IV: Coriolis Event
A Knife in the Dark
Dec 21, 2017
Zach Kent was sprawled across the bed in his room at the frat house,
an open but mostly ignored text book within reading distance. Theoretical
calculus was going to be the death of him. Still, he had to pass
if he wanted to maintain his very desirable living conditions.
Convincing Clark to allow him to live in the frat house had been
like pulling teeth, but Zach wanted to be one of the guys more than
anything. There was very little about him or his family that was
normal, so he was determined to make the most of whatever Average
Joe experiences he could get by with.
At the moment, most of his frat brothers and an assortment of guests
of the female persuasion were downstairs glued to the television.
From the snippets he could hear, something insane, violent, or stupid
was happening somewhere in the country, but Zach refused to be concerned
until somebody told him it was time to be concerned. Given who his
family was, he could drive himself crazy if he got his boxers in
a bunch every time some Chicken Little news anchor screamed The
sky is falling.
He was totally unprepared, then, when The Keeper materialized beside
without any warning just as his bracelet toned and a signal rang
in his head.
Dude! How about a little warning? he snapped as he
jumped to his feet, his heart slamming into his throat. Dont
scare me like that!
//There is little time for pleasantries, Kon-El. We are under a
House-wide alert and you must leave immediately. Mobs have begun
targeting members of the House and there is concern that you may
be in danger.
Zach snatched up his backpack and began throwing a change of clothes
//Your nephews and Franklin Richards are being evacuated from Boston
Zach scowled at the Keeper. Are they okay?
//That is undetermined at this time. There are hundreds of people
marching toward the townhouse. The Secret Service and local law
enforcement are in a panic.//
Shit! Is Clark on the way to Boston?
//No. Hes at the White House Residence.//
Damn. Zach knew what that meant Clark was virtually a prisoner
there, trapped by the intense security that locked down around the
President and his family at the first sign of trouble. Having Superman
caught on radar or security tapes zipping away from the White House
would be a disaster. But so was an attack on Philip and Hamilton.
In a split second, Zach made a drastic choice. Get my armor
ready, Im going after them.
//Sir, you cannot. You cannot place yourself in danger.//
Clark cant get them without arousing suspicions. We
have no choice and Im not
about to leave Hamilton and Philips safety in somebody elses
hands when mine are perfectly free! He wiggled his fingers
dramatically. Now give me my damned
In a matter of moments, Zach was attired in full Kryptonian Battle
Armor identical to Clarks. Give me a full vector to
the guys as Im en route. Ill be there in three
minutes give or take a nanosecond.
//They are being evacuated by ground transport, but mobs are closing
in. There are communications that appear to have a plan to intercept
them in transport.//
Lifting off, he juked towards the northeast and Boston. He broke
the sound barrier over Maryland and then hit Mach 2 just as he hit
New Jersey. The air rushed by him and he powered all his will into
getting to his nephews as fast as possible.
Hold on! screamed the driver as his evasive maneuvers
threw the boys around the back seat like scrambled eggs.
//Fuck! Theyre after us!// Philip projected. He heard another
crash behind them as the rioters took out both of their chase SUVs.
Get down, sir! the agent commanded when Philip came
off the floor, but Philip
refused to comply.
They were coming up fast on an intersection; the freeway entrance
was a few
hundred yards beyond. Philip saw the next thirty seconds as clearly
as if they were past, not future.
//Franklin, help me!// he demanded, sending him the vision of the
trailer truck that was about to broadside them as it pummel through
Acting on instinct, Franklin threw a viscous bubble of energy in
front of the semi,
slowing it as Philip used every ounce of mental energy he possessed
to accelerate their SUV through the intersection and onto the freeway.
What the hell? The agent behind the wheel gasped as
control of the vehicle came back into his hands, but he didnt
look back and he didnt challenge the good fortune that had
allowed them to narrowly miss being hit by a semi. He had bigger
problems to worry about. Three of their four support vehicles were
gone and the rioting in Boston was making protecting the Presidents
sons close to impossible.
Suddenly the car was airborne, rapidly gaining altitude as the
and their pursuers -- dropped away below them.
What the hell? yelled the driver.
Philip held his hand up to silence any questions Hamilton or Franklin
might have had. Whats happening? What did you do?
he demanded of the driver, though he knew very well the driver had
nothing to do with their rescue.
I didnt do anything! the freaked-out driver shouted.
Philip feigned a frown as he looked out the window, but he could
see the emergency evac helipad in the distance and knew they were
in good hands. Perhaps the Ultimates have come to the rescue.
Franklin extended his mind and reached out to see who was there.
//Its your Uncle
Hamilton threw a confused look at Franklin. //Zach?//
//Yes!// Franklin was thrown against Hamilton and Philip as their
SUV began an
abrupt descent. A second later they were scrambled again when the
dumped unceremoniously on the tarmac. //Crap! Uncle Zach definitely
needs flying lessons!//
Hamilton managed a grin for his brother. //Naa
okay. Its his landings
that we need to give him hell about!//
The boys were still trying to right themselves when the door was
ripped open and a cadre of Secret Service men began hauling them
from the car in full EVAC mode. MOVE! MOVE! yelled one
of the agents as they were herded to the waiting helicopter.
