up against the access ramp to the X-copter or lounging in one of its many leather seats. Sitting in the pilot's chair, Avalanche stares at the controls plainly with a look of frustration. Quicksilver sits leaned forward in the co-pilot's chair with his left leg lightly bouncing. Scarlet Witch paces back and forth in irritating silence a few seats behind them. Avalanche flicks and toggles a few switches, then clicks them off. Quicksilver continues to bounce his left leg creating a squeaking rubber sound beneath his foot. Scarlet Witch huffs out in frustration as she paces to and fro. It is repetitive moment for all three. Finally, Scarlet Witch speaks up, "Will you stop bouncing your stupid leg, Pietro! It's driving me up the wall!"

Looking back at her with own look of frustration, Quicksilver darts out, "Well it can't be as irritating watching you walk over your own steps over and over again at the same time listening to you breathe like a dog!"

Avalanche chooses to ignore them and continues flicking switches on and off. Scarlet Witch turns her attention to him and remarks, "And quit messing with the controls, Lance! The constant clicking is getting on my nerves. Besides, knowing you, you're going to end up breaking something."

Avalanche keeps his face towards the front ignoring both of them in silence, and flicks another switch blatantly. Scarlet Witch sighs out loudly with even more frustration and starts up her pacing again. Quicksilver looks back at her saying, "Will you stop that heavy breathing thing! It's like you're full of hot air or something."

"How about this," Scarlet Witch sarcastically adds, "you stop with your squeaking bouncing leg, Lance stops acting like a child playing with the colorful buttons, or, I flip the ejection lever and throw both you out of the cockpit."

Blob's voice suddenly speaks up from outside the access ramp, "I like my idea better. How 'bout all three of you knock it off! Wanda, chill out! Pietro, give your leg a rest! And Lance, stop messing with the stuff, you've flashed the landing lights in my face six times already!"

Ray adds his comment, "Calm down guys. Arguing with each other isn't helping anybody, least of all, me and Kurt."

Avalanche glances to the back over to where Ray and Kurt are resting. He sighs out lightly and says, "Ray is right guys. Let's chill."

Quicksilver stops his bouncing leg and starts to massage his knees while Scarlet Witch flops back into one of the forward leather seats. Avalanche looks around with curious eyes and asks out, "Hey Blob, where's Toad?"

Casually leaning up against the access ramp outside the aircraft, Blob replies, "He's keepin' an eye out for the cops. We can hear sirens in the distance."

Quicksilver leans back in the co-pilot's seat remarking, "Toad's probably off in an alley dumpster snacking on some flies."

Scarlet Witch simply adds, "Gross…"

Avalanche chuckles at the comment and sits back in his chair trying to relax a bit. The tension among them seems to subside as they all start to calm down. That is until Toad breaks the mood by hoping onto the outside of the cockpit glass. His sudden appearance surprises both Avalanche and Quicksilver as they both yipe out in shock. Toad crouches down like a frog looking down at them sticking to the seamless clear glass and says, "Yo, cops are headin' this way."

Sitting up quickly, Avalanche adds, "Then we're out of time."

Scarlet Witch speaks up, "We can't leave Mr. Cassidy and Evan behind."

Quicksilver quickly remarks, "We won't have to." as he looks out the right side of the cockpit window.

Avalanche and Scarlet Witch also look and see Banshee climbing out of the sewer opening with Evan slung over his shoulder. In a blur of wind gusting speed, Quicksilver sprints out to help assist him. Banshee coughs a bit as he leans some of Evan's weight on Quicksilver's shoulder and states, "Sabertooth is not far behind, and he's not alone."

Blob quickly lumbers over and carefully takes Evan's limp body to the X-copter. Banshee leans forward panting heavily trying to catch his breath, but is cut short with Toad hopping up to him and point down the street asking, "So, those clowns ain't good guys?"

Banshee quickly turns to look where he is pointing and sees five odd beings slowly walking towards them. Each one unique looking in their own manner yet appearing just as ominous as the others. The air seems to grow cold and thin the closer they get closer. Banshee yells out to the Brotherhood, "Everybody… get to the chopper! We need to fall back, now!"

