The Xavier Institute – Power Core:
Even though the rice has been swept off the lawn and the honeymooners are gone, the mansion is not empty. Life returns to normal, or at least what is normal for the members of the X-Men. This late at night, the Beast runs a systems check in the Power Core of the school. Beast speaks to his companion as he works in a suit to check the core, and answers a question asked to him. The truth is, before he became follicle-challenged, he was already clearly a mutant. He then began to study due to his muscles, as he figured why not have brains to go with the looks? So, when she asks him “what he is doing here,” he must answer that he is humbly following his best destiny.
Speaking through the glass window, Jubilee sighs and decides that maybe she should have been more specific – what is he doing in the Power Core when they are supposed to be halfway to Salem Center to watch the midnight showing of “Rocky Horror?” Beast apologizes, as he misunderstood the subtle subtext of her question. Jubilee fakes a laugh and accusing Beast of stalling. Sure, there’s that, mutters Beast. However, he must admit that he doesn’t understand her distress. As she knows from her studies, this system check of the often used but seldom understood Power Core is a cake walk. It is a standard routine. She should be assured that they will be in their seats with popcorn sooner than she can say “Wha – Mr. Sinister, again?!”
The young Jubilee points to her watch and tells Beast that, while he sucks up to the Professor to get brownie points, she’ll have to watch Tim Curry from the last row. Shake a leg, furball, yells Jubilee.
Iceman walks by carrying some equipment and tells Jubilee to cut Beast some slack. On the priority list, maintaining the integrity of the mansion’s central energy matrix is a little bit higher than a night out baby-sitting. Jubilee turns around and sees Iceman, but ignores his joke. Instead, she begins to suck up to Bobby and calls him her best, most reliable friend.
Beast hears this and tells Bobby that danger is coming. It seems Jubilee has her eyes set on a more accessible escort for the evening. Alas, it wasn’t like the days in the past when X-Men were more loyal to each other. Kids – there’s no talking to them.
Jubilee grabs Iceman’s arm and asks him what he thinks. If he lets her borrow 20 bucks, she’ll even treat him. Wow, what an offer, jokes Bobby. However, after the X-Cutioner’s attempt to kill the White Queen, Xavier has asked that the security be beefed up in the medical lab. Do it when they come back, suggests Jubilee. Some of us have responsibilities, says Bobby as he walks on. Spoken like someone who hasn’t had a date in a month, mutters Jubilee. What’s that, asks Iceman. Jubilee calls to him and tells him not to think she didn’t hear that joke about baby-sitting. She then goes back to the window to watch Beast, who tells her that he is almost done. Yeah, right, says Jubilee. After this, he probably has to go shed or something.
Bishop sits out in the raging snow storm, lost in his thoughts and the sense of security that comes when a man is alone with his memories. He remembers the first time he tried this. He and his sister, Shard, were cashing an Emplate creature in Maine. However, it cornered them and nearly eviscerated Shard, while he depleted himself of all the bio-energy he had. They were left freezing in the snow out in the open in a field. Anyone else would have quietly bled to death, but not Shard. She told Bishop to think about it; when the snow hits their body and melts it releases energy, not a lot, but enough when you think about all the flakes that fall. He wound up with enough energy to obliterate the Emplate when it found them. Bishop misses his sister.
As Bishop thinks, a silent figure moves closer to him. He, however, is aware, and greets Storm. Storm is impressed, as she thought that she hadn’t made a sound. Bishop admits that she didn’t, but then he wouldn’t be of much use to the X-Men if he was so easily ambushed. Storm doesn’t think he will be of much use with pneumonia. She would dust him off and tuck him in bed herself, but she has a date of sorts with Gambit and an old friend in New York City. However, is there a reason Bishop is out here? Is there something he wishes to discuss?
Not really, Storm, replies Bishop as he gathers snow, relating the best he can. To snow, questions the puzzled Storm. Bishop replies that snow is one of the few constants in his life, even in the future. It always gives way to something different. He has decided that Iceman was right when he told him to start living in the moment rather than in the past at Cyclops’ bachelor party. The moment is all they truly have. Storm glides away and tells Bishop that he will be fine – after he dries off. She bids Bishop good night and flies off. OF course, says Bishop, with a grin on his face.
Bishop knows he shouldn’t do it, but he throws the snowball anyway, with affection. His aim is perfect. If he were throwing it at any other person it would have been perfect. However, Storm is the mistress of the weather and easily evades the snowball coming from behind as she is in perfect sync with the environment. Bishop watches her glide off and thinks how Storm is just like Shard, except more serious. Storm lacks her sister’s sense of playfulness. Suddenly, a ton of snow blows on top of Bishop. He pulls himself out of the snow and laughs, taking back his thoughts.
