My name is Sam Guthrie. When I’m in this uniform, people call me Cannonball. It’s been a while since this Kentucky boy set foot in Genosha. I was leading the New Mutants then. We’d come to this tiny island off the coast of East Africa to stop the genocidal plans of a madman. I never expected to return, but here I am, this time as part of X-Force. A lot has changed since my last visit. A month ago, the UN ceded control of Genosha to Magneto, one of the most powerful and dangerous mutants on the planet - now, access to the island is heavily restricted. Needless to say, we’re violating all sorts of international laws and edicts by being here….
‘Incoming! Take cover!’ Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie shouts as he blasts across a street in downtown Genosha, currently in warefare, with cars upturned and fires blazing. Accompanying Sam are several members of the mutant outlaw team X-Force - Domino, Danielle Moonstar, Tabitha “Meltdown” Smith and Jesse “Bedlam” Aaronson.
After opening a mysterious package postmarked Hammer Bay, there was no question I had to come to Genosha. I didn’t expect the rest of the team to accompany me here, but I should have expected they would. We watch out for each other. You couldn’t ask for more loyal friends.
‘Those bombs are getting closer, Sam. Think we’ve been spotted?’ Danielle asks her long-time teammate. Sam replies that after all the trouble they went through to get onto the island and into the city unnoticed, he sure hopes not. ‘The longer we can keep under the radar, the better our chances are of getting out of here intact. Crouching on the ground, Bedlam exclaims that he was crazy to let them talk him in to coming to the middle of a war zone. ‘What was I thinking?’
Jesse Aaronson a.k.a. Jesse Bedlam. X-Force’s newest and most reluctant member.
Tabitha looks out of the alcove they are hiding in and tells Bedlam not to worry, and that he will get used to the never-ending battle and constant conflict. ‘After a while, you’ll even start to look forward to it’ she adds, before announcing that one of Magneto’s vertical take-off and landing vessels is heading their way. ‘Want me to take care of it?’ she asks.
When I first met Tabitha Smith, she called herself Boom-Boom. Now she goes by Meltdown.
‘No, Tab! The last thing we want is to alert Magneto’s forces to our presence!’ Sam exclaims, grabbing Tabitha before she can ready her plasma time-bomb. At that moment, James Proudstar runs towards his teammates, telling Sam that they don’t have much of a choice. ‘I just scouted the next block. A half-dozen armed magistrates are around the corner with a tank!’ James declares.
I sent James Proudstar ahead of us to do reconnaissance. With his heightened senses, strength and speed, he’s the ideal person to take point. Before Magneto, the magistrates were the enforcers that kept Genosha’s genetically augmented slave class, the mutates, in chains. Now the mutates have revolted, and as Magneto has claimed all control of the island, the magistrates are under siege. With their resources limited and their numbers dwindling, the remaining magistrates have become even more desperate and dangerous….
‘Okay, team, we are now officially caught between a rock and a hard place’ Sam tells his teammates, announcing that they are going to have to take out the magistrates and Magneto’s air-guard before they start shooting and X-Force gets caught in the crossfire. ‘If it’s all the same to you, Sam, I’ll pass on this upcoming skirmish. I try to make it a policy to avoid people with guns’ Jesse mutters. ‘Sorry, Jesse. Ah need you to help me take out the hovercraft’ Sam replies, before grabbing the reluctant member of X-Force and blasting to into the air.
Jesse spent much of his childhood alone, being shuttled from foster home to foster home. After his mutant power kicked in, he was recruited by MUSE, the Mutant Underground Support Engine. But even as an underground operative, he worked alone. Now he’s getting a crash course in group interaction and responsibility. Everybody’s got to do their share.
‘Just relax, Jesse. As long as ah’ve got you, you’re protected by the same force field that protects me when I’m in motion -’ Sam begins, to which Jesse declares ‘I’m cool with that, Kentucky, but it’s the letting go part that worries me’ Jesse replies. Sam tells Jesse that he will do fine and asks him if he is ready. ‘Like I have a choice’ Bedlam replies, before Sam drops him onto the back of a mutate hovercraft. ‘Okay Jesse, stay calm. Don’t look down. Try not to think about falling from this height. All I need to do is make contact and this baby’s grounded’ Bedlam tells himself as he begins to unleash his power.
