|DV8/Generation X: Hellfire and Deviation
Continuity Note: This story is set between DV8 #5-6 and Generation X #41-42.
Previously in DV8: The Deviants were on a mission in Japan when disaster struck. Copycat was captured! Unfeeling toward the girl's plight Threshold insisted that they finish the mission and leave Copycat behind. Outraged by his callousness DV8, except for Bliss, attacked Threshold severely injuring him. They then rescued Copycat and abandoned the mission.
Previously in Generation X: Things have been rough for the team lately. They were almost slaughtered by the Prime Sentinels; they were dragged into a wild adventure in another dimension and had to deal with the shocking secrets of M and Penance. Now that things have clamed down everyone is trying to relax and get back to learning.
There is no skyline in the world as famous as Manhattan's. The Empire State Building, Four Freedoms Plaza, the World Trade Center and the Halo Building are but a few of the components in this most magnificent of sites.
Sitting among these titans is an upscale apartment building located on the Upper West Side. Here some of those who have "made it" in New York call home. Atop this tower lies the luxurious penthouse floor which all belongs to one woman. Her name is Ivana Baiul.
Ivana didn't even look up from her computer screen as her office door opened and a man entered. His real name was Robert Thompson but few people called him that. Even fewer of the people who did were still among the living. To everyone it was just Sideways Bob. "You rang, boss lady?" asked Bob.
"Today is a most fortunate day, Bob. After years of trying, the secrets of Miles Craven are finally mine!" grinned Ivana.
"I thought you said Craven hid all of his secret files somewhere in that weird-ass country, Gomorra."
"He did Bob, but not all of them. The vast majority of Mile's secrets are there and, for the moment, out of our reach. But Craven was never a man to keep all his eggs in one basket. At long last I've finally managed to get my hands on some of his files."
"What's in 'em?"
"For the most part nothing remarkable. Who is carrying on affairs with young interns. Who had who assassinated. Useful but nothing that could help me achieve my goal of gaining control of International Operations. However, I did make one very unique discovery about Miles himself. Something he managed to hide even from me during all the years we worked together."
"Yeah, what's that?"
"Miles was a member of the Hellfire Club."
Sideways Bob let out an impressed whistle. "The Hellfire Club? Just about anyone who's any kind of mover and shaker belongs to that little social circle. I even heard Nixon was a member."
"That's just what they want you to believe," informed Ivana.
"Huh? Whadda you mean?"
"On the surface the Hellfire Club appears to be nothing more than a social club for the world's elite. But what most people don't know, what Craven discovered, was that there was an inner circle to the club. An inner circle made up of mutants."
"Muties, in the HC? I bet some of those rich douche bags would crap their silk undies if they knew some of their country club bubs were mutants."
"That was what Craven thought. Men like Sabastion Shaw cannot afford to be publicly outed as mutants."
"So why didn't Craven send in somebody to bust their little party up? If he'd done that he'd have been golden boy of the world."
"Because Bob, Miles had another plan. All the members of the Inner Circle are captains of industry. They were using their power and influence to push their own agenda. An agenda that would make them rulers of the world. Quite simply, Miles wanted in."
"With all those companies that made up his Specter Consortium Craven would have fit right in."
"He would have if he were a mutant. But since he wasn't Miles planned to blackmail his way into the Inner Circle."
"So why didn't he ever use the info?"
"Reason one was that Miles was murdered before he had the chance. Reason two was that, while he had gathered enough evidence to convince himself of the truth about the Hellfire Club, he lacked enough proof to convince the president or an investigation committee."
"Yeah, he would have needed something irrefutable. After all, the HC has a lot of friends in Washington."
"Exactly Bob, and that's why this information is so vital. Just before he died Craven learned of a woman who possessed files that would give him all the information he would have needed to force his way into the Inner Circle."
"So who has the files?"
"A former member called Emma Frost. CEO of Frost Enterprises. Currently working as headmistress of a private school in Snow Valley, Massachusetts."
"Let me guess, you want me to round up the Deviants so they can go and get those files for you."
"Sharp as ever, Bob. I hesitate to send them out without Threshold but he is still recovering and this cannot wait."
"I'll go activate their tracers. If those little suck-humps aren't back here in haft an hour I'll make 'em wish their grandparents had never been born," chuckled Bob as he exited.
Ivana grinned. "Once I have those files I'll be able to force my way into the Inner Circle! From there I can begin my plan to seize control of I/O!" she thought to herself.
Yes, it was a most fortunate day.
Sean Cassidy considered himself a patient man. But even he had his limits. Today had been the day Sean had promised to take the young mutants of Generation X into Boston for the day. In his time as an X-Man Sean had learned to master his mutant power and how to stand against all sorts of super-powered menaces. However, that training was of little use when it came to dealing with a horde of unruly teenagers.
The whole day had been spent going from one museum or art gallery to the next. Much to the highly vocal protests of Jubilee and Skin. It was all part of Emma Frost's plan to "broaden the children's cultural horizons" as she put it. "Ruddy Emma. If she wanted broaden these kids horizons so bad she could have come with us instead of running off to some business meeting in New York," Sean grumbled to himself.
As afternoon became evening even some of the more mature students, like Husk and Synch, begun to complain a bit. Finally, Sean had relented and asked the kids were they wanted to eat dinner. Somehow, they had convinced him to take them to the local Planet Hollywood. Sean did not enjoy himself. Sitting in a horribly crowed restaurant while being forced to listen to blaring rock music and paying outrages prices for bad food was not Sean's idea of a good time. Not by a longshot. The kids, of course, had enjoyed themselves immensely. And of course they all just HAD to have a T-shirt as a souvenir.
As if that hadn't been enough Sean was now enduring the long drive from Boston back to Snow Valley in a cramped van with a host of over excited teenagers. A group of over excited teenagers who were currently engaged in a very, very vocal debate. No, this was not fun at all. "Ye'll pay for leaving me to deal with this, Emma Frost. Ye'll pay," he silently promised.
"Angelo, you are just SO beyond wrong!" proclaimed Jubilee.
"Give me some proof, Chica," snorted Skin.
"Proof?! Come on! It's a scientifically proven fact that all movie sequels suck!"
"Really? And when exactly did modern science make this revelation?" asked M coolly.
[Come now, gel. Surely you read Reed Richard's report on it in last week's Entertainment Weekly?] interjected Chamber.
"Stuff it, Jono!" snapped Jubilee. "You want proof? Fine. Was Ghostbusters 2 anywhere as good as Ghostbusters? Was Wayne's World 2 as funny as the first? Were any of the Friday the 13th sequels as good as the first?"
"I didn't think any of those movies were any good," commented Husk.
"Friday the 13 was just a rip-off of Halloween. Now that was a good scary movie!" said Synch.
