Coffee A-Go Go
Scott Summers, in his civvies, walks into the X-Men’s favorite coffee shop and waves at the blonde behind the counter. “Hey, Zelda,” Scott says with a smile. She turns, asking “Shades” if he wants his usual. He does, and adds a “please” for emphasis.
Scott takes a seat at the counter and Zelda, noting he’s by himself and took longer than normal to say “please”, asks if he’s having a rough day. Scott doesn’t hide the fact so Zelda asks if he wants to talk about. She guesses he’s having a case of the Charlie Browns with that red-headed girl. As he slings his backpack onto the floor Scott is quick to say it isn’t Jean, and then asks Zelda if she thinks he’s uptight.
A look of how should I respond? comes across Zelda’s face. She tries to turn it into a joke when she tells Scott, “You… have really, really good posture.” His head droops forward, disconcerted. “…That’s what I thought.”
Scott admits he just heard it from Jean, though he hears it from the guys all the time. That usually doesn’t bother him, but it did coming from Jean. As Zelda hands him his steaming cup of Joe she tells Scott he seems more like Jean’s big brother than a boyfriend, and acts like everyone’s big brother whether they want one or not.
“I know. It’s just that- -,” is all Scott has time to say before the picturesque window adorning the side of the shop shatters inward, shards of glass flying like darts in all directions. The cause of the explosion of shrapnel is a car full of circus folk who plow right into the shop. People dive for cover including Scott, who’s almost creamed as the side of the car rubs along the counter straight at him.
The car exits just as quickly as it entered and Boy Scout Summers finds himself on the ground face to face with Zelda, straddled between her legs. He asks if she’s all right and she replies that she is, though she’s disappointed he’ll never see the latte art smiley face she made in his drink.
Scott gets up quickly and pulls out a wad of cash from his pocket, throwing it down on the counter. He tells Zelda to keep an eye on everyone until the paramedics arrive. She asks where he’s going and Scott tells her he’s going to see if he can figure out where they’re going so he can tell the police. Zelda can’t believe Scott would put himself on the line like that, but doesn’t voice her concerns, only telling him to be careful. With his orange backpack in tow Scott takes off running, telling her he always is.
As Summers takes off on their trail his thoughts meander back to his problems with the rest of the X-Men. He thinks maybe he’s too careful and that’s why they always seem to gripe with him. His first memory is of a recent Sentinel Danger Room session. Skipping past whatever Scott did or said the comical Angel and Iceman are telling him the wedgie in his boxers is going to kill him. His back turned to the pair Scott tells them to take this stuff seriously or it’s going to kill them someday.
Scott’s next recollection is of the time he came across Hank eating his lunch near some lab experiments he was running. Scott asks him if he thinks it’s a good idea to mix lunch with whatever it is he’s working on. Hank seems perturbed and replies, “leave the material safety concerns to the fellow who doesn’t call Fehling’s solution things like ‘that stuff’ or ‘crazy science goo’.”
His last thought, the one that sent him into his little depression, was of an argument he and Jean had over her hanging out with Wanda. He tells Jean to keep in mind what Wanda’s capable of. Jean tells him she’s not going to catch “bad guy cooties” and thinks she can hang out with Wanda without losing her mind.
Scott realizes he can be a real jerklord, but only wishes the rest of his teammates knew what he knew, that in life you have to be prepared for everything.
Ducking down an alley Scott reaches into his bag, past Sun Tzu’s Art of War and a copy of the Daily Bugle, and pulls out his battle visor. He removes his clothes and puts them away, his X-Man uniform already on underneath. It isn’t long before he comes upon the circus folk and their parked car further down the alley.
The driver, Batroc the Leaper, is on a walkie-talkie talking to someone about acquiring the first package. His thick, French accent makes him hard to understand, as well as annoying, so the Clown grabs the talkie from him.
Cyclops comes over and casually leans up against the car and asks Batroc if he needs directions to the Lincoln Center. Batroc tells Cyke he’s real cute and asks if his mother knows he’s out on the town in a Halloween costume. On a more serious note Cyclops reprimands Batroc for almost killing someone back at the coffee shop.
From the backseat Princess Python pops her head out the window and says they’re not exactly the type of people who would care. Cyclops calls her a Dollar Store Cirque Du Soleil and then makes fun of the fact they’re using walkie-talkies to communicate. He asks if they’re super villains or mall cops.
Tired of the banter Batroc asks what it is he wants. Cyclops says he’s stalling them while his friends call the police. He adds that if they turn themselves in it’ll look better for them at the trial. Unfortunately Batroc’s not one to give up and bops Cyclops in the head with the walkie talkie. His feet go out from under him and Cyke hits the ground. Batroc gets back on the walkie and tells the boss they’re on their way to the next pickup and promises no more problems. No sooner does he say that then the car is hit by something so hard that it rocks up into the air.