Jesse generates a bioelectric field that creates chaos with mechanical and electronic devices.
‘The controls are frozen, Gregori! Nothing’s responding!’ one of the mutates exclaims. ‘We have to abandon ship now!’ Gregori shouts. ‘Good job, Jesse!’ Sam exclaims as he swoops down and picks Bedlam up while the mutates crash. ‘Hey, next time don’t take so long. I was beginning to feel like Slim Pickens at the end of Dr Strangelove‘. Bedlam exclaims.
Nearby, the magistrates face a unique roadblock.
‘What is this? Some infernal mutate trap, no doubt. Fall back!’ one of the magistrates shouts as plasma time-bombs are thrown their way. ‘Too late. In this case, boys, it’s a mutant trap. Courtesy of the blonde, beautiful and bombastic Meltdown!’. Tabitha exclaims.
Tabitha changes names as often as she changes clothes, but one thing remains constant - her volatile energy spheres pack a mean wallop.
There is a massive KABLAM as the magistrates in a tank nearby open fire, sending Tabitha careening backwards. ‘Hey, watch it with that thing! If you’re not careful you could poke somebody’s eye out!’ Tabitha exclaims, before calling out to Danielle. ‘I’m on it!’ Dani replies, her appearance shifted to blue as quantum energy flows around her.
Like Tabitha, DanI Moonstar’s a mutant who’s endured a number of dramatic changes in her mutant physiology. Her psionic talents have recently taken a backseat to a newfound ability to channel quantum energy…which allows her to affect matter at a subatomic level. And in this case, it lets her liquefy the asphalt below the tank, leaving the vehicle mired in a swamp-like tar.
‘How is this possible?’ one of the magistrates exclaims, motioning to X-Force and exclaiming ‘Look there! More of Magneto’s mutant acolytes! Kill them!’. Suddenly, Proudstar lunges at them: ‘Sorry to disappoint you, gentlemen. We’re not part of Magneto’s entourage. But that doesn’t mean we feel any sympathy for you. You enslaved thousands, treated them like animals, then tried to wipe them out when they rebelled against you!’ James reminds them as he slams them to the ground. ‘If it were up to me, you’d be locked up for the rest of your lives’.
I can hear the whine of the battery feeding on the magistrates concussion cannon.
‘Genosha has had enough of you foreign mutant scum! Now tell your companions to stand down, before I take off your entire heads!’ one of the magistrates booms, his weapon aimed at James’ head. ‘Ya’ll heard the man!’ Sam tells his teammates. The magistrate declares that they are going to wait for the rest of his troops to arrive, and then use X-Force as bait to lure Magneto to his doom. ‘I think you overestimate our value to Magneto, pal’ Sam tells him. ‘You will address me as magistrate, cur!’ the soldier retorts. ‘Whatever you say…magistrate’. James mutters.
By keeping the Magistrate’s attention focused on him, James gives Domino time to move into position to take him down from behind. But before she can act….
The magistrate cries out in agony as searing “hot knives” tear through his body. ‘Don’t look so surprised. I told you I’d find you once you made it into the city’ declares Pete Wisdom as he approaches X-Force. He adds that his timing could not be better, before welcoming X-Force to Hammer Bay. ‘Oh, by the way, I’m Pete Wisdom. I’ll be your guide through all this chaos’.
Pete Wisdom is a former agent of the British Intelligence Agency Black Air, who joined the last Excalibur team. He’s also a mutant who generates hot plasma knives through his fingers, like the ones with which he wounded the magistrate.
Wearing a eye patch over his left eye, Wisdom tells the young mutants to “hold on” and points out that a couple of them are missing. ‘Where are Sunspot and Siryn?’ he asks. Cannonball tells Wisdom that his research must be out of date and informs him that Siryn lost her voice while Sunspot was deported. ‘Tough break. I was counting on their muscle. Not to mention, I’ve always been fond of red haired Irish girls’ Wisdom replies, before telling X-Force that since they knocked the hovercraft out of the sky, reinforcements will be here any minute in response. ‘We don’t want to tangle with the mutate bulldogs Magneto’s conscripted into his ground troops’ Pete tells the young mutants, asking them to follow him.
