IV: Coriolis Event
The Foundation Cracks - part 2
The city and country were in chaos. Ukraine appealed to the European
Union to help quell the upsurge in violence racking the nation,
but Russia objected to external influence in Ukraine. Kiev was split
in two, but the government was holding on as best as possible and
it was enough to give the United Nations cause to open an emergency
session of the Security Council.
Longshot did a series of acrobatic swings and flips to get from
the roof of a seven story building to the ground. In the same motion
of his landing he sent a blade flying and killed a Ukrainian soldier.
Three other members of the Shadow Squad joined him near the Presidential
Palace. Moscow has had enough of this. We move now! Several
units of Russian troops are moving on Kiev now, but we have to open
the way for them.
Scimitar used his brutal powers to rip through the barricades around
the Palace. Longshot moved quickly to dispatch troops that were
scattering. The other members did so as well. Screams of panic and
fear were brutally silenced.
Longshot smiled as he approached the ruined, smoldering gates.
He glanced at his watch and nodded at his troops. Fall back.
Weve done our job. Now they have to do theirs.
The leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the
United Kingdom, and the United States were gathering in Florence
for the annual G-8 Summit. Lex was staying at the estate of Warren
Worthington III, who had a villa just outside Florence. His motorcade
was en route to the site when Nancy McNally called.
Whats happened in Ukraine? Lex asked without
preamble, knowing the situation there was the only thing that would
garner a call from the Assistant to the President for National Security
Affairs at this point prior to the summit.
Sir, satellites detected several explosions around the presidential
compound. Three quick passes from Talon aircraft show that no troops
moved in following those explosions, but defenses around the compound
Lex processed the information. His motorcade was arriving at the
summit. Nancy, I am going to have to end this at the moment,
but I am inclined to believe that this looks like coordinated efforts
from outside forces; forces like those being denied Ukraine by a
big neighbor at the moment.
Yes, sir, our preliminary assessment is that Russia is highly
The car stopped and his agent was at the door. Order SHIELD
to make a few overt passes over Kiev. I want Russia to think we
are going to Ukraines aid. Keep me informed. He terminated
the call and got out of his car. It is time I met Kirov
and took my measure of the man.
The opening reception was a formal affair, but no reporters. Senior
aides and translators were in abundance, but it was really a chance
for Heads of Governments to meet and discuss world affairs frankly.
Lex took his time talking to a number of people, but he knew where
Vitaly Kirov was at every moment, and he already had his personal
staff inquiring as to the identity of the attractive woman on his
An opening presented itself and Lex moved to his right and nodded
at Kirov, but did not offer his hand. President Kirov, a pity
it has taken us so long to talk.
President Luthor, the boy-king of America, a pleasure to
meet you. Kirov said with a slight sneer.
Coming from a would-be Tsar, Ill take that as a compliment,
Lex returned without missing a beat. In fact Ive heard
Kiev is wide open for your troops to march in at any moment and
declare Russian rule has returned. Lex inclined his head slightly
and projected a bit of his telepathic power to give more menace
to his words.
Kirovs mouth twitched before he smiled. I cannot help
it if the true blooded Russians in Ukraine wish to be governed by
their brothers. What I dont understand is why it is Americas
A small group had gathered around the tense exchange. Lex sensed,
but did not acknowledge them. First it was Kazakhstan and
now it is Ukraine. Your rhetoric has been Imperialistic since you
started your campaign for the presidency. A remarkable track record
for a government that says it was helping. How much help are you
providing the underground in Ukraine?
Moral support of course, Mr. President. Russia does not want
her neighbors to become unstable. Instability has an annoying habit
of spreading across borders and causing chaos. We have major social
dislocation happening in central Asia and yet that doesnt
seem to concern the United States. That had a great impact on Kazakhstan
and yet is ignored in the world media. Russia is not the enemy,
Mr. President. We seek to maintain a stable, peaceful world.
Kirov smiled again and gestured his arms broadly.
Then SHIELD will have no resistance from Russia as it investigates
Kiev in the next few hours? Lex returned Kirovs smile.
Several energy discharges were detected earlier and they looked
suspiciously like signatures associated with the appearance of mutant
terrorists. Since the Brotherhood is wanted everywhere, we cant
leave any lead to go cold can we?
Kirov nodded. Russia is a whole hearted member of SHIELD
and wants the Brotherhood stopped. We have no objection to this
investigation. If you will excuse me; I told my Italian Ambassador
I would have a dance with her. Kirov nodded to the crowd and
moved to another group.
Lex leaned back a little and Whitney came up to look at him. You
hit him pretty hard, Lex. Hes hiding something.
I know it. Do we know who his date is yet?
Andre says shes linked to InterGang. And shes
leaving the room. Well find out if she makes any call or transmission
from here and trace it. Kirov is up to something and it scares me.
Whitney smiled at several passing dignitaries.
Lex stared at Kirov and then looked around from British Prime Minister
Tilden. Keep all our unofficial channels open. I am about
to make sure our closest ally is on board from some diplomatic heavy
Vice President McKennas glance swept over the dozen staff
members around the table in the White House Situation Room. He could
tell they werent particularly happy that hed exercised
his statutory privilege of calling this meeting, but really didnt
care. This was his chance to probe for information. And weaknesses.
What is the current situation in Ukraine?
An Air Force Colonel promptly replied, We have confirmed
multiple incursions from Russian border areas, but none of them
appear to be military. Large scale movement of more than three thousand
people, but no military vehicles that we can see, sir.
McKenna nodded. How many troops do we still have stationed
in the theatre?
There is still a brigade and a half in Kazakhstan, but they
are pulling out in the next two weeks.
McKenna leaned back and frowned. If we dont act quickly,
Russia will swallow another old Soviet satellite country.
He looked at the CIA representative. What assessment do you
have of this situation?
As we mentioned in the last National Security Council briefing,
Mr. Vice President, there is evidence to support Russian involvement,
but little that ties it to the Kremlin. We feel the best way to
counter these moves is a counterinsurgency, but we have no assets
on the ground to spark such a move. Our hands are tied.
Standing, McKenna approached the display of Ukraine with several
blips on it, many around the shared border with Russia. Show
me the areas in Central Asia and Africa with mass social dislocation.
Sir? the colonel was puzzled, but quickly complied.
Several maps changed and became animated with three years worth
of data showing the movement of millions of people away from areas
that climate change had rendered less than hospitable. Last
count CIA had was the movement of forty million people across borders
in central Asia and Africa. It doesnt take into account the
movements inside nations like China, India, and Brazil.
McKenna pointed to the monitor of Ukraine again and nodded. However
the mass dislocation hasnt hit Europe yet. Obviously, there
are factors in play in Asia and South America that arent in
play in Europe as a whole. Something is very wrong and we need to
find out what. Contact Dr. McNally and make sure those brigades
dont leave the theatre yet. Direct intervention is our best
course of action, and well need all the options we can get.
The colonel nodded cautiously. Ill convey your recommendation
to Dr. McNally.
Vitaly Kirov left the reception as soon as it was feasible. He
walked into his private suites and paced the floor until Tatiana
to join him. Damned American meddling fool!
Tatiana was frowning. Indeed he is. Ive given the word
to get our Shadow Squads out of Kiev, but SHIELD aircraft have been
buzzing Kiev for hours. Ive no idea what they know at this
The French and British think we are interfering with Ukraine
and if Luthor has evidence of that then he will present it to the
UN Security Council. Our vote will keep the Council from acting,
but it grants NATO cover to engage us. I am tired of this. It is
time for us to use InterGang for our ends. Arrange for a series
of events to happen globally that will place Luthor off balance.
Can I use the new cloned forces? Tatiana smiled wickedly
as she leaned back. The fun we could have while Luthors
Administration runs in circles could be priceless.
InterGang hasnt been busy of late. Get them moving
and see if we cant make life miserable for Luthor and at the
same time expand Russias influence.
Lex sat back in his chair and sipped his scotch slowly. Nancy McNally
was sitting across from him. McKennas idea for direct
You cant believe that invading the Ukraine
is a good idea?
Frankly, Im suspicious of any idea McKenna would put
forth, she said with a shrug, then pointed to the map. He
is right that we need more options, though. I suggest we place one
or two Ultimates into Ukraine and see what they can find out. Even
that is risky, though.
It would give us eyes on the ground to provide a real look
at whats really going on there. Lex thought it over
a moment, then then shook his head. No. The risk is too great
I dont think the Ultimates could get in and out undetected.
Theyre profile is just too high.
Then were just going to sit by and do nothing?
Postpone the troop withdrawal from Kazakhstan. That will
give us some options.
As soon as Nancy was gone, Lex buzzed Whitney in the adjacent suite.
A moment later, Whitney joined them and Lex outlined their discussion.
Whitney shook his head. I dont like the fact that McKenna
is calling briefings in your absence and trying to manipulate you
into a corner to order an out-and-out invasion. That level of brashness
makes me nervous.
I agree. Hes got something up his sleeve, but so do
I, Lex countered. I want you to contact Chloe and get
her and Peter into Ukraine as quickly as possible. Hes Russian
and shes a damned good reporter. Their analysis could be invaluable.
Whitney gave a low whistle. Are you sure about this?
Our options are few, Whitney, and I trust Chloe and Peter
more than SHIELD and the CIA. What worries me most is the fact that
the situation is so serious that Nancy would even consider deploying
even a handful of Ultimates. Were in dangerous territory,
Whitney managed a smile. So whats new?
Philip and Hamilton were both tired of moving boxes. Their Secret
Service agents were outside and their House protectors were directing
the arrival of furniture. Clark was busy moving boxes too, but both
Philip and Hamilton had to work since this was their house for the
next few years.
Man, howd Peter get out of this? griped Hamilton.
He said hed help!
Clark stared at his son and gave him a look that instantly shut
Hamilton up. Your father needed him and that is more important
than protecting you from a little hard work.
Philip sighed and kept moving boxes but yelped when something cold
was placed against his neck. He turned, about to yell at his twin,
when he saw it was his boyfriend. Oh! What are you doing here?
I didnt expect you for another two days!
Franklin smiled broadly and shrugged. Dad got tired of me
moping around the house so he told me I could come up here. Hes
still not thrilled about this, but mom is on my side, as is Uncle
Clark laughed as he approached Franklin to shake his hand. Well,
having the Thing on your side definitely works in your favor.
Franklin blushed. Actually, he was sick of me moping the
Philip hugged Franklin and pulled him outside to grab more boxes.
We need to hurry so we can play some games. Hamilton has promised
to destroy me in Legion Quest, but I can take him.
The day went quickly with Franklin joining in to help. Clark smiled
and blushed a little when he caught Philip and Franklin
kissing deeply in the kitchen. He shook his head and sighed. He
grabbed his other son by the scruff and pulled him into a hug. Now
I want you guys to be on your best behavior. You be sure to not
hassle those two too much about their relationship, okay?
Hamilton nodded. Actually, Im a little jealous. Philip
has Franklin and hes his focus, meanwhile Im his twin
and feel a little left out sometimes.
Nothing is ever going to come between you and your brother.
You two have a bond that is unbreakable, even when one of you is
distracted. Just dont let their relationship nudge you into
rushing into something ill-advised. Okay? Clark practically
Hamilton rolled his eyes. Dont worry, Pop. Im
not that jealous.
Clark laughed. //Ill see you guys later.//
The Los Angeles Times headlines blared Cure for Cancer Not
Hype and it was all that Graydon Creed could do to keep from
throwing something at a wall. Pictures of people descending on the
Medical Center in Houston accompanied the article. Fools,
all of them are fools! While reading the article he glanced
at the TV and there was the president having a photo-op at the G8
Summit as it concluded.
Graydon picked up the phone and hit a button. His calls always
got through to Rev. Stryker. Bill, it appears as though the
president is gaining ground. This will never do!
Indeed not, but to move quickly is to invite disaster as
Ive told you before. I think we can make this an issue, but
only one step at a time.
Graydon frowned before responding. Our window of opportunity
is not indefinite, but Ill hold for now. Ive got enough
trouble with investigations from the Department of Justice into
the riots in the spring.
He ended the call and began thinking of all the possibilities.
He lifted his phone again. Morgan, its time we meet
again. Ill be in Phoenix in two days. The Diamondbacks are
playing and we should see a game.
Sweat poured off Steve Trevors face as he went through some
maneuvers with young the latest batch of recruits to the Friends
of Humanitys so-called Freedom Squad. Orders directly from
Graydon Creed had stepped up Trevors training efforts. The
Friends humiliating failure against the Brotherhood in the
Battle of Los Angeles had proved to Creed that their forces were
The cyborg Reavers had firepower, but their number was sadly depleted
-- there were only seven of them now. Creed was now determined to
turn his followers into a crack paramilitary organization. He didnt
want to lose again, and hed charged Steve Trevor with making
sure it didnt happen.
The warehouse was baking in the desert sun and the three dozen
young men were soaking wet. Again! Steve yelled as he
put them through the drill. Move!
He hadnt had a chance to tell Gyrich what was happening here.
Above all else, he was under orders not to get caught. He was sitting
on some information SHIELD would love to have, but nothing that
was earth shattering.
One thing that Steve didnt know though was how many other
boot camps like this one were being run around the country. Steves
background made him a prime candidate for this work, but he was
hardly alone. He also had no idea what the timeframe for any action
was. Graydon had something in mind, and though Steve knew his value
within the organization was growing, he still wasnt part of
the inner circle. He was a pawn moving towards becoming a knight,
but still a pawn. That meant he was still expendable.
It was a state of being he was well accustomed to.
Henry Gyrich paced the Vice Presidents office, waiting impatiently
for McKenna to join him. Meeting on Capitol Hill was risky, but
it had to be done in order to avoid communication intercepts. The
president was still in Europe and would not be back from France
and then Britain for another three days.
Good afternoon, Director Gyrich, said William McKenna
as he walked into the room. What can I do for you?
Gyrich sat down and got right to the point. Its clear
that Russia is making a series of highly imperialistic moves. We
are limited in what we can do, but Im not sure that the president
is getting the best advice available. Im all but frozen out,
as are you. Dr. McNally is an academic. Valerie Cooper at the Pentagon
reports to Secretary Manheim. We must find a way to influence policy
that will hold the line against the growing Russian threat.
Ill give it some thought. McKenna promised, when
in fact, hed already given it considerable thought and had
even tried to force the Presidents hand. Unfortunately, Luthor
hadnt taken the bait, and at the moment McKenna had fewer
options than usual. He leaned back in his chair and relaxed into
a fishing expedition. What is the status of our mutant hunt?
Last I heard, Africa had yielded clues, but no mutants.
We recovered several computer hard drives that could prove
invaluable, but the information were recovering is fragmented.
We have an ace in the hole a resource who can reconstruct
the files, but using him is risky.
Him? McKenna inquired.
Gyrich gave a small shake of his head. Scanners capture was
strictly need to know, and McKenna didnt qualify. He continued
with his briefing, We are moving ahead with plans to bolster
our domestic forces. Weve increased the security around Rykers
Island in case someone wants to free the Rogues Gallery from their
prison. Their particular brand of mayhem is something we do not
need at the moment.
A warning then: tread carefully and trust no one. If Luthor
were to find out about these dubious moves youre making, hed
have you arrested for treason. You have highly placed friends in
this shadow organization of yours, but even they wont be able
to help you if you get careless. McKenna sighed and looked
out the window. I am at risk as well, but Luthor cant
fire me overtly.
Gyrich nodded. With stakes this high, risk is inevitable.
We try to monitor his private security force, but it is difficult.
The man has resources of a private nation unto his own.
And that is what makes him the most dangerous foe conceivable,
McKenna said. Perhaps its time for you to infiltrate
the Luthor family security forces. It would be interesting to see
how they recruit.
Amanda Waller flipped through the pages of operational blueprints
and diagrams. SHIELD had developed some ambitious plans for neutralizing
mutants over the years, but this was beyond ambitious. What Generals
Isling and Hardcastle were proposing was frightening, and Amanda
didnt frighten easily. The plan in front of her would de-throne
the imperialistic House Luthor, but in a very real sense it was
also the overthrowing of the U.S. government.
