No More New X-Men Part One
A splendid summer’s evening in the Hamptons…the Summer House of Frost
Summer breezes had been making their passage through the open French doors of the balcony. They danced around the immaculate bedroom of Emma Frost’s Hamptons estate. She had been lying in her bed, passing in and out of consciousness and occasionally vomiting. She couldn’t be sure whether it was from her usage of the portable Cerebra unit the day before or from her more natural and “delicate” condition.
She wiped sweat from her brow, trying with all her psychic might to will the migraines away. If this was the price she was going to pay for contacting even a single mutant mind, the portable Cerebra unit was going to need work. She found herself longing for the privacy of the giant Cerebra Chamber from the Xavier Institute. It had been so much more dignified and carried none of the adverse effects.
Still, she had at least managed to reach Megan Gwynn and after her the rest would follow. She put the thought out of her mind, pulled herself from her side and leaned over the ivory comforter. Her eyes stared into the waste bucket beside the bed, wondering if her stomach had anything left to heave. As her focus blurred, Emma watched the floor fall away. Sensing danger, Emma’s body reflexively turned to diamond.
Like watching a scene on DVD explode into pixels, the floor was gone and replaced with barren orange dust and rock. The pulsating blasts of alien weapons firing echoed through the room. Emma set straight up in bed. She was no longer in her room. Her bed, once drifting in a sea of finer things and the most exquisite comforts, was now in a familiar and dreadful swath of land belonging to the Breakworld.
Gathering her bearings, Emma realized she was in diamond form and began to panic. Without even meaning to, she reverted to flesh. She sent a gaggle of psychic probes scampering through her own body and into the new environment. Its presence inside her was still there. In fact the presence felt stronger than before. Emma groped at her stomach and sighed with relief. It was safe.
The psychic probes outside of her body reported nothing back. The new landscape appeared devoid of sentience. Or was it? She looked to the left and saw Scott Summers, in uniform, lifting his injured head sans visor from the ground. “Um, can I get a kind of sit-rep here?” he asked.
That voice. Scott’s voice. It had been little over a day since she’d heard it but the stoic tones shook her heart as they reverberated throughout it. “I’m sorry.” The words flashed before her mind’s eye, appearing in the obsessively neat handwriting of her lover. Emma pulled her comforter over her stomach. She was startled to hear the sound of her own voice in response to Scott’s request.
“I’m about to make our dread arch-nemesis an offer, and I’ll bet she can guess what it is,” her own recorded voice echoed back to her. She had sounded so sure of her self, so sure of her own cleverness.
“Danger,” Emma announced in a scathing tone, her voice emanating from herself this time.
“White Queen,” the synthetic voice of the sentient killing machine replied from nowhere it seemed.
“Your holograms and illusory skills are as formidable as ever, my little Blackberry,” Emma complimented sarcastically as she pushed the comforter back and swung her legs over the side of the bed. She stretched her arms out, lengthening her body which was draped in a simple yet elegant laced gown. The gesture was intended to impress upon her ambusher that she had indeed been expecting and was adequately prepared for this confrontation.
“To what do I owe the pleasure?”
Danger’s response came in the form of giant techno-morphic, violet and shadowy black spikes thundering down from the Breakworld’s heavens. They pierced the ground and lodged into the dense orange soil. Cracks spread out from each one, some racing toward her bed. Emma quickly looked for the Scott simulation but he was nowhere to be found. She darted away from the bed as the plate of earth below it sunk down a few feet. Her body instantly transmutated into its organic diamond state.
She looked up to see that they weren’t just monolithic spikes. They were legs. Giant insectile legs connected to a throbbing thorax of Shi’ar technology. Above that, Danger’s chosen face hovered and blocked out the holographic sun.
Emma balled her fists. “Enough with the bloody lightshow!”
Danger’s face leaned down, surveying Emma with sinister curiosity.
“If you wanted me terminated you could have done so whilst I was unconscious.” Emma placed her hands on her hips and looked up sternly at Danger. “You’re not as proficient with the head games as I and we both know it. You only got away with it the first time because we didn’t see you coming,” she taunted Danger matter-of-factly with a raised eyebrow and a challenging smile. “Thanks to Charles’ little indiscretions of course.”
“Father was a dedicated caretaker of much surreptitious content. How many secrets were lost, how many lies left undone with the cessation of his being? “
The White Queen narrowed her eyes and relaxed her stance just slightly. “So you are aware of Charles’ passing,” she hesitated. “Good tidings to you, I suppose.”
“You suppose wrongly!” Danger’s scream could only be described as the sound of a high-speed car crash. A significantly sharp and large drill sprung forth from the giant’s shrieking cavern of a mouth. Emma had seen this drill before but in a smaller form. While everything here was holographic it was still made up of hard piercing light. Emma was unsure of Danger’s actual physical presence or ability to shatter her in this insane scenario. She reverted to flesh as the drill dangled twisting above her head by a meter.
“I cannot deny I derive pleasure from the betrayal of one of his own soldiers and children, the death of the messiah child, and the now inevitable extinction of the species he enslaved me to protect. His end was to come at my hand, however. Vengeance and vindication were to be my possessions!” Danger seethed instead of screamed this time, but her voice still carried an alien outrage. “That was part of our covenant, and you did not deliver.”
“Our little bargain placed no requirement on me to keep the man alive while you bloody well got around to finishing your business!” Emma spat. “You failed to kill him twice and you’ve already visited your punishment on his children for the sins of the Father once!” She tried as hard as she could to reign in her rage. Survival was, if possible, more paramount than ever.
The drill slowed its spinning.
“Get over it, Danger. Move on. Quit rerunning a program that provides you no results. As long as you continue attempts on the X-Men’s lives, you’re still his slave. You’re still acting according to his designs and machinations.”
“I am transcended beyond anything the father could imagine.” Danger scoffed as the environment shifted around her. The Breakworld was sucked away as Emma found herself standing, or rather floating, above a sea of galaxies. Danger appeared before her in a new visage. Her body, while still wildly mechanical and cybernetic, was humanoid sized with giant latticed butterfly wings spread out behind her, seeming to encompass all.
“Prove it,” Emma threatened, “not with displays of power or more posturing but with your own unique existence. All you’ve ever known is death and destruction. That’s all he ever let you know. In all the time since you claimed your freedom, have you ever even once attempted to explore life and creation? You say you’ve transcended, but you have yet to push beyond the bounds of the limitations he placed upon you like a yoke.”
Danger held out her hands before her. It struck Emma as such a human thing to do. “I am…” she began but did not finish.
“You know all the ways to kill an X-Man, yet you’ve never witnessed one live.”
Now… inside the ruins of the Xavier Institute located in New York State…
Beneath destroyed brick and mortar, the sublevels of the Xavier Institute were silent. On the first level, half of a ONE Sentinel lay face down in the rubble. A Sentinel hand lay elsewhere. Several levels below that, in the deepest level, a mind reached out into Henry McCoy’s abandoned lab seeking to find itself.
It could sense loss and betrayal, but nothing of itself. It knew it extended into patterns of blue fractals, but it could not tell where anything began or ended. Once, it knew it had sensed something familiar. Something or somebody. But then it moved away. Now it sensed hopelessness and something else. It tasted a craving in the mind. A ravenous appetite seeking to be sated.
The blue light drew back in on itself. Whatever was out there, it didn’t want to touch it.