Mr. Gyrich, were receiving reports of multiple sonic
booms over the Eastern
seaboard, but weve detected nothing airborne.
Henry Gyrich nodded and turned to another analyst. Can you
map the reports?
Sir, they appear to be heading northeast.
Get me traffic cameras in Boston. Ill bet my next paycheck
that Superman is
moving on Boston. Though how he knows the Luthor kids are under
duress is an
Images from traffic cameras in the vicinity of the Luthor townhouse
in Boston flashed in rapid succession until a blurry image of a
black SUV lifting off and taking flight was caught. Enhance
that image. Get me as much detail as possible.
The piece of digital footage was slowed down and dissected into
close-ups until an image appeared of a man in black armor beneath
the airborne vehicle filled the
Youre right, sir. Superman, one of the analysts
Buy Gyrich shook his head. He leaned forward, frowning. Im
not so sure. Pull up
our inventory of Superman images and compare. It took a few
moments for the
computer to spit out a comparison. Gyrich read for a moment and
deepened. Theyre not the same person.
Waller frowned. We have two Superman entities? That could
pose a problem.
Gyrich glared at her. You think?
Helicopters buzzed overhead as Lex gazed out the windows that led
to the Truman Balcony, forcing himself to remain still and focused.
His boys were under attack and he was insane with worry, but the
country was also under attack and he couldnt afford to do
anything rash. There was too much at stake. The federal district
was shut down as thousands of protesters streamed in from Virginia,
Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Sir, we are preparing to evacuate you to Camp David. Marine
One will be here
Lex turned to Dan McConnelly, his senior Secret Service agent and
shook his head. No, the president remains at the White House
at times of national crisis. I stay.
Whitney stood up from the couch and nodded at the agent. How
many police and other security personnel are deployed around here
The Secretary of Defense is mobilizing the Marine Barracks
here and moving in
additional support from Quantico. More than 500 Marines will be
around the Mall
Lex, bravado is one thing, but your safety must come first.
Whitney moved toward him. If the Secret Service orders you
to move, then you will.
Our sons arent safe right now. I stay.
And putting yourself in danger is going to help them, how?
A flash of something that looked like anger but was born of frustration
passed across Lexs face, directed like a dagger at Whitney,
but he controlled it quickly. I dont --
McConnelly put his finger in his ear and nodded. Sir, Hamilton
and Philip are in the air on en route to Camp David. We need to
Lex turned and shook his head. No, I will stay and watch
the protests up close. I will bear witness to the rage of the nation.
I will not shrink from my responsibilities. Whitney, take Ben and
Wes to Camp David and Ill join you in a few days. He
turned his back on the room, staring out the window again.
Whitney moved behind Lex and slipped his arms around him. Clark
will see that all
the boys get safely to Camp David. If youre staying, Im
Lex hesitated a moment, then nodded. This connection, and his connection
to Clark, was solid, at least. Constant, true, dependable. His strength
in an insane world.
Marines were deployed across the National Mall. The White House
was cordoned off from protesters as they yelled their fury at the
government. The coming of night hadnt dampened their rage,
but the rioting was mostly under control. For the moment. Lex closed
his eyes and watched with his minds eye as the mob hurled
stones, waved blunt instruments, and yelled epitaphs at the police
denying them close proximity to the object of their hatred; the
President of the United States.
Boys are all at Camp David, Lex. We should go as well,
Whitney said quietly.
No, not tonight. More fuel has been thrown on the fire and
Graydon Creed and his ilk are howling for blood. They wont
be happy until it is mine. I fear this was the Rubicon and nothing
can be put back together.
The nation has had periods of unrest before, Lex. The nation
will survive. Somehow, it will survive.
Lex sighed and turned to look at Whitney. I am one step away
martial law. Curfews have been declared in every major city in the
country. A sizable portion of the country is ready to take up arms
against their brothers. A fire has been set to the fuse and the
nation is on a course to blow up.
Then find a way to stop it.
HOW!? Every road I see leads to blood. Yeats was right, the
Center cannot hold.
Lex walked quietly toward the cabin that held his oldest sons and
their guest. Hed left the White House around three in the
morning and had not slept. Much of his rage over the assassination
of Rev. Stryker had settled into a seething anger. The person responsible
was in custody in Houston, but Lex had no doubt that being Texas,
the assassin was a dead man. He however had more important things
to do. The sun was just beginning to give the glow of false dawn.
He nodded at the Secret Service agent and the door to the cabin
was opened. As he suspected, Philip was sitting on the couch instead
of being in bed.
Have you slept yet?
Philip looked up at his father and shook his head. No.