Confusion begins to overwhelm the situation with the echoing approach of police and fire truck sirens closing in. Banshee and the Brotherhood quickly board the X-copter and close the access hatch. Stumbling through them, Banshee shuffles to the cockpit and says, "Lance, hit the auto pilot!"

With a quick flick of a switch, Avalanche activates the X-copters emergency homing auto pilot. The craft come alive as it hums and vibrates. The prop-blades begin to spin and gain speed lifting the sleek VTOL off the ground. Following it's pre-programming, the X-copter maneuvers over the buildings and prepares for a full boost thrust back to the Institute. But before the craft can complete its maneuver, a bright flash of light cuts into right wing rocking the X-copter violently. Banshee yells out, "Everyone strap in!" as he stumbles into the co-pilot's chair. He grabs the control stick firmly and locks his feet onto the rudder peddles trying to regain control. The Brotherhood get tossed around within the fuselage, but then manage to grab onto their seats fastening themselves in. The X-copter slowly spins off to its right giving Banshee a view of the beings on the ground below. As he struggles to maneuver the craft away, he spots Sabertooth smashing out of the sewer opening, ripping the street around him to get to the surface. The other ominous beings stare up at the X-copter as one of them glows brightly and points its hand at the aircraft. Another bright burst of light sparks from the glowing being and broadsides the X-copter jolting the craft to its left. Banshee grunts as he struggles with the controls while the Brotherhood hold on for dear life. With a determined expression, Banshee swings the

X-copter around and activates the weapons muttering out, "Sorry folks, but we're not dying today!" as he thumbs the weapons trigger.

In a streaking spiraling manner, a single missile launches from the left wing careens toward the grounded beings. The concussion missile strikes with a dramatic explosion obliterating the street and part of a near by building wall filling the area in a cloud gray and brown smoke. Banshee grips the control stick and does his best to adjust the throttle as he grunts out to the young mutants in the back, "We're not getting back in one piece in this crate! I gotta set her down away from these buildings! Hang on!"

The X-copter spins and weaves through the air barely missing near by radio towers and buildings as Banshee maneuvers the aircraft. Smoke billows from the damaged right wing and rear fuselage leaving a trail as it travels over Bayville. Watching the aircraft stream across the night sky, the beings look at each other and nod. Sabertooth steps in front of them growling. His body smoldering from the inferno and now the concussion missile. He growls out, "They're mmmmine! SSssssstay out offffff thissss!"

The glowing being dims her body and approaches Sabertooth with a near cold and featureless face and states in a somewhat serene tone, "Patients, young one. Death is evitable in this conflict. There will be enough killing to satisfy your thirst for blood later. For now, we must comply with the Enigma's request, and remain true to the mission."

Sabertooth is just about to speak up, but then notices the glare of the other beings bearing down on him. He begins to calm down and backs off.

The control stick vibrates violently as Banshee tries to maintain his grip and control of the craft. Both the throttle and control stick respond sluggishly while the X-copter descends. Banshee looks ahead realizing they will not make it completely out of the city, but notices a closed construction site with a wide courtyard like entrance. He speaks out, "Avalanche, I'm settin' her down just ahead! Give us a soft landing, lad!"

Trying to keep his bearings in the shaking and swaying aircraft, Avalanche looks out ahead through the cockpit window and sees the hard rock like surface of the approaching construction site. He grits his teeth mumbling to himself as he concentrates, "Localize, localize, localize, please localize…"

Through his focus, Avalanche causes a massive earthquake targeted directly ahead of the descending X-copter. Localizing his shockwave, he shatters the rock hard surface into soft fine grain like sand just before the aircraft touches down hard. Everyone inside gets knocked around but remains strapped in their seats as the craft belly lands into the terrain. Avalanche's focused shockwave creates a straight line of soft grain like sand giving the X-copter a more cushioned landing as it slides and wobbles into the construction site. Despite the soft landing, the X-copters passengers still suffer the violent jolts of the impacts. The aircraft comes to a sliding halt just barely stopping in front of the newly erected structure of metal frame working. Inside, Banshee and the others catch their breaths, relieved they're alive, or in one piece. Toad remarks as he rubs the back of his neck, "Whoa, any landing you can walk away from…"

Banshee immediately unlatches his belt and starts helping the others up stating, "Come on, we have to get out. Let's go, let's go!"