‘Before we go anywhere, Wisdom, let’s get one thing clear. We’re here because Kitty Pryde vouched for you - not because of the package you sent me. I don’t take kindly to being blackmailed!’ Wisdom tells Sam not to think of it as blackmail, but incentive. ‘I wouldn’t ask you to travel all this way without offering you something in return’ he tells him. Domino warns Wisdom that he had better be on the level, and reveals she called in a lot of favors to get them past the UN blockade. Tabitha tells Wisdom that there is one thing she doesn’t understand, and points out that half of his pals from Excalibur are with the X-Men now, so why didn’t he call them?
Wisdom frowns as he replies that he and Kitty aren’t on speaking terms since their relationship ended. ‘You’re the right group for the job. Trust me’ Wisdom declares as he leads X-Force through the city, bringing them to Hammertowne - what remains of the original port built when the European traders arrived in the 1600’s. ‘As you can see, historical preservation wasn’t a priority for the Genoshan parliament that ran the island before Magneto’ he points out, adding that they were so determined to leapfrog from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first that they destroyed much of the island’s history in the process.
Cannonball asks Wisdom what he is doing here. ‘Are you working with the mutant revolutionaries?’. ‘Not me, mate. Revolutionaries usually wind up dead, and I don’t fancy being a martyr for any cause’ Wisdom replies, adding that he is here to clean up after an old friend. ‘I’ll explain more later’ he assures them, adding that their walking tour has officially ended. ‘Welcome to the Whisper of Heaven’ he exclaims, motioning to a store. ‘A curio shop?’ Dani asks as everyone enters the small store. Domino remarks that it doesn’t look like this place has seen much business lately, to which Bedlam replies ‘No wonder for a souvenir stand, this join is severely lacking. Where are the t-shirts and postcards and snow globes?’
Tabitha sees some boxes on a counter and exclaims that they are amazing. ‘I’ve never seen wood like this before - and the carving is so intricate’ she adds as she touches one of them. ‘Hey! Careful, Smith. And whatever you do, don’t open -’ Wisdom begins, but as Tabitha opens the box, ‘Never mind’ Wisdom mutters, and Tabitha goes silent as a light from the box shines upon her. Tabitha stumbles backwards and holds her head. Domino steadies her and asks what happened, telling her that she zoned out on them all for a minute. ‘That was so weird. For a moment, I felt like it was living somebody else’s life’ Tabitha declares.
(Flashback shown in Meltdown’s mind)
‘It’s 1942. There are rumors that Germans are sending Axis troops to occupy Hammer Bay. I’m sending my son Johannes to the United States to my cousin Louisa’s. I know he’ll be safe there‘. A woman thinks to herself. ‘But I don’t want to go to America, Mum. I want to stay with you’ the boy cries. ‘Chine up, my little man. This won’t be forever. I’ll be on the next passenger ship, I promise’ his mother assures him. ‘Remember, no matter what happens, I love you’ the mother calls out to her young child, who climbs the boardwalk onto the ship. ‘It is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done - because I know the Germans will be here before the next boat. I may never see my baby again’.
Tabitha wipes the tears from her eyes as she explains that it was like she was actually there on that pier all those years ago. ‘I could smell the ocean air, feel the dock sway beneath my feet…feel Johannes’s tears on his cheek…okay…I’m not gonna cry…’.
Tabitha’s never liked showing her emotions publicly.
‘I told you not to touch anything. These boxes have been psychically imprinted with other people’s memories. Open one, and that memory becomes yours - in Technicolor and surround sound’ Wisdom declares. ‘Talk about a memory box’ Proudstar remarks, holding one of them in his hand. ‘Is that possible?’ Bedlam asks. ‘Considering my first mutant power allowed me to create phantom’s of other people’s fear…I learned at an early age that thoughts can be made tangible in many ways’ Dani explains.