"Ev's right," began Skin "But you have to admit, the 13th's had their moments."
[True, there was something really funny about watching Jason off Kevin Bacon, Cory Feldman and Crispen Glover.]
"Yeah, those kills were cool but my favorite is watching Johnny Depp get iced in the first Nightmare on Elm Street," countered Skin.
"You spend way to much time watching slasher flicks, Ang," sighed Jubilee. "Anyway, now do you see that I was right?"
"What about Terminator 2? That was even better than the first movie and that's saying something," said Synch.
[And I always thought The Empire Strikes Back was better than Star Wars. Same for Star Trek 2.]
"And don't forget the Evil Dead Trilogy!" blurted Skin. "Those just kept getting better and better! The first one was just an above average gore flick with some laughs. But Evil Dead 2 took all that and cranked it up to eleven! That was totally the best cult horror flick of the whole 80's! And the third one, Army of Darkness, was just beyond awesome! I mean, you got Bruce Campbell replacing one of his arms with a chainsaw and fighting zombies in medieval England. That's creativity you just don't find in most zombie flicks. It even got three stars in TV Guide. A movie like tha--"
"Put a sock in it, Ang! We're all sick of hearing about your weird horror movie fetish!" blared Jubilee.
"Let's talk about something else," suggested Husk.
"Yeah, maybe we should go back to debating what that "Like A Virgin" song was really about," said Synch.
"No ye most certainly will NOT!!!" shouted Banshee from the driver's seat.
Sean's unexpected outburst actually managed to silence the young mutants. At least for the moment. "Saints preserve us, the thoughts that go though these children's minds…" Banshee muttered to himself.
"All right children, settle down and pay attention," ordered Ivana. With some obligatory grumbling the Deviants made themselves comfortable in their boss's plush office and prepared from their briefing. Ivana took a moment to study her charge's faces. Bliss appeared to be bored, Copycat looked excited, Powerhaus was staring off into space, Evo seemed restless and Frostbite and Sublime were paying rapt attention.
"This mission is simple," began Ivana, "So simple that even you shouldn't be able to screw it up. I'm sending you to Snow Valley, Massachusetts. Your target is the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters."
"Say what?! You're sendin' us to break into some rich kid school, Ivana?" snorted Evo.
"That's correct, Evo," began Ivana. "Now shut up or I'll have Bob introduce you to his collection of rusty surgical equipment. You see children, an instructor at the school, one Emma Frost, has information I need. Once you reach the school all you have to do is gain entry, locate Frost's office, grab all her files and leave."
"Emma Frost? I've heard of her. Some corporate type. She's supposed to be one hard-nosed bitch. What's she doing running some private school?" asked Sublime.
"That's not our concern, Rachel," countered Ivana.
"Question," said Frostbite. "If this is a school aren't there goin' to be students?"
"You have your powers, children. Feel free to use them on anyone who objects to your presence."
"Uh, yo, I got a question to," said Powerhaus. "Since Threshold is all banged up who's going to be field leader?"
"Finally, a sensible question," grumbled Ivana. "Since Matthew is currently…recovering from your last mission I've decided that Sublime will be interim leader."
"Me?!" gasped Sublime.
"Yes, you. Both you and Frostbite have demonstrated strong leadership potential. Consider this a test, dear."
"What about me?" rumbled Frostbite.
"You'll get your turn soon enough, Leon," answered Ivana. "This concludes the briefing. Now head up to the heliport. Bob should be finished refueling the helicopter by now.
"And one last thing, children. Do not fail."
DV8's private helicopter, en route from New York to Snow Valley...
"I don't like this," muttered Frostbite as he studied the helicopter's altitude gage. "This mission is goin' to blow up in our faces. I just know it."
"Well, aren't you just Mr. Sunshine?" teased Sublime from the copilot's seat.
"I'm serious, Rachel. Ivana has never been straight with us. If she's sendin' us out to do somethin' that any run-of-the-mill thief could do there has to be a hidden reason."
"You do have a point," replied Sublime after a moment. "We'd better be extra careful on this one."
"Say, what are the others up to?"
Sublime cast a quick glance into the passenger area. Copycat seemed to be trying to nap, Bliss was polishing her nails and Evo and Powerhaus were arguing.
"I'm tellin' you, Hector, you're wrong!" proclaimed Evo. "2001: A Space Odyssey was NOT made for people to trip on acid to!"
"You don't know jack, dogboy. Why do think it had all psychedelic stuff in it? And what about the ending? Only way that makes any sense is if you're trippin'!" retorted Powerhaus.
"They're fine," sighed Sublime as she turned her attention back to the controls.
Sean Cassidy's already thin patience was being wore thinner by the second. The kids had insisted that he stop at a roadside gas station so they could all make a bathroom run and pick up some snacks. They'd also promised to be back in five minutes. Tops. It had now been twenty minutes and Sean had reached the end of his proverbial rope. "I'd better go see what trouble the X-Men: The Pepsi Generation have gotten themselves into," he grumbled as he climbed out of the van.
Meanwhile inside, Skin was in the middle of a vocal debate with the clerk. "No, no, if you listen closely you can hear that the
Smurfs are singing "na, na, na". That's the refrain to "Centerfold" by J.Geils Band. The Smurfs were singing a J.Geils song!"
"You're nuts!" retorted the clerk. "The Smurf's song went "la, la, la". No way were the Smurfs singing a song by a bunch of arena-rock holdovers!"
Nearby Synch stood munching on a bag of Fritos and watching the exchange with amusement. "Is this the stupidest thing you have ever seen or what?" he asked Chamber who was flipping though an issue of Guitar Magazine a few feet away.
"You've actually seen something dumber then a fight about the Smurf's taste in music? Do tell."
[This? This is nothing compared to some of the stupid stuff I've seen. Monty Python routines, Duran Duran videos, Anthony Michael Hall movies--]
Over by the ladies room Husk and Jubilee were also conversing as they waited for M to exit the bathroom. "You gotta be kidding me, Guthrie. You're sixteen and you have no idea what the carrot trick is?" said an astonished Jubilee.
"Ah've lead a sheltered life," replied Husk sarcastically. "Enlighten me."
It was then that M came out of the bathroom. "Did I hear you mention carrots, Jubilation? I must confess I never knew you had an interest in nutritious foods. All you ever seem to consume are…Ho-Hos and Jolt I believe are the names."
"No Monet, the carrot trick."
"I'm sorry, I must confess ignorance of what "the carrot trick" is. Does it involve rabbits?"
"Only if you're a Grade-A pervert," sighed Jubilee. "Okay, someone's going to have to teach you both this sooner or later so it may as well be me. The first thing--"
"Jubilee!!" came an angry shout. The girls looked to find a very perturbed Banshee glaring at them.
"Uh, Mr. Cassidy, sorry we took so long but--" began Husk.