Following his lead, they all get up quickly. Banshee and Ray help carry out Kurt and Evan as Blob kicks out the side hatch effortlessly. The Brotherhood helps unload the injured and begin to shuffle away from the downed X-copter. Banshee quickly gets on his communicator and contacts the Institute, "Scotty, we've got problems. Sabertooth is on cosmic steroids and he's not alone. We're seriously outgunned here."

Responding on the other end with a bit of heavy static, Scott's voice is heard but not quite understandable. Heavy static crackles over the communication line. Banshee yanks off his ear piece and sighs, "Damn it, I know a jammed signal when I hear it. Looks like we're on our own for a while, lads and lassy."

Toad hops off of a construction scaffold from above and quietly lands next to Banshee saying, "Yo, I can see cop lights flashing all over the place."

"I think the police are the least of our problems, Toady." Banshee remarks as he glances around them slowly.

The Brotherhood begin to look around them and notice a countless number of beings either materializing near them or floating down from the sky, surrounding their position. Banshee orders, "Everyone stay together, no sudden moves."

"I don't think I wanna move." Toad says with a fearful expression.

A glowing female figure floats closely towards them and speaks in a calm angelic manner, "I am Vex, born of the first light. You stand as our prisoners. Comply, and none of you will die at this moment. Comply not, then you risk all at your own peril."

Banshee shifts his eyes trying to visually spot every unique looking being that appears around them. He counts nearly fifty that stand in the light, but he also spots movement in the shadows. In a low tone, he asks Vex, "What do you want?"

"Do you comply?" she asks calmly again.

Glancing at the young Brotherhood then at Evan, Ray and Kurt, Banshee takes a breath and says, "Let these kids go, and I will comply with any demands you all have. You have my word."

Vex lightly touches down to the ground and steps up to Banshee elegantly. She tilts her head and nods replying, "Your words ring of truth and sincerity. We accept this offer."

Banshee turns to the Brotherhood as Avalanche speaks up, "Mr. Cassidy, we can't let you do this."

"We're out numbered, out gunned with two wounded," Banshee remarks, "we don't have many choices here, lad. This way, nobody else gets hurt."

"But what about you?" Scarlet Witch asks.

Glancing over his shoulder, Banshee looks at Vex, then turns back to the youngsters saying with slight grin, "You let me worry about that. All of you just get back to the Institute and warn the others."

"Ku-Uma." Vex calls out.

A large hulking humanoid figure steps forward. His large massive eight foot frame is attributed to the thick looking dark blue armor plating that seems seamless in nature. Ku-Uma's face is completely hidden underneath dome like helmet with only a single horizontal slit revealing one glowing centered eye glaring at Banshee. Vex continues, "Take this one to the Enigma."

In a deep reverberating voice, Ku-Uma asks, "What of the others?"

Vex turns her featureless stare to the Brotherhood and says, "Let them go."

"And the mission?" Ku-Uma continues to inquire.

Turning her back to the Brotherhood, Vex elegantly walks away saying, "Is still in effect."

Placing his large armored hand on Banshee's right shoulder, they both fade and disappear from the Brotherhood's sight. Sabertooth shuffles his way through the crowd of other cold faced beings and remarks, "LLLLet mmme tear these rrrrunts limb from lllimb."

Vex steps in front of him and states, "You will do nothing until you are told, young one."

Sabertooth seems to back off as Vex stands her ground in front of him. With out another word, Vex along with other beings disburse into the night leaving the young mutants staring up at the sky. Their attention is then caught by the sounds of approaching sirens. Avalanche looks over at the downed X-copter and uses his mutant gift pulling the wreckage into the earth burying it beneath the dirt court yard. He then tells the others, "Let's get out of here, fast."