Sam declares that he is less interested in the mechanics of the boxes than the source of what is inside them. ‘Tell me about the one you sent me, Wisdom’ he declares. Wisdom replies that he could not be certain that his brief tenure in one of the x-teams would be enough to guarantee X-Force’s assistance. ‘I hoped you’d find this intriguing’ he adds. ‘That’s putting it mildly. Ah wasn’t prepared for what Ah experienced when Ah opened this puppy back in San Francisco’ Cannonball declares, holding up the box Wisdom sent to him.
(Shown in flashback images, narrated by Cannonball)
‘All of a sudden Ah was someone else. Ah was in caught in the middle of a storm in a Kentucky cornfield’ Sam reveals. He adds that the lightning was not falling from the sky - it was being generated by a ferocious battle between two giant figures in the distance. ‘Ah was more scared than Ah’d ever been, but Ah had a bunch of children to protect, so Ah had to muster up all the courage Ah had in me’ Sam tells everyone. He told the kids not to look back, but curiosity got the better of one boy, and when he turned around Sam saw his face clear as day - ‘It was me. No question about it. Ah was staring at the face of an eleven year old Samuel Jackson Guthrie…and then the memory ends’.
Sam tells everyone that he does not remember anything like that ever happening to him, and yet, his gut tells him it really happened. ‘Whose memory is this?’ Sam asks Wisdom, who replies ‘As I told you in my letter, I’ll provide you with another piece of this puzzle after you help me out’. Sam frowns and points out that X-Force is here. ‘What do you want us to do?’ he asks. Wisdom pulls out a pack of cigarettes as he tells X-Force that after Excalibur disbanded, he reconnected with a few other disillusioned intelligence operatives from his days with Black Air. ‘Some of us wanted to make up for the less than sterling things we did in the service of our respective governments. You wouldn’t believe the ordnance that’s left over from the Cold War alone, and I’m not talking about nukes’.
‘Weapons exist that, if detonated, can liquefy the entire population of a city’ Wisdom reveals. He adds that trying to wrest this kind of armament out of anyone’s hands is not without risk. ‘I lost this eye trying to stop a reactionary KGB cell in Siberia from unleashing a viral bomb the Regan administration developed. Ah, but that’s a story for another day’ Wisdom declares. Putting the cigarette in his mouth, Wisdom announces his current dilemma: ‘Five years ago, the astro-monkeys in Black Air’s space division launched an experimental satellite, codenamed the Faraway - a vessel designed to test a sub-space shunt engine that would, if successful, be the first step in viable interstellar travel’.
Wisdom reveals that the satellite disappeared after entering the subspace rift it created and never came out the other side. He lights his cigarette and announces that six months ago the satellite inexplicably reappeared in Earth’s atmosphere, and crashed into Hammer Bay. ‘A Genoshan recovery team salvaged the Faraway three days before Magneto assumed power. It’s vitally important that you help me retrieve the satellite’s CPU before Magneto realizes what he possesses’ Wisdom declares. Suddenly, a hand emerges from the beads hanging in a doorway, ‘How many times must I ask you not to smoke in my shop, Peter?’ a voice in the next room asks as a woman takes the cigarette from Wisdom’s mouth.
When the woman who steps out from behind the bead curtain looks at me, I almost forget why I’m here. Her eyes are deep and knowing in a way I’ve only encountered in one other person…Jean Grey!
‘He swears to me he’s going to quit, but it is so hard for the British to give up their cigarettes’. The serene woman stands before X-Force as Wisdom introduces her as Delphi, a native Genoshan and that this is her shop. ‘She constructed the memory boxes’ Wisdom explains, adding that she helped him to navigate his way around the island. Delphi bids X-Force welcome and tells them that she looks forward to becoming better acquainted with all of them. ‘I only wish that your visit to our island was not under these circumstances. Many Genoshans abhor what Moreau did to our country, and dream of a sovereign and egalitarian Genosha’ Delphi announces.
