New X-Men: Academy X #4

Issue Date: 
October 2004
Story Title: 
Choosing Sides - part 4: Field Day

Nunzio Defilippis & Christina Weir (Writers), Staz Johnson (Pencils), Scott Koblish (Inks), Dave Sharpe (Letters), Pete Pantazis & Tom Chu (Colors), Randy Green (Cover), Moore & Ryan (Assistant Editors), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor In Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

As the Field Day exercise continues, Sofia tries to fly over Santo, who is blocking the way into the hedge maze. Julian blocks the way above with his telekinesis by putting up an invisible wall, and he and Sofia end up in a battle of wills, distracting Sofia from the task at hand. After a bit of urging, David comes up with a plan, but Brian uses his powers on him, making the others all run away from him. Josh, Laurie, and Kevin make it to the other side of the hedge maze and proceed with the plan to use Kevin’s power to wither a path through the hedge wall. David goes after Nori and helps her out as she used her entire charge to escape. As Jay arrives to where the object is hidden, Kevin, Laurie, and Josh make it through the wall and see that there is a live dragon at the center. Kevin decides to use his power on the dragon, but Josh stops him. Laurie tries to use her pheromones, but before she has a chance, Jay uses his special singing voice to calm the dragon. After a quick conference over Brian’s use of his powers, the Hellions are announced as the winners, and Josh goes off on Sofia for her lack of strategy in leading them. Josh and Nori both suggest that David take over leadership, but David tells them that he stands by Sofia. Later, Laurie finds Sofia crying in their room and decides to go have a talk with Josh about it. Cessily finds Kevin working on his industrial art and they talk for a while, and Cessily shows him that, because she is made of mercury, he can touch her without hurting her. Unfortunately, that isn’t the touch he was looking for. Outside, Josh plays basketball with Victor until he spots Rahne and tries to get her to go out with him again, but when she says no, he spots Laurie. She asks if they can talk about the Sofia thing, and he agrees and invites her to go out for dinner with him on a date, which makes both Rahne and Kevin jealous. Kevin joins Cessily to dinner in the cafeteria, and after a quick talk, Julian agrees to let him sit with them. Nearby, Sofia expresses her fears to David that the squad is angry with her, and he does his best to make her feel better, though to little success. Dani is upset that Kevin doesn’t seem to be taking to the rest of her kids, and Emma takes the opportunity to tell Dani that it is her fault. And just to make things perfect, Agent Justin Pierce arrives to arrest Kevin Ford for the murder of his father…

Full Summary: 

At the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Scott Summers, Emma Frost, and Dani Moonstar watch a series of screens as the Field Day exercise unfolds. Santo blocks the entrance to the hedge maze as the New Mutants try to get past. Emma says that it looks as though her Hellions have the lead, but Dani asks her if she is concerned that with Rockslide blocking the entrance, he’s provoking the New Mutants. Emma tells Danielle that Santo is not breaking the rules, but if the New Mutants do anything to retaliate, they will be disqualified. Scott tells the ladies that that is enough. This Field Day exercise is far from over. Emma just tells him that they’ll see about that.

Outside, Sofia tells Santo that his rock projectiles are hardly stopping her—she can ride the wind over him! But just then, she slams into an invisible wall, and Julian tells her that she hit one of his telekinetic walls. Sofia tells him that he loses, because the rules state that he is not to use his powers on them. Julian corrects her and says that the rules say he can’t use them offensively. He simply put up a wall and she flew into. He asks what is offensive about that, so she says that the fact that the wall came from him makes it offensive. Julian tells her that she wounds him. He’s got to be getting under her skin if he can get her this riled up! Sofia says that if he wants to get anywhere near her skin, he’ll have to take down the wall.

Far below, Laurie calls to Sofia and asks what they do, while she and the rest of the New Mutants crowd around the blocked entrance. David calls up at Sofia to stop wasting time with Hellion. They need another way into the maze, and the Hellions have Icarus flying over so there’s not much time. He then tells Nori that Julian is good, he’ll give him that. He’s got Dust blocking their view so they can’t even see where Icarus is going. They’re at a complete disadvantage and they’ve got no strategy. Josh tells David that they do have strategy. They’ve got him. He tells David to give them a plan, but David says he doesn’t know. Sofia’s their leader and he doesn’t want to undercut her. Nori tells him that if he’s got a plan, now would be the time. David agrees and tells Kevin that his power withers anything organic, including hedges. Kevin says he gets it and tells him that it’s good thinking. Laurie tells them that they should tell Sofia the plan so she can decide, but Josh tells her that Sofia’s not listening. She’s too busy playing footsie with the enemy!