Emma carefully makes her through the winding halls of the Hellfire Society's plush tower interior. She telepathically masks her presence from the numerous over paid guards that roam the halls and manages to reach the holding cells. A quick glance through the porthole and she spots conscious struggling Gambit, still hanging from his bloody scarred and bruises wrist by chains and manacles. So confident that he could never escape, the guards left the cell door unlocked as Emma quietly sneaks in. With her billowing white cloak flowing behind her, she approaches the tortured body of Gambit. Emma sees the small drips of blood dripping into a trickle of water that flows into nearby drain. It would seem a few of the guards had taking advantage of the situation and used him as a punching bag as well, adding to injuries Gambit had already sustained. Emma kneels down to look into his beaten face to see if he is awake. Much to her surprise, Gambit slowly lifts his hanging head and squints at her with his one good and clear eye. Emma quickly whispers, "Say nothing, Remy. We cannot escape, nor should we try. No doubt my presence here with you right now has been anticipated. So I must be brief, I will need your help."

His breathing is a bit shallow, but Gambit manages to crack a slight grin through his heavily beaten face and lightly groans out, "Ss… say… ww… wwhen."

Emma places her left hand on Gambit's forehead and closes her eyes as she begins to concentrate silently.

A few floors below, a heated situation escalates to full blown battle as Wolverine and Colossus charge up the long hallway fending off armed guards one and two at a time. With his titanic brute strength and indestructible steal body, Colossus plows through onslaught of gun toting masked guards effortlessly. He picks a few of them up and tosses them into each other, while at the same time giving Wolverine cover from the hail of bullets fired from the guards taking aim further up the hall. Glancing back at Wolverine with a stern expression, Colossus states, "Our position has been compromised!"

Wolverine judo throws a single guard into three others while slashing out with his left metal claws cutting another guard's rifle in two. In a sarcastic yet playful tone, Wolverine replies, "What was your first clue, big guy!"

Colossus shakes off the hail storm of bullets as he rushes up the hallway. Bullet slugs ricochet off his steal body in display of sparks and debris. With his sheer size and strength, Colossus renders the five gunmen unconscious slamming them flat against the wall. He looks back to see Wolverine dropping two more guards to the ground with minor wounds. Retracting his claws back into his brawny forearms, Wolverine tells Colossus, "It won't be long before more show up. Let's find Gambit and get the hell outta here."

Toggling his communicator and only hearing static, Colossus mentions to Wolverine, "We're still cut off."

"I know," Wolverine replies, "we're bein' jammed. I hadn't heard anything from Jean telepathically either. That's not a good thing."

Both men dart up the hallway quickly avoiding the elevators and taking the emergency stairs ascending floor by floor. They smash through locked exits and access doors finally reaching a floor that resembles an old style dungeon complete with gas powered lights in the shape of hand torches. Wolverine kneels down sniffing the air with a thousand yard glare in his eyes. His keen nose picks up a sharp scent and he almost sneers as he mutters to Colossus, "I think I got him. Let's move."

With determination on their faces, Wolverine and Colossus run down the twisting like hallway. Surprisingly, they do not come across any more guards as they seem to approach what looks like old fashion prison cells. Wolverine remains suspicious of the lack of guards as he and Colossus check each cell door port hole for Gambit. Guided by his keen sense of smell, Wolverine is lead to a particular door that doesn't seem locked. He quickly swings the door open and sees Emma kneeling down in front of badly beaten Gambit who hangs chains attached to his wrists. In an angered tone Wolverine yells out, "Get away from him!" as he then rushes in to the chamber followed by Colossus.

Emma calmly stands back up and steps back as they approach. Wolverine kneels down to check on Gambit's condition, then glares up at Emma with a sour expression. Colossus reverts to his human form and tries to help his battered friend. His expression is a mixture of sadness and concern as he looks upon the injuries Gambit has suffered. Wolverine extends his right set of metal claws and steps up to Emma remarking, "So this is what you've been doin' on your spare time. I knew it was a matter of time before ya back stabbed us, ya cold hearted witch!"

Emma remains calm and says, "You shouldn't have come here, Logan. Despite what you may be thinking of me, I've betrayed no one, except myself. Gambit was bait to lure the X-men here. And it worked."

Colossus gently picks Gambit up in his arms s Wolverine slashes with his sharp claws cutting him free of the cumbersome chains. Sneering back at Emma, Wolverine asks, "If he's bait, then what does that make you?"