"Not now, Paige," grunted Sean. "All of ye in t>
Transfer interrupted!get home."
Feeling sheepish the kids began to march single-file toward the door.
"Jubilation, are you still going to explain "the carrot trick" to us?" asked M as she passed the counter.
Immediately, Chamber, Skin, Synch, Banshee and even the clerk cast quizzical looks at Jubilee.
"Uh, er, maybe later, M. When we're, ah, someplace…that's not here," stammered Jubilee as her face turned bright red.
"I'm going to have to have Emma talk to that girl," sighed Sean under his breath.
Meanwhile, in the forest near the Academy, the Deviants made their way toward the school. "I'm cold," complained Bliss.
"Maybe you could try wearing an outfit that doesn't let so much of you hang out," shot Frostbite.
"Hey listen, jerkoff, I'll ha--"
"Shut up, Bliss! We are trying to sneak into someplace. Save your bitching for later!" ordered Sublime.
"These woods are creepy," said Copycat nervously.
"Don't worry, Gem. If anything tries to eat you I'll stomp it," joked Powerhaus.
"Eat me?!!" squealed Copycat/Little Gemma.
"Didn't you two hear what I just said about being quite?!" snapped Sublime.
"Quite," whispered Evo.
"That's what I just sai-"
"No, I mean everyone be quite. I smell something," said Evo.
The Deviants all stood silent and motionless for a moment. "Well, what'd you smell, Evo?" snorted Bliss.
"Can't be sure. Whatever it is I don't think it's human."
"Let's just take this all one step at a time," said Sublime. "The break of the treeline is just ahead. Once we're past that we'll be on the academy's lawn. Everyone just keep their eyes open."
With Sublime taking point DV8 resumed their journey the school. They had just exited the treeline and were getting their first good look at the school when Evo called out, "Sublime! Watch it! It's after you!"
A red and black blur shot from the night straight at the Gen-active girl. Quickly Sublime used her power and became intangible. Her attacker passed right though her body and hit the ground.
"Everyone back! I'll handle this!" shouted Sublime. The attacker was back on it's feet it a spilt second and lunged at the Deviant. This time Sublime turned to her diamond density and blocked the slash of her attacker's claws. Much to her surprise the claws cut though the fabric of her costume and managed to gouge some cuts in her super-dense skin. "Aaagghhh!!" she screamed.
The attacker lunged again but this time Sublime was ready. She again phased her body so that her attacker passed thought her. But as soon as that happened she turned to diamond density, whirled and delivered an brutal chop to the back of her opponent's neck. Before her adversary could recover Sublime swung her three-piece staff and forcefully connected with her quarry's head. With what sounded like a cross between a hiss and a scream the attacker fell to the ground.
"Why didn't you idiots help me?!" glared Sublime as she turned to her teammates.
"But you said--" began Powerhaus.
"Shut up, Hector!"
"How's your arm?" asked Frostbite hoping to head off another fight.
"It's okay. I screamed more from surprise than pain. Nothing is supposed to be able to cut me when I'm at diamond density. Anyway, the cuts barely broke the skin. I'll be fine."
"Man, will you take a look at this thing!" exclaimed Evo.
It was then that DV8 got their first good look at Sublime's attacker. On the surface she looked like a teenage girl. But this girl had course-looking red skin and hands like razor-sharp claws. Even her spiky-looking hair seemed sharp. All of this was accented by the buckle-laden black bodysuit that the girl wore.
"What the hell is…she?" asked Powerhaus.
"Don't know," said Evo. "But she's what I smelt back in the woods. She must've been stalkin' us."
"Do you think she's like us? A gen-active?" asked Copycat.
"Could be. Or maybe she's some kinda freak guard dog," said Frostbite. "I knew there was more to this than what Ivana told us."
"Who cares what this thing is? Let's just kill it and get on with the mission," sneered Bliss.
"No way, Nicole. We're not killing this thi--I mean, her. If she is a gen-active then she didn't ask to be this way. None off us did," proclaimed Sublime.
"If Threshold were here h-"
"I don't give a rat's ass what Threshold would do! Unlike your brother I'm no psycho! I say we leave it, er, her. We'll be long gone before she comes to."
"Uh, has anyone noticed that ain't nobody come out here to see what all the noise was about?" wondered Powerhaus.
"I don't see any lights on. Guess nobody's home," remarked Evo.
"Whadda you know? The Deviants actually get a lucky break for once," said Frostbite.
"Yeah, luck is SO much better then that 'element of surprise' thing," grumbled Bliss as the Deviants marched up to the front door of the academy.
"Shut up! Let's hurry and get this over with," ordered Sublime.
"Fine by me, leader lady. But how are we going to get into that place without setting off any alarms? Did Ivana give you a key?" said Powerhaus.
"As a matter of fact she did. Frostbite, you got the thing?" asked Sublime.
"Right here," replied the Deviant as he drew what looked like a over-sized garage door opener from his pocket.
"What's that?" inquired Evo.
"In words you can understand?" said Sublime. Evo growled slightly. "Okay, words with less than four syllables it is. Simply put, it's a stereo-buster."
"A what?!" quizzed Bliss.
"It's sort of an urban legend. You see, back 80's you could find a blaring boom box on just about every street corner. Well, a rumor started that there was a gadget that could short them out with the press of a button. That would be the stereo-buster," clarified Sublime. "Or it would have been if they'd actually existed."
"So how is we got a piece of technology that don't exist?" asked Powerhaus.
"Because this is the 90's. Technology has came a long way. For example, this thing can do way more than fry a radio. It sends out a electro-magnetic pulse that temporarily scrambles anything electronic within a 300-yard radius. That's how we get in without setting off the alarms."
"And what if this doesn't work?" wondered Copycat.
"Then we start smashing down walls till we find what we want," replied Sublime.
"Enough talk," muttered Frostbite. "Let's get this show on the road." With that the gen-active activated the stereo-buster. There was a brief high-pitched whine and then silence.
"Is that it?" said Copycat.
"Looks like," responded Frostbite. "Let's see if it worked." He then stepped forward and kicked in the school's door.
"We're in. Let's do it!" ordered Sublime.
"I'm just saying that Seinfeld raised a good point," said Jubilee. "Does Iron Man wear underwear?"
"No way," countered Skin. "How could he go to the bathroom in that suit if he was sporting Fruit of the Looms?"
"Maybe he goes the same way astronauts do when they're in space suits," suggested Synch.
[And how exactly is that?]
"If you wish I can provide the answer. It's really quite ingenious. You see the--" started M.
"Uh, Monet, I think we can do without an explanation on that one," interrupted Husk.
In the driver's seat Sean shook his head and tried to concentrate on the road ahead despite his pounding headache. "Just five more minutes to home, just five more minutes to home, just five more minutes to home," he repeated to himself over and over.
