No More New X-Men Part 2
Headmistress Emma Frost and her returned students welcomed Santo Vaccarro a.k.a. Rockslide to their new school, The Tomorrow Institute. Oddly enough, the now sentient former Danger Room had agreed to use her techno-morphic abilities to create a living school for the last generation of mutants. Emma Frost and faculty member as well as former X-Man, Forge, returned to the ruins of the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters in order to salvage what was left of the mutant tracking device, Cerebra. Instead, they found Emplate, the brother of Frost’s former students and mutant vampire waiting for them. Emplate tried to blackmail Emma into using Cerebra to locate a new permanent mutant food source for him. After she refused, Emplate discovered the dormant energy body of Quentin Quire. He forced the boy into a quick transition, fed on him, and gained his Omega Level mental powers…
Hovering about a half mile above the Xavier Institute in Westchester, New York is the techno-morphic Danger. In her current form, she exists as the Tomorrow Institute, a flying techno-organic pyramid.
The Shifting Corridor – Access to Levels 1, 2, and 3.
Jubilation Lee marched across the catwalk, blowing a red bubble and carrying a machine gun over her shoulder. Her hair was cut short and from each ear dangled an earring that read “Jubilee”. Pink shades rested over her small nose. A stylish, yellow Kevlar vest was strapped tightly around her torso. She wore cut-off jean shorts and sported a utility belt full of pouches. Her combat boots plopped along the living catwalk and the bullets strapped over her shoulder clanged as she marched.
Five students followed her through the Corridor. Holographic screens shifted this way and that. Cocoon-shaped rooms traveled along invisible lines and would occasionally stop near the winding catwalk, letting a passenger in or out.
Jubilee suddenly stopped mid-march and turned to address her troops.
The mutant teenagers stood at mock sharp attention. “Isn’t she only a few years older than us?” Cessily Kincaid looked up at the one who had whispered to her in such a hushed tone. It was Santo Vaccarro, or Rockslide, a boy giant made up of rock. She ran a silver finger through her fire-engine red hair.
“Yeah, but she tagged along with the X-Men and Wolverine for like, ever,” Cessily, theliquid metal mutant Mercury, whispered back.
The boy standing in front of them, sometimes known as David and other times as Prodigy, turned his head slightly and glared at them. They could see the annoyance through his translucent orange tech-glasses.
“Hey!” Jubilee scolded as she spit her gum out over the catwalk. Each of the young mutants waited to see if they could hear it land. Space inside the Shifting Corridor seemed to go on forever and one could never be certain about how far away the walls, ceiling, or floor were. “I might be a flatscan human now but I’m not deaf,” she threatened.
“Sorry, Miss Lee,” Santo apologized as he straightened his back.
“Let’s get on with this, already.” Surge urged as she punched her fist into her open palm. Little sparks of electricity passed between palm and clenched fingers as Noriko Ashida hurried her classmates. “Miss Frost and Mister Forge are at the mercy of some kind of ghostly mutant vampire. We don’t have time for you two to check Miss Lee’s credentials.” She stared Rockslide down before shaking her blue hair out of her face.
“I’ve actually defeated Emplate, for starters,” Jubilee scoffed. “Now if you don’t mind? Santo and Cess, neither of you have anything like marrow left for Emplate to feed on. Don’t try to fight him. You probably won’t get a hit in. Instead, watch our backs. You’re practically invulnerable to him so you stay on those who aren’t.”
Megan Gwyn, the fairy-like mutant called Pixie, raised her hand. Both of her tiny antennae wiggled.
“Hold on,” Jubilee said before turning her attention to another. “David, you and I are both ex-mutants. We don’t have any fancy powers or an x-gene for him to eat. He can hurt us, but he won’t feed off us.”
David ran his hands over his orange, gold, and white bullet-proof temperature resistant uniform as if he were asking it to keep him safe. He checked the repulsion pistol at his side.
Pixie continued to raise her hand in the air.
“Surge,” Jubilee looked toward the Japanese girl.
“What? Am I the bait?” She asked angrily.
“You wish. You’re too fast for him to catch and I’m sketch about how Emplate reacts to electricity. You’re the wildcard.” Jubilee assured her.
Pixie pivoted on her ankles and raised her other arm to hold up her hand. Her antennae were practically vibrating.
Megan let her arms down with a sigh. Her antennae drooped.
“You have magic that he might not be able to counter. We’ll see if your LSD tinker bell dust works on him.”
Megan appeared worried by Jubilee’s words.