He stared for a moment and noticed how aged his father seemed in
such a short period of time since assuming the presidency. Have
No. Lex sat down near Philip and pulled his son into
a fierce embrace. Philip
resisted for a moment before yielding and hugged his father back
tightly. I love you guys so much. I dont say it enough.
Philip leaned back and wiped his eyes. You dont have
to; you took this lousy job to keep us safe.
I dont think Im doing a very good job at the
moment, Lex said with a bitter laugh. Your brother,
Like a log, as is Franklin. I cant though. All I can
see is death, war, destruction on the horizon.
Id give anything if I could tell you youre wrong.
That didnt seem to require a response, so Philip asked, Have
you seen Pop? Hes
beating himself up because he was trapped at the White House and
superspeed to our rescue.
Lex almost smiled. I completely understand. Whats the
use of having super powers or holding the most powerful office
on the planet if you cant keep your children safe?
Were fine, Dad. Pissed as hell ready to kick some serious
ass, but fine. All of us, Philip assured him. He reached out
and squeezed his fathers shoulder. Go get some sleep.
We lived through the night.
How sad that that one thing is supposed to make it all better;
we lived through the night.
Philip gave a half grin. We take what we can get.
Lex stood and moved toward the door, but stopped short of it. He
turned back to his eldest son and studied him for a long moment.
Philip frowned. What?
I was just trying to figure out when you became a man and
how I missed it.
Philip tried not to let the sudden burst of pride that swelled
I his chest show too
much. I think it was right about the time the peasants with
torches showed up on my doorstep. His smile was grim. Im
going to make those responsible pay,
We all will, Lex promised, hoping it was a promise
he could keep.
Nathaniel Essex slipped into the Kremlin with his new security
clearances and walked quietly toward the presidential offices. Nine
Russian officials were slated for replacement clones in the coming
days. Already, part of the Russian Military
Command Staff had been replaced. Everything is moving into
place; soon the world will know a new reality.
He made it to a briefing room where current military operations
Tensions in the Caspian Basin were rising, which played further
into Damiens plans. Iran sat to the south and with it the
key to a permanent warm water port for Russia and strategic control
of the worlds petroleum reserves.
The Americans are fully withdrawn from Kazakhstan and we
expect they will be
back out of the region soon. They are being recalled to their Homeland
for security reasons.
Our Intelligence puts it at better than even odds that America
will have a civil war within a year.
Essex smiled again and left. All the pieces are in motion.
If America is paralyzed by internal issues then all the better.
It is only a question of when I should make my move.
Wade Wilson was locked in manacles, his face bloody from the superfluous
beating his captors had inflicted on him as they locked him up,
but he was already healing. He had said nothing since his capture.
No one had come to see him since his incarceration, which told him
that hed been set up and his family was probably dead already.
Ah, the man of the hour!
Wilson looked up and then down again.
Gen. Isling sat down across from him and dismissed the guards.
stirred up the hornets nest. Shooting a preacher in Texas
in broad daylight, now
that is something I can admire. Stupid, but damned if you dont
have a set on you. Care to explain why you did it?
Wilson kept his head down and remained silent.
Good! Isling exclaimed. I like a man of few words.
You realize, of course, that I
could throw you to the wolves or drop you down a deep dark hole,
do just about any damned thing I pleased with you.
Wilson saw no reason not to at least nod.
And given how fond of the death penalty they are here in
the great state of Texas, even your most optimistic expectation
would normally lead you into a coffin.
Normally? Wilson perked up. What was this asshole getting at? Does
it matter that I was set up? he asked.
Isling grinned. Nope. That was obvious the moment you were
police were waiting for you before you even fired your weapon. Id
say there is
probably a price on your head youll be lucky if we
can keep the mob from tearing you limb from limb on your way to
the courthouse. Isling paused and stared at him in the eye.
Ive got a get-out-of-jail-for-a-price card that beats
the hell out of your current
options of death or death.
What do I have to do?
You ever heard the old Army recruiting slogan, Be all that
you can be?
Yes, he said hesitantly, suspiciously.
Isling sat back and smiled. Youre about to find out
just what that really means.
Varian tried to look out the windows, but his security detail refused
to let him near them. He was stuck in the middle of the back seat
of a limo with no idea where they were headed. All hed been
told was that his father was going to meet him there, wherever there
was. They pulled into an underground parking garage and he waited
for his men to let him out.
When he finally escaped, he stood by the limo impatiently. His
fathers limo pulled up beside him. Where are we?
he demanded as soon as Damien emerged.
Damien patted his son on the shoulder. The Prime Minister
has a surprise for us -- a little sport for his supporters.
You and I will be comfortably ensconced in a private VIP box for
What event? Varian pressed.
A Christmas Day thank you to Freedom Party members
around the world.