The Art of War says that if your enemy is irritable, you should try to provoke him. The front, driver’s side tire is busted, the rim rolling along the side of the car. The entirety of the Circus of Crime exit the vehicle. They’re angry, and with Batroc in the lead they attack Cyclops. Using his optic blasts he tries keeping them at bay, but there are just too many. He dodges an attack by the Human Cannonball and blasts away at the giant python coming at him, but Batroc manages to sneak in there and deliver a powerful leaping kick to his midsection.
The Clown and the Gambonno brothers leap on top of Cyclops and begin grappling with and punching him. He lets loose with another powerful optic blast and sends the trio flying, the Clown’s red nose and one oversized shoe are knocked free by the force of the blast.
Batroc, the only guy who seems to know how to fight, leaps onto Cyclops’ back. He receives an elbow for his troubles, but returns the favor with a nice left handed kick to the jaw. Cyclops drops to his knees and the Clown uses this little break in the action to remind Batroc they don’t have time to mess around. Batroc agrees and drops a smoke pellet that quickly fills the air around Cyclops blocking his view of their vehicular escape.
When the smoke clears Scott chastises himself for pushing things too far. Then he notices the hubcap on the ground and realizes they won’t be getting too far with that busted wheel.
And a few blocks away he’s proven correct. He trails the crew to a nearby auto repair place where the car is up on a lift. The Circus members are busy worrying over whether or not the boss is going to take the repair bill out of their cut. The Clown says they should have some fun on the Boss’ dime after they pull off the last job and one of the Gambonno brothers suggests seeing a Nam June Paik retrospective at the Met. So engrossed in their conversations they fail to notice Cyclops skulk over to a nearby bike rack and free a teal bike from its lock with a finely tuned optic beam.
The Art of War says you have to seize advantages when you can. Cyclops feels guilty about taking the bike, but feels he must do what he can to follow these yahoos. However, he does tape up an apology note with a phone number.
The car is soon fixed and the Circus of Crime are on their way. Cyclops isn’t fast enough to keep up, but luckily their horrendous driving continues and he can easily follow their trail of destruction. It leads him to a warehouse. The door is busted through and smoke is emanating from inside.
Cyclops dismounts and heads into the warehouse. He finds a bunch of unconscious Hydra agents scattered all over lying in awkward positions. His lungs fill with smoke and he starts coughing. He asks if anyone is conscious and one of the agents struggles to get up. Cyke rushes over and helps him to his feet.
Scott asks if he’s all right and the Hydra agent says he is. He then starts talking about how they stole stuff not even worth taking. Cyclops wants to know what they took and is told it was a bunch of crummy communications technology they were planning on throwing out. He looks down at his fancy watch and tells Cyclops the stuff was in bugged crates too.
As the Hydra peon slips back into unconsciousness Cyclops takes the watch from his wrist and puts it on. He hops back onto his bike and using his fancy new tracker finds the Circus’ next heist, a pet shop. This time, however, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are already on scene. Scott decides to go covert and grabs a nearby work smock and throws on a painter’s cap.
Scott begins gathering the loose animals while listening to the shop owner being interrogated by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. It turns out the shop owner was being paid monthly by A.I.M. to allow them to store files at his place. The pet store operator is unapologetic for his actions claiming he has a kid who wants a Ph.D. in Latverian Sociolinguistics and a ton of bills from birdseed wholesalers.
The female agent asks if he was ever curious what was in those files. The man admits he took a look one time and saw plans for some Doomsday Space Lasers or something, but they didn’t look like anything special to him. The male agent asks the shopkeeper if they can question his assistant (referring to Cyclops), but not noticing Cyclops tells them she has the day off.
Cyclops must have ditched the store right at this point
Empire State Museum of Modern Art
Staring at a painting of a hellish landscape the Clown remarks his kid could do better. Princess Python says she thought his son was 36 and a claims adjuster.
After exiting from a showing of Kraven the movie the Gambonno brothers argue over whether it was better than Cats. The Human Cannonball and the Clown are also having an argument, though unrelated. They’re arguing over what was Foreigner’s last good album. Cannonball claims that it was Double Vision.
Next, Cyclops tracks them to a cafeteria where the colorfully garbed group elicits a lot of stares. Now wearing an orange hoodie to cover his uniform Cyke sits at the next table over. He has his cell phone out after receiving a worried text. Scott texts back that he’ll be back soon.