Emma takes a deep breath trying to hide her hurt expression and replies, "A pawn."

Colossus lets his saddened expression turn to anger as he gazes upon Gambit's broken and beaten body. He looks at Emma too and asks, "Why should we believe you, woman?"

But just as Emma is about to answer, her expression becomes flushed with fear. Then a familiar voice speaks up in a sarcastic tone from the cell entrance, "Because, gentlemen, for once in her life, Ms. Frost speaks the truth."

Both Wolverine and Colossus turn to look and see the Enigma standing in the doorway. He wears his complete uniform similar to Allan's as he leans up against the wall casually. In a baffled tone, Colossus mutters out, "Allan?"

Wolverine sneers at first, but then gets a whiff of his scent. Confusion shows on his face as Wolverine states, "It ain't Allan, kid. Smells almost like him, though. Damn close too."

"His name is Seth," Emma adds, "he is titled the Enigma. Much in the same way Allan is titled the Vanguard."

Colossus glances at Emma and Wolverine with a confused expression and asks, "There are two of them?"

Emma sighs out, "It would seem so."

Wolverine begins to side step to his left readying for a fight. Colossus gently places Gambit down onto the floor and steps off to his right transmuting into his organic steel form. The Enigma stands up right off the wall he was leaning against and steps up casually saying, "Please by all means, attack me. After your display of skill against the guards in hall, this might actually be fun. Of course, I'd still beat you both to a pulp, the way I did to your buddy Remy." as he chuckles and points at the downed injured man.

Wolverine sneers and prepares to charge along with Colossus. But Emma speaks out to them quickly, "Logan, Piotr, don't! He's baiting you. He may not be Allan, but he is just as powerful. There are others of equal power here as well, you will not escape. Your pain will only serve his purpose."

Gritting his teeth in frustration, Wolverine breathes out and shares a look with Colossus. He nods to the large Russian to back off. Colossus steps back and reverts to his human while Wolverine retracts his claws. Seth starts clapping and says, "Well put, Emma. These two are a lot smarter then Remy was, or may be they lack the guts he had." as he starts to laugh as well.

Emma just stares back at him with her cold expression as Wolverine steps back asking in sarcastic tone, "So, you suppose to be Allan's evil twin brother or what?"

Seth laughs a bit then clears his throat replying, "No, thank God. The details of my life are little more complicated then that I'm afraid, Mr. Logan." as he removes his stylized cobalt blue helmet.

Colossus and Wolverine share the same shocked expression as they look upon a familiar face grinning back at them deviously. Continuing his question, Wolverine adds, "Then what the hell are you supposed to be?"

Taking a deep breath, Seth smiles wide and says, "I'm the result of someone who truly defines his own destiny."

Wolverine sneers and remarks, "Like that makes any sense. If you're gonna be like that, then let's get down to business. What do you want from us? Why're we here?"

Emma speaks up she stares at Seth coldly, "Bait, Logan. We are being used to lure Allan here. Seth's plan could not be anymore transparent."

Slightly grinning at Seth, Wolverine chuckles out, "You achin' for a fight with Allan? You're in for a rude awakenin', kid."

Seth stares back at Wolverine returning his grin and says, "Oh you think so, Mr. Logan?"

Just as Seth returns Wolverine's remark, several other cosmic beings fade and flash as they materialize into the chamber. Floating close to Seth's side, Vex elegantly touches down along with Ku-Uma who drops a very disoriented Banshee to the hard brick floor. Stumbling onto his feet, Banshee nearly trips but is quickly caught by the quick reflexes of Wolverine. Blinking his eyes trying to regain his bearings, Banshee leans against Wolverine's shoulder and mutters out, "I don't recommend traveling like that."

Wolverine helps support his weight and asks, "Where's the rest of your team? What happened to Evan, Ray and Kurt."

Banshee catches his breath and replies, "They're alright. I let them take me instead. They let the kids go free."

Sighing out in relief, Wolverine nods to acknowledge Banshee's decision. He mutters him in a low tone, "Sean, we're knee deep in some serious crap here."