Steve Wilson folded himself into the shadows and waited. Security
was lax and
making his way into the bowels of the structure hadnt been
There were signs of recent construction and massive electrical upgrades
in the old garage that had once serviced a recently demolished shopping
mall. Parking took up the first two descending levels; heavily fortified
walls had been built into the third level, and the lowest level
had been converted into some sort of arena
Finding a hiding place between levels three and four hadnt
been much of a problem, and now Steve was watching a growing crowd
stream into the arena. Ugly laughter echoed through the cavernous
Since Australia fell to the Freedom Party, low level mutants
mostly Deltas and
Gammas -- had been rounded up by the dozens. If the rumors Steve
hearing in the bars were true, something nasty was about to go down.
Minister had invited several hundred loyal party members to tonights
Steve had a sick feeling in his gut that things were about to go
from bad to worse.
His two assignments covert operative for SHIELD and his
assignment to assess
Damien Parker for Graydon Creed were overlapping tonight.
Parker and his son
had already arrived and been escorted someplace separate from the
The PM thinks he can make a few million on this operation.
People the world over
will pay through the teeth for a brand new sport like this.
Fight to the death. The second man chuckled. Cant
wait to see who makes it to round two.
Steve didnt recognize either man that passed near him on
their way to the arena, but it wasnt the first time hed
heard similar sentiments expressed tonight.
A loud clank and grinding sound captured Steves attention
and he maneuvered his way toward the noise. What he saw was entirely
expected. It made him sick.
Mutants were being roughly prodded and, in some cases, dragged,
out of holding
pens on level three and herded down to the arena.
Revolted, Steve wanted to flee, but he knew he couldnt. Is
this what weve come to? Using mutants for sport? God help
Damien glanced at his watch and frowned. Fifteen mutants were dead
and according to the Internet traffic reports, viewership was climbing
with every bloody fatality. The world was loving watching scaly-skinned
monsters and snaggle-toothed freaks go after each other like half-baked
gladiators in a concrete coliseum.
There were still seven of them doing battle, but there was no one
in the arena with any particularly spectacular powers, of course.
Powerful Alpha and Beta level mutants were not only harder to detect
and capture, they would be much too hard for their human masters
to control in this gladiatorial environment. For the time being,
the world would have to be content with watching otherwise powerless
freaks tear each limb from bloody limb.
A jumbotron flashed the name ELECTRO as a mutant with enormous
could spit low-voltage electricity shocked a small, green woman
more lizard than
human into submission.
Essex approached Damien, bending to whisper in his ear, but Damien
waved him off, engrossed in the action. Wait, wait
The green mutant convulsed into a ball, screaming. Electro backed
off, hands still
extended, but his ability to electrocute was obviously limited to
only a few feet, and the torture stopped.
A chorus of boos echoed through the subterranean cavern until the
guards corralled Electro and forced him to do what hed been
brought there to do: Kill or die.
As the girls death scream faded, Damien nodded to Essex.
What is it?
Sir, the Russians are going to the Gulf. It will start in
They have the strength to do this? Damien asked, but
before Essex could answer, a mutant with claws for hands pounced
on Electros back and began tearing him to shreds. Whooping
with delight, Damien and Varian both came to their feet, applauding.
Father and son gave each other a high-five and dropped back into
Damien gave Essex an expectant look, as though hed been derelict
in his duty not answering the question.
The Islamic Republic of Arabia will not come to their aid.
They will fall within days
and the Americans are now so distracted they will be powerless to
Damien smiled and nodded. Things are moving quickly. Keep
Snow was falling lightly across the Palaces vast gardens.
Philip looked out from one of the fourth floor reading rooms and
watched it begin to accumulate.
Absentmindedly, he stroked the head of one of the fralics;
Menkaure who wanted to make sure Philip was okay. He and Hamilton
had taken their last finals from Camp David before coming here.
Returning to Harvard for the coming term was up in the air, as were
so many things.
Centering his thoughts, he could feel his family scattered throughout
the Palace. This was the one place that no one would dare try to
get to them. In the time it would take to breach the outer walls,
House Security could mount a defense that could repel any invader.
And we could be safe behind the walls as well.
Are you hiding?
Philip turned and smiled at his grandfather. No, sir, just
enjoying the view. If I
wanted to hide I might have used one of the towers.
Indeed. You are, however, avoiding the subject at hand,
Lionel mentioned. Youve not said anything about Boston
since your rescue.
I asked if our house and guardians were safe. Isnt
Lionel sighed and moved closer to his grandson. You have
every right to be
frightened, Philip. That is not a weakness.
Tension across his shoulders made him stand even straighter as
he ground out,
Grandfather, what Im feeling
Lionel chuckled. Philips control was formidable, no doubt
about that. Remind me to be in Romania whenever you decide
to let that rage off its leash.
Philip didnt smile. Something has changed, Grandfather.
I could feel it as we were attacked. The future
Yes? Lionel prompted.
Bleak is too weak a word. Sometimes it feels as though the
future isnt out there. Thats what frightens me.