Meanwhile at the academy, the Deviants were busy sacking Emma Frost's office.
"Okay, I've copied all the files," reported Sublime as she popped a disk out of the computer. "Anything worth taking in those filing cabinets?"
"Nah," replied Powerhaus as he flipped though a file. "It's all just school records and crap. This one here says that someone called Jubilation Lee is failing algebra."
"That means we're done. Let's get out of here," ordered Sublime. Quickly the Deviants headed for the main door. They were almost there when Frostbite called out, "Everyone freeze!"
"What is it?" asked Sublime.
"Look out the window!" Looking out DV8 could see and group of six teenagers and one older man walking across the lawn to the main door.
"Look Paige, it's real easy. Anyone can learn it," promised Jubilee.
"But Ah said--" began Husk.
"Here, I'll teach it to ya," said the young girl. "Fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight, never running from a real fight, she is the one called--" sang Jubilee.
"Dammit, Jubes, Ah said Ah didn't want to learn the Sailor Moon song!"
Behind the two mutant girls Skin and Synch were exchanging glances and snickering, Chamber was shaking his head in disbelief, M was trying to ignore it all and Sean Cassidy was trying to remember were he'd hidden the key to the liqueur cabinet. "A scotch or five would be just the thing to settle me nerves," he thought. "At least the day's over. Nothing else bad can happen."
"What do we do about them?" asked Copycat.
"We do what we'd do if Threshold were here," answered Bliss. "We go out there and fit those guys for body bags!"
"No, those guys don't look that much younger than us. I'm not going to kill a bunch of kids and their teacher," said Sublime.
"But Ivana said--"
"I don't give a rat's ass what Ivana wants or what your crazy brother would do, Bliss!" barked Sublime.
"The Twist gang was about our age and you didn't seem to care when we killed them!" countered Bliss.
"Twist was a bunch of psychos! We may have killed people but we're not like them!"
"As fascinatin' as this debate is we've got trouble," interrupted Frostbite. "Those guys will be at the door any second so we need a plan ASFP!"
"You want a plan? Fine. On three we charge out there and hit 'em hard and fast. Put all of them down but don't kill anyone. By the time they come to we'll be back in Manhattan," said Sublime.
Quickly the other Deviants nodded their accent. "All right, one…two…" counted Sublime.
"It's not that the dubs don't have advantages," droned Jubilee. "It's just that the subtitled ones stick more closely to the original Japanese. Of course, the dubs are also cheaper and that's a factor. So what do you think, Guthrie? When buying anime should you get the subtitled ones or the dubs?"
Paige was about to reply when the sound of someone screaming "Three!" filled the air. Before Generation X could react a beam of blue energy flew from the area of the main door and hit M. She didn't even scream before she hit the ground.
"Good one, Frostbite! You nailed her!" someone called.
It was then that DV8 charged out the doors straight at the young mutants. "We've got intruders! Hold them while I get M to safety!" cried Banshee as he scooped up the unconscious girl and took to the air.
"Let's see how you like someone blasting your teammates!" shouted Jubilee as she sent a barrage of fireworks right toward Copycat's face.
The energy balls exploded with blinding light right in front of the youngest Deviant causing her to scream, "I can't see! I can't see!"
"Dammit! These guys are SPB's!" cursed Frostbite as he sent a freeze-blast toward Chamber. "Whadda we do, fearless leader?"
"They hurt Copycat. So we take them down. Hard!" snarled Sublime as she closed in on Husk.
Synch reached out with his aura to try and mimic to powers of the one who had just fired on Chamber. To his amazement he couldn't get in synch with the intruder's power. "How is that possible?!" he muttered. "I can synch up with any mutant's powe--Oh man. They're not mutants. They're gen-actives!"
"Smart boy," complemented Frostbite as he punched Synch in the face. "Of course, if you were really smart you'd know better than to daydream in the middle of a fight!" As the young mutant fell to the ground stunned he heard the Deviant say, "If you're a real brain you'll stay down."
A few feet away Paige Guthrie had just finished "husking" her skin to reveal a gleaming, silver form underneath. "Ah don't know who you folks are but there's one thing you should know," she said as she swung at Sublime.
"What's that?" asked the gen-active as she dodged.
"We're Generation X and we don't like it when people break into our school and hurt our teammates!"
"I'm scared. Really I am," mocked Sublime.
Nearby Powerhaus was using the emotion in the air to change into his bulked up form. "You guys hurt Copycat and for that you get bloody!" he promised as he closed in on Skin and Jubilee.
"Oh yeah? Well, taste the power cosmic, screwhead!" grinned Jubilee as she sent a salvo of sparks at her opponent's eyes.
"Putas!" cursed the Deviant as he covered his eyes.
"Hey amigo, you shouldn't say stuff like that around Jubilee. You wouldn't want to damage her underage psyche now would you?" joked Skin as he jumped on Powerhaus's back and wrapped his arms around Hector's eyes. Cursing the Latino tried to yank the mutant from his back but this only made Skin hold on tighter.
"Come here, sweetie. I've got something that will make you feel real nice," cooed Bliss as she and Frostbite charged Chamber.
[No thanks, harlot. I've got enough problems with women as is,] the British mutant said as he fired a massive bio-blast at his adversaries. The blast exploded right in front of the two Deviants sending them into the air. Frostbite went flying off to the left and Bliss was propelled to a landing right in front of Chamber.
Bliss barely had a chance to regain herself enough to look up when she saw the Gen-Xer's fist flying toward her face. [Me mum always said to never hit a lady. 'Course you're no lady,] said Jono as Bliss fell to the ground.
In the air above the battle Evo was circling in his bat-form waiting for a chance to strike. He saw it when a dazed Synch began to clime to his feet. "Another one bites the dust!" the shapeshifter thought as he went in for the kill.
"Not so fast, lad. Ye'll nae be hurting one me students!" blared Banshee as he hit Evo with one of his sonic screams. The Deviant screamed and promptly fell like a rock.
"Now to end this before someone is hurt," thought the Irishmen as he swooped toward the battle.
"You should have stayed away, old man!" barked a militaristic voice. Sean looked down to see Copycat glaring at him. Before the former X-Man could react Gem reached out with her psi-power and seized control of his body. Much to his surprise Banshee immediately found himself on a collision course with one of the buildings. "Suck wall, pecker!" snarled Copycat/Nihilist as Sean smacked into the building's side. He then fell and landed in some rose bushes with a huge "Thud!"
Only feet away Husk was getting frustrated. Sublime was blocking her every attack with ease. "That the best you got? I had a harder time with your red-skinned guard dog!" mocked the Deviant as she blocked a kick.
"Red-skinned? What did you do to Penance?!" shouted Husk. That was the last straw. Paige Guthrie was determined to take this girl down. She then put all her remaining strength into one punch and lashed out.