Beneath the mansion there is no laughter. There is an altogether different sound down here. It is a sound of rage and fury and of a life spent killing strangers. He has a mind that is twisted, almost since birth. Victor Creed is known as Sabretooth. He has had periods of lucidity when he had a psionic glow that allowed him to think clearly. However, those times were always manufactured by other mutants. His time at Xavier’s has been an experiment. He is a captive and house guest under the tutelage of Charles Xavier, who has been trying to control the animal within Creed. The success varies day to day, with today being a bad day. However, a voice in Creed’s head tells him to wait. He will be free one day. Then he will stalk again and take revenge on those who have placed him here.
Intensive Care Unit:
As Iceman upgrades the security system in the med room containing the comatose Emma Frost, he thinks that Jubilee was right. He is an idiot. Of course, Jubilee didn’t say it out loud like that, but that was the point. Every other hot blooded guy his age is married, in school, or on the prowl. He had Opal Tanaka, a hot babe by anyone’s definition, and he pretty much did everything besides throw her out a window to keep her away. Maybe he isn’t destined to be happy?
Bobby goes over to the White Queen’s bed and looks at her. She is beautiful and powerful. She had it all. However, she spent so much time flirting with danger that it was a matter of time before she was hurt bad. It is a waste. Through his intercom, Bobby can hear Jubilee still calling out to Beast, who still tells her to wait a moment.
Beast hears Iceman over the intercom and finds that Bobby agrees with Jubilee. Just get her out of the mansion! Beast tells the two to shush down as something isn’t right. Jubilee doesn’t like the sound of that, and Hank tells her that she shouldn’t. There was no way of knowing how Magneto’s electro-magnetic burst would have on Shi’Ar technology. The core itself is untouched, the failsafe has been realigned.
Suddenly, the power goes off in the mansion.
Intensive Care Unit:
Iceman screams out in agonizing pain, as he is caught in the feedback of an alien power surge. There was no way he could have protected himself from the weird energy that courses through him and the body of Emma Frost. He cannot protect Emma either, but as an X-Man and as a compassionate human being, he tries. Bobby throws his body on top of Emma’s to shield her, which is a decision he will have the rest of his life to regret.
Hank calls out to Bobby and Jubilee to see if they are ok. Jubilee responds that she is fine, except for her ears. Beast calls out through the intercoms to see who else is there.
Bishop enters the mansion to hear Beast call out for Storm. Bishop replies that Storm has left. Is there anything he can do? Beast begins the explanation by pointing out that the power is out, which Bishop clearly sees. However, Beast is busy stabilizing the core. However, his more immediate concern is that the security system is off-line. Bishop moves without any other command from Beast. He knows that the unthinkable has happened. Sabretooth is on the loose.
Jubilee users her powers to light up the area around her, but she sees nothing. Scared, she hears a growling sound and guesses it is too much to hope that it is Wolverine. Hardly, says a gruff voice as a hand grabs Jubilee by her hair. She screams out for Logan.
Sabretooth holds Jubilee in the air by her hair and tells her that Wolverine cannot hear her. He’s licking his wounds somewhere, or does she not remember. Maybe her “Uncle Victor” can help her remember. Scared, Jubilee asks Creed if he is going to kill her. What you think, the sadistic monster asks. Weakly, Jubilee replies that she thinks he is. Bingo, says Creed. He’d give her a prize, but she isn’t going to be around long enough to use it.
Beast thinks to himself that he hopes Bishop arrives soon, and then reminds himself that he must work quickly as well. The sooner he gets out of the Power Core, the sooner he can help corral Sabretooth. Suddenly, he hears static over the intercom and wonders what is going on.
Bishop rushes through the hallways of the mansion and slams his fists through either side of the hallway walls. He yanks out the intercom system and as he runs he pulls more of it out, charging himself up with the released energy. One of the first rules he learned in the X.S.E. was that no conversation should be carried on an unsecured line. The last thing he wants Sabretooth to know is that he is tearing through the mansion while absorbing any residual energy can find. However, no amount of power in the world will be good to anyone if he is too late. Again.
Jubilee looks Sabretooth in the face and asks him if, since she is going to die anyway, can she have one last request? Why not, says Creed. What can he do for her? Jubilee says something, but it is very inaudible. Creed tells her that she has to beg louder. Sure, says Jubilee, and then she repeats herself.
“Eat hot plasma bursts!” screams Jubilee as she lets her powers rip into Sabretooth’s face, “Ya’ third rate Wolverine wannabe loser nobody!”
Jubilee’s final act of defiance is rewarded by the blinded Sabretooth batting her away. However, even though she gets cuts and broken ribs when she crashes against a wall, the worst pain comes from the sense of betrayal she feels, as she knows if Wolverine were here she’d be safe. Sabretooth recover and towers over a barely conscious Jubilee. He tells her that he was going to kill her quickly, but now he will make her suffer. Ignoring him, Jubilee says out loud that, wherever Wolverine is, she hopes she did him proud.