She looked at Generals and frowned. What are the chances
of pulling this off? The level of coordination required is mind-boggling.
Gen. Hardcastle nodded. I know. Just the logistics of monitoring
and controlling the movements of the Ultimates is more technically
challenging than anything weve ever done. When push comes
to shove, we cant trust them to be on our side, which means
taking them out has to be the first phase. To do that, we have to
have them all together, in one place, at one time.
The element of surprise is critical, Isling added.
But that, too, will be challenging since moving troops to
these specific locations is going to raise questions. Setting up
cover stories and readying the Sentinels will take time. But again,
it can all be made to work.
If you had to give a guess, how long would it take to get
this operation rolling and ready for a first strike from the word
go? Amanda asked.
Hardcastle and Isling traded looks and Isling shrugged. Given
the number of factors that have to be manipulated into exact alignment
before we can pull the trigger, were estimating two weeks
to deploy troops into a staging position that the can hold for a
maximum of six weeks.
And once all the targets are maneuvered into position?
Waller motioned to the plan on the table. And this is the
best way to carry out a first strike?
Its the only way, Dr. Waller, Gen Hardcastle
responded. We gamed a number of scenarios, but you saw the
numbers and what we are up against. If the Ultimates rebel and the
mutants unite, humans are finished. This plan is our best
maybe our only hope to prevent that.
Amanda nodded and sighed. Thank you, gentlemen. She
watched them leave the room and sank back in her chair. How
did it come to this? I understand what the Founding Fathers meant
now. Such a fine line between patriotism and treason.
Chase Field was buzzing as the first place Arizona Diamondbacks
ran out onto the field to do battle with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Morgan Edge leaned back in his chair and nodded as Graydon Creed
walked into the private suite. They were alone for the most part
in a stadium with over forty thousand people cheering like mad.
Nice accommodations, Morgan. Creed sat down and had
his personal steward bring him a beer. The disaster in Los
Angeles has done a great deal of damage to my group, but we are
You were careless and arrogant. The Rogues Gallery are in
Rykers Island and your private militia proved useless against
the Brotherhood. I lost some valuable contacts thanks to you.
Morgan arched an eye and frowned. Losing was not part of our
No, it wasnt, but now Im in a rough position.
Politically, my movement is growing quickly worldwide, but I am
currently wounded and the buzzards are circling. However, I am not
dead yet and I still have allies. Creed leaned forward and
looked out at the game. Id say that Im down a
few runs in the third inning, but there is still time to mount a
And how do you plan to do that? Edge stood up and went
to grab a plate of food from the buffet in the suite. Your
resources are under scrutiny, Graydon, and that is enough to frighten
off some of your best assets.
Good old fashion fear is how I plan for a rally. Give the
people a something or someone -- to fear, and anything is
possible. And I am going to use you as well, he added matter-of-factly.
We still have an arrangement.
Shaking his head slightly, Morgan said, No. We are going
to renegotiate terms. I want something from you now. I helped you
and it failed. My turn.
What do you want?
The smile that Morgan Edge gave Graydon Creed was chilling. Anarchy.
Peter and Chloe crouched low. Signs of fighting were all over the
landscape. Getting close to the capitol had been near impossible
even with invisible shuttles and serious cloaking technology. The
sporadic nature of the fights were too random to risk landing in
the city. Peter and Chloe had landed forty miles west of Kiev. Making
the trek on ground was very risky as well. Neither one of them felt
they blended well, but they still moved to find out what was going
on in Kiev.
We need to take a break Peter! My feet are killing me!
Chloe whispered in Russian. Peter had asked Dr. Jean Grey to give
Chloe a crash course in the language. Teaching languages by telepathy
wasnt easy, but not a problem for Dr. Grey. Chloe had complained
of headaches for several days, but they had gotten better. Now she
wished that she was in better shape.
Quiet! Peter scanned the road and nodded. The
way into Kiev appears open, but Intel suggests that there are snipers
and other assorted militia in the area. We must be cautious.
Peter opened the door to an abandoned townhouse in one of Kievs
wealthier districts. The house appeared more or less intact, but
the area was close to the battle zone. He set up the communications
equipment while Chloe cleaned up and began getting reports from
Peter, we have a problem! Reuters is reporting that Kirov
is threatening to move at least three brigades to the border. He
says Russia cant tolerate this kind of instability on its
He finished setting up the equipment and then smiled at her. According
to these frequency scans those three brigades are already here.
After a few minutes Peter came downstairs and pointed out a shattered
window. Ive given Andre our location and told him things
are far worse than they appeared. A bomb explosion too close
for comfort punctuated that statement. We need to find out
what is going on and get out of here!
When Lana was irritated, she went shopping. At the moment, the
shops along South Beach were her only consolation and it wasnt
nearly enough. Congress was in recess, and Pete was supposed to
have joined her last night. They were scheduled to embark at 7 tonight
on the Empress of the Ocean for a junket being paid for by something
called The Vector Group. The least Pete could do is be on time.
The barely-clothed men and women on the wide thoroughfare made
Lana blush with their lack of modesty. It was hot and she was dressed
for comfort, but she could never walk around in a bikini all day.
A display of hats and scarves drew her into the extravagantly pillared
Parthenon, and she made her way through displays of clothes and
the array of artfully distressed columns, determined to choose the
most expensive hat she could find. It was the least Pete owed her
for standing her up.
Lana had just returned her charge card to her purse and was reaching
for the elegant hatbox when the ground began to shake and the expanses
of glass at the front of the store shattered. Glass and fixtures
began raining down, faux columns teetered and fell. Lana was among
the screaming patrons that pushed their panicked way out of the
store, but there was no refuge on the street.
Lana could make no sense of the chaos. There were explosions, cars
burning, screaming people fleeing some unseen force. In the stampede,
Lana was somehow pushed back into the Parthenons pillared
portico. Her head slammed into one of the trembling pillars and
she stumbled, grabbing anything to help keep her on her feet, but
the earth shook more violently, the street and sidewalk buckled
in great waves, and the stone-façade of the Parthenon collapsed.
Burying Lana Lang Ross beneath two tons of ruined stone columns.
General Ross barked rapidfire orders. And move a medical
unit to Miami as quickly as possible! I want to know what happened!
A SHIELD analyst hurried up and handed him a report. Sir,
at least three hundred people are dead and thousands more are wounded.
One of the survivors was able to give details to Miami PD. Were
confident it was the Brotherhood most likely Avalanche.
I want a full briefing on the Brotherhood ASAP. Everything
we know. Congressman Ross lost his wife and Vice President McKenna
lost a nephew, as well. We need some results and we need them soon.
Ross pointed to live network coverage of the wreckage along South
Beach. That is unacceptable! Were doing a piss poor
job in protecting the American people!
This is Elizabeth Vargas. Welcome to World News. We begin
tonight with the horrific attack in Miami by the mutant known as
Avalanche. Reporting live is Mike Scanlon.
Elizabeth, the death toll from this attack is at least
three hundred people and officials are quick to point out that it
could go even higher. Miami and Florida officials are on the scene
as are SHIELD investigators. What remains to be seen is what President
Luthor plans to do about this.
Lex clicked off the TV and swiveled his chair to face Defense Secretary
Brandon Manheim, Attorney General Ursula Gunn and Secretary of State
The Attorney General took the bull by the horns. We have
a crisis of faith on our hands, Mr. President. The people are losing
confidence that their government can handle the Brotherhood.
With good reason, Lex snapped. SHIELD has richly
surpassed its own level of incompetence. Kane, I want you to start
consultations with our allies to change SHIELD leadership. I cant
fire Gyrich without the support of the SHIELD Treaty signatories,
but his days are numbered. Ursula, I want the FBI on this pronto.
SHIELD has military investigators, but we need solid police work
here. Brandon, get Special Forces away from SHIELD and begin using
them to raid known terrorist havens. They dont have to be
mutant-related at the moment, but that would help.
Im sure Prime Minister Tilden will be happy to remove
Gyrich, but we may have to throw the Brits a bone, Kane commented.
Lex nodded. Do what you have to do, but get results. The
longer the Brotherhood goes free, the worse things will get for
Lex waited for them to leave before he pulled out a small device.
Instantly, background noise faded and an instant later a hologram
was in front of him. Enrique, you are hereby ordered to use
all the House resources to find the Brotherhood. Inform Clark and
Whitney if any decisions above your pay grade are required.
Sir, if we have the opportunity to strike? Enrique
Pondering for a moment Lex sat back before answering. Time
is of the essence. I want a full summary of everything we know given
to Whitney before he leaves Smallville. I also want additional security
in Boston and Washington as soon as possible. Have Lisa increase
funding for security. We have the cash flow to triple our forces
without impacting any of our business models.
Enrique looked stricken even in hologram form. Do you want
me to triple our forces?
Lex cut him off. No. A dozen additional persons should cover
it for now. Get Andre to head up the search, hes not too busy.
Lex knew well that his three security lieutenants were extremely
busy. This is a priority, make it happen. He watched
Enrique nod and killed the signal. If you want something
done right do it yourself. Lex silently thanked God that
Congress was in its August Recess or hed be in even more political
hot water than he currently was.
Lex sat behind his desk in the Oval Office and waited for Henry
Gyrich to make his appearance. He didnt stand when Gyrich
walked in, nor did he invite him to sit down. He left Gyrich to
stand in front of his desk like third-grader whod been called
into the principals office. It was a testament to the level
of power Gyrich thought he wielded that he didnt seem the
least bit intimidated.
Lex stared at the Director of SHIELD and waited several moments
before speaking. In what world does one man working for one
organization fail time and time again, yet still keep his job?
Gyrich started to speak, but Lex cut him off. That was rhetorical,
Mr. Gyrich. By any measure of performance, your leadership of SHIELD
has been an abject failure. Your mission was to find, apprehend,
or stop Magneto and the Brotherhood. Have you achieved even the
smallest piece of that objective?
Sir, if I may
HAVE YOU ACHIEVED THAT OBJECTIVE? Lex shouted.
Let me be as clear as I can be -- you and your staff are nothing
but a waste of resources and time. If you were a publicity stunt,
youd be on a par with the New Coke. But youre not a
publicity stunt. Youre supposed to be this countrys
first line of defense, but we are having disaster after disaster
on your watch. Los Angeles and now Miami; what is SHIELD doing?
Are you even trying to follow your mandate?
Gyrich visibly bristled at the rebuke. With all due respect,
sir, if we are going to assign blame for these fiascos, then you
need to look in the mirror. Your policy of appeasement set us on
this path! In your rush to make sure that Human Rights
werent being violated, you emboldened the terrorists with
your soft line!
Lex smiled and his eyes narrowed. Typical. Deflecting blame
for your continued failures. Youve been looking for Magneto
for longer than Ive been in office and I dont see any
results. Youve botched assignment after assignment. How are
you spending your funds and using your resources?
We follow our mandate and have been hunting mutant terrorists.
And weve played vital roles in your continued geo-political
failures in Central Asia. Need I remind you that you ordered SHIELD
to help in Kazakhstan and Romania? It was you who ordered the Ultimates
to tackle Victor von Doom, not I!
It is time to reevaluate the usefulness of SHIELD. I want
a full detailing of all SHIELD actions in the last year. ALL of
your actions; even the black ones. Now, get out. Lex waved
Gyrich out of the room and smiled. Now we will see if you
will give away some of SHIELDs secrets in your haste and anger.
What are you and your generals really doing down there in New York,
President Kirov sat with his generals and looked at the current
tactical maps of Ukraine.
The eastern most part of Ukraine is in total upheaval. The
Border is not stable, stated one of the tactical officers.
Weve increased the border guard and moved additional
troops near there, but with so many troops still in Kazakhstan,
we are stretched thin.
Destiny, and brotherhood, demands that we take action; move
into eastern Ukraine and secure the border sections. Kirov
stated. You have your orders.
The room cleared and Tatiana came in. The Shadow Squads are
engaged in real fights in Kiev. The resistance is growing quickly.
Move a few of our allies into that area as well. I want Kiev
under control soon. America is distracted at the moment and it could
not happen at a better time. Kirov smiled and gave Tatiana
a brief back rub. It is all coming together. We will rule
the world soon and American will be powerless to stop us.
Peter moved quickly in the shadows as he and Chloe made a run for
safety. The city was in chaos. Russian troops had crossed the border
and reports of them moving rapidly towards Kiev had sent the resistance
into a panic. Fighting had intensified and the city was now much
We have to move! Peter yelled as Chloe was still taking
pictures of the dead lying in the street in the aftermath of another
She waved him off, but started moving towards him, still snapping
pictures. I have a job to do!
You cant do it if youre dead, he retorted.
I promised Bobby Id make sure youd come home in
one piece. If we dont evacuate now, we may not be able to
She put the camera away and nodded. They quickly moved towards
the river and headed along some side streets keeping the river in
view. The rendezvous was set, but LFK security may not be able to
hang around if the Russian Army got too close.
More explosions reverberated through the city and the last bridge
crossing the Dnieper River collapsed. Peter shook his head. They
are trying to make it impossible for the Russians to pacify the
city. We have to hurry!
It took them five hours to travel ten miles, but they made it.
The eastern side of Kiev was burning. People were trying to cross
the river by swimming and many were dying in the effort. Peter had
longed to help them, but anti-mutant hysteria was rising everywhere.
Andre greeted them and grabbed the case Chloe was carrying. We
need to hurry. Signal Intercepts have the lead column of Russian
tanks almost inside Kiev. The Russian underground is killing everyone
who resists now.
They moved out towards a field and a shuttle decloaked. They climbed
in and they took off. Chloe logged into the communications network.
Lex, things are far worse than you thought. We saw evidence
The heat was sweltering as the citizens from Old Smallville
gathered to bury Lana Lang-Ross. Whitney walked in with Clark to
pay their respects. Lex did not want to overshadow the funeral and
opted to stay at the White House with national security as the excuse.
Philip and Hamilton were in Boston and had already sent their condolences
to the Ross family. Ben and Wes were outside talking to residents
before coming into the church. Lex had phoned Pete as soon as he
heard the news.
The casket came into the church and Pete was walking behind it.
April, his sister, walked beside him. Hymns were sung and prayers
said. Old residents of the once sleepy town said good-bye to one
of their own.
Whitney walked out of the church after the service and greeted
several of the residents. Clark was talking to his old neighbors.
Whitney saw Pete come out of the church and he moved to talk to
him, but was intercepted by Mike. Dont man, hes
Upset at what? Whitney asked.
Hes pissed at Lex for not going after mutants harder.
He wants Registration back on the agenda. He blames Lex because
this mutant was free.
Whitney shook his head and walked away. He motioned to Clark and
they left with the boys. //This is not good. Pete has been a loose
cannon since he first ran for Congress. This has me worried. Lana
and he had been there for each other for years and now
Clark nodded. //Ill see if I can talk to him in a few days.
Hes always been a hot head, but hell see reason once
he calms down.//
Snapper Carr looked up from his computer and took stock of the
walls of his apartment, the sofa, the entertainment center, carpet,
non-descript rental furniture
It was his home, but it shouldnt
have been. Prior to waking up at this desk thirty minutes ago with
a blinding headache, Snappers last clear memory was entering
a bar on the other side of the world in Algiers where hed
been following up an anonymous tip on the location of a secret enclave
of the Brotherhood
Hed checked into his hotel, caught
a dingy cab to the even dingier red-light district, found the bar,
walked in, looked around, caught the eye of a stunning woman in
a sapphire blue dress
And woke up in his apartment staring at his computer. Although
waking up wasnt quite the right phrase. More like returning
His computer told him that three days had passed since the bar
in Algiers, and that wasnt the only thing his computer had
for him. There was information here that hadnt been there
before he boarded the plane. Information that was political dynamite.