Thats only because until now others have
been controlling your future, Philip. Your fathers and I, your uncles
all of those weve gathered around us
long and hard to hold the wolves at bay, but they are howling at
the gates now, nipping at your heels, and your frustration at your
impotence blinds you to anything but the wolves.
And the gate, Philip added, amazed at how well his
grandfather knew him.
He shouldnt have been surprised, but he was when Lionel told
him, I know that you and Hamilton have been formulating plans
wheels within wheels, if I know your minds as well as I think
Its time to move them closer to fruition.
Philip gave his grandfather a speculative sidelong glance. Has
Father sanctioned this little discussion? he asked.
Lionel shook his head. Your father is responsible for the
entire Nation, Philip. His
first loyalty and concern will always be the family, but every decision
he makes must be examined from too many angles. Philip, when the
time comes, you mustnt hesitate. You have to make the choices,
the hard choices, that have to be made to ensure the familys
What if I choose wrong?
Lionel shook his head. You wont. Just dont let
fear cause you to hesitate. Reflect on what happened in this last
attack and formulate your response so that youre ready for
the next time, because this was but a foreshadowing of things to
come. Lionel tapped his grandsons shoulder. You
are the one who can save us.
Philip managed a nod. Then I need resources. And complete
access to all House
Lionel didnt bother to suppress his smile. Dont
insult my intelligence, Philip. There isnt a security system
anywhere in House Luthor that your brother or Elsa hasnt hacked.
Philips smile matched his grandfathers. Yes,
but its so inconvenient having to
cover our tracks. Get me clearance. Please, he added hastily
to take the arrogance out of his command.
Ill do even better than that, Lionel promised.
You and Hamilton will join the
Threat Assessment conference this afternoon. Its past time
you had a say in the
future of this family.
Lionel left him at the window and Philip turned his gaze outward
again. A year ago
he would have been overwhelmed with pride at his grandfathers
confidence in him.
Now, he just felt overwhelmed with dread.
He felt more than heard Hamiltons voice in his head. //Sorry,
bro. Fear is a luxury
we dont have. Get your head out of your ass and lets
get to work.//
Zach paced inside the Library where Enrique had informed him he
was to wait. After the rescue, he had returned to Georgetown and
then fled back to Metropolis. He hadnt had a chance to see
Clark, or the President for that matter. Hed saved his nephews
and hed do it again, but that didnt mean there wasnt
going to be H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks to pay for it.
He was only a little relieved when it was Whitney who joined him.
Sir? Whitney chuckled. I never thought Id
see you this nervous, Zach. You must be expecting the Spanish Inquisition.
No, just a rampaging older brother. Zach stared down
at his feet.
You saved Philip and Hamilton at a time when Clarks
hands were tied. Rushing
headlong to Boston as you did was reckless, but considering how
little time you had to make a decision
I did what I had to do, Zach said, trying to sound
confident but fearing he only
And for that you will be getting even more to do, Clark
announced as he walked in, smiling at his brother.
Oh, great. Chores. Thank God you dont live on a farm
Save the smart-ass, wiseguy. Dont think I couldnt
find some cows for you to milk if I had to, Clark quipped,
but his grin faded as he approached Zach. Still, Zach was relieved
not to see any anger when his brother told him, You opened
a really big can of worms by impersonating me to save the boys,
but that cant be helped. They come first. Truth be told, I
was about ten seconds away from breaking the sound barrier myself,
to hell with White House security. Clark put his hands on
Zachs shoulders. Thank you.
Zach ducked his head and cleared the sudden lump from his throat.
Now for the kicker. Clark smiled broadly, The
reward for a job well done is more
Zach groaned but didnt comment.
Were going to get you set up with more combat training.
The House has been
working up a new threat assessment and formulating some more
responses. You want a piece of that action? Clark asked.
Zach grinned. Oh, yeah. Deal me in.
Enrique de Santos turned again to the final summary of the last
section of the 80
page report. As the House Majordomo, his work was never-ending.
As the only
member of the House who had been in Houston when the rioting started,
taken Enrique nearly three days to escape the city, but he was safely
back in the
palace at Smallville. Just in time for the Security and Intelligence
Threat Assessment that had been commissioned after the attack on
Is there any good news in this? he asked bleakly without
Chris Smith shook his head. Not one bit.
Can we make something up? he joked, then threw his
hands up in surrender.
Fine, lets go to the conference room so the president
can chew my ass off.
Enrique, Chris, Andre and Alan Owen made their way to the main
conference room of the palace. Whitney, Clark, Lex, Lionel, Jeff,
Nick, Lisa, and Tristan were chatting as they waited for Enrique
and the senior security staff. Enrique noted that for the first
time Philip and Hamilton had been included in the security briefing.
He counted that a good thing since there was no question that the
near-debacle in Boston would be brought up. The major thrust of
the meeting, though, was to lay out the global threat that was growing
Welcome, gentlemen, Lex said as they filed into the
room. You look as though
youre walking to the gallows.