Banshee glances over at Seth and becomes baffled as he replies, "No kidding."

Sebastian casually walks into the chamber followed in by Tessa and Donald. "We are ready to move to phase three, my lord." Sebastian mentions.

"Very good, Mr. Shaw." Seth says, "Let loose your Hell Hounds. Have them calibrate their battle armor to fight this Brotherhood rabble. It's time to tie up all loose ends."

Sebastian smiles and bows then turns heading out the door. Donald gestures to the patured X-Men and asks Seth, "What about them, sir? Should we execute them now?"

Seth chuckles and replies, "Tempting, Mr. Pierce, but not yet. Live bait is still essential at this point. However, I don't see any reason to keep Remy around. He served his purpose already. If you would, Mr. Pierce, take Mr. Lebeau to the roof and drop him like a bad habit."

Donald grins and chuckles as he remarks, "With pleasure, my lord."

The other X-Men stand shocked at Seth's request while Donald approaches the seemingly unconscious Gambit on the floor. Wolverine becomes enraged yelling out, "You sonuva…" as charges towards Seth with his claws extended out.

Emma calls out in earnest, "Logan stop!"

But before her words can resonate any response, Wolverine is already intercepted as Sabertooth steps out from the back shadows. He reaches out and grabs Wolverine around his head with his elongated fingered clawed hands and slams him face first into the hard brick floor. With a drooling grin, Sabertooth growls out, "Downnnn boy."

As Wolverine struggles under the newly acquired titanic strength of Sabertooth, Donald steps to Gambit's limp body and reaches down to pick him up. Colossus yells out, "Nyet!" and lunges out at dashing blonde man.

Much to the young Russian's surprise, Donald reacts with in a blink of an eye grabbing Colossus's brawny right wrists and holding it firmly. He fights against Donald's hard grip, but then realizes the blonde man's strength increasing as well as his grip. Colossus begins to feel pain within the tightening grasp and defensively transmutes into his organic steel form. Donald's eyes widen as the young Russian returns the powerful grip with a solid grip of his own. Both men struggle against each other stand off arm lock. However, remembering his training sessions with Allan, Colossus switches tactics. And instead of pushing against Donald's waning strength, he adds to the blonde man's pushing assault and pulls. Donald is nearly pulled of balance realizing the metal Russian's sudden strategy and plants his footing, trying to pull against Colossus's counter attack. Though a quick reaction on his part, Donald is too late as Colossus's hard grip holds firm to his left forearm. The sudden jolt of strength against the metal Russian's mighty grip rips Donald's classical formal sleeve like paper along with the skin on his arm. As though flaying a baked chicken, Colossus rips the skin off Donald's forearm, causing the blonde man to grunt out loudly. Both men stagger back from their grips. Colossus looks down in his right hand to see hanging mass of ripped clothing and loose bloody skin. But much to his surprise again, he looks at Donald's damaged arm and sees that beneath the skin, are fully articulate robotic actuators. The advanced mechanics drip with blood, but yet reveal a durable frame work of hardware. Donald staggers back, unscathed by the sheer pain. He holds his exposed arm and sneers at Colossus. The large Russian stands nearly shocked and doesn't notice Ku-Uma stepping behind him. The hulking armored cosmic being quickly subdues Colossus lifting him off the floor locking him into a full nelson. The metal mutant struggles to break Ku-Uma's hold, but cannot get the leverage to break free of the armored giant. Donald stands up right wiping the blood off his exposed mechanical limb and states in calm manner, "We will settle this some other time."

Seth chuckles and holds back a laugh as he says, "Mr. Pierce, please, just dump Remy and get your arm checked. I can't stand looking at bleeding cybernetics."

Donald reaches down with his exposed mechanical arm and hoists Gambit's body up as though holding up a trash bag and casually walks out. Banshee tenses up readying to step up and attack, but Emma quickly stops him placing her left hand on his shoulder firmly. Banshee glances back at her with a determined look, Emma lightly shakes her head, silently telling him not to move. Sighing without a word, Banshee takes her advice and backs off watching Donald leave with Gambit in his grip. Wolverine struggles against Sabertooth's downward hold. He grunts and growls as he manages to turn his face outward from facing down into the hard brick floor. Wolverine grunts out, "What's… the point of this!"