It was then that Sublime phased for the first time in the fight, letting the mutant pass right though her. "You want to know what I did to your pet? I'll show you!" said Sublime as she changed to diamond density and bashed Husk in the back of the head. With a audible groan another member of Generation X went down.
Nearby Frostbite and Chamber were engaged in a showdown. The young mutant continuously sent blasts of bio-energy toward the Deviant but Frostbite just absorbed the energy and sent it right back. For the moment it was a stalemate. "Can't keep this up much longer," thought Frostbite. "This guys puttin' out way more energy than I can handle."
"Hey Chamber, need a hand? Or should I say an aura?" came a new voice. If he'd still possessed a mouth Jonothan Starsmore would have grinned. "The more the merrier, Synch. Let's take this bollocks down!"
Frostbite let out a curse.
Synch got in tune with his teammate's power and was prepared to blast the Deviant when things took a turn for the worse. "Don't tell us you forgot about us, pretty boy!" hissed Copycat/Spy from behind Everett. Before he could react Copycat seized control of his power and made him turn on his teammate.
"Jono, look ou--" was all Everett could manage before he fired on his fellow mutant.
"What the fu--" began Chamber as he turned his attention from Frostbite. The deformed young man didn't even have time to blink before he was caught in the tide of energy.
While this struggle was occurring Powerhaus was dealing with his own problems. Chief among them how to remove Skin from his back and how to stop Jubilee's fireworks barrage.
"Get off me, you freak!" the gen-active cursed.
"Look who's talking, homie!" retorted the mutant.
"Keep it up, Angelo! We're wearing him down!" shouted Jubilee.
"Why don't you leave Powerhaus alone and play with me, Little Miss 4th of July?!" said someone.
Jubilee turned to find her face on a collision course with Sublime's fist. Generation X's resident mallrat hit the ground with a hard "Wham!"
"Jubilee!" shouted Skin.
This momentary lapse of concentration was all Powerhaus needed. Lighting quick he grabbed Skin and slammed him to the ground leaving the two remaining mutants stunned.
"Well, that'll teach these guys not to mess with the Deviants," gloated Frostbite as he and Copycat approached. The male gen-active was also dragging an unconscious Synch by the collar of his shirt.
"Now what do we do?" asked Copycat.
"Question the ones who are still awake. I want to know what the hell Ivana sent us into!" answered Sublime.
Scant feet away the young mutants had regained their senses. "Jubes, I think we're officially hip-deep in crap," assessed Skin.
"Only hip-deep? Good. That means things aren't as I thought."
"No, they're much worse," informed Sublime. "Now I want to know who the hell you freaks are, who runs this place and what their deal is."
"Get screwed!" the young mutants spat at the same time.
"Aw, this ain't gonna work!" hissed Powerhaus as he raised a massive fist. "Let me smack 'em around. That'll get 'em talkin'!"
"Powerhaus, don--" began Sublime. She never got to finish her sentence. It was then that a thundering voice filled the Deviant's minds.
>LEAVE THOSE CHILDREN ALONE!!< Hit with a massive psychic shock the remaining members of DV8 fell to the ground unconscious.
"What in the hell…" wondered Skin.
"Honesty, I leave you children alone for one day and look what happens. Whatever would Xaiver think?" asked a arrogant
voice. Jubilee and Skin looked up to see their other teacher, Emma Frost, the White Queen, grinning at them.
Only forty-five minutes ago Jubilee had been babbling on about Sailor Moon. Yet the atmosphere at the academy had changed drastically in that time. Currently Sean Cassidy, sporting his blue and gold X-Men uniform, was in the living room of the school's main building overseeing Chamber and Synch as they secured the Deviants. "Keep yuir eyes open, lads. They should be awake soon," warned the Irishman.
It was then that Jubilee and the White Queen entered the room and shot hostile glances at Gen X's prisoners. "Monet and Penance are both resting comfortably in the medical bay," informed Emma. "M seams to have had a large amount of her body heat sucked right out of her. There were also minor indications of frostbite. I think we can safely blame the young man with the word "BITE" tattooed on his chest for her condition."
"What kinda freakmiester gets a tattoo like that?" grumbled Jubilee.
"Ahem!" coughed Emma. "As for Penance, she has a nasty concussion. She should be fine in a few days."
"Paige said the bimbo the blue lipstick did that. When she wakes up I'm gonna--"
"Jubilee!" barked Sean. "That is nae how an X-Man acts."
"But she hurt--"
"We dinne know the full story of what's happened here. Until we do we'll nae take any rash action. Understood?"
"Yes, sir," sighed Jubilee.
At that moment Skin and Husk arrived and also glanced sharply at the Deviants. They, like the other members of Generation X, had changed into their trademark yellow and red uniforms. "Mission accomplished, boss," grinned Skin.
"Artie and Leech are fine," informed Husk. "It looks like they slept though the whole thing."
While Husk was relaying this the White Queen had been watching Synch and Chamber. "Sean, what is that they're putting around those children's necks? They look like…Genoshaian inhibitor collars."
"That's because they are," said Banshee.
"But, Mr. Cassidy, what are we doing with inhibitor collars?" asked Husk.
"A reasonable question, lass. We have them for several reasons. One is that on several occasions the X-Men's enemies have found ways to temporarily negate a mutant's power. I should know, it's happened to me. I was planning some training involving the collars to teach ye how to survive if your powers ever fail ye."
"Very good, Sean. I'm surprised I didn't think of something so devious," applauded White Queen.
"Thank ye, Emma" grinned the Irishman. "Another reason is that they might be necessary if we were ever to run across a mutant whose powers were dangerously out of control.
"Lastly, we have them around for situations just like this. In case we need to restrain…prisoners. I just hope they work."
"Why wouldn't they?" wondered Jubilee. "Storm told me about these things and they're supposed to work on all mutants."
"Aye, but these children are nae mutants. They're gen-actives," replied Sean grimly.
"And how is it that we know that?" inquired the female telepath.
"It was me, Ms. Frost," interjected Synch as he stood from securing Evo's collar. "I tried to synch with the guy with the "BITE" tattoo but couldn't. The only time that's happened was we met those gen-active guys, Gen13.
"Of course, the fact that the "BITE" guy almost told me as much before he, uh, punched me helped."
"These aren't the Gen13 that you told me about, are they?" asked Emma.
"No, they're not," retorted Sean. "We have no idea who these children are. It's to bad we do nae know how to contact John Lynch. He's gen-active himself and he leads Gen13. If anyone would know--"
"You freaks know Lynch?!" came an angry voice.
Generation X turned to see Bliss glaring at them. She, like the rest of DV8, had come to and was slowly standing up; murder in their eyes.