Information that could bring the president a great deal of political
Snapper picked up the phone and dialed Loiss cell, only to
discover she was out of her service area. That meant she was out
of the country, since the entire continental U.S. had been fully
covered by cell service for more than a decade.
Where could she be? Knowing The Daily Planet wouldnt
just tell him where theyd sent one of their star reporters,
it took a couple of bullying phone calls and a lot of subterfuge
to finally get someone to tell him, Im sorry, Miss Lane
is on assignment in Havana.
Snapper groused an appropriate answer, then hung up the phone.
What the hell is she doing in Havana? he asked the
four walls, and then went back to studying the information about
prominent political supporters of Luthors.
Warm breezes blew through Havana as Lois Lane made her way along
the alleys toward the location where she was supposed to meet a
contact that would send her career into the stratosphere. Yesterday,
Snapper Carr had left a cryptic but compelling message on her voice
mail: Hey, Ace. If you want an interview with the most Wanted
man on the planet, be at the Blue Parrot Bar in Havana tomorrow
night at 6. Source is reliable. I would scoop you, but Im
in Algiers on the trail of another big fish. Happy hunting.
The most wanted man on the planet. Magneto.
The risk was unthinkable, but the rewards were worth it. Worth
anything, actually. The big stories always made Loiss blood
sing in her veins. She was never more alive than when she was on
the hunt, and she knew in her gut that this was going to be the
story of her life.
Dont move Miss Lane or you will be dead before you
can twitch. Lois hadnt seen or even sensed the man who
was suddenly behind her, his breath hot on her cheek.
Lois stopped breathing and forced herself to relax. Okay.
Good. Now you will walk down this alley to the end of the
street and there you will get into a waiting taxi. You will be blindfolded
by the other passenger. Music will play in your ears to keep you
disoriented. Upon arrival at your destination, you will meet the
man you have been seeking.
Lois did as she was told and tried to keep her heart rate low as
she sped to her unknown destination. The car stopped and she was
led out still blindfolded. A hand on her arm kept her from stumbling,
but it was still difficult to walk without sight. The blindfold
was removed and it took her a few minutes to adjust to the light.
So you are the famous Lois Lane. A reporter he trail of whatever
story suits her fancy. Ive read plenty about your views on
the current American President. Hes no friend of ours, but
neither is he our number one enemy. I hear youve been looking
The woman across the room was beautiful, but clearly not who Lois
had expected. She was dressed in a casual business suit and seemed
irritatingly at ease. Who are you? Lois demanded.
My name is Mystique. Lois watched in stunned silence
as the well-dressed woman melted into a reptilian blue creature
clad in nothing but scales. Her glittering yellow eyes sent a shudder
down Loiss spine.
Youre a mutant.
Im a shapeshifter. Im also Magnetos first
Where is he?
The blue creature laughed lightly. Nowhere near here.
Lois bristled. I was told--
I know what you were told, Mystique cut her off. I
sent you that message on Mr. Carrs behalf. He and I had a
little meeting in Algiers a few days ago he didnt have
as much information about the first family as wed hoped, but
hell be very useful in the long run. You, on the other hand
Given your obsession with the Luthor-Fordman-Kent family, I expect
your fertile brain to be chocked full of useful information.
Lois wasnt sure shed ever been as terrified as she
was at the moment, which only made her more aggressive, possibly
even foolish. Look, Bluebelle, I dont know what you
think I know, but Im not in the habit of giving more information
than I get. You want to know what I know, youre going to have
to come across with some useful information of your own.
Mystiques laugh sent a chill down Loiss spine. My
dear Miss Lane, I am going to tell you nothing and you are going
to tell me everything you know. She snapped her fingers and
a thin figure swathed in dark robes slithered out of the shadows
on the edge of Loiss peripheral vision. My friends and
I are going to probe every corner of your brain. When were
done, you will remember nothing and we will know everything you
know or ever knew about Lex Luthor, his lovers, and his four mysterious
heirs. Magneto and I are betting that theres a wealth of information
up there that you werent allowed to print. Am I right?
Go to--, the words faded away as though someone had
snatched them out of her mouth and replaced them with a deep void
that was pitch black and blindingly white. There was pain and a
woman screaming in the distance, and some part of Lois that seemed
very far away knew that the screams were her own.
Diana Prince settled onto a park bench in Central Park; she was
risking being late for a charity event at the Metropolitan Museum
of Art, but after weeks of sweltering heat, the promise of a tropical
storm approaching the Eastern Seaboard was washing the city in cool,
refreshing air. Diana wanted to savor it.
She wasnt the only one. The park was more crowded than usual,
and though Diana was always alert for trouble, she was a bit started
when a handsome, vaguely familiar man stopped abruptly, towering
over her. Excuse me, but arent you Diana Prince from
the Office of the Special Representative for the Secretary General
of the United Nations?
Yes, she replied, making certain the man didnt
see that all of her defenses were now on full alert. And you
Snapper Carr. I work for ABC News.
Diana feigned a brilliant smile and stood, forcing the man to take
a step back. Of course you are! I didnt recognize you
without your camera crew, Mr. Carr.
Snapper matched her brilliant smile and pulled a small recording
device out of his pocket. Im traveling light today.
May we sit down and have a chat?
Im not fond of ambushes, Mr. Carr. And as it so happens,
Im late for a UNICEF benefit at the museum. Perhaps you could
call my office and set up an interview. Diana started down
the wide sidewalk and Carr did a quick-step to put himself at her
Well, yes, I could do that, but youre here and Im
here, and this wont take a minute. You see, Im working
on a piece about the presidents inner circle an expose
on a tightly organized group of very powerful people from a diverse
set of institutions who have gone to great lengths to hide their
association with both the President and with each other. Given all
the secrecy, we think the American people have the right to know
who has the presidents ear and how that influences the government.
Diana felt a tightening in the pit of her stomach. He was talking
about the Society. She smiled. Palace intrigue that
ought to make your advertisers happy. Im not sure what that
has to do with me, though.
We know that several industrialists are part of this group.
And some highly placed diplomats American and European
Its a diverse and impressive list and your name is
on it. Carr held the recorder up to her. Any comments?
Mr. Carr, Im blessed to have friends in many circles,
none of which are secret. Now, I apologize, but I am late. Good
evening. Diana quickened her pace, leaving Carr behind. She
used her enhanced hearing to make sure he wasnt following,
but she was far from at ease when she finally pulled her credentials
from her purse and entered the museum.
Not willing to let her alarm show, she accepted a glass of champagne
from a passing waiter and made her way sociably through the gathering
while searching for another member of the Society. No smile came
to her face when she spotted Warren Worthington, but her relief
was acute. She made it a point to drift in his direction.
Hello Diana, how are you? Warren asked as he walked
up to her. I love these gatherings so, I have a bet with Oliver
Diana arched an eyebrow and looked around before leaning closer
to Warren. We have a problem, Warren. A reporter just accused
me of being a member of a secret organization bent on influencing
Warrens eyes flickered, but he gave no other sign as a response
to her statement. Who was he and what did he say exactly?
An ABC News Investigative reporter named Snapper Carr.
Diana repeated the conversation nearly verbatim, pausing as a waiter
passed by and resuming only when he was out of earshot. This
could constitute an emergency if we arent careful. Lex needs
to be informed ABC News hasnt been especially hostile
to the administration, but they could turn it into a political issue
that would present no end of problems for Lex.
I agree. Unfortunately, this is above my pay grade,
he quipped. You tell Betsy and Bruce. Ill let Charles
know and he can inform the rest of the Society with far greater
Diana nodded. Thank goodness weve had a few open meetings
since the election. That should allow us to claim this is nothing
but political calculation, but theres something more sinister
at work here, Warren. I feel it.
The White House
Lex was sitting in his office up in the Residence when he felt
a presence, even though the room was completely empty. He laid aside
the report hed been reading, and nearly jumped out of his
skin when the astral image of Charles Xavier appeared next to him
on the divan.
//Pardon the interruption Mr. President, but there has been an
incident with the Society and you must be informed quickly. Earlier
this evening, Diana Prince had an unexpected meeting with reporter
Snapper Carr. He mentioned the Society in veiled terms and asked
for her comment.//
//How do they even know about the Society?// asked Lex.
//That is a question I cannot answer, Mr. President. Washington
is a labyrinth of intrigue and you would know that better than I.
I am contacting the Society as quickly and quietly as possible,
but there are limits to my range and power. I dare not make contact
too far from New York for fear of detection. Even this might register
on some monitoring systems.//
//There is no helping that now. Thank you for letting me know.
Please use all the resources of X-Corp to find out exactly what
Carr knows and where his information came from. Not for the first
time do I feel as though I am be moved in a direction without my
//Indeed, the winds are blowing us against our will. I contact
you through either Dr. McCoy or Dr. Grey when I have anything of
substance to report.//
Lex sat in the Situation Room as it was confirmed that Ukraine
was under Russian control now. Admiral Keaton pointed to a map.
Kiev is under Russian control and they are moving to Control
the entire eastern half of the country. Ukrainian resistance forces
are gathering on the Polish and Romanian borders to fight back,
but they are ceding the country with that tactic.
Vice President McKenna asked, Is there anything we can do
overtly or covertly to help them? Russian Imperialist expansion
must be halted.
General Saavedra shook his head. We have that brigade and
a half still in Kazakhstan, but we have to move them out to Turkey
a force that size isnt nearly enough to stop the Russians
from taking the Ukraine. All of NATO would have to mobilize to stop
Russia right now and they wont.
And now Russia has two former satellite countries back in
its fold. Belarus is already under puppet control and the other
Muslim countries must feel as though they are next. Lex looked
at the map and then smiled. Secretary Manheim, please redeploy
all our forces in the theatre to Turkey. See if we cant mix
a few military advisors in with the Ukrainian regulars gathering
on the Polish and Romanian borders.
Defense Secretary Manheim nodded. We may not be able to mobilize
NATO, but a few military advisors might be available.
Make it off the record, Kane, Lex warned. We
need to see if we cant bleed Russia of her ambition and momentum.
Lois woke up with a pounding migraine, her last clear memory that
of a mans hot breath on her cheek issuing melodramatic warnings.
A bag had gone over her head and after that, everything was a black
If there had been a rendezvous with Magneto, she didnt remember
it. What shed said and done and whatever had been do
to her was a complete blank. She didnt even know where
the hell she was, and considering the depth of the pain in her head,
she didnt really care.
A knock on the door sounded like thunder and she groaned, grabbing
a pillow to muffle misery.
Lois? Lois, open the door! Its Snapper!
Snapper. Snapper Carr. Whod sent her to the Blue Parrot in
Havana. Lois stumbled out of bed, groaning in misery.
The thunder roared through her head again. Stop pounding!
Im coming, damn it!
On the way to the door, she managed to identify her institutional
surroundings as a seedy motel. Whoever had kidnapped her must have
been on a limited budget.
She found the door and threw it open. Where the hell am I?
Miami. Snapper took the door out of her hand and grabbed
Lois before she could fall on her face. He kicked the door shut
and helped her back to the bed.
How did I get here?
Havent got a clue, but Im betting you have a
killer headache. Dont worry, itll go away in an day
Lois collapsed into a heap on the bed and tried to muster a coherent
thought. How did you know where to find me?
Someone left me a message and I came as fast as I could.
Lois pushed herself up on one elbow and made a valiant attempt
to focus on Snapper. That wouldnt be the same someone
who tendered an invitation to meet Magneto in Havana, would it?
Huh? Snapper frowned at her.
The message you left me. On my voice mail. You said you had
a source who had set up a meet with the most wanted man on the planet.
Snapper pursed his lips. You got a voice mail? From me.
Lois dropped her head onto the pillow. Yes.
Youre sure it was me?
Jeez. I wonder what else they made me do while I was
out? he muttered.
He ignored the question. Ill bet you dont remember
if you met with Magneto or not, do you? When Lois just shook
her head and groaned, Snapper said, Jeez, Lane. What have
we stumbled into? The same thing happened to me in Algiers
I went for a meet and woke up three days later in New York. The
only thing I had to show for it was a laptop full of priceless information.
That tidbit of information pierced Loiss misery. What
information? she asked as she sat up and scanned the room
for her belongings. Her laptop was on a table by the window and
she made a beeline for it as Snapper told her, Theres
a group called the Society for Justice that reads like the Billionaire
Boys Club. The Secretary of the Treasury is on it. And Clark Kent.
And if Kent is involved
Then the whole of House Luthor is, too. Lois fired
up her laptop and found a file folder with a jeweled icon, big as
life, in the center of her desktop. She clicked on it eagerly, but
nothing happened. She cursed and cajoled, but nothing she did would
make the file surrender its treasures.
Fuck! She rubbed her temples and closed her computer
in frustration. I have no idea what happened and no idea what
Dont worry, Lois. I know a really discreet hacker.
If the file can be opened, hell get it done.
Misery closed back in on Lois, but she managed to remain upright
this time. What else was in your computer? Who else is in
whats it called?
Society for Justice. All I know so far is Kent, Wayne, Diana
Prince of the UN, and Tony Stark, but that is enough to link all
kinds of possibilities together. Of course, I have no idea what
it all means. I did an informal interview with Ms. Prince -- she
didnt freak out but she didnt exactly welcome me with
open arms. I called her office and made an appointment for a follow
up day after tomorrow.
Lois sat quietly for a moment. Who did this to us, Snapper?
Well, considering the fact that you received a voice message
from me while I was off in Never-Never Land, Id say there
are two choices: a mutant whos into mind control, or somebody
who has invented a high-tech super-secret thought-control, brainwashing
Luthor, Lois pronounced defiantly. It had to
be Luthor. They got wind of our investigation and wanted to know
how much wed learned.
Then why leave us the Society for Justice stuff?
Lois frowned. Red herring? Theyre trying to lure us
into a trap, maybe?
Snapper thought it over and after a moment shook his head. Naa.
I dont think so. I dont know how they messed with our
memories, but this smells like someone with a political agenda whos
out to smear the President.
Snapper shrugged. Lex Luthor is the most pro-mutant politician
on the planet. Why would any of them want us to bring him down?
Lois rubbed her temples. I dont know, and frankly,
I dont care. The people elected Lex Luthor, but if the White
House is being run by the Billionaire Boys Club, that has to be
Snapper chuckled. You know, Lois, I think Lex Luthor could
cure cancer, pipe fresh water to all the deserts of the world, solve
the economic woes of every third world nation, and bring about world
peace and youd still be determined to bring down his Empire
Lois glared at him. Are you saying I lack impartiality?
He raised his hands in mock surrender, Hey, dont shoot
the messenger. I didnt say I disapproved. In fact, this could
be a helluva lot of fun. Well have my friend Louis tackle
your computer and you can grill Secretary Wayne while I interview
Kill two birds with one stone. Lois smiled. I
The streets were heavy with humidity; everything was damp and the
air didnt move as the moon rose over the Crescent City. The
smells of the river, lake and swamp mingled in the air along with
the smells of the citys famous restaurants. Irene Adler sniffed
the air and shook her head. Her cane swept in front of her to make
sure her step was sure. Blindness never impeded her, but others
often mistook it as a weakness when actually it was a strength.
They are coming, she said to no one. There was no fear
in her for shed known this day was inevitable. Her mutant
ability to predict the future had warned her that it would come
to this. The probabilities narrowed as time compressed. She was
wanted, but by two entities and they were coming now, but the time
threads were conflicting. She knew only that it was pivotal which
group took her. Nothing less than the entire future was at stake.
Known among mutants as Destiny, Irenes abilities had been
used by Magneto more than once. Was he the one so close by? Would
he be the one to shape the future this time, or was it the other?
Destinys cane swept through a puddle as they advanced. In
her minds eye she could see the men in dark uniforms moving
closer. All the timelines now agreed, but she walked as oblivious
to what was coming.
Stop! The voice in front of her failed to startle her.
She stopped and took a deep breath. The future opened up again
and not much was good in the short term. It went dark after a year.