Enrique took a seat and managed a weak smile. We feel fortunate
that the family isnt in the habit of shooting the messenger,
That bad? Tristan asked.
Regrettably, yes, sir, Chris replied.
Lets get it over with. Whitney said, and Enrique
Assessing the current global environment, all House Intelligence
subsequent parent agencies predict the probability of an American
Civil war at 95% with the next twelve months. When that happens,
Russia will proclaim itself an empire and begin an immediate
and bloody expansion.
Also within the next 12 months, fifty countries are expected
to be completely
destabilized by mass migration, famine, and mutant issues. Global
now predict a food shortfall of fifteen to twenty percent in the
next three years. Food shortages will further destabilize all economic
activity in the next five years.
Wow, Hamilton muttered under her breath. If all
your meetings are this cheerful, I may just skip the next one. Is
there any good news?
Enrique responded cautiously, With respect to House issues
and security, the safe house network is up and we have the codes
for the Mutant Underground, as well. X-Corp is working to maintain
open avenues in and out of eighty countries.
That is good news, Tristan told him. How many
endangered mutants have we
moved to safety?
Exact numbers are hard to come by, but were quickly
escalating from dozens a
month toward hundreds, Enrique replied. Unfortunately,
of the 80 countries in the network, thirty are subject to the risk
assessment regarding food shortages. That factor alone places those
safe houses and avenues in jeopardy.
What about security and escape avenues for the boys?
Lex asked a trifle
impatiently. Their so-called escape from that mob in Boston
was a farce. We knew that allowing them to live outside The Palace
in Smallville or the Resort in
Georgetown was going to pose a risk, but this is unacceptable.
Chris fielded that question. Weve been working with
Clark to formulate new threat responses for the familys safety,
especially the boys, but you must realize, sir, that any significant
change is going to require eliminating the Secret Service from the
security profile altogether. All they know is duck, cover, and get
the hell out of Dodge. This last incident proved that we cant
protect the boys if were limited to such low-tech solutions.
Amen, Philip and Hamilton said as one.
Alan cleared his throat uncomfortably, feeling obliged to play
the devils advocate. But that comes with a serious risk
of exposing some of our more
Lex slammed his hand on the table and came to his feet. Fuck
the risk! What good is any of this-- he gestured wildly at
the technology that surrounded them if my sons are dead?
The shock and silence that engulfed the table was profound. Of
the fourteen people in the room, only a handful had ever seen the
controlled, contained Lex Luthor so angry. Whitney reached out and
placed his hand on Lexs forearm, but it was Philip who broke
Father, were fine. Hamilton, Franklin and I
were not powerless, you know.
Lex brought his anger under control and slid back behind the cold
mask that usually served him much better than it had today. None
of us are powerless, Philip, Lex said softly, reasonably,
as he resumed his seat. But were all hamstrained by
the secrets were forced to protect. He looked directly
at Chris. I know I speak for Whitney and Clark as well when
I tell you that the linchpin of our new security policy is: Protect
the boys at any cost. Well deal with the fallout afterwards,
but in the future, no resource of House Luthor will be spared to
protect Philip, Hamilton, Ben and Wes. Is that understood?
No, sir, Chris replied.
Lex looked like hed been hit with I two-by-four. I
beg your pardon? What was
unclear about my instructions?
The scope, sir, Chris answered promptly. If were
taking off the gloves and doing security right to hell with
the Secret Service our measures need to apply to the whole
family. Whitney, Lionel, the Fordmans
everyone, sir. Including
you, inside the White House and out.
Agreed, Whitney declared before Lex think of a reason
Whitney, Lex, Lionel, the boys
What about me?
Clark asked with such feigned
self-pity that everyone cracked up. Dont I count?
Andre chuckled. How do you say, Youre on your
own, Big Guy in Kryptonian? he asked and everyone laughed
There was a smattering of chatter that lightened the mood before
Lex looked at the major domo and got back to business. Go
on, Enrique. I know weve only scratched the surface.
Enrique nodded and continued his depressing assessment of the global
geopolitical threats facing them both abroad and at home, concluding
with, And of course, the Friends of Humanity and its Freedom
Party now represent the single greatest threat to political stability
outside of climate issues. They are also the greatest actor in facilitating
the predicted civil war. As such, the recommendation of the security
services is the full scale assault on both the Friends and the Freedom
Party. Such a campaign should be both economic and military.
Enrique closed the cover on the summary and folded his hands on
top of the report.
Everyone around the table began talking at once, but Philip remained
watched him for a moment. What do you think, Philip?
The room went quiet and all eyes turned him. Philip leaned back
and rubbed his chin in a manner that evoked both Lionel and Lex.
Had the mood not been so grave, many would have commented on just
how much of a Luthor Philip was.
What are our military assets as compared to the Friends?
Alan Owen fielded the question. We can only marshal eighty
total bodyguards and another hundred or so of the Midnight Guard.