Cannonball declares that as they are foreigners they are at a disadvantage. ‘Before we can help Wisdom, we need to do some reconnaissance’ he explains. Dani points out that she and James are best suited for that, and Sam agrees. ‘I want the two of you to -’ he begins, before Delphi announces that such efforts are not necessary, as she can provide them with the geographical knowledge of a native born Genoshan, as well as other skills and knowledge the rest of the team will require for the mission. ‘In payment, all I ask is that you share with me a memory of your own’ Delphi explains. ‘Hold on. I’m not giving up any of my memories so you can box it up and sell it to the next tourist that wanders in off the street!’ Tabitha exclaims. Delphi tells her not to worry, ‘You will not forget the memory you share with me, and more than you do when you share a confidence with a friend’ Delphi assures her as she puts a hand to Meltdown’s face.
Meanwhile, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta has returned after being unceremoniously deported from the United States. He has set up residence at the luxurious Hotel Paraiso, which is, conveniently, one of the many holdings of DaCosta International, the company his late father founded. Bobby is wearing only his shorts as he lies beside a swimming pool, a scantily clad brunette hanging off him. The girl tells Bobby that Rodriguez and Cece are holding another party at their estate. ‘The last one went on for days. We must go’ she exclaims. ‘Great’ Bobby replies, not looking up from his magazine. ‘I’m going to need a new dress, then. There’s a black number at the boutique I absolutely have to have!’ the girl declares.
‘Yeah…great’ Bobby mutters while thinking to himself that when he was younger, this was the life he wanted - expensive hotels, beautiful women, unlimited credit. ‘Why does it feel so empty?’ he wonders, realizing that is because he no longer wants to be one of the idle rich. ‘My life had meaning as part of X-Force. With them, I had purpose and direction’ he tells himself as he thinks of Sam, Dani, Tabitha and the rest of his former teammates. ‘Now all I’m doing is sitting on my hands waiting for my lawyers to clear up my VISA status so I can return to the states’.
‘Roberto DaCosta, you haven’t heard a word I’ve said. You never listen to me!’ the girl complains. Sam raises his sunglasses and peers at her, ‘Look, Kiki, I just met you last night. You don’t know anything about me’ he tells her. ‘What’s to know? You were the curtest guy at the club last night; you look better in the daytime - and you were great in -’ Kiki exclaims, nibbling on Bobby’s ear, he interrupts her, ‘Um, sorry, Kik - something’s come up the requires my attention’ Bobby tells her, assuring her that he will call her later as he sees two bulky men in white suits standing in a nearby elevator, one of whom has grabbed a woman. ‘Let go of me!’ the woman shouts. ‘Shut up and get into the elevator the other declares, reaching inside his jacket.
‘Don’t you walk away from me! You’ll regret it!’ Kiki shouts as she throws a glass of drink at Bobby. ‘I already do’ Bobby mutters in reply. Moments later, ‘Hey, fold on, one more going up’ Bobby declares as he grabs the elevator door before it closes. ‘Elevator’s full, my friend’ one of the men replies. ‘No problem. I don’t take up much space; Bobby replies as the door opens. ‘I don’t think you heard me, boy. I said the elevator’s full’ one of the men declares, pointing a gun at Bobby’s face, while the other man holds onto the woman. ‘Doesn’t look that way to me. Maybe the lady’s like to step off and give you two a little more breathing room’ Bobby suggests.
‘This guy’s an idiot, Marcelus. He’s got a gun pointed to his head, and he’s acting like it don’t mean nothing!’ Bobby smiles as he declares that guns don’t bother him, and uses his power to melt the gun pointed at him. ‘Ha. It appears that we aren’t the only ones masquerading as human. Well then. There’s no need to continue this deception, now is there?’ one of the men declares, before both of them transform into demons. ‘About time, Marcelus. I really hate pretending to be one of these small eyed, pale hued, soft skinned apespawn!’ the other declares.
‘Uh-oh’ Bobby mumbles, before he is knocked backwards into a trolley of suitcases. ‘Hey!’ a bellboy exclaims. ‘Ungh. Didn’t see that coming’ Bobby mutters as he shifts to his solar form. ‘Human, you cannot protect the witch. She belongs to us!’ one of the demons declare as they run towards Sunspot. ‘Perhaps he is her familiar. I understand her kind often bonds with lesser animals’ the other suggests. ‘You know, guys, this week my girlfriend dumped me, I got deported, and none of my friends even made it to the airport to see me off. It’s been one really bad week, and I haven’t had any way to work through my anger and frustration. Until now. Take you best shot, boys’ Sunspot declares.