Irene staggered, feeling truly blind for the first time in years,
but she collected herself quickly. Ill go peacefully.
How did you-- The SHIELD agent stopped when she cut
him off with, I can see the future, young man. God help us
all. And then she was stunned and the world went black.
It was ironic. So many things came across the desk of Dr. Valerie
Cooper, Deputy Secretary of Defense, that she rarely had time to
process everything and yet she felt woefully uninformed because
she had less access to Intelligence than when shed been National
Security Advisor. Still, she did her best to keep her finger on
the pulse of investigations and anomalies. The one she found that
morning pulled her up short.
Puzzled, she got up from her desk and went to the Ladies room,
pondering her options. When she returned she called an old friend.
Holly, this is Val. Are you free for lunch?
Dr. Cooper sat down across from FBI Director Holly Jones and sighed.
I am so sorry to be late. Getting into town from Arlington
was murder. How are you?
Holly smiled. I understand. I hate it when I have to go down
to Quantico for whatever reason. Im fine. So, whats
Valerie looked around and tapped the table. I have a feeling
that we may be under surveillance.
I can guarantee that I am, Holly stated flatly. The
FBI is such a hot bed of political machinations that I can barely
keep up with who is aligned with who. Its scary, Val. So whats
A SHIELD Special Ops team was dispatched to New Orleans a
few days ago -- a Special Ops force was tasked to go down there.
I cant find a reason in any Intelligence report, so Im
naturally curious about whats going on. Unfortunately, I cant
look into it without it turning into a big deal. I thought maybe
the FBI could poke around without raising any eyebrows.
Ill see what I can do, but it may not be as deep as
you might like. The president is on a rampage to find Magneto and
bring him to justice. Every agency is being tasked to the search.
Holly thought it over a moment. Tell you what, Ill send
Chet to New Orleans and see what he can sniff out.
Valerie nodded. Thatll have to do. I want to know what
that team was up to.
SHIELD headquarters was not the ideal place to keep a prisoner,
but it was one of a precious few locations equipped with the psychic
dampeners that helped thwart telepaths. Henry didnt want to
tip off The Brotherhood that SHIELD had their precious prophet.
He opened the secure room and sat down in the chair opposite the
older woman. So you are the famous Destiny.
I dont know about famous, but I am called Destiny by
some, Mr. Gyrich.
Henry paused for a second and then moved closer to her. How
did you know my name?
Do you think you are unknown? Youve served a president
and are the director of SHIELD. Many times Ive seen you in
the streams of Time. You are an actor, as are we all. The role you
will play in the future is fast coming to fruition, Mr. Gyrich.
What exactly do you see? Gyrich asked, ignoring the
door that opened behind him. One of SHIELDs telepaths, Heather
Douglas, aka Moondragon, joined him.
Destiny turned and smiled at Moondragon. And so things play
out even further. Welcome, Ms. Douglas. Mr. Gyrich, the future weaves
itself from the actions of people as they occur. Those actions can
lead to probabilities and possibilities. Events loom in the distance,
like a thunderstorm. I can see many things, but should I speak of
them, then I alter the very fabric of what I see. The Oracle must
remain as neutral as possible. Prescience is dangerous in neutral
hands and deadly when it has an agenda.
Then why do the mutants refer to you as their prophet?!
demanded Gyrich. What do you tell them?!
I told them everything that they have heard before; that
hope is coming. That to give in to despair is to lose that hope.
I told them nothing of events because the threads shift with every
action. Your actions in bringing me here have already sent new threads
of Time into different directions. She reached to take a sip
of water from her glass. Once she put it down she turned to smile
at Gyrich. You want answers, but if I give you answers then
they are no longer valid. You want certainty where none exists.
Time is motion, Mr. Gyrich, and no answer can capture that motion.
He smiled and leaned closer to Destiny. Then tell me about
She gasped and recoiled from the question. She weighed the repercussions
of answering his questions and finally said cautiously, He
is tied to the fate of mutantkind. There is no way to explain this
except to say that his fate impacts that of every mutant across
the planet. For good or ill, I cannot say. Storms gather in the
future, Mr. Gyrich. Many threads are merging or failing. Soon Time
will exist from moment to moment with no view of what lies beyond.
Storms gather and each action brings it closer. Bringing me here
has set off another chain of events. The storm is still there and
Gyrich turned to Moondragon and frowned. I want to know what
she knows. Dont do any permanent damage, but I want to know
everything about Magneto, Franklin Richards, and the Brotherhood!
He got up and left the room.
Destiny turned to Moondragon and nodded. Peer into my mind
and know what I know.
Diana Prince sat down in her office and motioned for Snapper Carr
to join her. Are you ready? She had agreed to be interviewed,
but only on paper, not by television.
Youre too pretty not to let me place you on television,
Ms. Prince, Snapper said in a blatant attempt to change her
mind about the camera.
I enjoy having a low profile that allows me to stroll through
Central Park unaccosted. Well, most days, she added dryly,
pulling back on her jet black hair. Shall we begin?
Snapper shrugged and then turned on his recorder. Ms. Prince,
are you associated with a group known as the Society for Justice?
I know of a Society for Peace and Justice, but I am not a
member. She stared him in the eye while she answered the question.
How are you affiliated with Oliver Queen? According to my
sources, his tax records show that he donates a great deal of money
to charitable causes, but the money vanishes. Snapper looked
up from his notes as he waited for her response.
Diana shrugged expressively. Oliver Queen is a casual acquaintance,
but I have no idea where his money goes.
What about Bruce Wayne?
What about him?
Are you and the Secretary of the Treasury involved in a secret
Diana laughed lightly. Mr. Carr, why dont I cut to
the chase? I know a host of wealthy, influential individuals and
count many of them my friends. As a diplomat and socialite descended
from Greek aristocracy, I have access to the highest social circles.
I am a member of the exclusive Hellfire Club in London, and through
that organization I rub elbows with Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, Tony
Stark, and a host of others from the New York branch of the Club.
She smiled at him and leaned forward a bit. Dont quote
me on this, but billionaires really do have the nicest toys.
So youre saying that you know nothing about mutant
undergrounds or safe-house networks? Snapper asked with a
touch of exasperation.
Not in any modern sense, but I know of underground movements
from the past as well as safe-house networks. What are you getting
Snapper waived her off. Nothing. Thank you for your time,
Youre quite welcome, Mr. Carr. Diana rose and
escorted him to the door, then crossed the room to join Dr. Jean
Gray in the office next door. What does he know? Diana
Nothing with any certainty
He has facts the
existence of the Society, a list of members, mostly just what you
heard but its information that was given to him by
a source thats unknown to him. He has no idea if the information
he has is real or fake, so hes searching for validation. Heres
what concerns me, Diana hes determined to prove that
his information is real, so hes going to dig until hes
exhausted every possibility.
That is disturbing, Diana agreed.
And theres one other major issue
He has a partner.
Lois Lane. Together they are going to go after every lead
they can find. Jean shook her head slowly. Also, theres
evidence of some kind of psychic interference in his mind, but its
different from anything Ive seen before.
Someone has set them on this path then. Interesting.
The White House
Secretary of State Kane Miller was a born diplomat. An academic
with familial ties to the Founding of the Republic, Kane was the
definition of a patrician, born of privilege, attending all the
right schools, and having all the right contacts, he was a man who
understood diplomacy and was a heavyweight among heavyweights in
the Luthor cabinet. The situation with Russia was something beyond
his control and his options in dealing with it were limited.
It was very rare that he requested a meeting with the president,
but for this one he needed to do it face to face. The trip from
the State Department took little time and he entered the White House
at the diplomatic entrance. He nodded to senior staff as he made
his way to the Oval Office.
The presidents executive secretary, Cynthia Hunt, greeted
him as he walked up. Hes expecting you Mr. Secretary,
please go right in.
He walked in and stopped a few paces inside the door. Mr.
President, he offered as he walked inside.
Lex smiled and motioned for him to sit down. Mr. Secretary
this is a rare pleasure. What can I do for you?
Mr. President, I have every confidence in Secretary Manheim,
but the complexity of the situation in the Ukraine is making dependable
assessments difficult, if not impossible. Clarity has never been
more important than at this moment.
I couldnt agree more, Lex allowed. And
Ive never known you to delineate a problem without a solution
to address it.
Kane nodded. As I think you know, my son is with Marine Special
Forces.. If his unit could be deployed to the insurgent fight in
Ukraine, we could get an unimpeachable assessment of the true situation.
Kane kept his gaze fixed on President Luthors. Russia
is moving towards dangerous belligerence and we must know what is
Deploying Grahams unit with no fanfare would be dicey
at best. Being your son makes him high profile; it would surely
catch attention at the DOD. Lex rubbed his chin for a moment.
Ill consider it because it is a good idea, but I cant
promise anything. Ive only met Graham once, but Clark has
met him and talked with him at length. We were both impressed.
Yes, Graham informed me of Dr. Kents visit. Kane
chuckled, Graham was both amused and shocked.
Lex rose and extended his hand to the diplomat. Ill
have Dr. McNally begin to look into this. Thank you, Kane.
An hour later, Lex relayed Millers request to Nancy McNally.
Kane wants to send covert Marines to Ukraine. The vice president
has suggested, and we approved, military advisors to that area already.
Do we dare escalate with the potential for our direct involvement
to be uncovered?
It would have to be done in small groups, and wed need
sufficient Intel assets on the ground to verify that our troops
are safe from detection.
If we send in a battalion of Marines, how much impact would
We can turn some Marines into advisors and let
them funnel weapons into Ukraine, but thats the extent of
what we can do. We have to insulate this office from any direct
Get with CIA and DOD; I want this in motion as soon as possible.
There must be some weapons that have been tasked for other insurgencies
that can suddenly get lost.
Nancy McNally smiled and shrugged. I have no idea what youre
FBI Assistant Director Chet Desmond felt like an idiot, walking
the streets of New Orleans looking for something without actually
knowing what it was he was looking for. His assignment had been
given to him verbally by the FBI Director herself. Get to
New Orleans and find out whats going on, Holly had directed.
Going on with what or whom? Chet had asked, hoping
for a little clarification.
Youll know it when you see it, Holly had replied.
Just dont leave any fingerprints. If anyone asks, youre
wrapping up loose ends on the Thibideaux Kidnapping.
While in reality
Youll know it when you see it, she repeated.
Could you be a little more vague? Chet had wanted to grouse,
but held his tongue. Hed hightailed it to New Orleans knowing
only that he was looking for something out of place in a city where
the normal was abnormal.
Using a terminal in an Internet café, hed been able
to search local news and blogs, and had even been able to conduct
searches of Homeland Securitys recent Internet chat room surveillance
without leaving any trace. The only moderately interesting thing
hed heard about New Orleans were some overblown rumors about
the mysterious disappearance of a supposedly powerful psychic. Chet
hadnt thought much of it until hed come across a similar
rumor in a chat room haunted by government conspiracy theory goofballs.
Piecing together the few threads hed been able to weave together,
he made his way to the warehouse district along the river.
Are you one of them?
Chet whirled and found himself face-to-face with an elderly homeless
man. Am I one of who?
The man coughed and then pointed at the street down the alley.
One of the men that came and took her.
Bingo. Who did they take?
They came in out of the night and took her. The people knew
she had the Sight and left her alone. But the men in black came
and took her. Blind though she was she could see and knew they came
for her. Powerful she is.
What was her name? Chet was excited and scared at the
Go to the Quarter and one of the voodoo priestesses can tell
you. The one they took, all them priestesses down there know about
her. They can tell you more. But things changing
can feel it.
Her gone, darkness falls.
Chet moved away from the man and hurried to the Quarter. He had
a contact there who could plug him into the Voodoo underground,
but that turned out to be unnecessary. The Voodoo found him.
You seek Destiny, said an ancient black woman as he
passed the entrance to an alley. She was enthroned on a rickety
chair, and acrid tobacco smoke from her pipe circled her head like
a dingy halo.
Chet stopped and shook his head. You are mistaken, Mama.
Im not looking to have my fortune read.
Maybe so, maybe not, but it is Destiny you seek, she
countered. That one is a seer of rare power. She has been
taken by men with dark agendas. The woman inhaled on her pipe.
Many of us here could feel it when her minds eye was
loose. Time was her map. The bones speak of terrible things now
that she is taken.
Chet knelt beside her. As if conjured, the innocent clouds that
had been gathering overhead turned the sky dark and thunder roared
in the distance. Who took her? Who is she?
How many times must I tell you, Mr. Policeman. She is Destiny.
Her friends call her Irene and shes missing to them. You can
follow her now, Mr. Policeman. Those who took her though, they know
who she is and what she can do.
When did they take her?
A week, maybe more. She shook her head. Bad things
happen when people act in bad faith, Mr. Policeman. Storms are a
brewing and Destiny knew that too. Find her quickly, or we are all
doomed. Go now, go. Putting one hand on Chets shoulder,
she used him like a cane to rise, and then, taking her chair with
her, disappeared into the alley.
Chet hurried back to his car and called the New Orleans PD to request
a missing persons report. It didnt take long to get the list.
He had his lead and now it was a matter of figuring out exactly
who took her.
Holly Jones sat down and nodded as Val Cooper joined her. Old friends
that they were, this meeting would go unnoticed or written off by
any observers. They ordered and chatted until the first course had
been served. Holly sipped her soup and smiled at Val. I have
Concerning New Orleans? Val took a bite out of her
spring roll and tried hard to suppress her anticipation.
It seems an elderly woman with the gift of prescience was
kidnapped while that Special Ops team was there. Holly paused
to survey the restaurant. According to Chet, the mystics down
there are spooked. They knew her and theyre afraid of what
Black ops to kidnap psychic mutants. Ive not seen anything
that could possibly be related in any Intelligence report from any
agency. Something buried this deep can only mean that Gyrich is
behind it, Val hissed. SHIELD was a good idea, but the
whole damned agency is turning into the proverbial loose cannon.
How can you confirm whether they have the woman? Holly
asked while glancing around again.
I still talk to Raven Darkholm all the time. Ill ask
her to check on it. Shes in a position to find out.
Gavin Lee was the head of the Freedom Party of Australia and sat
in the Cabinet. Both positions gave him power, but together they
had allowed him to leverage his political power to such magnitude
that the government would fall without his support. He considered
it his personal mission in life to keep the Prime Ministers
feet to the fire on the mutant issue.
Brewster, I want
Excuse me, sir, his secretary poked her head in the
door, interrupting the staff meeting. If you dont leave
now, you will be late for the gala at the Opera House. The limo
All right, all right, he waved her off and rose to
collect his suit jacket. Ride with me, Brewster, Congrove.
Well continue this in the car.
His aides, who were never far from his side, made their way with
him to a waiting car. Lee got in and was stunned to see someone
sitting across from him. Who are you?
Damien smiled at Gavin. Im one of your biggest supporters
and Im here to give you a career boost.
Make an appointment. And get out of my limo, Gavin
barked. He reached for the door, but when the locks clicked, his
irritation surged into alarm.
Damien tisk, tisked, Not your limo, Gavin. And youre
no longer in a position to give orders.
What? Where? Lee looked out the window and saw
his two aides being pushed into another car.
Dont worry, Tweedledum and Tweedledee wont feel
a thing. Nor will you.
Gavin devolved into pure panic, but he managed to control his voice
enough to demand, What do you want? What are you going to
do with us?
As a thank you for your excellent service, Minister, Im
going to show you a certain amount of hospitality while I put my
extraordinary plan into place, and then, when Im sure everything
is functioning smoothly, Ill probably kill you. In fact, I
will almost certainly kill you. But dont worry. Gavin Lee
will continue to be of enormous service to his government, the world,
and, of course, me.
And then Gavins world went dark.
Interior Minister Gavin Lee arrived late at the Opera House, disoriented,
feeling as though hed just awakened from a long, drugged sleep,
though he had no memory of sleeping, nor of what had happened to
make him miss the walk down the red carpet.