Nearby, Santo tells Brian that Hellion was right. Prodigy’s going to be the problem. Brian agrees that he’s the brains of that operation, and says it’s time to take him out, so let him through. As David tells the others what to do, Brian interrupts, and when David looks, Brian touches his foot and tells him that, tag, he’s it. Suddenly a weird aura surrounds David, and he tells Brian he can’t do that, but Brian says he just did, and tells him he’s it. Suddenly, Josh, Kevin, Laurie, and Nori all start to run blindly from David, all saying they must… run… from David! Brian tells David that since his teammates are all part of his little game of tag, they have to run away from him! HE can’t give them any more orders. As Nori takes off, David calls after her not to use her speed. She doesn’t have enough charge left and she’ll knock herself out, but she just keeps running blindly away from him.

As Josh finally gets his head clear, he calls Laurie and Kevin to let them know that this is far enough away from David. Tag’s power wore off. He then says that David had the right idea and tells Wither to get to work. Kevin says he’ll do it because it’s a good plan, but tells Foley not to boss him around. As Kevin makes a hole for them to get through, Laurie claps and tells him he did great work. Kevin tells her to follow him through, but not to get too close. He doesn’t want her to bump into him and get hurt. Josh asks if it would be okay if he got hurt, and Kevin tells him to knock himself out.

Laurie looks up and says that now they are past Dust, they must be close because Icarus is landing over there! Josh asks what Kevin’s problem is with him, but Kevin says he doesn’t have one. As he makes another hole in the maze, he says that he thinks that guy landed right past this wall, so they need to run in and grab the prize before he does. Josh suddenly says that he smells something burning… and Laurie asks if they hear something weird… As they look through the new hole, they all look astonished, and Josh says, “No way!” A purple dragon is blowing flames at Icarus as he zooms around it. Josh amazedly says that this place has its own dragon, and says that it’s wicked! Laurie calls it cute, and Kevin says he doesn’t think it wants to be gotten.

Up above the entrance to the hedge maze, Julian, still blocking Sofia’s way with his telepathic wall, tells Sofia that her problem is that she is all power and no strategy. She’s passion personified. Sofia asks if this is a problem, but Julian says that it isn’t for him, but her squad… they’re all gone. Field Day is over and he won. Sofia looks down in horror and stutters as she says “I… I lost…?” Julian asks her why she doesn’t join his Hellions, and tells her that he can put all of her talents to use.

Elsewhere in the grounds, Noriko finally stops running and holds her head in exhaustion as she leans on a tree. David runs after her and tells her that they are out of range… she shouldn’t have used her electricity. As he catches up to her, he starts to ask if she is—but she starts to fall backwards, slowly saying she doesn’t feel so good. David catches her in his arms, telling her he’s got her. He tells her that she can’t completely drain herself like that. She could get hurt. She asks him why he came after her, and says that the team… they need him. David just says that they have to hope that the rest of the guys pull together.

Back in the hedge maze, Kevin decides that he’s not waiting for this… thing to fry them, and charges at the dragon with his glove removed. Laurie calls after him, yelling for him not to do it, and Josh tackles him over asking if he’s crazy. He tells him that he can’t kill the dragon, and Laurie calls after Josh to be careful, because Kevin’s glove is off. Josh pins him, and Kevin tells him to let him go. He can win this thing for them! Josh tells him that’s nuts, and explains that the dragon is clearly smart. He’s not trying to hit them, and besides, they’re supposed to bring him in, not kill him.

Laurie tells the boys to stop and let her use her pheromones to calm the dragon down… but they need to stop fighting because they are making it really hard for her to focus on anything calm! But just then, Laurie turns and hears a voice singing “Puff the Magic Dragon.” It’s Jay Guthrie using his choral voice to calm the dragon. As he sings, the dragon quits blowing flames and calms down. Laurie smiles and says that his voice… it’s like a chorus. It’s so beautiful. Both Josh and Kevin turn to her and simultaneously ask if she is kidding them. As Jay finishes the song, the dragon, now much smaller than it appeared before, lands on Jay’s shoulder.

As Jay walks towards the other Hellions and the New Mutants follow, Cyclops announces that the first Field Day activity is now officially over. Cyclops thanks Lockheed for his participation today, and the purple dragon flies from Jay’s arm to Scott’s. Scott tells the kids that, yes, Lockheed is a dragon. He’s real. He’s intelligent. He has feelings. One of his fellow X-Men befriended him years ago. He explains that they included him in this exercise to prove a point. Life as an X-Man is never as simple as it seems. This was a test of creative thinking. Both teams showed initiative and found Lockheed… however, in the end, the Hellions were that much quicker. Admittedly, they took risks that led to the capture of one of their own, but by the rules they laid out, the Hellions are today’s winners.