Suddenly, ‘Don’t waste your energy, Roberto’ the woman in the elevator exclaims as the two demons turn to stone. ‘I hate to do that so publicly. Now I’m afraid we’ll have to switch hotels. I’m sure the management frowns on petrifying gargoyles in the lobby’. Bobby looks at the woman and realizes who she is: ‘Selene!’ he exclaims. ‘I’m so pleased you haven’t forgotten me’ Selene exclaims. ‘I wouldn’t have stopped those two monsters if I’d known you were the woman they were manhandling’ Bobby declares. ‘Last time we crossed paths, you nearly caused a riot at the exploding colossal man festival’ Bobby points out, before asking Selene what she is doing this side of the equator. ‘Looking got you, Roberto. I want to make you an offer’ Selene announces.
Back in Genosha, Delphi is receiving Meltdown’s memory:
(Flashback, narrated by Meltdown)
‘I was back in New York…I was barely thirteen…I was in the garbage dump on an Avenue B that I was squatting in after I ran away from home - living on the streets wasn’t working out the way I’d planned. In fact, it really sucked’. Cowering on the filthy ground while a large tattooed man looms over her with a powerful knife, Tabitha looks scared. ‘Hey now, little girl. You gonna be nice to the Tiger, or the Tiger’s gonna cut you bad’ he declares. ‘Keep away from me…please…’ Tabitha replies, one hand raised above her. ‘I thought I was going to die, but suddenly something entirely different and unexpected happened. Energy began coursing through me…and my fear turned to rage’ she explains to everyone, while the plasma courses through her body, ‘Didn’t you hear me? I said, get away from me!’ she shouted at the thug.
‘I showed him. I showed him I wasn’t afraid anymore’ Tabitha remarks. Delphi’s eyes flash blue and a blue energy moves from Tabitha’s mind to Delphi, before Delphi tells her that is all they need. ‘Um…that wasn’t the memory I wanted to give you. I don’t like to think about those days’ Tabitha declares. Putting the memory into a box, Delphi replies that she understands, and tells Tabitha to rest easy, promising her that it will find its way only to one who will learn from it. ‘As will the memory James gave me of his brother John, and Jesse’s recollection of the first time he rode a horse’ Delphi assures everyone, before asking who will go next: ‘Samuel or Domino?’
‘I’ve not intention of bartering any of my past with you. My life is not a commodity’ Domino declares. ‘As you wish, Domino, but allow me to offer you this thought’ Delphi replies: ‘Some of the secrets you guard so reverently will destroy you eventually if you don’t find a way to deal with them’. Domino punches Wisdom’s shoulder, asking him what kind of psycho babble con are he and his psychic hotline friend trying to pull. Wisdom replies that he is no fan of telepaths either, adding that he has more than enough inner demons he wants to keep buried as long as he can, but the Delphi’s offer is on the level. ‘What she gives in return is always what you need’ he declares. ‘And what did she give you, sport?’ Domino asks. ‘A good night’s sleep’ Wisdom reveals.
Delphi passes several boxes amongst X-Force: ‘To Danielle, I give the memory of a Nicaraguan medicine woman’s work during a time of great sickness, so that she will remember the need for a healer. I offer James a native Genoshan mapmaker’s intricate knowledge of the capital’s streets and sewers. Tabitha shall receive the codes to the Genosha genetics complex, codes given to me by a dying magistrate looking for absolution. To Jesse, who is not sure why he is here, I offer the memories of a martial arts student’s rigorous studies in the dojo’ Delphi announces. ‘So now I’m gonna be able to fight like Jet Li. Excellent!’ Bedlam declares.
‘As for you, Sam Guthrie, I have the memories of a soldier…’ Delphi declares, handing him a box. ‘If it’s all the same to you, ma’am, all Ah want is to know who that man is in the first memory box’ Sam declares. Wisdom tells Sam that he will have his answers soon enough, but first they have to break into the gencom.
An easy enough task, as long as no one knows we’re here.