He made it through the evening, but was glad to be home when the
driver dropped him at his door. As though in a fog, he made his
way inside, and was shocked to see a man in the foyer, waiting for
him. Gavin felt sure he should muster some indignation or even alarm,
but he could locate neither. Who are you?
I am Dr. Essex and I am here to finish your transfer.
Tran-- Gavin froze as flashes of light were directed
at his eyes. Images race through his mind.
You and your aides will have the flu for the next few days.
Once you have absorbed the memories and personalities of your progenitors,
you will be Minister Lee in every way, with no memory of this transfer,
but you will belong to us. You and Congrove and Brewster. When we
need you, you will respond like dogs to their masters.
Essex stopped the process and pushed the near catatonic Minister
to a sofa. You will be fine in a few days. We will call you
Gyrich looked through the infirmary window at Moondragon, who had
been reduced to a gibbering idiot. What the Hell is wrong
with her? he demanded of the medic on duty.
Were not sure yet. She keeps mumbling the same thing
over and over again. He handed Gyrich a tablet that contained
a transcript of Moondragons ravings.
It all runs together. All things end. The end of time has come.
All threads come to the darkness. It all runs together. Nothing
will survive. Luthor, Richards, the lion will come and all will
Gyrich waved the tablet in the mans face. This is all
shes been saying?
Sir, she screams every so often about a fiery end, but thats
He looked at the timeline of Moondragons complaints and he
dropped the tablet. He hurried out and called the Psy-Ops group.
Under no circumstances do you let anyone probe Destinys
mind again. It will drive the telepaths mad.
As soon as she read the transcript, Amanda Waller ordered Henry
to join her in the infirmary. Destiny needs to be terminated,
Henry, she said without preamble the moment he appeared.
I agree, but not yet. For the moment, I need her alive to
see if we are on the right track. I want to know if she can pinpoint
Magneto. Gyrich frowned as Moondragon went through another
spate of gibberish. Maybe we need to bring Destiny here and
see if she can help Moondragon make sense of what shes seeing.
That sounds dangerous. Waller paused, considering,
and then nodded. But sometimes what caused the problem can
fix the problem.
Gyrich lifted a phone and within minutes Destiny was wheeled near
the infirmary. He nodded at the two technicians and moved to the
Destiny gazed at Heather Douglas with sightless eyes and frowned.
Child is lost in the streams of time. Swept by the winds of
probability and lost without an anchor. She reached out her
hands and took hold of Moondragons.
Dual voices echoed in the room, Time is becoming blind. The
seas are turning to blood. All will be lost to darkness before the
light can return. Shattered, all will be shattered. Despair and
sorrow will reign.
Moondragon blinked, wrenching her hands from Destinys, but
a veil of sanity seemed to gather over her. How
can you stand it? The visions, the horror?
The eye can see much or little. All or nothing, child. I
warned that man that all was moving towards the darkness. The lines
are falling aside now and few ways out exist. Fewer still are the
ways to avoid the blackness. Soon I will be blind in all sense of
the word. Time is going to shatter.
Moondragon leaned forward and grabbed hold of her chair to keep
from falling. Who is responsible? Who will start this catastrophe?
Its not the first shot that matters, but the last person
standing who will determine our fate. Lord Magneto knows this and
that is why he hides. Many faces hide in the mists. They are becoming
clearer by the day, but the roads become fewer.
Vulcan Energy began selling power on the open grid to
consumers today. Their new fusion power plants are fully online
and distributing clean power. Other energy and power companies are
complaining that theyre at a competitive disadvantage because
the parent company of Vulcan Energy, Minerva Inc has the deepest
pockets on the planet and can sell energy at a discounted cost.
Tristan turned off the news and swiveled to face his media relations
group and public relations staff. We knew there would be complaints
like this, but make sure this story spins on the idea of super-clean
power from renewable resources. I dont want the story to be
that we are undercutting prices unfairly.
Simon Johns, the president of Minerva, nodded. Our long term
strategy is to clean up the environment and save the planet. Make
sure we compare our energy to coal fired generators. Leave the business
model questions alone or the whole thing gets lost in gobbledygook.
The assembled group broke up after a few more talking points were
discussed and Tristan waited until his door was closed. He clicked
a button on his desk and soon was staring at his younger brother
in holographic form. Good morning, Whitney. Vulcan power is
now on the market and we estimate well be pulling in several
million dollars in revenue a day before too long.
Thanks for the heads up. Im going to be on Capitol
Hill today and all this week and Im sure the Republicans will
find a way to politicize what should be a day for rejoicing.
Whitney shook his head. You know the worlds gone mad
when you can be characterized as greedy monsters for curing cancer
and providing cheap, environmentally friendly energy.
Tristans smile faded. He wasnt sure when hed
seen Whitney look so discouraged. Dont let the bastards
get to you, brother. Were holding all the cards.
Not all of them, Tristan. Not nearly all of them.
Whitney dropped the line and rubbed his temples. Yolanda Jackson
walked in and smiled. Are you ready for your first meeting
Nodding, Whitney grabbed his dossier. Im meeting Congressman
Evans at ten and Congresswoman Riali at eleven.
Robert Evans chaired the House Sub-committee on Health and Congresswoman
Riali was the ranking member on the Health Sub-committee. They were
important players on health care matters in Congress and anything
that the White House hoped to achieve would have to get their support.
The Sub-committee is scheduled to meet at two. Thats
when youll begin testimony concerning the Cancer Protocol.
Dr. Fordman will be up there tomorrow while you meet with the Speaker
and the Senate Majority Leader. Yolanda nodded and handed
Whitney a small sheet of paper. Its a cheat sheet with
every member of the committees name and areas of expertise.
Thanks. Okay, Im off to see if I can woo Congress.
The House Subcommittee on Health was part of the House Committee
on Energy and Commerce. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce
has developed what is arguably the broadest (non-tax-oriented) jurisdiction
of any Congressional committee. It maintains principal responsibility
for legislative oversight relating to telecommunications, consumer
protection, food and drug safety, public health, air quality and
environmental health, the supply and delivery of energy, and interstate
and foreign commerce in general. It was for this reason that Whitney
was dealing with members of the Sub-committee on Health and in general
the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Whitney sat down at the conference table in the middle of the hearing
room and faced the Sub-committee. He was sworn and nodded when Congressman
Evans thanked him for appearing. Evans then turned the first question
over to the ranking Democrat on the committee, Congresswoman Kira
Sellers of Colorado.
Mr. Fordman, Ive never been a fan of coincidence, but
today it seems appropriate to make notice of one. You appear before
us to discuss a Cure for Cancer the same day that your family company
begins selling power to the American people. While this is the Health
Sub-committee, it would be remiss not to mention this is the Energy
and Commerce Committee as well. Minervas accumulation of power,
no pun intended, is becoming staggering.
Congresswoman, I am not currently seated on Minervas
Board of Directors and cannot speak for the company. I do know that
many years of research and development went into both projects.
These breakthrough events have the ability to be transformational
Whitney was cut off before he could continue. Yes, Mr. Fordman,
but transforming into what exactly? We are looking at a company
with so many advanced technologies that is threatens to become a
monopoly on a frightening number of fronts. It appears that the
gateway to the future is through Minervas doors at
a price of course.
Whitney leaned back and spoke with one of his advisors. After a
few moments he leaned into his microphone and said, Mr. Chairman,
Im here to discuss Cancer and a treatment for it. If the full
Committee on Energy and Commerce wishes to discuss broader matters,
then I would have to refer them to Minerva for answers.
Mr. Fordman, replied Chairman Evans, this sub-committees
purview is health and I will direct the congresswoman to limit her
inquires to that scope, but you must understand the broader implications
of our inquiry. There are troubling aspects to the concentration
of power inside that company and while you may not be a current
director you are still a major shareholder.
Jeff Fordman watched from his Office of the White House Counsel
and shook his head. The committee was going after his baby brother
with a vengeance. He looked up and yelled at his assistant, Is
the President available?
After a few moments the answer came, Yes, sir, the president
is available. Hes expecting you now.
Jeff made a beeline for the Oval Office and nodded to Cynthia Hunt,
the presidents executive secretary. Good afternoon,
Is it really, Jeff? Have you seen the circus on Capitol Hill?
Lex stared at the television on the far wall. And the grilling
started with Democrats. Lord knows what the GOP will say when they
Now how can you call this a cure for cancer when you admit
that the process or drug only works on Stage 3 and 4 carcinomas?
To say that this is a cure is misleading at best and fraudulent
Lex pointed at the TV and frowned. See? Get Tristan on a plane
tonight with more experts and start getting every reputable researcher
in the country on every news program in the air. I will not have
this go down because people are playing politics with it.
Ill get with Yolanda Jackson and see if we cant
come up with a way to spin this against Congress.
On the TV, looking calm and confident, Whitney was finally allowed
to respond to the Republican congressmans diatribe. "Sir,
Id like to refer you to the very precise wording of our initial
announcement. The President was very clear that this is not a cure
for cancer. I dont think Minerva can be blamed for what the
media and the public choose to call the Protocol.
Jeff smiled. Well, I still see the quarterback in my little
brother. They havent fazed him.
No, and they wont either. They are getting in their
shots right now, but Whitneys going to run them over soon
enough. Lets just make sure we give him plenty of traction,
Lady Elizabeth Braddock rubbed her temples but couldnt reach
the headache generated by endless meetings concerning British diplomatic
efforts in the coming months. The drive in from Heathrow had been
tense -- there was anti-mutant graffiti everywhere; worse than anything
Elizabeth had ever seen. Prime Minister Tilden was holding his majority
by the slimmest of margins, but neither the Tories nor the Friends
of Humanity seemed ready to challenge the ruling party for control
of the Commons.
Though she was an aristocrat, she was trusted by the Government
to make decisions and to keep Whitehall informed of the happenings
in the United States. However, the sentiment in the Isles was forcing
the Prime Ministers hand and with the change of governments
in France and Germany, Britain was more isolated in the European
Union and the Council of Europe on mutant affairs.
Lord Carlisle, the Foreign Minister, tapped the conference table
to bring order to the room. As representatives of His Majestys
government we must try to deal with changes in policy. The European
Parliament now has a plurality that opposes mutant rights and as
such we are in a terrible negotiating position. Elections in Spain
and Italy will soon determine if we are alone among the great powers
that affirm mutant rights. To each of you; do what you can behind
the scenes to maintain calm. There is a hysteria sweeping the world
and we must stand in its path or else be swept away.
Dr. Douglas Ramsey walked along the Thames, just outside Parliament.
He was a senior American diplomat and a known mutant. His power
was the innate ability to understand languages, be they machine
or human, and speak them as well. It was a singular practical gift
and unremarkable as well. He was a human Rosetta Stone, and hated
You look lost, Doug, Betsy said as she walked up next
to him. Lord North mentioned you were here, but never said
Stopping off to make sure that Prime Minister Tilden is still
backing some initiatives in the North Atlantic Council. Doug
looked around and then spoke softly. We are worried that Europe
is moving too quickly and we need to make sure that America gets
//Be careful, Douglas, you are a known mutant and a high profile
target. You should not be out here alone.// His Majestys
government will do all we can to support the United States, but
the Prime Minister could have the question called at any point.
Ive warned the president not to push too hard or else he may
be without any allies.
We are in a dilemma as you know. We must stand firm, but
doing so may cost us what allies we have left. If Spain and Italy
move to coalition governments with anti-mutant components then all
that is left is Britain. Doug sighed, Instead of stopping
or slowing the hysteria it seems as though Lex Luthors election
pushed it further. Even the Los Angeles incident has done nothing
to slow the Friends of Humanity.
Fear is a powerful motivator and it is being used to move
humanity towards a confrontation that no one can win. Betsy
shook her head and then shrugged. Enough of this. You have
time for tea and I know just the place. Brussels will still be there
Raven Darkholm smiled as she passed colleagues in the hallways,
but inside she was alternately seething and panicking over Val Coopers
news that a seer had been abducted from New Orleans. Until today,
shed been frustrated by her inability to report anything of
importance to Magneto; shed made no progress in finding the
mutant computer expert, Scanner and her only success, her operation
to weaken the Luthor Presidency through media figures, was marginal
failure this time was unthinkable. Destiny was Mystiques
long time friend and she was now on a personal mission to find and
She shape-shifted and assumed the form of a coworker on this level.
Time was of the essence. The holding area was the one place she
could not get camera access. In her search for Scanner, shed
come down here, but he wasnt being kept there. Now she was
about to search again in the hope of finding Mystique, or at least
a clue to her whereabouts. When she got down there she was surprised
to see one of the holding cells in use. A quick peek inside shocked
her. Moondragon, the most powerful member of SHIELD Psy-Ops was
I hear the shadow of your thoughts, you should not be here,
came out the bleary voice. Ive seen you in her mind
before. She tracks you, but we cannot. If Gyrich knew of your duplicity
youd be dead.
What are you talking about? Mystique hid her panic
in this disguise, but she could not flee without knowing everything
that Moondragon could tell her.
You are the lieutenant of Magneto and a spy in SHIELD, a
mutant of high rank, but so important to the future. Time is so
fluid, but you are in the streams clear as day. She shook
her head. Lost, so lost in the knowledge of the future. I
cant see it like I did, but what I did see terrifies me. Key
logs and jams, Mystique. I am no longer trusted, lost as I am in
the streams of Time, but I am grounded at times again. You must
not get caught or else things will be far worse. Your friend, she
is not here, but there is a facility in Canada that may have her.
Research facility called Eagle Lake.
Mystique turned without another word. She knew of Eagle Lake because
it was part of her research division, but it was a little used facility.
If that facility is being used then I must go in secret.
And I must let Magneto warn that we are in grave danger.
Whitney shook his head as he recounted the events of the day to
Lex and Clark. Were in a world of hurt on the Hill right
now. Congress seems disinclined to listen and more inclined to attack
at the moment.
Lex shrugged, I received more bad news today. Bruce came
by and the financial forecasts are dismal. We have to find ways
to cut spending and raise revenues or were wide open to currency
manipulation. Rebuilding in Miami and Chicago has been an unexpected
drain as well as increased expenses on such things as the Los Angeles
The PR on this is terrible, Clark added. I can
just see our enemies shouting, America goes broke while Luthor
profits. Talk about a political nightmare.
Tristan and Minerva are moving to launch a PR counter assault
on Congress as we speak. The news from Houston speaks to desperation
for Hope and ending that terrible disease. Whitney sighed
and shook his head. The battles that were going to have
to fight over this are far greater than I expected.
We knew theres be some resistance, love, but youre
right that not to this degree. Lex rubbed his temples. I
am getting tired of feeling one step behind the curve in dealing
with so many issues.
Clark whispered, We have resources and I think its
time we used them to the fullest extent possible.
Lex nodded, but warned, Caution is still required. We have
reporters looking into the Society. We know that the Secret Service
may be compromised. It is what we dont know that should frighten
us the most, Lex stated. However, we must act or else
all will be lost. Do what you can and see what we are up against.
Zach drove up to his nephews townhouse and rolled his eyes.
There was a guardhouse on the front lawn and Secret Service everywhere.
He waited in the drive as two of the agents came walking up.
Good afternoon, Mr. Kent, we werent expecting you,
one said as he opened Zachs door. The gentlemen are
Thanks. Zach gave a jaunty salutesaid as he saluted
the agent. The last thing Philip and Hamilton needs is
this kind of treatment. They could be in for the worst college experience
ever. He walked right into the house and nodded at the
House security agents that guarded the guys. Yo, Philip! Hamilton!
Where are you guys?
Philip walked out of the kitchen and moved to give his uncle a
bear hug. Hey Uncle Zach! What brings you to Boston?
Franklin and Hamilton walked in and gave Zach hugs as well. Zach
smiled and ruffled Hamiltons shaggy hair. I wanted to
make sure you were getting settled in. And to make sure that the
word fun had not been banned from the house.
Hamilton smiled. Fun is being had already. Ive had
three dates since I got here.
The interesting thing is that they were with three different
women, Philip interjected. Though I could swear one
was older than Pop.