Scott adds that he would like to point out that the New Mutants also performed exceptionally well, although the property damage inflicted on the hedge maze is a major issue to be dealt with. In the end, it came down to a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, there can be only one winner. David excuses himself, and says that he has a question about the rules. He says that he thinks Tag cheated when he used his power on him. They said no offensive powers. Brian calls out “No way, teacher’s pet!” and says that it wasn’t offensive. When he makes you it, everybody else runs from you. If anything, his power prevents fighting! Julian puts a hand on his shoulder to get him to stop, and Emma tells Brian to please allow her to handle this. Dani tells Scott that she thinks David has a point, and Emma tells her that of course she does. Cyclops excuses them, and tells the kids that they will take a minute to discuss this.

Josh complains that this stinks either way. He doesn’t want to win on a technicality. He continues that this shouldn’t even be an issue. They could have won if Sofia had had any strategy at all. Laurie starts to tell Josh that maybe he’s being a little harsh on Sofia, but Josh just tells her that he knows Sofia is her friend, but if she hadn’t turned this into some thing between her and Julian, they would have won. Kevin tells Josh that Laurie is right, and he needs to lay off of Sofia. If he’d just let him—but Josh finishes his sentence for him—kill the dragon? He tells Kevin to throttle down on the bloodlust.

Josh continues that this isn’t about Kevin or disintegrating a dragon. This is about Sofia not knowing how to lead. They’ve got a genius on their team who came up with a plan that got them right back in the game. He says that he thinks David ought to be leading this squad, and Nori tells David that he’s right. David just tells them that fighting amongst themselves is not going to solve anything. He says Sofia’s in charge and he stands by her, which makes Sofia smile.

Just then, Scott, Emma, and Dani ask for their attention as Scott tells them their ruling. The rule was put in place to prevent violence between students. Brian Cruz’s power is not violent, nor did it cause violence. Brian gives Julian the thumbs up and tells him they’ve got it in the bag, and Julian points out that it helps when their advisor is dating one of the judges. Scott finishes that, therefore, their original ruling holds, and Emma wishes Dani better luck next time, leaving Dani with a sour look. Scott says that the Hellions win, and Josh says whatever, and says nice work to Sofia. Scott then pins up a sheet of paper with Field Day Standings across the top. It lists the standings as: Hellions 1-0, New Mutants 0-1, Alpha Squadron 0-0, Corsairs 0-0, Excelsiors 0-0, and Exemplars 0-0.

As Laurie walks into her and Sofia’s room, she finds Sofia crying on the edge of her bed, and tells her she was looking all over for her, and she was worried. Sofia tells Laurie that Josh is right. She failed. Laurie says that he isn’t right. The whole team lost. It wasn’t just about her. Sofia says that Josh hates her, but Laurie says that he doesn’t. Josh is just… he just talks a lot. Josh doesn’t hate her. She’ll see. She’ll go talk to him. Sofia tells her that she can barely talk to the boy as it is, but Laurie agrees, but that’s just about her feelings for him. She can talk about her. That’s easy. She’s her best friend and she wants to fix this for her. As Nori goes into her and Sooraya’s room, Sooraya is reading at her desk and Nori just walks by and lies on her bed. After a moment, Sooraya tells Nori that the New Mutants did very well today, but Nori just says “Oh, please! No pity conversation,” and starts reading.

In and empty room, Kevin works on his industrial art in front of a window. Cessily enters and tells him that she’s never seen art like that, and asks if he only works with metal. He tells her that it is industrial art, and he’s been doing it for years, but he’s a little busy right now. Cessily leans against the table and tells him that just because she’s a Hellion, it doesn’t make them enemies… and she introduces herself. Kevin just says his name, and then adds that he doesn’t think they are enemies just because she is on that squad. Her advisor is actually pretty cool. He just, he’s in a bad mood right now.

Cessily looks at him and tells him that she is trying to figure him out. He says it’s no big mystery. Just your average kid with a death touch. She tells him that’s what Julian says… the death touch part. That he kills anything living he touches. She says she saw what he did to the hedge maze. Wow. He tells that Mr. Summers says he has to work with the gardener till it’s fixed. Trust him; a death touch is not cool. She asks if he can’t touch anyone, and he says nope. Cessily tells him that she’s made of metal. Mercury, actually, but not toxic. But her point is… not organic, and she reaches out to him. Kevin jumps back, but she touches his face. As she rests her hand on his cheek, she tells him that he can’t hurt her, but just then, Kevin spots Laurie walk by outside, and Cessily says she’s guessing that wasn’t the touch he was looking for…

Outside on the basketball court, Josh is playing one-on-one with Victor, and asks him how he likes his new advisor. Victor tells him that Northstar is okay, and he thinks Alpha Squadron is gonna be a cool training squad. Josh tells him a word of advice: make sure they get a good field leader. Nearby, Laurie practices a few ways to start a conversation with Josh, but says no to each one. Just then, Rahne steps outside from the cafeteria, so Josh asks Victor to wait up a sec because there’s something he has to do.