That doesnt count the Mutant
Underground contingencies that X-Corp and the Xavier Institute have
gamed out. We have a major advantage in weaponry and then there
are the war-bots that Hamilton built.
Andre chimed in, Our defenses are excellent, but our enemies
know where to find
us for the most part. The ways of escape are only good if we can
achieve an opening to escape.
Then the course of action is one where we can achieve a level
of counter surprise, Philip replied. We cant move
first, or what we would fight for is lost. We are the ones who want
stability and for us to initiate a civil war is unconscionable.
However, we cant be subject to our enemies timetables.
Therefore our plans must be full of counter moves that delay their
momentum and allow us to counter strike.
Philip smiled and leaned forward, We need to use Russia as
a weapon against the
Freedom Party. And our knowledge of the inner workings of InterGang
can be used to our advantage, as well.
Chris sat back and frowned. Im not sure I follow?
We cant act in ways that would visible, but there are
other actors out there that can be leveraged to do our bidding,
even if they dont know theyre doing so. Philip
smiled again, We must leave no fingerprints on anything that
moves against the Friends from now on. It must be either a state
actor, like Russia or our good friends at SHIELD, or a criminal
element, like InterGang.
Lionel nodded. Clever. See what we can come up with in the
short term gentlemen. Time is of the essence.
New Years Eve wasnt one of Bruces favorite holidays,
but it was one that had the most social obligations. Hed cross
the river into New York later, dine and dance with other Hellfire
Club members and pretend that he was having fun.
not much chance for that in the future.
He went down to the subbasement level of Wayne Manor and entered
his other life. Batman almost doesnt exist anymore,
so busy trying to fix the country. Today he was going
to play with his toys and forget about Washington and the Treasury
Sitting down at the computer console, Bruce logged in and started
reviewing files he hadnt had a chance to look at since Halloween.
Alfred had left tea for him and Bruce sipped a cup of Betsys
favorite. Slowly he sank into his alter ego and reveled in its freedom.
Thats odd. Bruce looked at the access
logs and found a full scale file dump of some protected folders.
Over the course of several minutes, his blood pressure rose and
his heart sank.
Oh my God, someone got into the old Smallville files.
Included in the stolen data
was everything hed learned about Clark, Lex, and Whitney when
hed been obsessed with learning the Luthor family secrets.
The data included the results of testing Lexs unusual DNA
He searched further and was only marginally relieved to find that
the files were
copied but not breached. The encryption should hold for a
while; enough time to
track it down and kill it before the files are breached.
Dick Grayson trudged down to Bruces cave, not at all happy
that his plan to spend New Years Eve in Times Square might
be compromised. The complaint died on his lips as soon as he saw
Bruces expression. You called, Boss?
Weve had a security breach. Someone accessed the computer
and copied a bank of encrypted files.
Someone got past the firewalls? The absolutely unbreachable,
The attempt to lighten the situation met with an even stonier face
Theres no evidence the firewall was breached, but the
system was accessed.
Now that was truly alarming. You mean someone got in here?!
Into the Bat cave?
Bruce shook his head. Theres no evidence of an intruder,
Dick tilted his head and suggested, Poltergeists? Harry Houdini?
This is nothing to joke about, Dick, Bruce said sternly,
turning to the computer
console. Its vital that we figure out where this information
went and I dont have the time to track down the culprit, so
Im tasking it to you.
Dicks New Years Eve went out the window, and he figured
hed better not make any plans for Valentines Day, St
Pats, or the 4th of July. Christmas wasnt looking too
good, either. He slumped against the console. Okay. Show me
where to start and Ill find out who hacked your computer without
going through the firewall or the front door.
Bruce nodded and took a deep breath. Good. Im counting
on you, Dick. The things on that disk are potentially explosive.
Once youve found the culprit, if you cant recover the
files then I want you to insert this tape worm into their system
to hunt down the information and destroy it. I should have years
Whats on it? Dick asked, knowing how unlikely
he was to have his curiosity
He was right. Bruce shook his head. Thats not something
I can discuss, but if its fallen into the wrong hands
He left the if hanging there, but he didnt need
to say more. Dick could tell it was going to be very, very bad for
the good guys.
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Bolivar Trask looked across the river into the United
States. SHIELD had relocated his research center across the border
where it was safe from prying eyes in Washington. The entire Sentinel
Project, codenamed Operation Wide-Awake, was nearing completion.
The Mark IIs and Mark IVs were fully running and the Mark
VIs were almost complete.
Shouldnt you be working?
Trask turned and waved off General Wallace Kincaid. I work
all the time. As we are approaching the end of the project, a little
reflection is called for. Sad really when I think about it.
No need to be sad, Dr. Trask. Theres still plenty of
work to be done -- we need you to finish the neural inhibitor so
that we can neutralize the mutants once we capture them.