Hamilton gave Philip a dirty look and then beamed at Zach. Being
away from the parents has been great. Though Dad claims that Ms.
Rachel may come up here to chaperone for a few days a week if we
Zach looked around the house and nodded. Not bad considering
the rumors that Peter was spreading about the décor.
Peter was mad because we didnt take many of his decorating
suggestions, Hamilton said as he threw himself across a sofa.
Grandma was adamant that we have a formal sitting area, but
we won in the end.
Zach looked around and then motioned for his nephews to sit closely.
I want you guys to be alert at all times. After what happened
to Lionel this summer, and the new outbreak of mutant violence,
you guys need to be careful. I know you think you can take care
of yourselves, but you need to stay alert.
Philip and Hamilton nodded. Franklin sighed, We know that
things arent going well. Even in this supposed liberal city,
there is a powerful anti-mutant sentiment. I can almost taste it
in the background.
Be careful and dont trust anyone except House members.
Zach stood up and stretched. Okay, lets go grab some
The four of them walked into a Chinese restaurant not far from
the Charles River. The evening was still warm and they were all
dressed in shorts. They would have appeared to be normal good-looking
teenage guys if not for the protective detail that followed them
around. Zach rolled his eyes. Dudes, this is like having a
full scale army around you.
And they have all the humor of a prison warden, quipped
Hamilton. But they do get us where we need to be in a short
amount of time.
Franklin smiled as he took a seat with a plate full of food. Its
just nice not to be in total seclusion. You think your family is
overprotective -- mine is nuts about it.
Zach winked. So Philip, are you and Franklin sharing a bed
yet? I have two hundred dollars that you are and Ben swears youre
Philip looked at Zach in horror, while Hamilton laughed. They
maintain the illusion of separate rooms, but they walk out of the
same one every morning.
Hamilton! sputtered Philip while Franklin blushed a
What? Its the truth. And besides, Ben deserves to lose
money for betting against you.
The sky was dark with clouds, a front coming down as the seasons
changed, but the weather didnt bother Mystique. The valley
below held an old dam and its crystal clear lake of water. This
facility was old compared to many of the ones that SHIELD used and
she had learned little about it save that it was a human weapons
Assuming the form of a random hiker, she made her way down the
slope of the mountain and towards the dam. All her senses were extended
to their maximum to pick up if she was being observed. The area
looked abandoned, but she could tell there were relatively fresh
tire tracks on the soft dirt. Moving to a quiet place, she morphed
into a bird and did a quick circle of the area.
The area appeared deserted, but her heightened instincts told her
that there was recent and ongoing activity in the area. It took
her a bit, but she found an access hatch that was hidden in the
side of a rock outcropping near the lake shore. She was invisible
to electronic measures and was able to slip inside with ease.
Her knowledge of the layout was limited and the threat of detection
made her cautious and nervous. As she moved quickly down halls,
she kept listening for approaching footfalls. Finally she came to
a computer and was able to pull up a base schematic.
She found the detention level and quickly moved in that direction.
Every fiber of her being was tense as she went deeper into the complex.
A whisper greeted her as she came to just outside the cell. Raven,
you cannot free me.
Mystique stopped and looked inside. Her friend was sitting on a
cot, frail, and disheveled, but not quite broken. Ive
got to get you out of here!
No, Im almost blind now. Time is falling apart. I do
know that if I leave with you, hell will break loose. I must stay.
Gyrich still thinks he needs me and Ill live for awhile yet.
We may yet see this through together, but that is far from certain.
But, if you stay, Magneto is sure to come after SHIELD. He
must be told that they have you. I cant not tell him.
A sad sigh came from the cell. I know, but to leave, escape,
would be worse. Were talking a game of inches, but in those
few steps hope may remain. I must stay and you must go.
Mystique paused for a moment. I must know; do you see what
effect my plan is having on the future?
A small chuckle came from the cell. Using journalists for
your own ends? Trying to find a way to give mutants help from the
highest circles of power is admirable, but blackmail never works.
You sow more seeds into this coming chaos, but I cant see
what they will do in the storm. Now, go. Time is pressing. Soon
a tower will fall and with it the foundations of this world will
Mystique nodded. I will see you safe again. I promise that.
And Gyrich will pay for this insult. She took off before she
could hear a response.
Kyle walked around the Xavier Institute and shook his head. His
tour guides were one of the teachers, Scott Summers, and his mentor,
Peter Rasputin. He had recovered from his incident in Smallville,
and was now here.
We know you arent a mutant, Kyle, but Prof. Xavier
can help you deal with your new found gifts. Its the same
principle as if you were a mutant, Scott said as they came
to Charles Xaviers office. Hell be with you in
Kyle waited and then went into the office once the door opened.
He stretched out to shake the offered hand. Thank you for
Kyle, when one of my students requests my help, I have to
honor that request. In this case though, I do not think there will
be any problems. Charles leaned back in his wheelchair. I
want you tell me your story of how much you remember concerning
these new powers. Im a telepath and will monitor your thoughts
for hidden clues.
I was in Los Angeles going to see an art exhibit. I hadnt
been back there in years. I was caught up in that riot and witnessed
the Green Lantern get killed. I remember screaming and I think our
eyes met, but there was an explosion of light and next thing I knew
my head was splitting and I was scrambling to get away.
Prof. Xavier nodded his head. There are several things I
see in your memory that you cant. You were chosen, Kyle, but
why or how, remains a mystery. As such you must allow your mind
to embrace your gift. Once you do, we will be able to help you achieve
Ben threw himself across the couch of their common room while Wes
was doing homework at a desk. Wes, I hate to admit it, but
I miss them. Not so much Philip being bossy, but just them being
Yeah, but we have to start making up our minds where were
going to be next fall. Wes twirled his pen like a drumstick
for a moment. I really dont want to go to Harvard or
live in Boston. Id like to go to USC or UCLA, but thats
out of the question as well.
Ben shot up at the mention of Los Angeles schools. Youre
right that LA is out of the question. I dont want to live
there! What about New York?
Like they will let me go to Juilliard, scoffed Wes.
Ben smiled widely. Go to Columbia with me and take some classes
at Juilliard. As Americas Most Eligible Bachelor, I feel that
I should grace New York with my presence during my college years.
Wes broke up laughing. Are you serious? Man, your ego is
out of control! Hamilton is next up on the Most Eligible Bachelor
list and you still have Dick, Bruce, Warren, and Tony all not married
yet. Youre in a long line of people before youre number
Whatever. Elsa will take Dick off the market as soon as she
can. Tony and Janet Van Dyne are a long time item, Betsy and Bruce
are practically married already. Now Warren and Oliver Queen might
be competition, but my bankroll will surpass theirs soon enough.
He gave Wes another one of his killer grins.
Wes raised a finger and matched that devilish smile. You
forgot Zach, and hes got you beat in the sexy category.
Ben tried to counter, opening his mouth to say something and then
stopped. Well, shit. Okay. How about Columbia?
Steve Wilson left his trainees and hurried down a hallway toward
the meeting room where hed been summoned. He knew his cell
was going up for something big, but he had no idea what. He was
shocked to find Graydon Creed waiting for him in the room.
Steve, good to see you again. Graydon offered his hand
and motioned for him to sit down. Youre doing a fantastic
job with your cell. In fact I gave them the weekend to go do some
stuff, but I need you for a special assignment.
Anything youd like, boss. Steve kept his voice
neutral, but excitement surged through him at the possibility that
he might finally be allowed to glimpse the broader plans of the
Friends of Humanity.
I need you to go to London and hook up with the group there.
They need guidance of the sort that you can give them. The Brits
are still in the mutant loving column and they need to be reminded
that real humans still run the show.
When do I leave and who will I meet? Steve was prepared
to be gone with a day or two.
You will sail out of the Port of Los Angeles on a freighter
bound for Bangkok. Once there you will find out the rest of your
itinerary. It will be at least three weeks before you will be in
London. If I were you, Id get ready to catch up on my reading.
Amanda Waller was sipping her afternoon tea when Col. Jamison Brand
came waltzing into her office. What do I owe the pleasure,
Ive been on a duty rotation and had to audit security
logs, very boring until I found a few things that didnt add
up. He handed her a data disc and a few pieces of paper. There
is a pattern of ID access that doesnt line up with terminals
or dates. They are random and done at varied points, but at least
five have occurred in the last year. We have an issue.
Waller looked over the data and frowned. Do you have any
idea what is behind this? I mean any clue as to who or why?
Im a suspicious man by nature and this strikes me as
too out of the ordinary to be anything other than a security compromise.
The problem is how random these events were and the odd variety
of access achieved. This could be a case of a looking for a needle
in a haystack.
Start with the last breach and begin looking at all the odd
security occurrences since then. That might help narrow down the
possibilities or we may find nothing. But the most recent may still
have fresh fingerprints.
The Freedom Party of Australia was holding a rally for mutant registration,
with the vote set for Parliament in a week. From a pulpit-like platform
in the Central Plaza, Gavin Lees voice boomed through loud
speakers, railing against the evil mutants and promising that the
wrath that God would soon be visited upon the world for their continued
blight. Oratory was one of Lees strong suits, and he was whipping
an estimated three thousand supporters into a very satisfying frenzy.
What wasnt so satisfying, though, was the counter demonstration
that seemed to be gathering across the street, too close for comfort
and growing closer. It was rare that anyone openly defended mutants
in anything other than broad legal terms, but for a group to rally
so publicly, in direct view of an anti-mutant rally that was easily
two thousand strong
that was unheard of.
Without breaking from his speech, Gavin glanced at his security
detail and saw that they, too, had noticed the demonstrators.
We must know who and what that they are and can do!
his voice boomed out. Parliament must and will bow to this,
the will of the Australian people!
The crowd roared its approval, but it wasnt enough to drown
out the voice that suddenly seemed to be everywhere not just
in the air, but inside Gavins head and the head of every Freedom
Party member on the grounds.
Stupid flatscans! You are no longer the top dog on this planet.
Were not going to cower in fear of you mongrels any longer!
We are homo superior, and your time has come to an end!
That was all it took for all Hell to break loose in the plaza.
Gavin was grabbed by security, and before he even realized what
was happening he been thrown into his car and whisked away. He twisted
in time to see his chase car burst in flames. Explosions shattered
building windows, pelting the car with shards of glass.
Panic swept through Gavin like the wildfires that seemed to be
coming from everywhere and nowhere. Get me the hell out of
here! he screamed at his driver. Another explosion ripped
the pavement behind them.
Sir, get down! One of his men shoved him into the floor.
There is debris all over the place. Ive got to get you
There is no safety any longer. Mutants will get bolder
and bolder. The time to fight is now!
Damien could not believe the images coming from Melbourne. A battle
royale had broken out in the streets, leaving hundreds of people
injured and at least 20 dead on both sides of clash between the
Friends of Humanity and a contingent of mutants and mutant-lovers.
As backlash, anti-mutant rioting was breaking out across the country.
Though the timing was a little premature, he couldnt have
wished for a better turn of events. This is it, Victoria.
Gavin will be Prime Minister soon, and through him I shall rule
Australia, he crowed to his wife.
Be careful, Damien. Youve seen other plans turn to
shit recently. These things have a way of playing out badly when
you act rashly. Let Gavin and his people handle this. She
moved closer to him and then whispered, Then you can move
Gavin to do your bidding as he was made to do. I think it is past
time we replaced a few members of InterGang.
Damien began pacing, muting the news from CNN International. Youre
right. We must accelerate the move on InterGang. Much of the cargo
is in place, but if we act now we must be prepared to capture the
biggest prize of all Vitaly Kirov.
Vitaly and Tatiana are occupied with the conflict in Ukraine.
We should be able to take control and they will never know it.
Yes, that is possible, but it will be close, with no margin
for error. We must take out the Asian Syndicate first. They have
the most gateways into Russia and the easiest network to conquer.
Damien frowned for a second and then found some plans in his desk.
All deliveries are in place and awaiting the word.
Victoria draped her arms across Damiens shoulders. Time
is of the essence, my love. Australia is ripe for the picking. We
need the Asian Network of InterGang to really take a step towards
power. Do it Damien! Give the word!
The list was in Damiens hand; Ojeida Tanaka of Japan, Lee
Peng Tung of China, Khalid Hamzir of Central Asian Ops, those were
the three that had to be replaced first. Mohamed Al-Almin and Martin
Ver Kerk would be next. That would leave only Morgan Edge and Vitaly
Kirov of InterGangs Central Committee left to be dealt with.
Damien nodded at Victoria. The word is given.
Mr. President, started Kane Miller, Ive
just gotten off the phone with our Ambassador in Canberra. They
expect the ruling party to fall tomorrow. The Prime Minister is
going to resign and the Freedom Party will almost assuredly seek
the post or demand new elections.
Lex rubbed his temples and looked at Nancy McNally. What
the hell is this going to do for the global situation?
Nancy looked back at Kane and he shrugged, motioning for her to
speak. Mr. President, we think these events will precipitate
more riots and more attacks on mutants. Magneto and the Brotherhood
wont let those assaults go unanswered. This could be a dark
Standing up, Lex looked out of the windows behind his desk. I
am beginning to feel like Lincoln before the Civil War. If have
almost no options, and the ones that exist invite disaster. Nancy,
call a meeting of the deputy principles of the National Security
Council and get me a plan. You have forty-eight hours.
Sir, it may take more time than that. NSA, CIA, SHIELD, and
DIA all will have different scenarios that are simply in conflict.
Well try to integrate all the different points of view and
come up with a draft of a Finding, but that takes time. White Papers
can take weeks or months and a Finding, which is what you want,
can take just as long.
We dont have weeks or months, Nancy. If Magneto retaliates,
we may not even have hours.
I realize that, Mr. President, but it will take at least
ten days to get what you want.
Yuri Tanaka finished his workout with his katana blade and wiped
at the sweat on his brow. The warning two months ago from Christian
Smith about threats to House Luthor and ways of escape had moved
Yuri to an almost paranoid state of alert. Hed know Chris
for years, had been recruited by him back when he was part of Shearn
Phipps outfit. Back then Yuri had been with Naicho, an approximate
equivalent of the CIA. Now, he was a security specialist for several
corporations including the Imperial Government.
He made his way to a warehouse that served as a staging area and
distribution center for the illegal activities of his cousin Ojeida
Tanaka, one of the biggest gangsters in Japan. For the last few
days, Yuri had been hearing rumors of foreigners who had arrived
and were hanging around some old cargo that had been kept separate
on special orders from Ojeida himself. It was rare that his cousin
involved himself in petty affairs, which suggested that something
out of the ordinary was happening, but things that were out of the
ordinary always intrigued Yuri.
Making his way across Tokyo in the dead of night was easy and he
arrived in record time. Not wanting to reveal that he was around,
he parked out of the way and went the rest of the way on foot. Quickly
dealing with the locked door, he made his unauthorized way into
the building. He knew the layout, but didnt want to be detected.
He used a special listening device to eavesdrop on conversations
going on down the hall.
Word from above is that this cargo is to be moved in three
Mr. Tanaka doesnt want to take any chances. He said
this was specially delivered by his boss.
Ojeidas boss? Yuri thought. Ojeida Tanaka
was the top dog in Tokyo, but globally
The pieces clicked
into place. OH! This must be InterGang. So, the plot thickens.
Another shipment is due in a few days and then they all move
out to Russia. We only have to keep it secure until then.
A door slid open and Yuri ducked further into the shadows. He couldnt
see anything, but his hearing was still perfect.
A deeply accented voice that Yuri couldnt place, spoke in
Japanese, That large crate goes to Mr. Tanakas house.
It must be done now. The other three crates will remain here. When
the new shipment arrives they will go to Beijing.
Yuri retraced his steps and exited the building. He pulled a disc
from his jacket and flicked it at the truck that was waiting to
receive the cargo. He rapidly made his way to his car and remote
activated the disc. Chris and his people will be able to
spy on Ojeida with this. Hes big in InterGang and if they
are up to something then that is very bad news.