Seth kneels down staring at the struggling Wolverine and says calmly, "I like to prey upon any exposed weaknesses when I can, Mr. Logan."

"Then I hate to break it to you, lad, but Allan doesn't have a weakness." Sean boasts.

Seth just giggles and chuckles as he stands up right. Emma then speaks up, "He means us, Sean. Allan's only weakness is through us, his friends, and Seth knows that."

Sean sighs out to Seth, "We all know Allan won't fall for your trap."

"It doesn't matter, Sean." Emma adds, "Allan will come for us, especially when he finds out there are others like himself involved."

Seth grins at Emma's comment as starts walking out. One by one the other cosmic beings in the room slowly fade and disappear from the chamber. Sabertooth picks Wolverine up from the floor gripping his head, then tosses him back against the wall. Wolverine grunts out as he smacks against the far wall. Sabertooth follows the others as he also fades away into the shadows. Ku-Uma releases Colossus from his hold and drops the young Russian to the floor. Colossus quickly turns to look at the armored giant just to see it fade away along with the other beings. Seth speaks out, "Make yourselves comfortable, because things will get very ugly soon."

Following Seth out the chamber door, Tessa takes a quick glance back into the room. Her eyes show a plain expression as she locks glares with Emma. Trying to remain cold and unmoved, Emma just stares back. But then, much to her subtle surprise, Emma notices a slight acknowledging nod from Tessa along with a softening expression just before closing the door behind her. Emma slightly grins and adjusts her dramatic cloak as she walks back to help Wolverine onto his feet. With sneering grunt, Wolverine gets to his feet and stands under his own strength asking out, "Alright people, if there's one thing I hate, is bein' whipped 'round like some rank amateur. So I hope somebody's gotta plan B."

Emma slightly grins at him and replies calmly, "Already in the works."

Deep within the sublevels of the Xavier estate, Scott briefs the other members of the X-men as well as the other students in the situation room. Their expressions reflect a grim situation as he lays down all the information he collected. "I've compiled all the data from current police reports and the scans Forge has made using long range sensors. We think the Brotherhood was ambushed. There are reports of a fire fight and explosions. We haven't been able to contact them, all communications are cut off. Other than that, we don't know where they are. We've also lost contact with Wolverine and Colossus. Not just communication wise, but telepathically as well." as he glances over to Jean.

She lightly nods rubbing her forehead. Scott continues, "Now, we do have there last known location. I'm assembling a strike unit to go in and retrieve them. However this may be a trap to lure the rest of us out, so I'm taking a small group. Forge has contacted Mr. McCoy and Ororo they are rushing back from the airport. That puts them two hours away, though. So Jean and I are dividing who's left here into two teams. My group is going out to retrieve Logan, Piotr and Remy. Jean's group will remain here to hold down the fort."

Kitty raises her hand and asks, "Who do you think is behind this Scott? Do you think it's the government again?"

Forge speaks up, "I've thought of that. So I put together a device to monitor all radio band frequencies with the city limits. So far nothing out of the ordinary. It's a possibility this could be the work of anti-mutant extremists."

His comment brings a lot of nods from the gathered students. Sam raises his hand and mentions, "So what about the Brotherhood? They went to help Ray, Kurt and Evan."

Scott nods and says, "You're right Sam. But at the moment, we can only go with what we know. We can't spread what's left of the team to thin. We're already vulnerable as it is. But we will find them too."

Rogue notices Kitty's concern for Lance and tries to ease her worry by holding her hand. Kitty smiles to acknowledge the support from her best friend as Rogue speaks up, "Well, Ah'm with ya, Scott."

Kitty looks up and says, "Me too."

Iceman cracks his knuckles with a grin as he stands remarking, "Count me in."

The other students stand one by one pledging their support. Allison high fives Elizabeth cheering out, "Girl, finally some real action."

Scott gets to his feet with a smile of contentment and begins to systematically run down their orders. But just as the students begin to disperse to their designated duty, an alarm rings out, 'CONTAIMENT BREACH CONTAINMENT BREACH UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS IN MAIN HANGER BAY.'