"Aye, we know John Lynch. What's yuir connection to the man?" asked Banshee
"None of your business, Irish!" spat Bliss.
"Lynch. Damn, that sure as hell explains a lot!" growled Evo.
"Glad it clears things up for someone," muttered Skin to Husk. She shot him a dirty look.
"Hey, what the hell are these things?!" said Frostbite as he tugged on the collar. "My powers won't work!"
"They're inhibitor collars!" realized Copycat/Spy.
"Yes they are. We wouldn't now want a repeat of what happened outside now would we?" grinned the White Queen. "Now, I think it would be in your best interests to tell us who you are, who sent you here and what they want."
"Screw you, bitch! We don't got to tell you nothin'" retorted Powerhaus.
"Oh, now he's went and done it," frowned Jubilee.
The young mutant's observation was correct. Emma Frost's eyes seemed to flare at the Deviant's words. "Listen, boy," she hissed "if you're wise you'll remember what I did to all of you outside. Now we can do this two ways. One, you tell me what I want to know and you get to continue such activities as dressing and feeding yourselves. Or two, I take the information right from your minds slowly and painfully! With that option you also get to find out what brain damage is like. Any takers?"
"Ahem!" coughed Banshee. Emma turned to look at him and the X-Man gave her a stern look. No words were needed.
The White Queen nodded at her co-instructor slightly, ran her hands through her hair a few times and regained her composure. "Yes, well, what I said still stands. So, do we do this the easy way or the hard way?"
DV8 exchanged unhappy looks. "Looks like we don't have a choice," sighed Sublime. "To answer the first part of your question we work for Ivana Baiul."
"Baiul? I know that name," said Banshee. "She's someone of authority at I/O."
[Eye Oh? Isn't that the Seven Dwarf's song?] asked Chamber.
"I/O is short for International Operations. It's an espionage agency, lad. Like S.H.E.I.L.D. but without Nick Fury's guiding hand."
"Well, Ivana don't work for I/O no more," interrupted Frostbite. "She's a independent in the intelligence game now. We're her..uh, we're…"
"Her gang," muttered Powerhaus. "That's all we are to her. The guys who do the dirty work."
"You guys got names?" asked Skin.
"Yes we do, ugly," snorted Sublime. "I'm Sublime, the rest are Frostbite, Powerhaus, Evo, Copycat and Bliss."
"So why did this Ivana woman want you to break into our school?" said Husk.
"I can answer that, my dear," said the White Queen as she held up a computer disk. "I removed this from the girl with the atrocious taste in lipstick." Sublime gave her a withering look. "It contains information of a…sensitive nature that I definitely don't want getting out. I think it's safe to say this is what Ms. Baiul was after. The question is how did she learn I had this information."
"Don't ask us," spat Bliss. "Ivana never tells us anything."
"She just keeps us in the dark and feeds us crap," hissed Evo. "Like we're mushrooms or something."
"Yeah, she don't care about us. We're disposable to her," agreed Powerhaus.
"Really?" asked Emma, honestly surprised.
"Shut up, all of you!" barked Frostbite. "Now ain't the time to bitch about our problems."
"So, now that the Q&A is over what do we do?" asked Synch.
"Good question, lad," said Sean. "It's nae as if we can call the Vault or StormWatch and have them taken into custody. Perhaps we could--"
"I have an idea," said the White Queen. "Sean, I'll need to speak with you about this in the kitchen."
As the two instructors left to talk the students began to follow. "I meant alone, children," said Emma without looking back.
"Keep an eye on our guests."
With that the elder mutants departed leaving Generation X and DV8 glaring at each other.
It was twenty minutes before the two instructors returned to the living room. Emma Frost, strangely, had a tinge of hopefulness in her business-like demeanor. Sean Cassidy, on the other hand, looked like he had just been given a piece of very unpleasant news.
As the walked in they noticed that, except for the purple-haired girl called Bliss, all of the Deviants had quietly pooled in one corner of the room. Bliss, however, stood in front of Generation X wearing the expression of a sadistic person who had just told a child there was no Santa Claus.
"What's going on here?" asked Banshee unhappily.
"Mary Queen of Sluts over there was just telling us about what she does for fun," informed Jubilee as she pointed at Bliss. "Can you say sicko?"
"Aw, what's the matter, little girl? Don't you like my bedtime stories?" cooed Bliss.
"Enough!" ordered the White Queen. "I'll remind you that you are conscious only by my good graces, young lady."
"Knock it off, Bliss. They've got the upper hand here. So we play by their rules," warned Sublime.
"Very astute, Sublime," complemented Emma. "It is fortuitous that you should mention rules. You see, I want to make you an offer. You'll all have to follow the rules but if you do it could very beneficial to us all."
"What kinda offer?" asked Powerhaus.
"I'm not a woman who minces words so I'll get right to it. I'm offering all of you a place here at our school and among Generation X."
"WHAT?!" gasped every teenager in the room.
"Uh, yo, teach, I hate ask this but, have you been sniffing glue?" asked a bewildered Skin.
"Yeah, what gives? These guys tried to kill us and now you want them to move in with us?!" gasped Jubilee. "Banshee, tell me she kidding!"
"She's nae, joking, lass," said the Irishman. "We both belive that the Deviants are in need of help, and that Generation X might be the place that can give it to them. I admit I have reservations about this but I think the effort must be made."
"Wait a second, want makes you freaks think we'd want to have anything to do with you?" growled Powerhaus.
"Yeah, what makes you think we want to play your little X-Men games?" challenged Frostbite.
[What makes you think we have anything to do with the X-Men?] retorted Chamber.
"Please," sneered Sublime "Give us some credit. You don't expect us to belive you wear those X's on your uniforms just because your big fans of Scully and Mulder, do you?"
"She's got us there," admitted Husk.
"Ye're correct, lass. We are with the X-Men. The students you see here are training to the next generation of X-Men. They will be the ones who will carry our dream of peaceful relations between humans and superhumans into the next century."
"Um, sir, are you sure you should be telling that to--" began Synch.
"Trust me, lad. We know what we're doing."
"You guys are nuts! No way you're going to make us some offer to join you after what happened!" said Evo.
"It's a trick!" accused Copycat/Nihilist.
"No tricks," promised Banshee. "Second chances are a big part of the X-Men's beliefs. Lord knows more than a few of us have needed them."
"He's correct," agreed the White Queen as she addressed GenX. "Both Banshee and I have had…checkered pasts. As have Rogue, Pete Wisdom, Storm, Sunspot, Gambit, Meltdown and many others of our ranks."
"But these guys work for some evil--" started Husk.
"I hate to remind ye of this, lass, but even yuir own brother got off on the wrong foot before he joined the New Mutants," said Banshee. Husk's face became a bit red and she began to look solemnly at the floor.