Meanwhile, the Circus of Crime continues cavorting. The Human Cannonball insists Batroc try his Goober Dog, but the mixture of peanut butter and mayo has him saying no. The Clown then pulls ‘Roc aside and asks if he believes in any of the “glorious new world” stuff the boss likes yapping about. Batroc thinks his answer over before diplomatically answering that he has his doubts.
Princess Python, who’s feeding her snake a chicken leg, appears to agree with Mr. the Leaper. She says if he hired them he’s not exactly an A-list villain. The Gambonno brothers also concur saying the boss’ plan went out with giant robots and death rays.
Cyclops listens and takes it all in. He figures their boss is rich, old-fashioned and for some reason wants a lot of outdated tech. It doesn’t sound like anyone he’s ever heard of and he questions whether or not to bring in the rest of the team, but he’s having fun and has already gotten this far. He figures he’ll follow them to their headquarters and then report in to the X-Men.
When the baddies leave a tender knee keeps Cyclops from riding the bike again. Instead, he hails a cab and takes the bike with him. The tracking watch leads him to a housing community called Black Forest Hills. With the crates no longer moving on his watch Cyclops stop the cab and bikes it the rest of the way.
Cyke pulls the bike up to a brown picket fence in front of a yellow house. The watch tells him this is the place, and he follows a beaten path to a shed in the back. Judging the size of the thing he realizes there’s no way they would have fit everything inside. He goes in anyway and finds an entrance to an underground bomb shelter. As Cyclops lifts open the door and starts down the steps he wonders how deep it goes.
And there starts a long trek through passageway after passageway. It appears the underground lair takes up the whole neighborhood and Scott wonders who would build such a thing. Then he finds the stolen shipment of Hydra crates and at a very inopportune time his tracking watch starts beeping.
In the adjacent room the Circus of Crime members are unloading the stolen property until they hear the beeping. They react quickly and charge the lone X-Man.
The Art of War says gathering your strength is like drawing a crossbow, so that the right action at the right moment will be like pulling the trigger. And at just the right moment Cyclops unleashes an optic fury and takes out the entire crime group in one fell swoop. Pretty proud of himself, Cyclops begins to boast, but the bossman shows up to ruin the moment.
It’s Baron Zemo and he asks Cyclops what he expects to happen. They introduce each other and Zemo tells him just because he beat the Frenchman and his trained apes not to be so cocky. Zemo draws his pistol from his belt telling Cyclops he, too, has been proud, clinging to the old ways, old technologies, despising the world as it is.
Pointing his gun at the crates of stolen merchandise Zemo says he will use them and make them better. He claims to turn the technology against its masters so that all will march under his banner… or die. “…together we shall make real the dream of the world that could be.”
Then Zemo points his pistol at Scott and in German says, “So it must be.” Kzak! goes his gun and a diving Cyclops gets nailed in the side. It stings, but doesn’t put him out of the fight.
Cyclops heads behind a crate for some cover. When he reappears he uses his geometrical skills, firing a finely aimed optic blast at an overhanging light just above Zemo’s head. The blast ricochets down at an angle and hits Zemo square in the back.
The would-be world beater proves just as resilient, standing his ground and firing his gun again at Cyclops. He laughs, complimenting “the American mutant” and offers that the so-called homo superior may indeed be so.
Scott takes a leap toward another set of boxes, but while he’s out in the open he tries nailing Zemo with another optic blast. Zemo leaps over the wide, red beam and comes down on a box next to Scott. Cyclops says he’s only as good as he is because he worked at it, not because he’s a mutant. Zemo backs off on his statement and says they’re too evenly matched. However, he believes age and cunning will always win when youth and enthusiasm tire.
Cyclops readies to fire again, but notes the look of worry in Zemo’s cowled face. He guesses Zemo doesn’t like him blasting near all his new toys. “Are you crazy,” he spouts in German telling Cyclops some of the components are highly unstable and that he could bring the entire structure down on both their heads. Cyke says the loss of Zemo would be worth the risk.
The Art of War says he will win who prepared himself and waits to take the enemy unprepared. Zemo is unprepared, Scott’s words throwing his confidence. That’s all Scott Summers needs. With one powerful Zakt! to the head Zemo is knocked out cold.
A little bit later Cyclops receives a psychic summons from Professor Xavier. He asks the Prof if everything’s all right. Xavier thinks it should be him asking that question. There have been news reports of a super-villain crime wave and he’s had S.H.I.E.L.D. agents inquiring whether one of his students has gone rogue. Not only that, but a Mr. Herman has been calling the mansion asking what’s been done with his bike.
“What on Earth have you been up to today?” the Professor asks forcefully. Scott, leaning back on a crate, his legs propped up on the hog-tied Zemo, looks over his copy of the Daily Bugle and tells Xavier, “Oh, you know me sir. Same ol’ same ol’.”