“Emplate is going to be spending the majority of his time phased between two dimensions which means most of the time you can’t touch him. He’ll only sync up to get in an attack and then he’ll be non-corporeal again in a second. He’s like a ghost, A vampire ghost. It’s pretty gross.” Jubilee put her hand on Pixie’s winged shoulder. “You gotta blade that cuts through ghosts and spirits though, don’t you?”
Pixie smiled before looking frightened again. Up above the catwalk, a cocoon-room shifted down to the spot beside them.
“Level One- The Room of Deployment” the recorded voice of Danger informed the group as the sliding doors of the room swished open. Jubilee stepped through first and the students followed.
“Are you sure about this, Miss Lee?” Rockslide attempted to mask his nervousness. He hadn’t fought in months.
“Pixie, take us outside the Cerebra Chamber in one minute. This is a search, rescue, and contain not a superhero battle. Nobody get hurt.” Jubilee ordered before looking at a clearly wigged Santo.
Jubilee slapped a yellow gloved hand on his rocky shoulder. “No worries. You guys can’t possibly do worse than the New Warriors.”
Deep in the bowels of earth beneath the former Xavier Institute. Sub-Level 3 just outside the abandoned lab of Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy, former X-Man and current Avenger…
“You buried Frost?” Marius St. Croix bellowed telepathically at his tiny, disproportionate minion.
“Well yes, Boss,” D.O.A. admitted while ducking. “But she might have lived.”
“She might be alive? You buried and abandoned a possibly wounded and very angry Emma Frost, giving her time to call the proverbial Calvary and birth schemes against us?” Emplate loomed over D.O.A.
“I guess so. But, you know, you kinda took off in the middle there, sir.” D.O.A. deflected.
D.O.A. received the response he had expected from such a remark: the nearly diamond-hard back of Emplate’s hand across his face. The force almost broke his neck.
“I need her to operate Cerebra!” Marius boomed inside D.O.A.’s small skull.
“But you have the Maker’s powers, and the boy’s telepathy!” D.O.A. pointed to the naked boy with pink hair shivering against the wall. “You can rebuild and use Cerebra yourself, right?”
“NO!” Emplate yelled aloud as he smacked D.O.A. across the head again. D.O.A.’s taxi-cab hat flew off onto the debris covered tunnel floor. “Cursed between realities as I am, if I attempted to use Cerebra, even with the boy’s unlimited telepathic potential, it could tear my mind across dimensions,” Emplate looked down on the naked boy.
The naked boy stared at the palms of his hands in shock. A tiny mouth opened and closed in each one. They flashed fledgling teeth. “N-no,” the boy muttered to himself.
“Otherwise I would have simply sampled Frost’s telepathy and done everything myself.” he growled into D.O.A.’s fragile mind as he gestured toward the boy. “This one’s burned out. I can no longer digest his broken x-gene. His mind is damaged and too fragile. He’s only good for one thing now. It’s Emma, or one of her likely telepathic students in that contraption above us. That way lays more danger, so preferably Emma.”
D.O.A. shrugged his shoulders and lifted up his hands in the universal gesture of “I don’t know.”
“Well….” Emplate seethed.
“So I should go find her?” D.O.A. asked his master. He only received a glowing yellow stare. “Aaaand make sure I bring her back alive?” he added.
Marius hissed through his respirator and ran a talon-like finger through his dreaded hair.
“Right on it, Boss!” D.O.A. saluted his master and quickly darted around the debris in the tunnel until he was out of sight.
“Alone at last, my progeny,” Emplate floated across the room, the rags of his cloak trailing behind him. He leaned over the boy in his torn Victorian-era suit. The coils connecting to his respirators dangled just over the child’s head. “Tell me, child, what is your name?”
“Que-Quentin,” the boy stumbled over his own name. “I’m Quentin Quire,” he said, sounding surer. “No, wait. That’s not my name anymore, is it?” the boy looked up to Marius with confused fright painted across his face. “You gave me a new one?”
“What is it?” the mutant vampire asked.
“Q-Plate?” the boy responded with glowing white eyes. The mouths in his palms chomped.
“Yes,” Marius answered with sinister glee. “Now, seek out what X-Men come to the White Queen’s aide. Feed and be satisfied.” Emplate shuffled him away with his talons as the naked boy got to his feet and began to walk down the tunnel.
Emplate watched him go, and wondered if he might make a better servant than D.O.A. He then turned his attention to the debris in McCoy’s lab. There were left over machines, gadgets, and chemicals. He ran a slender albino talon over a lab table has his mind began to tinker with many brilliant thoughts a second.