"Okay, so some of us X-People needed a second chance! But these guys hurt M and Penance! And if you belive Lady Tramp over there," flared Jubilee as she again gestured at Bliss "these guys have even killed people! We can't have people like that here!"
"We can't have them here the same way the X-Men can't have Wolverine where they live? Is that what you're saying, dear?" asked the White Queen calmly.
Shock and outrage flooded Jubilee's face. She struggled for words but couldn't find them in her anger. After several tense moments she gave out something that sounded like a snarl and ran out of the room.
"Hit a nerve," whispered Evo. Powerhaus nodded in agreement.
"She'll be a long time in forgiving you for that," sighed Sean.
"She's young. She'll get over it," countered Emma.
"Okay, now that the drama queen is gone maybe you should tell us why should take your offer," said Sublime. "Ivana may not care about us as people but we've got a luxury apartment and money to burn. What have you got?"
The White Queen was about to speak when Skin beat her to the punch. "I'll tell you what I got. A family. Things with the one I have back home…they got problems. Here I'm excepted for who I am."
[It's true. Anywhere else in the world I'd be considered a freak. Here no one treats me like that. This place has given me back what I thought I'd lost long ago. Hope.]
Husk took a second to stare at Chamber. She, nor anyone else at the school, had ever heard him say anything that positive.
"Chamber's right about hope. For years I've dreamed about being X-Men and helping people. Here I'm getting that chance. I've never been so happy."
"Same here," agreed Synch. "Life here can be crazy. Sometimes dangerous. But since I've been here I've seen and done things most people wouldn't get the chance to do in a hundred lifetimes. I don't regret a moment of it."
"Y'all sound like a bunch of college recruiters," assessed Frostbite. "But you make it sound way to easy. No way is Ivana just going to let us go."
"Yeah, she'd send Threshold after us for sure!" exclaimed Copycat.
"He's probably the most powerful psychokinetic on earth," explained Sublime. "He's our normal field leader and he makes people's heads explode for fun. If he'd been with us all of you would be dead right now."
"Sounds like Exodus," whispered Husk.
"He's also my brother," grinned Bliss proudly.
"And I had the Summers clan pegged as messed up," thought Skin.
"I understand your fears but you need not worry," assured Emma. "If Ivana does seek a reprisal the X-Men themselves would defend us. I'm sure your Threshold is quite powerful, but I doubt he could stand against people who have fought Magneto himself and lived to tell the tale."
"Now, perhaps we should give our guests some time to consider our offer." With that the White Queen calmly left the room. After an awkward moment Generation X did as well, leaving DV8 to contemplate their future.
"So whadda you think?" asked Powerhaus. "Is this for real?"
"You heard the shamrock and the bleach-job. They really do want us to join them," answered Sublime.
"It would be nice not have to take anymore crap from Ivana and Threshold…" began Evo.
"Are you all crazy?!!" shouted Bliss. "No way would Ivana not have anyone who ran out on her killed! Besides, these guys are totally vanilla. What self-respecting Deviant would want to hang here?"
"Shut up, Bliss!" ordered Sublime
"What?! Why you cheap--"
"She said shut up, Bliss!" interrupted Frostbite. "I don't know why you think you got a say in this. You ain't ever been one of us. You ain't ever really been a Deviant."
"What are you babbling about, you ugly hick?" demanded the purple-haired girl.
"What he means is that you ain't no better that Ivana and Threshold," clarified Powerhaus. "When I was captured and being tortured by the CIA Ivana was going to leave me to die. But Sublime, Evo, Frostbite and Copycat went against her and saved me. You didn't."
"You're a meanie," declared Copycat/Little Gemma.
"What it all boils down to is this," said Sublime. "We're going to vote on if we're going to except these people's offer. The thing is, since you're not a Deviant you don't get a vote."
"Fine! If you want to stay here and play reindeer games with these mutants fine by me. But belive me, when my brother shows up to turn your brains into mush I'll be right behind him. Laughing!" spat Bliss.
"I'd rather hang with the straights then spend another second around you jackholes!" With that the female gen-active headed in the direction GenX had went
"Okay, now that that's settled what do you guys think we should do?" asked Sublime.
"Ivana was goin' to let the CIA off me. I don't own her nothin'. I say we go for it," said Powerhaus.
"As much as I hate to say it, Bliss did have one good point," commented Sublime. "These guys are up-the-ass clean. If we join them say good bye to booze, running around the city all night, the penthouse and the easy cash. In short, no more doing whatever the hell we want to."
"I'm with, Hector," said Evo. "I don't give a damn about Ivana and she don't give a damn about us. Yeah, this place is stiff but I think we can loosen it up. Deviant style! "Besides, it'd be nice to be able to go to bed at night and not worry about Sideways Bob killing me in my sleep."
"The kids here seem nice and I'd like being around people my own age." admitted Copycat. "This place isn't scary like home is," said Copycat/Little Gemma.
"I don't want to stick with Ivana either," conceded Frostbite. "Belive me, the second a better offer comes along I'm takin' it. But I don't think this is it. Ivana could tip off I/O about us. If they got their hands on us we'd be in worse shape than we are now."
"Then let's put it to a vote," suggested Sublime. "All in favor of taking these guys up on their offer and joining Generation X raise your hand."
Evo, Powerhaus and Copycat did so.
"All in favor of sticking with Ivana. For the moment."
Frostbite and Sublime raised their hands.
Silence reigned as DV8 exchanged glances. No words were spoken but volumes were said. "Okay, so we're all agreed?" asked Sublime. The others all reluctantly nodded their accent.
"Well, I'm sorry that some of you choose not to accept my offer," came a voice.
The gen-actives turned to see a grinning Emma Frost standing at the living room's entrance, Bliss Banshee and GenX just behind her.
"Copycat, Evo, Powerhaus, welcome to Generation X. As for the rest of you, I shall see to having you returned to Ms. Baiul. I'll also see that she does you no harm for what happened here."
"I don't think you understand," began Frostbite. "None of us are joinin' this school."
"But the vote--"
"Don't matter," interrupted Evo.
"Deviants don't leave Deviants behind!" proclaimed Copycat/Soldier.
"What they're trying to say is that this was a all or nothing vote," said Sublime. "Either we all stay here or we all go back to Ivana."
"But why?" asked Husk.
"Ivana don't care about us. We ain't real people to her," said Powerhaus. "Only way we're getting out of this alive is by watchin' each other's backs. We can't trust Ivana. We can't trust Threshold. We can't trust Sideways Bob--"
"Who?" asked Jubilee, who had rejoined her classmates
"You don't want know," warned Evo
"We can't trust Bliss," continued Powerhaus
"Hey!" flared Bliss.
"You shut up!" ordered Sublime. "We said you didn't have a say in this!