Josh greets Rahne and asks her if she heard what happened. She says she did, and tells him it’s a tough break, but the semester’s young. New Mutants will bounce back. Josh tells her that he’s frustrated with the way the squad is set up, but if he complains about it, his teammates are gonna get upset. So, he was wondering if they could get together… and maybe he could vent to her. Rahne says that she told him that she is a teacher and he is a student. So if he really wants some advice, she’s happy to talk to him, but if this is his attempt to get her on a date… she has to say no.

Josh just pretends like he doesn’t care, then turns and calls Laurie, who had been about to walk away. He runs after her and asks if she was waiting to talk to him. She, shyly, asks that yeah, maybe could they talk about this Sofia thing. Josh says absolutely, and suggests that they blow off the cafeteria and go get some dinner in Salem Center tonight. They could talk there. Alone. Laurie repeats the “alone” part, and agrees with a smile. Josh says that’s great, and looks over his shoulder to say then it’s a date, making Rahne turn away angrily. As Laurie and Josh walk along happily, they pass the window to the room where Cessily and Kevin are sitting, Kevin watching Josh and Laurie glumly, and Cessily watching Kevin glumly.

As Scott works in his office, Emma telepathically tells him that dinner is being served, and she and the students are in the cafeteria. Scott smiles and tells her that he’ll be there in a minute, but as he leaves his office, Victor comes running down the hall calling his name. Scott asks him what’s wrong, and Victor explains that there’s some guy from the F.B.I. here to see him. In the cafeteria, Josh tells Sofia and David that they won’t be eating with them tonight… they’re headed into town… getting dinner alone. Sofia is a bit surprised, but Laurie tells them that it’s just to talk, and tells the she’ll see them later.

As Kevin enters the cafeteria with Cessily, he thanks her for an offer, but tells her that her friends won’t want to eat with him. Not only is he a New Mutant, but he’s also lethal. Cessily tells him to let her handle it, and says it’ll be fine. As the two of them arrive at the table, Cessily asks them if they all know Kevin Ford, but Santo, Julian, and Brian seem less that happy to have him joining there table, and Julian asks Cessily if he can have a word with her. As they step aside, Julian asks her if she is crazy or something, but she explains that he’s lonely. He’s different and she’s the only one he doesn’t have to worry about touching… but he’s always really careful. She then adds quietly that she kind of likes him, so Julian agrees, saying that is for her, making her smile.

Nearby, Sofia tells David that she is a terrible leader. Every table here is a squad… hers is just her and David. David says he’s a little worried about Kevin, but otherwise there’s nothing personal. The guys are on a date and Noriko’s working at the Grind Stone. Sofia says that, no matter the reasons, no one is eating with her, and says she worries they are angry about today. David tells her she is reading way too much into one dinner. She’s being too emotional about this. Sofia tells him that she is too emotional about everything. That is why she is a terrible leader.

Dani tells Shan and Rahne that she doesn’t get why Kevin isn’t spending time with her kids. They’re his squad-mates! Emma arrives and sits down, and explains that he’s interested in her young Wallflower, and she has just left on a date. Dani says that he barely knows Laurie. Last time he was here it was only for a week. Emma tells her that she showed him his worst fear—killing Laurie. Maybe it was a crush back then, but he’s been thinking about that vision for the last few months; thinking about her. This, like Kevin’s other problems, is entirely Dani’s doing.

Just then, Scott calls Emma, and she turns and asks what it is, what’s wrong. With Scott is a man in a suit and tie, and Scott tells Emma that he is Agent Pierce with the Metahuman crime division of the F.B.I. Pierce then tells them that he is here to arrest Kevin Ford for the murder of his father.

Characters Involved: 

David Alleyne / Prodigy, Noriko Ashida / Surge, Laurie Collins / Wallflower, Josh Foley / Elixir, Kevin Ford / Wither, Sofia Mantega / Wind Dancer (New Mutants)

Brian Cruz / Tag, Jay Guthrie / Icarus, Julian Keller / Hellion, Cessily Kincaid / Mercury, Sooraya Qadir / Dust, Santo Vaccarro / Rockslide (Hellions)

Victor Borkowski (Alpha Squadron)

Karma, Dani Moonstar, Wolfsbane (teachers at the Institute)

Cyclops, White Queen I (X-Men and Headmasters of the Institute)
Justin Pierce (F.B.I. agent)

Other Students at the Institute

Story Notes: 

Agent Justin Pierce was introduced in New Mutants (vol. 2) #13. He is the nephew of Donald Pierce, and aided in the recapture of his uncle.

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