Scott quickly turns to his console and punches up the security camera visuals on all his screens. Forge helps isolate his search and brings up the image of the Danger Room door. Their expressions are baffled as the door seems to be forced open. Blinking red lights flash all about the halls as they bring the images of the X-jet hanger on the screens. Rogue almost gasps out loudly as screen shows Allan prepping his shiny uniform. Scott toggles the main intercom to the hanger, "Allan, what're you doing, man? Why did you break containment?"

Allan looks up at the camera and replies, "I'll fix what I broke Scott. But I have to do this."

Rogue nearly shoves Scott aside as she gets on the intercom, "Do what Allan? We don't even know what's goin' on."

"That's what's bugging me, babe," Allan replies, "something is wrong, but I can't put my finger on it for anything. There is a shroud covering everything and it obviously wants me to uncover it out there."

Scott speaks out, "Then we'll deal with it as team, Allan. You can't go alone in this."

Allan looks up at the camera in frustration saying, "If it's what I think it is, Scott, I have no choice but to go alone. I've been holding back my powers to keep everybody safe. By doing that, I've neglected my duties as the Vanguard. Now I think it's about to bite me on the butt. Now, if none of you want to get bombarded by my stupid pheromones again, you'll open the main hanger door."

Scott sighs out at first staring at Allan on the screen. He glances at Rogue, who returns a concerned expression. She speaks out to Allan, "Be careful."

Scott reluctantly nods as he presses the main door release to the hanger bay. Sighing out again, Scott says, "Good luck, Vanguard."

"Luck is not one of my powers, buddy. But thanks anyway." Allan chuckles. He adds, "Jean, if you will, give me Wolverine and Colossus's last known location."

Jean focuses her mind and telepathically transfers her information to Allan. Standing in the X-jet hanger bay, Allan looks up at the security camera and gives them a playful salute, then looks at the opening access way. He puts on his seamless blood red helmet and watches as the doors slide wide open parting the falling water from the above. Watching from the security screens, Rogue, Scott and the others watch as they see Allan dart out the hanger bay access and into the night sky.

Scott turns to the others and says, "Well, this doesn't mean we're out of the game. We'll focus on locating the Brotherhood."

Just as Scott is about to go into detail about the task at hand, Jean suddenly becomes dizzy. She leans up against the wall at first trying to gain her bearings, but it doesn't help. Sweat begins to build up around her face and starts breathing deeply. Scotts looks over at her noticing her change in posture and asks, "Jean, are you alright?"

She smiles a bit as a reply, but then collapses in front of everybody. An air of concern and near panic overwhelms the students as Scott rushes to her side. He carefully sits her up rubs the sides her fair skinned face. Scott states, "Alright, let's get her to the infirmary."

But just Bobby and Sam approach to Help Scott, Jean suddenly opens her eyes wide and gasps out. Bobby steps back saying, "Whoa."

"I'm ok guys." Jean breathes out, "I'm fine, I just got a little disoriented."

Scott shakes his head remarking, "You've been pushing yourself to hard using cerebro."

Jean quickly states as she stands up on her own, "I can handle it, Scott. Besides, the team needs Cerebro right."

"May be," Scott replies, "but you need to take five."

Before Jean can dispute, Scott is already ushering her out to the infirmary. Bobby shrugs his shoulders and asks out, "So, now what guys?"

Kitty steps up and says in a stern tone, "We do what Scott said. Let's focus on finding the Brotherhood." as the other students nod and disperse.

Some head to the lockers to change into their uniforms, while others begin the tedious task of gathering information along with Forge. Rogue stares up to where Jean and Scott walked out, then back at the screen with the visual of the X-jet hanger bay. Her mind recaps to what Allan had mentioned to her in the Danger Room. '… two stick out the most in my mind. One, Jean maybe hallucinating, at which case her manifestation is just around the corner and it's messing with her head. Or two, these other cosmic guys are actually here. If that's the case, they all found a way to hide themselves from me and we might have a bigger problem.' Rogue lightly swallows as she stares blankly at the screen and mutters out in a soft tone, "Please be careful."


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