"What P-Haus is driving at is that the only people we can trust is each other. And we ain't going to leave some of our own to Ivana. That's why we gotta stick together. " informed Frostbite.
"I knew you weren't as stupid as you looked!" chuckled Bliss. "But Ivana is still going to go ballistic when I tell her that you even thought of betray--"
>DO SHUT UP, YOU UNPLEASANT LITTLE HARLOT!!!<
A look of total shock passed over Bliss's face before she fell to the floor.
"Ah, much better," smiled the White Queen as she turned again to DV8. "I'm sorry you decided to decline my offer, Deviants. I truly think you would be better off here than where you wish to return to."
"Don't worry about us, we can take care of ourselves," assured Evo.
"Besides, I don't plan on working for Ivana my whole life," said Sublime. "Sooner or later something will give and when it does…"
"I understand. Goodbye, children." No sooner had Emma spoken those words than DV8 suddenly became stiff and glass-eyed. They stayed that way for several seconds before collapsing to the floor much to GenX's astonishment.
"What happened?" gasped Skin
Before anyone could replay the White Queen staggered and lost her balance. Luckily for her Banshee was able to catch her in time.
"Are ye all right, Emma?" he asked.
"I'm fine, Sean. That just took more out of me that I expected."
[What took more out of you?]
"The mindwipes," clarified the telepath. "None of them will remember us, the school or their mission. The last few hours are completely gone from their minds. Our secrets are safe."
"So now what do we do with them?" wondered Jubilee.
"Our scanners have detected a helicopter in a clearing about a mile from here," said Banshee. "I'd wager it belongs to our guests. Jono, Angelo and Everett, you three help me carry them there. I'll then fly them and the 'copter to a safe location and fly back on me own."
"The mindwipe should keep them all out cold for at least four hours. Plenty of time to get them away from the school," interjected Emma weakly.
"Paige, Jubilee, help Emma to her room. Then go and check on M and Penance," ordered Banshee. Quickly Generation X moved to follow the former X-Man's orders. The excitement was over and now the clean up had begun.
It was about two hours later that Sean returned to find the academy almost completely dark. As he entered the main building he found the lights on in the living room and Emma Frost gazing out at the stars. "Feeling better?" he asked.
"Yes. I have a rather nasty headache but other than that I'm fine."
"Where are the students?"
"I sent them to bed. They were all so worn out from the day's events that they only protested for fifteen minutes."
"We're starting to ware them down," grinned the Irishman.
"Funny. What of our guests?"
"I left them and their helicopter just across the border in Connecticut. When they wake up they shouldn't have any trouble
getting themselves home. Wherever home is for them."
"All's well that ends well, I suppose," sighed the White Queen.
"Aye, but there is one thing that's been bothering me. I didn't want to bring it up before--"
"You're wondering why I was so quick to invite them to join us?"
"Bullseye, Emma. I didn't say anything before because I trusted ye and wanted to see where ye were taking that. But now…"
"You used to be a policeman, Sean. Do you mean to tell me you don't have a hunch as to why I did what I did?"
"I have an idea or two but I wanted to hear it from ye."
"They reminded my of the Hellions, Sean."
"Aye, that's what I suspected."
"So that's why you didn't push. Congratulations, you're a better detective than I gave you credit for."
"Do ye want to talk about it?"
"Yes, yes I think I do. I think I need to. They were so much like the Hellions. Young and powerful and being exploited by someone like Ivana Baiul. Someone like me."
"Like how ye used to be, Emma," corrected Sean. "As ye said, second chances are what we're all about."
"Generation X is my second chance. When I saw how those children were being used…I thought I had found another chance at redemption."
"What ye did was very noble. I'm even a wee bit sorry they didn't accept myself. But it was their choice."
"Most of them are barely older than our own students. Do you think they have any clue as to how nasty and cruel this word can be?"
"From their attitudes, I'd say they know very well. But remember, Emma, those kids have something going for them that we didn't during our dark days."
"You heard what they said about how it was an all or nothing vote, about not leaving their own behind and about how the only ones they could trust were each other. They have each other, Emma."
"But will that be enough?"
"It always has been for the X-Men."
The White Queen continued to stare out at the night sky for several long moments. "Thank you, Sean," she said eventually.
"Thank you for being there."
"If you'll excuse me I think I'll go to bed. It has been a most trying day."
"That it has," agreed Banshee as he watched Emma head to her room. He then turned and looked out the window. The stars in the sky were very bright.
In her Manhattan office Ivana Baiul was getting impatient. "Where are they?" she thought. "They should have returned with those files long ago."
The ringing of the phone interrupted her musings. "Yes?" she answered.
"Ivana Baiul?" asked the voice on the other end of the line.
Ivana was shocked. Few people knew how to contact her and she knew all of their voices. This was a stranger. "Who is this?! How did you get this number?!"
"My name is Emma Frost."
"Emma Frost? I'm afraid I don't kn--"
"Please Ms. Baiul, don't try and lie to me. It degrades us both. I know about those children you've been using as your own private army. I also know you sent them here to steal my files on the Hellfire Club."
Ivana was fuming. What had gone wrong with DV8's mission and how had Frost found out about her she wondered. "You're very well informed, Ms. Frost. What do you want?"
"I'm proposing an arrangement."
"What sort of arrangement?"
"A simple one. You forget about me, my school and my files."
"And what, I must ask, is in this for me?"
"You have many enemies, Ms. Baiul. If I can find you I can find them. I'm sure some of them would just be fascinated to know where you are right now."
Ivana cursed mentally. Emma Frost had her over a barrel and she knew it. "Well, when you put it that way Ms. Frost…Very well, you have a deal. But what of my young charges? I assume you are the reason they haven't reported back to me."
"You're correct. But don't worry about them. They'll wake up soon, none the worse for ware. I wouldn't be too hard on them, Ms. Baiul. They fought very well. They were just out of their league."
"That's my little secret. Oh, and Ms. Baiul?"
"Since you may not know, I thought I'd clue you in. The Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club is no more."
"Yes, for…complex reasons most of decided to go our own way some time ago."
Ivana cursed loudly.
"Goodbye, Ms. Baiul. Have an extremely unpleasant life."
Ivana slammed the phone down. After several minutes of fuming her rationality returned. "What have I really lost?" she thought. "The Deviants are still mine, I have potentially useful information on the Hellfire Club and I still have Craven's files."
It was then that an idea hit her. "Craven's files. What was I just reading about?" After several moments Ivana found what she was looking for. "Ah, yes. Designs for some very dangerous weapons my friends in the illegal arms community would pay most handsomely for.
"The only catch is the they are powered by vibranium, one of the rarest substances on earth. Found only in the African nation of Wakanda and in the mythological Savage Land."
Ivana sat back in her chair and grinned. She had a new plan. Yes, it was still a most fortunate day.