Dr. Brian Corbeau walked to the door of Ojeida Tanaka and knocked
politely. As he did, three of his special soldiers were moving into
the house from other points. Tanakas security guards had already
been incapacitated, but only two of them were going to be replaced.
Dr. Corbeau smiled as the door swung open. He was shocked to see
that it was Tanaka himself.
Who are you and what do you want?
Corbeau reached out and delivered a mild neurotoxin that quickly
immobilized Tanaka. Two men waiting in the shadows behind him came
running up and grabbed Tanaka, moving him into the house.
Where is the cargo box?
Quickly they moved to the storage area and the box was opened revealing
a clone storage container. Corbeau moved to it and keyed in a sequence.
In seconds it came to life. He motioned for his men to bring him
Tanaka. Silently he attached probes to Tanakas head, and the
computers in the container began a rapid neuro-sequencing of Tanakas
The process ran for several minutes. Corbeau looked at the monitors
and motioned to one of his associates. Make sure that none
of the others wake up. The two henchmen that need replacing, move
them to the car and take them to the warehouse. Well meet
you there as soon as were done here.
Two hours later, Corbeau walked out of the warehouse and lifted
his phone. Damien, this is Brian. Tokyo is lovely this time
of year; thank you for the recommendation. Ill be heading
to Hong Kong soon and I hope it is just as wonderful. Tell Varian
that I picked up those items he requested. Ill get the others
in Hong Kong to add to his collection.
Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine
Graham Miller and his entirely unofficial team of six arrived in
port and moved down the plank towards a group of men waiting for
them. Cargo was going to offloaded and placed in the shipyard for
distribution after dark. He eyed the mostly empty docks not far
from his position. The Ukrainian Navy had moved out and blockaded
the few Russian vessels when open hostilities broke out.
The Vice President had moved for more open support and there was
plenty of American muscle was across the Black Sea in Turkey and
more still Greece, but President Luthor had too many irons in the
fire to risk a more open confrontation by putting a large contingent
here. NATO forces were still in the Balkans, but those governments
were in political turmoil at the moment. Graham and a few other
groups of advisors were the only viable option at the
moment short of total war.
Break out the goods and well meet our hosts in a few
minutes. He watched with approval as another ship began unloading
the other half of their supplies. None of the equipment was very
modern, but it was all serviceable. Thats what counted most
right now in this fight.
Sir, our contact is here.
Graham nodded at his fellow Marine and shook the resistance fighters
hand. How soon can we get this stuff to the front?
As long as the roads off the peninsula arent blocked,
we can do this in three days.
Good. We have a lot of work to do and no time to do it in.
Corbeau ripped off his latex gloves and motioned for two of his
associates to remove the newly processed clone into Lee Peng Tungs
bedroom. The slumped form of the real Mr. Lee was lifted and placed
in the now empty container.
Move it to the docks and see to it that it is returned to
Sydney. We may need him in the future.
He walked out of the house and toward the car that slid into place
to receive him. He lifted his phone. Damien, Corbeau here.
Ive had a lovely vacation and the packages will be sent separately
due to their size. Ill be home in two days. My best to Varian.
Two of InterGangs top people are now under our control.
Before long we will go after the King, but Damien is in for a surprise
if he thinks hell be on top.
Philip and Hamilton were in a special room of their townhouse built
for absolute privacy looking at holographic displays of their family
gathered in council from across the country. They knew they were
being seen in holographic form in similar rooms in Smallville, Metropolis,
Australian elections are set for two weeks, Enrique
stated. The ranch has been shut down entirely since the great
drought. We have one condo in Sydney, but no major assets to leverage
economic incentives with.
We could close down all of Minervas medical and scientific
initiatives there, Tristan suggested. That would certainly
Nick nodded, We could use the family reserves to move against
their currency. Within weeks, we could reduce their economic standing
Moving that openly would leave us open for all kinds of counterattacks,
Lisa said. Besides, neither Lex nor Whitney would approve
of that kind of move.
Philip shook his head. I disagree, Aunt Lisa. All the
heads in the council turned toward Philip and Hamilton. They had
been placed in this forum upon graduation, but had never voiced
any opinion openly, until now. Their comments were always given
in private and off the record. Tactically, the best move would
be for Minerva to punish Australia for its choices and
then, with that news breaking, LFK and Marauder should move out
of Australian dollars. The move would be couched in terms of following
ideals and also serve as an unannounced warning to all others. Fathers
hands would be clean, but it would send a clear message that Lex
Luthor has a real ace up his sleeve in the actions we can take as
Lionel nodded, Astutely put, Philip, but in this case it
might be best if we did not come to the aid of your father. We can
punish Australia, but not in one stroke and not too soon. Lex has
many things in the air and we cannot make our moves an open issue
at this time.
//I agree with grandfather, Philip// Hamilton chimed in privately.
//Big bold moves are great, but if this backfires, then Father is
mortally wounded politically and we are damaged as well.//
Philip rubbed his chin. He was itching to get into the game and
make a mark, but he wasnt a hot head. Ill support
a cautious course of action at this time, but please understand
that caution seems to only delay the actual need to act. Chess pieces
are moving as we discuss this and I can sense our danger growing.
Australia is an opening gambit for the Friends of Humanity. If we
fail to check them soon then nothing we can do to support father
Philip, we are with you on that, Nick commented. But
to make choices of this magnitude without the presidents knowledge
or consent could be devastating. And he cannot legally know what
we are planning.
I think Hamilton and I need to head to Washington soon. The
Praetorians are going to play the Redskins in three weeks are they
not? Philip smiled and gave his grandfather a wink. A
little father-son bonding time cant be denied, can it Hamilton?
Hamilton laughed, Indeed not.
Kyle awoke sweating, his clothes and bed sheets soaked, but the
dream this time was clear.
You were chosen Kyle Raynor, to be a member of the Green
Lantern Corps. Your mental strength, your judgment, and imagination
will serve you well. Take this ring and accept this power. When
you are ready, the ring will be yours.
Kyle opened his closed hand and in his palm was an emerald-colored
ring. He slipped it on his right hand and felt the power surge through
him. He jumped out of bed, threw on some workout clothes, and made
his way to the Danger Room. He didnt activate any of the systems,
just went into the large room to test the ring to see if he could
recall any of the instructions from his dream.
Concentration is the key. The power of the ring will allow
you to do almost anything. Flight, protection, creation
these things are possible with sufficient concentration.
He walked to the center of the room and focused as hed been
learning over the last few weeks. Prof. Xavier helped him delve
into memory and also into controlling the surges of energy hed
been feeling. Kyle stopped and realized he was no longer feeling
those surges. He only felt the power of the ring. Taking a deep
breath, he focused his mind and thought of flying. When he opened
his eyes, he was halfway to the ceiling. Oh My God! Im
flying! Just like that his concentration broke and he fell
twenty feet with a thud. Ouch!
Thats why we have supervised visits in here, Kyle.
Dr Grey was looking down at him with Scott Summers by her side.
He offered Kyle and hand up and shook his head. Though it
seems like you are finally making progress.
Kyle rubbed his ass and then his head. Yeah, but whoever
said progress was painless was full of shit.
Martin Essex laughed. It had been all too easy to get to Khalid
Hamzir. The man was a pig and his vices lured him into the trap.
He could not help but taunt the bound man under him. For a
man of your reputation, it was too easy. Essex tugged off
the electrodes attached to the real mans head. He slapped
him to get his full attention. A man your age and with your
religious background shouldnt be into underage boys. What
would the imans think?
The man struggled some more, but Essex backhanded him. You
are brought so low, by your vices. He motioned for his men
to get moving. The sleeping clone was removed from his cylinder
and the real Hamzir was placed in it.
Goodbye, Khalid. We wont be speaking again. The
cylinder closed and the real Hamzir was placed in stasis. Put
him in bed and get everything in place. He lifted his phone
and called Sydney. Karachi is a cess pool. However, it does
have some lovely gardens. I was able to plant a few seeds in one
of them. Im told it will yield lovely fruit.
Gavin Lee stood before his supporters and waved a victory sign
to them. The cheering crowds started to calm as Gavin spoke. As
the new largest party in Australia, I have been asked to form a
government! As Prime Minister, things are going to change. Humanity
stands at the brink of the abyss and I shall not let Australia fall!
Damien stood to the side of the crowded hall and rolled his eyes.
He spotted the American, Graydon Creed, on the stage and smiled
even wider. Ive got two politicians lined up to be
my puppets and all of InterGang will soon be under my control, but
Creed could be a gold mine. America is the one place Ive not
made any plans other than destroying the Luthors.
Dont even think about it, Damien, cautioned Victoria
as she walked up. I see you staring at Creed as though he
were the last meal of a dying man. Weve enough on our plates
as it is without borrowing trouble. Australia is ours and soon our
resources will be unlimited. Dont mess this up!
The lure of the prize of the leader of the Friends of Humanity
was strong, but he knew Victoria was right. The timetable was already
moving too fast for his taste, but events were forcing his hand.
Still, he had three of the heads of InterGang under him now. Two
more were planned this month. There was a council meeting planned
in early December in Dubai. He would be there and he would assume
full control then.
The news from Australia was expected, but that did not lessen its
impact. Kane Miller shook his head at Lex. A democratic nation-state
has allowed its citizens to express their will through the ballot
box. We disagree with the result, but we must honor them, sir.
Kane, started Nancy McNally, That
may be what were required to say in public, but this is a
huge blow on several levels. If the Freedom Party there adopts the
Mutant Registration Act, then all hell could break loose. We have
Italy and Spain to worry about as well.
Lex looked away from the monitor and shook his head. The
devil you know is better than the one you dont. Get me the
Russian Ambassador. Kirov is no mutant lover, but hes also
no lover of the Freedom Party. Hes an imperialist autocrat,
but one with a hell of a lot of influence. We need to trade Ukraine
and Kazakhstan for his help in stopping the Freedom Party.
Kane and Nancy jumped to their feet. Mr. President!
they shouted at once. Kane started first, We have spent weeks
moving to isolate Kirov and the Russians in the European theatre,
sir. We have given military aid to forces in both nations. For us
to now accept Russian Imperial ambitions would destroy our credibility.
Sir, I know this is not something we desire, but we cant
send mixed messages. These are two separate issues. Global security
amid imperial adventures and issues affecting human rights shouldnt
get mixed together. Nancy held up her hands to stop Lex before
he started. I know that the mutant issue impacts global security.
But we cant now trade one for the other or we will lose both.
Lex frowned and watched as Gavin Lee declared victory. I
need my threat assessment. I need courses of action that are clear.
I need that Presidential Finding!
Nancy sighed. We cant agree in the National Security
Council Deputy Principles meeting. None of the conclusions are close
to the same page. All our experts and all our knowledge and we cant
even agree on what we are trying to discuss.
Mr. President, as the Secretary of State it is my duty to
counsel you on foreign affairs. We cannot allow Russia to continue
her expansion even with a quid pro quo understanding on the mutant
issues. You would look like Chamberlain at Munich if you made such
Lex pondered this and looked the monitor again with Gavin Lee celebrating
his victory. The world is going to hell and there is nothing
I can do that wont make things worse.
Ben ran up and jumped on Wes in the hallway of school. They were
both heading to the locker room to get ready for football practice.
The school was buzzing with news of Australias election results.
Man, are you ready for the game this weekend?
Look Mr. Quarterback, Im always ready to lay a hit
on someone. You remember that the next time you call me kid brother!
Wes winked at him and they marched into the locker room laughing.
Both Wes and Ben started at the sudden voice in their heads, but
long training kept them from breaking stride. Neither recognized
the voice. //Who is this?// asked Ben.
//Sorry, this is Franklin. Philip cant reach you from here,
but I can. He will be sending you an encrypted message tonight and
wanted to make sure you checked the House network. I gotta go, its
dangerous to keep this up for long. Later, dudes!//
Neither of the twins mentioned the conversation until they walked
into the resort, dead tired after practice. Wes yawned, Ill
see what Philip has to say, but the fact that he used the encrypted
network is a bit ominous. He quickly logged in and found the
Guys, be warned that my dreams have taken a darker turn.
Over Thanksgiving and Christmas I think it would be best if we devoted
increased time trying to hone our skills. Australia is but the tip
of the iceberg. Miss you guys, Philip.
Ben read and was quiet for a few moments. Who knew hed
Ben! Did you read what he was trying to tell us? Hes
worried and if hes getting these impressions then we need
to be worried as well.
Yeah well, Ill worry when I worry. Until then I have
homework and a call to make to Danielle.
Steve Wilson walked along the Thames and stared across the mighty
river at Parliament. It seemed like an eternity since he had managed
to get Gyrich information that may be of some use, and the further
up he moved in the Friends of Humanity organization the worse he
felt about this assignment.
Hed been shipped across Asia and Europe like cargo, and the
most important thing hed learned along the way was the astonishing
amount of black market arms that were in transit around the world.
He doubted SHIELD had a clue how much weaponry was on the march.
That worried him almost as much as the plans FOH had for the future.
The victory in Australia had emboldened the Friends and their Freedom
Party wing. There was no way to guess what they might feel capable
of planning here in London. Creed wanted him here, but for what?
What were they planning?
There you are you lousy Yank! Steve turned and concealed
his frown as the local head of FOH came up to him. We need
you to get us ready for the fireworks!
Steve pulled himself away from the railing and nodded at the hooligan
next to him. Just remember we kicked your ass and then saved
it twice you damned Limey! Steve growled. Now, what
are we up to?
Damned arrogant Yank! the man muttered under his breath.
Well take the tube and head to the flat. Ill tell
you everything once were safe.
The trip had taken forty five minutes. The flat was a shack of
a place with numerous health code violations. Steve felt like hed
need at least three showers to feel clean from being here. He took
a folding chair and waited.
The others will meet us here and then well head to
the warehouse after dark. Cant be too careful getting so close.
Well punish Tilden and his wankers for being bloody mutie
Another two hours passed before Steve found himself in a dimly
lit warehouse. There were about a dozen people there. He was introduced
as the Yank from LA. Steve was still tired from being on the go
for weeks and his irritation was rising. Okay, why am I here?
If Im going to train you in combat then I need to start that
program tomorrow, but something tells me this is different.
The leader nodded. Aye, mate, youre not here to train
us in combat, but to help us with demolitions. Well tell you
more as we get closer, but for now, we need you as an explosives
expert. Were going to take down a building.
Steve faked boredom and asked, Which building?
This is need to know and you dont yet.
Youll get specifics the closer we get to show time.
Graham moved through some of the buildings in the city which was
now the center of the rebellion against Russian rule. The city sat
in the middle of Ukraine and on the Dnieper River further south
than Kiev. It was a strategic point; Graham had managed to convince
the underground that if they could hold here then Russia would not
be able to take the country.
Three other teams of advisors were running around the countryside
delivering arms from convoys from Romania and the Black Sea. Russian
troops were being turned back in the western part of the country,
but Kiev was under their control and thus, symbolically, so was
the country. Graham moved along the rivers edge and waited
to cross the bridge.
We need to make sure we are in good defensive positions before
winter hits. The longer this takes the Ruskies to assume control
the more they wont want it.
Da, agreed the underground leader. A counteroffensive
is being planned for the end of the month. We hit them everywhere
and see if we cant make them pay for being here.
Graham shook his head and sighed. Thats great in theory,
but you have less than fifteen thousand troops under this rebellion.
The regular army is all but gone or in hiding. What youre
planning could be suicide.
We are trying to free our homeland. Would you not lay down
your life if it meant that your family and friends would be free?
It didnt take him any time at all to respond. What
can I do to help?
Henry Gyrich continued to look over all the information related
to Magneto and the Brotherhood. Since his shouting match with the
president, hed been on the outs having to relay all information
through the National Security Advisor. Hed had that job once
before and he didnt think much of the current occupant. Nancy
McNally was an academic and he couldnt stand those on his
What has you in such a foul mood? asked Amanda Waller.