Meanwhile, Jenny Ransome approach Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff as he stands on a rooftop and gazes out over Genosha. ‘It’s odd to find you standing still, Quicksilver. You’re usually in motion’ Jenny remarks. ‘I’d never realized how much you resemble your father’ she tells him. Pietro replies that his life has always been in Magneto’s shadow, even before he learned the truth of his lineage. ‘And now, once again, I’ve been drawn into another of my father’s grand schemes, no matter the odds against it succeeding’. Jenny asks Pietro if he questions Magneto’s ability to transform Genosha into a haven for mutants of all nationalities.
‘My father is undeniably powerful, but he has chosen to make an enemy of the world. I question whether it is possible to build utopia when one is at war’ Quicksilver replies. ‘Between the Genoshan mutates who are rallying under him and the mutant émigrés that have answered his call, Magneto’s building a unique power base. Soon, no one will dare oppose us’ Jenny declares. ‘That’s the difference between you and me, Jenny. You believe in my father’ Quicksilver exclaims, before declaring ‘Enough of this conversation. You didn’t seek me out to discuss Magneto’s agenda?’. Jenny hands Quicksilver a portable monitor and tells him that she thought he would want to see this security footage taken earlier today.
‘X-Force?’ Pietro gasps as he looks at the monitor. ‘With Pete Wisdom, a former British Intelligence Agent’ Jenny adds. Quicksilver asks her if she has informed Magneto that they are in the city, to which Jenny replies she hasn’t as Magneto has been out of the city all day. ‘Good. Then allow me to deal with X-Force’ Quicksilver exclaims, before speeding away. ‘I see. You weren’t giving me a choice. You are your father’s son’ Jenny remarks to herself.
The genetics complex covers as much land as the town I grew up in. It was here that Dr Moreau implemented the genetics bonding process that rewrote his subject’s DNA - thus creating a super powered slave class that the Genoshan aristocracy would hideously exploit. Now, Moreau’s laboratories are abandoned, and the complex has become a no man’s land where Magneto’s soldiers constantly skirmish with the remaining Magistrates. There’s some kind of poetic justice in that. I guess.
Right now, the Acolytes battle the magistrates outside the complex, while X-Force and Wisdom watch nearby. James declares that the magistrates do not stand a chance against the Acolytes, while a wide-eyed Bedlam covers his mouth and mumbles that people are getting cut in two out there. ‘Are we supposed to stand by and watch this slaughter?’ Sam asks. Wisdom replies that the magistrates have sworn to die in defense of a government that has already abandoned Genosha. ‘Intervene now and all you’ll do is announce your presence to Magneto. You’ve got to choose your battles’ he tells them. Sam admits that Wisdom is right, but points out that it doesn’t make him feel any better.
Sam turns to Domino and Bedlam, telling them that this is where they part company. ‘Once you reach your destination, wait for my signal’ he instructs. ‘We’re on it’ Domino tells him. ‘Pray we don’t need you’ Sam adds, before announcing that James will guide them into the complex, and orders Tabitha to stay out of combat as she knows the key codes. Sam tells Wisdom and Dani that they are defense and to stay close to James and Tabitha, while he takes the rear. ‘If we get separated for any reason, we’ll meet at the rendezvous point in an hour’ he adds. ‘That farm boy exterior is all show, isn’t it, Guthrie? You’re a military commander at heart’ Wisdom remarks. ‘If you say so. Ah’m just doing what needs to be done’ Sam declares. James remarks quietly that with Siryn gone, Sam is leader again. ‘He should never have left in the first place. He belongs with X-Force’ Tabitha declares.
Sometimes I wonder why I left X-Force. Maybe it was because Cable and Xavier seemed to think it was the right thing. Kind of like going to college. But college isn’t for everyone. And the X-Men wasn’t for me. No matter how much I respect them. X-Force is my team. These are the people I trust with my life. James tracks us into the underground service tunnels to avoid the fighting taking place above.