Beast finds that the blast – whatever it was – has fried the comm-links, so now he has no clue what is going on outside. He should concentrate on the core, which means he wishes Forge were here to whisper sweet equations in his ear. Beast then thinks it is funny that he is ten seconds away from being killed in a complete meltdown and he is trying to make himself laugh. He should figure that out someday.
Bishop races to the access point to the sewers and thinks to himself that, every time he is down there, he cannot help but think of the tape he saw of Jean Grey prior to arriving to this timeline. She claimed that they were betrayed by one of their own. Whoever it was, she said that they should have never trusted that person and they knew so little about them. Bishop always assumed that it was Gambit. Could she have been referring to Sabretooth? Has he escaped through the tunnels only to return in the future to slay the X-Men?
Bishop walks through the sewers but is unaware that Creed is right above him hanging onto some pipes. However, all it takes is one drop of blood from Creed to hit the water below him, and a lifetime of training takes over Bishop. Bishop turns and unleashes a blast of energy, as Sabretooth leaps in for the kill. Sabretooth tells Bishop that he is impresses that he isn’t weak like the other X-Men. Angered, Bishop tells Creed that the only reason Xavier brought him here was to stop his madness once and for all. Yeah well, says Creed, Xavier is an idealist and an idiot.
Angered more by this, Bishop blasts Creed away again into the water. Bishop then grabs Creed by the head, and the psychopath guesses that he is a bit sensitive about Xavier. You could say that, says Bishop. He then tells Creed that, if it were up to him, he’d kill him right now, but Sabretooth doesn’t think Bishop has the guts to do that. On the contrary, replies Bishop. He has terminated scores of mutant criminals who fled to this timeline from his future. He followed the letter of the law then, but now the laws protect people like Sabretooth until they are convicted. Sabretooth, however, thinks that Bishop is bluffing. He puts his hands to Bishop’s face and thinks that he ran out of bio-energy. He probably couldn’t do anything to Sabretooth even if he wanted to. So, Bishop has a choice. He can prove Sabretooth wrong or Creed will rip his face off.
Suddenly, twenty-five thousand volts of energy course through Sabretooth’s body and he falls unconscious. Bishop is surprised, as he isn’t responsible, but looks to the side and sees Jubilee armed with a taser gun. She tells Bishop she found it in the emergency locker, and then apologizes for freaking out earlier. The two hug and Bishop tells her that it happens to the best of them. Jubilee tells Bishop that he didn’t even need her though, right? He wasn’t really bluffing, was he?
Beast arrives and tells Jubilee that it is a moot point. He has managed to stabilize the core with nano-seconds to spare. The generators will be on-line within the hour. Once they get Sabretooth back to his cell and find the slacker, Iceman, they can count this in the win column.
New York City:
Storm arrives at a church that is now renovated into a club. Storm wonders if her friend picked this place randomly, or if this is part of her peculiar sense of humor. Storm enters the club and gets a drink. It wasn’t long before that this friend transformed her, from a weather goddess into a leader-clad leader of the X-Men. Sometimes Storm wonders what she was thinking when she cut off most of her hair.
Storm recognizes her old friend from across the crowded bar with three men. Storm calls out to Yukio and the two meet up and hug. Storm, however, senses that something is wrong, from the panic she senses in Yukio. Yukio is glad that Storm has come, and Storm tells her that of course she has come and Gambit is on his way. Storm then asks her what is wrong, as on the phone se said…
Suddenly, one of the other men finishes the sentence and repeats what Yukio said on the phone about meeting some place in private. Storm is confused and asks Yukio if these men are here friends. Scared, Yukio says no. They said they were triplets and started hitting on her all at once. She thought it was flattering, but should have suspected.
The three men begin to change into odd creatures of the techno-organic nature. One tells Yukio not to feel bad as it is part of their nature to make themselves indistinguishable from humans. Telepaths of the first order wouldn’t’ be alerted to the danger until it was too late, such as in their case.
Storm tells Yukio that she is assuming these are the people that Yukio called her about. Yukio replies that she knew someone was trailing her, but it never occurred to her that…
One of the beings cuts Yukio off and asks if she didn’t realize that she was leading them to Storm. In a roundabout way they were, but it would only have been after they extracted necessary concessions. Storm’s appearance is a pleasant surprise, but they are well-prepared for any eventuality.
As the club patrons begin to freak out at the sight of the monsters, Storm tells Yukio that in the future if something like this ever happens again don’t be so hesitant to meet away from the other X-Men - think “mansion.”
“Great,” says Yukio, “Now you tell me!”