Ive got something that may just get you in a better
Magnetos head? he countered.
She placed several reconnaissance photos in front of him. It took
him a few minutes to recognize the area. Is that the Luthor
villa in the Aegean Sea?
She nodded. Yes, but the funny thing is, there was a nasty
storm that blew through about two weeks ago and it did some significant
damage to surrounding islands. But according to these images, nothing
changed on their island. Not so much as a fallen tree limb.
He looked closer. Pulling out his magnifying glass he began to
look at details and his head shot up. These are identical!
The time stamps are different, but theyre the same!
Ive gone back and looked. There are variations since
fall began, but theyre subtle. My guess is that theyre
using some of those holograms they are famous for. Its one
thing to use them to decorate a house for a party, but its
another if they can use them outside to cover up anything they want.
The implication crashed over him like a tidal wave. Is there
any signature on that island to indicate that holograms are in use?
She shook her head. Not that we can detect yet, but were
looking. If we find it, well start looking for that signature
House Luthor can hide anything in wants in plain sight.
It has organized itself along martial lines. It controls the worlds
largest company. It claims to have a cure for cancer. Its
now selling power on the open market from a super clean energy source.
It controls the worlds largest bank. Its technology borders
on the fantastic. Gyrich paused for a moment.
The head of that House is our boss and we know nothing about
him, added Amanda. Hes got friends enough to protect
him Congress, and if it comes to force, he has the Ultimates in
his corner, as weve discussed before.
But there is no smoking gun, Amanda. Weve got lots
of pieces and nothing to tie it together. Our suspicions are nothing
if we go to trial for Treason. And yet, everything I see tells me
he, and his family, are a fundamental threat to this nation.
Gyrich ran a hand over his face. Weve come up with plans
to neutralize mutants if it ever comes to it. But, we need to make
plans to deal with House Luthor as well. They can hide anywhere
Yes, but well find out their secrets and then well
know all their hiding places, she said with a grin on her
face. However, that is not the priority. We need to find the
Brotherhood and take down Magneto.
Yes, or it will be my head served on a platter.
Snapper Carr waited and waited. Hed had two junior reporters
lurking around Harvard and MIT for weeks trying to figure out a
pattern to the Luthor boys schedule. The Secret Service and
the family body guards did an excellent job of varying their transport
schedule, but there had to be a pattern to their course load. Hed
had them tailed onto their respective campuses, but close surveillance
was proving too dicey.
An interview with either or both of them would be a journalistic
gold mine, but he risked more than just the presidents wrath.
It was a situation that called for a careful cost-benefits analysis.
But the time was right. He had a mini-camera on him and he started
jogging along the sidewalk. Ahead of him were, not only Philip and
Hamilton Luthor, but Franklin Richards as well.
He could see the discreet cordon of body guards all around; hed
have to be quick. Hi, my name is Snapper Carr and Id
like to ask you a few questions.
The three boys stopped and stared at him for a moment. I
know who you are. My father arranged for the press not to interfere
with us while we are at school. You should go before the Secret
Service decides you are an imminent threat, Philip responded.
Snapper smiled. A threat to you three? Franklin Richards
is most likely a powerful mutant and your martial skills are legendary
at St. Albans. He shifted and noticed the henchmen moving
quickly. What is it like to be part of the most powerful organization
in the world?
Hamilton backed up and soon the Secret Service agents were on top
of Snapper. Wait! he screamed. Im with the
Press. The world wants to know about you two and even you Franklin!
Before he knew it, he was in a car on his way to the police station.
Dont a get a phone call?
The officer in front shook his head. We can hold you for
seventy-two hours before charging you with anything. If I know Special
Agent Madsen, hes calling Washington to find out what they
want to do with you.
Snapper sighed and prayed they didnt find the remote hook
up for his transmission. Hed stuck it on a car so they could
not find it on him. Not much of an interview, but it was a start.
Dad, were fine. He was just a reporter, Hamilton
argued with Whitney via hologram. We were walking back from
lunch. We always vary our paths and times.
Apparently not enough! Whitney snapped.
Philip threw his hands in the air. He barely got a question
out! Stop over reacting!
We are not over reacting, Philip! A reporter got near enough
to you to ask questions. If it had been a gunman or another kidnapper,
then what would you have done? Whitney looked apoplectic.
I would have killed him, Philip said bluntly.
Oh, thats very reassuring!
He was no threat! Philip countered. In fact I
was curious as to what he thought he was going to accomplish. His
question about us belonging to powerful organization was perplexing.
Hamilton nodded. Dad, please calm down. I know there are
some additional security measures that you wish to take and I think
those can be good at this time. He shrugged at his twin. Philip
rolled his eyes.
Ill have Alan up there tomorrow to implement round
two. I want you guys in vehicles for all traveling from now on!
The hologram vanished.
Franklin walked up and handed Philip and Hamilton cups of hot chocolate.
What did he mean by organization? You are part of a family.
Philip sipped his drink and then frowned. I dont know,
but I really dont like the sound of it.
Clark sat in the Residence watching Whitney and Lex pace. Would
you two sit down? Nothing happened! And the Secret Service was right
there. I want to know what got into ABC News, sending a reporter
to question them in the street!
According to Katherine, ABC knew nothing about Mr. Carrs
actions. They are livid and may fire him. Whitney shrugged.
How long are they going to hold him?
He will be released in the morning, Lex answered. We
cant keep him locked up forever and ABC would get testy if
he stayed the full seventy-two hours without cause.
You know, Clark started. Id expect this
from Lois Lane, but from anyone else its odd.
This is the same reporter that accused Diana Prince of being
a member of the Society for Justice, Lex reminded them. Now
hes accusing our sons of belonging to a powerful organization.
Carr is still fishing for confirmation of the Societys existence.
Whitney and Clark exchanged worried glances, then Whitney said,
Ill have Jack and Kelly see about getting a restraining
order placed on Carr and maybe Lane in case she gets any bright
ideas. Whitney smiled for a moment. Did you know that
Philip yelled at me? Hes beginning to push his boundaries.
Lex sighed. Im not sure what is worse; the world falling
apart or having four sons grow up at the same time.
Damien walked into the Prime Ministers office and nodded
at Mr. Lee. Apples and oranges make for a delightful pie.
Damien watched as the Prime Minister went rigid, sliding into a
trance. You will bring Mutant Registration before Parliament
in the next few days. You will pass it as it currently sits on your
desk. You will create a National Task Force charged with implementing
the measures. Once you create it, I will give you a list of people
who will be deputized to be on that Task Force as well as a list
of people who are suspected mutants.
Yes sir, Mutant Registration and a National Task Force.
On Halloween Night, we will carry out Plan A. Are we clear?
Damien smiled. Water flowing down a mountain never becomes
a lake. He watched as Gavin returned to normal. Any
plans for Halloween?
Mr. Parker, you know my schedule is always on the move. Though
I do think my wife wants to go to a Party.
They have great ones in Sydney. Damien turned to leave
and tried to hide the smile on his face. Halloween will
not be soon forgotten.
I know why Lex sent you, Whitney, but the Senate is not
inclined to take much action at this moment, Mary Alice Adkins
said quietly. The fact is Jared McConnell will do nothing
until Lex moves on mutant issues away from his blanket policy of
doing nothing. While the Cure for Cancer is a huge issue, for him
it is about surviving the challenge he faces next year.
Simon Trent waved her off. The president must understand
that in light of what happened in Miami, the polls have moved against
him. Many people are afraid of this Cure that youre touting.
Conservative columnists have moved against it as a point of political
pride rather than one of humanitarian achievement.
Adam Chase will not force McConnell to send the bill down
to committee. Angela Ling sighed and slouched back in her
chair. I wish I could help, but the caucus is divided. If
I were you I would beg the Speaker to move the issue in the House.
If the bill were to come from the House then Adam would have to
do something. The president still has influence, but he has to break
the logjam here on the Hill.
Whitney stood and looked at Patrick Kennedy and Elliot Armstrong
for support, but both shrugged. Thank you for your honest
assessment. Trials in their limited form still are ongoing in Houston.
We had hoped to move them out to broad testing across the country,
but it appears that is up to the House. I do have a meeting with
the Speaker later this week. Anyway, we hope to see you at the Resort
for the Halloween bash.
Mary Alice stood and shook Whitneys hand. Of course
we will be there. Its the best party of the year. She
paused and sighed again. No one said this would be easy. Remind
the president of that when you see him. He still has friends here,
but were just as vulnerable to political pressure as he is.
Well help when we can.
Lex sat behind his desk and motioned for Attorney General Ursula
Gunn and FBI Director Holly Jones to have a seat. It is not
my job to interfere with criminal investigations, but I want a status
update of the inquiry in the battle of Los Angeles.
The US Attorney there is still gathering all the evidence.
He has a Grand jury ready to convene at the end of the month, but
we arent sure what to expect. Ursula tapped her knee.
I see little chance for a conviction for anyone other than
the Rogues Gallery.
We are looking into financial links into the Rogues, but
thats a stretch, Mr. President. They arent talking and
many of their dealings were off shore and in cash. Our options are
What of Graydon Creed and the Reavers? Is the US Attorney
in LA looking into him? Lex was getting tired of Creed and
his political nine lives.
Ursula scoffed. Nothing will be done to him until there is
more than video that links him to the Reavers. The man is a hero
to so many people in the country, sir, that to arrest him is akin
to sending reinforcements to Ft. Sumter. You would start the second
American Civil War with that one act.
Lex knew it; hed had plenty of time to think about it. Bruce,
Emma, Tony, Nick, Jeff, and of course Clark and Whitney had all
told him of the dangers that the Friends posed and how those risks
were growing daily. I want you both to know that Justice will
be done when that smoking gun is uncovered. I know it exists. Regardless
of how much of a hero people may think him; I will not have the
rule of law destroyed by a charismatic charlatan.
And thats fine, but until we have a case it is best
that we do nothing. The more freedom we give him the more rope hell
hang himself with, Ursula said. She stood up as did Holly.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Lex nodded and turned back to face the window. Do I take
matters into my own hands through the Society? Would Bruce and Tony
object to having Creed taken off stage to a remote location? Clark
would do it if I begged him, but Ive crossed ethical lines
in his eyes already. Creed needs to go, but how?
The plans had been put on hold for two months to see how things
went in Boston, but a minor security breach with the idiot from
ABC News had the Triad up in arms. Alan Owen understood and was
now getting the two apartments near the townhouse ready. Six members
of the Midnight Guard were being stationed here. Alan watched as
they went about setting up the apartment to their needs.
Sir, we will rotate so that one of us is always awake.
Bob said as he dropped a box on the floor. As
long as we have pizza, it will be fine here.
Alan shook his head and walked away. The Guard were still developing
individual personalities and were learning to use their down time
for things other than training. Stephanie will have a fit
if she finds out that they are developing a taste for pizza.
Holding a long conversation was still awkward, but they could pass
in regular society now after years of work. As fighters, Alan didnt
want to go up against them, but as people
they were still working
on it. God bless Zach and his patience. He actually made
them all understand movies and get to like video games. He understood
that they were more like kids than adults and now they are kind
of like teenagers. Thank goodness they still obey orders.
Sir, we are done here and team two is done was well. You
said not to talk to the regular guardians. Why?
They know you are here, but we dont want the Secret
Service to know. They have people watching those men all the time.
If you spoke to one then they may learn of your presence. You guys
are the surprise cavalry if they ever need it
It was like a royal box at the opera only it was a private suite
at FedEx Field where the Washington Redskins were hosting the Metropolis
Praetorians. Ben and Wes were sitting up front with Franklin and
Hamilton while Philip was sitting down in the lounge area waiting
for his father. Whitney and Clark were already sitting behind the
guys, but the president was running late.
The door opened by a Secret Service agent and Lex walked in. I
swear its a production going to the bathroom, getting across
town is a nightmare. Hi guys.
Lex made the rounds, greeting everyone and collecting hugs from
his sons. He ordered a Scotch from the steward and settled next
to Philip in the lounge.
Not interested in the game, Lex asked him.
More interested in conversation, sir.
Lex smiled at him. Converse away.
Im concerned, Father, Philip said gravely. Events
conspire against you, and though there have been discussions among
the family, I believe there are things that others feel reluctant
to broach with you. Whereas I am a minor and you are my legal guardian,
I feel I can speak more freely.
Lex leaned back in his chair. The pride he felt for his eldest
was visible. He could see himself in Philip, and so much more. I
hope you will never do less, Philip. I respect and value your opinions
and viewpoints. Please, continue.
In Council recently we discussed overt measures that we as
a family and House could undertake to make your life easier: namely
to punish Australia for her political choices. My recommended course
of action was placed on the backburner as too risky and possibly
fatal to your presidency. I will abide by that decision, of course,
but the genie is almost out of the bottle and wont be put
back in if we let this get out of hand.
Youre showing true glimpses of wisdom, Philip, and
I appreciate it. I would like nothing more than to use a private
show of force against the Freedom Party, but I cannot. As an elected
official I must honor the choices of Australias electorate
no matter how much I despise their collective decision.
Lex paused and accepted his Scotch from the tray proffered by the
steward. He swirled it for a second and then sipped it. Hmmm
Youd think theyd have a better selection on hand for
the suite owners, he murmured as he set the glass aside.
If I were a person with certain attributes for strategic
thinking and planning I would be thinking and planning and developing
contingencies for every possibility, no matter how remote. Id
do that now, if I were him. He gave his oldest a pointed look.
Such planning would need to be very private, and the number
of persons who knew of my plans would be very limited.
Philip nodded. I understand. Some of that has been underway
for a few months. He smiled at his fathers arched eyebrow.
Grandfather has always taught me to never be without a contingency
plan. Or two.
Lex chuckled. Im glad you are paying close attention
to his lessons. He has always had much to teach, but his methods
with you seem to have improved greatly over his methods with me.
However, my son, we must be very careful in this. I am the President
of the United States, and as such my freedom has been greatly limited.
A true irony. We will discuss this again at Thanksgiving. Okay?
Excellent, father, Philip smiled. Now, what are
you wearing to the Halloween Ball?
Up at the front of the suite, Hamilton leaned back in his seat
to watch the action. Ben nudged him and smiled, So, Bro, how
is MIT? You find a girlfriend yet?
School is excellent and no I dont have a girlfriend.
I happen to be dating three different girls right now. Hamilton
smiled broadly to his brother but winced when he was cuffed upside
his head. He turned to look at his dad, What was that for?
Whitney gave him a pointed look. You should not be dating
several girls at once. They, and you, deserve better than that.
Arent you the parent who said dont get
Theres a difference between serious and callous,
Whitney countered. Three girls at once is ridiculous.
Yeah, Ben chimed in, You have to share!
He too received a whap on the head. Hey!
The Praetorians won the game, but Philip was too distracted
to give more than a half-hearted victory whoop with his brothers.
The boys said a hasty goodbye to Lex and Whitney, knowing they would
all be together at the Resort for dinner the next day.
Where were you tonight, brother? Hamilton asked as
soon as they were back in their suite at the Resort. What
did Father say when you told him about the family meeting?
He encouraged me to use my ability to create complex paradigms
to build contingency plans.
Hamilton cackled with glee. Wow. Talk about stroking your
ego. Just try to keep it under control, will you?
Im always under control, Philip said stiffly.
And Im always planning. You know that.
Hamilton snagged two soft drinks from their dry wet
bar and handed one to his brother. They settled onto the sofa. So
what kind of contingencies are you going to build?
For starters, Im going to focus on the rise and fall
of the Friends of Humanity. Theyve successfully toppled one
government if they can spread their venom across Europe,
well have Mutant Registration in this country before the end
of Fathers first term. //If that happens, this family
is toast,// he added silently.
Im working on plans to stop them in their tracks by
any means necessary
financially, politically, militarily
And if all those plans fail?
Theres always The Ultimate Solution.
Hamilton frowned. Philip sounded entirely too nonchalant. Whats
Philip shrugged. The Luthors take over the world.