James declares that Delphi’s mapmaker’s memories were right. ‘I could find this place in the dark!’ he exclaims, announcing that they are in the access tunnel underneath the main buildings, which will lead them right to the cybernetics lab. There is a gush of wind, ‘Kind of drafty, eh?’ Wisdom remarks. ‘If you live in a wind tunnel’ Sam adds. ‘We should be that lucky, look!’ James declares, as Quicksilver suddenly comes to a halt. ‘Cable must be insane to send you children to Genosha. Do you know the danger you’re in?’ Pietro exclaims.
Wisdom tells Quicksilver that he needs to update his files. ‘Cables been out of the picture for a while’ he tells him, adding that everybody has to leave the nest sooner or later. ‘Oh, I forgot, you’re the one who moved back in with Dad, didn’t you?’ Wisdom jokes. Sam tells Pietro that they have no intention of interfering in Magneto’s affairs. ‘Give us another hour and we’ll be gone’ he assures him. ‘You may assume you know Magneto from your days as his students, but you don’t know him at all’ Quicksilver exclaims. ‘He will crush you if he believes you are standing in his way. Therefore, you are going to leave Genosha now. By force if necessary!’ Quicksilver exclaims.
Leaving’s not an option, but how do you get past the fastest man alive?
‘Maybe this will explain things, Pietro’ Sam declares, handing Quicksilver a box. ‘What? I don’t understand…’ Pietro begins as he opens the box.
I watch his eyes go blank, as the memory inside the box takes him to Kentucky. I have a fraction of a second to act. Hate to sucker punch Quicksilver like this. But I didn’t come here to make friends.
Sam slams Pietro into the wall, of the tunnel, rendering him unconscious. ‘That was cold and quick, Kentucky’ Wisdom declares. ‘Don’t think I’m proud of that. It was the only way, and it doesn’t buy us much time’ Sam explains, pointing out that Quicksilver’s accelerated metabolism will shake off that blow in minutes.
Soon, Sam, Dani, Tabby, James and Wisdom stand outside the entrance to one of the cybernetic labs. ‘This is so weird. I’ve got all these numbers and codes in my head - it’s like I punched them a thousand times’ Tabitha tells the others as she enters a code into the keypad on the door. ‘I told you Delphi had the goods’ Wisdom remarks as the door opens. ‘And exactly were are we? The memories I got didn’t give me too many other details’ Tabitha declares. Wisdom replies that they are in a cybernetics research lab. ‘Mutates weren’t the only Genoshan slave class experiment - just the most successful one’. He explains that what could not be done with genetic engineering, the Genoshans attempted to do with cybernetics.
‘They experimented with everything - prosthetics, exoskeletons, remote link drones, the works. Lucky for the rest of the world, human machine interface is a tricky one’ Wisdom declares. ‘Ever hear of the Deathlok Project? What a mess that was’ he remarks. ‘Wisdom? Are we going to be tested on this thing?’ Moonstar asks. Passing several cabinets, Wisdom replies that is trying to say that the appearance of the super powered community in the past decade has upped the ante. ‘Every industrial nation is working on creating or buying its own army of super-soldiers. Unfortunately if they succeed the next evolutionary step may be the last one’ Wisdom adds, before coming to the cabinet that he has been looking for. Opening it, there is a brain inside. ‘Hey, Archie, you old sod. You’ve looked better’.
Did he just refer to the CPU by name?
‘Don’t worry, old son, I’m getting you out of here’ Wisdom remarks, picking up the brain, only to realize that he seems to have activated something.
All around us gears begin to grind and motors ignite.
James asks Wisdom if he knew this would happen, to which Wisdom replies that the brain controlled an entire spaceship, and somehow it’s created a network between any nearby CPU. ‘You’re on a first name basis with the blasted thing. Can’t you turn if off?’ Sam asks. ‘That’s why I needed you guys. My days in Excalibur taught me one thing - when unexpected obstacles arise, it’s better to be working with a group’ Wisdom announces. ‘So much for stealth. We’re gonna make a lot of noise getting out of here’ Sam declares. ‘Hopefully, we can take care of this little problem and we’re in’ Wisdom tells him.
Wish I could believe that, but experience has taught me otherwise. No matter how bad things are, they can always get worse.
And across the darkening skies of Genosha, soars Magneto….