Trask sighed heavily. Sometimes he felt like he was beating his
head against a brick wall with these people. Once again youve
set your expectations on the high side, General. We only know that
we can track lower level mutants and inhibit them. We have no idea
if it will work on a Beta, much less an Alpha.
You always underestimate your results, Doctor. The charm
of your modesty is
wearing thin, Kincaid snarled. We need the inhibitor
ASAP. The situation in the US is becoming severe.
How soon do you need them? The individual inhibitors will
take months, but larger fields should be ready in six to eight weeks.
Trask wiped his brow and shrugged. Not much more I can do
Kincaid tapped the railing and sighed. As long as it isnt
much further than that. You are one of the last components in SHIELDs
solution to the Meta-Human problem. We need those Inhibitors so
that when we do find Magneto we can neutralize him.
I thought SHIELD was going to kill him, Trask replied,
surprised by this change.
Theres no benefit to killing him in battle and making
him a martyr. No, he gets a
public execution with the planet watching as he is helpless to stop
his own death. THAT is how SHIELD ends the mutant problem. All we
need is you and Magneto.
It started at sunset and in less than an hour the entire Caspian
Sea beachfront was swarming with Russian troops invading Iran from
the north. Down south along the Persian Gulf, Russian Naval vessels
were interdicting Iranian ships laden with oil and other goods.
United States Intelligence services began waking up Watch Officers
in the middle of the day. Satellite imagery, infrared, showed a
massive movement of personnel into the Iranian theatre.
Dr. Nancy McNally was briefed by the CIA and concluded the United
States could do nothing about now blatant Russian aggression. She
lifted her phone, Mr. President, it has begun. Russia is moving
Jan 2, 2018
Secretary of State Kane Miller sat in the United Nations Security
Council emergency session and gritted his teeth in a diplomatic
fashion. The Russian Ambassador was explaining the threat
that the Iranians presented along the Caspian Sea.
The Chinese Ambassador interrupted the Russian, We have heard
this before, Mr. Ambassador and it is as implausible now as it was
then. The Americans have proof that your invasion of Ukraine was
The Americans are lying in order to change the terms of the
debate away from their own internal problems. They are a dying empire,
devoid of influence and power, the Foreign Minister stated
coolly. They are a toothless old tiger, growling to keep the
vultures at bay.
As opposed to a country trying to recapture glory that never
existed, riposted the British Ambassador.
You of all people should be wary of the dangers that radicals
present. London was a sign of things to come. The Russian
smiled and shrugged.
Is that a threat, Mr. Ambassador, asked Secretary Miller.
A statement, Mr. Secretary, one that all of the Western powers
should heed; the United Kingdom is in ruins, France and Germany
are panicked, and the United States faces a second civil war, Id
say my warning was late.
Your aggression against your neighbors must be stopped!
Russia will provide stability in the new world order. The
Wests time is over. Russia must step in and fill the vacuum.
Philip sat down and smiled at Kelly Ling and Jackson King. Hed
briefed his Uncle
Tristan and grandfather on his plans: Tristan had laughed and shook
his head, but
Lionel had beamed with pride. Now it was just a matter of bringing
the legal team on board. Thank you for seeing me.
Kelly smiled at him. We were intrigued when your grandfather
told us you had
something fun for us to sink our teeth into. Since youve never
asked us for anything before, were thinking you must have
cooked up something quite special. Now how can we help you?
Id like you to set up a private LLC and start buying
up coal-fired power plants -- using my personal funds, of course.
Start picking off the ones with the worst
environmental records -- I think youll find theyre the
most financially-distressed, he told them. He handed them
a thin folder. These would be a good starting point, I believe.
Jack accepted the folder, but barely glanced at the short list
inside. Thin frown lines appeared between his brows. And once
we have them?
Take them offline, of course.
Kelly was smiling. For the good of the environment.
Philip smiled too. Kelly knew very well his idea had damned little
to do with
environmental issues. If thats how you want to look
Jack cleared his throat. And as it just so happens, the power
void created by the coal-plant closures will increase the number
of companies that need to buy power from Minerva.
Precisely. Philip smiled.
Jack looked dubious. Thats dangerously close to being
price manipulation, Philip.
Which, as you know, is illegal.
As Kelly pointed out, it is an environmentally friendly policy
set by the use of
market principles. Philip shrugged. I can hardly be
faulted if, in a year or two, my LLC comes out ahead or provides
me with an enormous tax break.
And what will you do with a network of decaying power plants?
Philip tented his hands thoughtfully. I have some ideas about
that, but youll just
have to wait and see.
Ursula Gunn, the Attorney General, clicked off the TV and threw
her hands up in the air. This is all over the Internet and
our best computer scientists have no idea where it originated. Its
fueling hate crimes across the country, Mr. President.
Mutants forced to kill mutants for sport. Lex was disgusted.
Bruce, money has to be changing hands on this thing -- get
your team to scrutinize monetary transactions and see if these sadists
left any bread crumbs. This aired Christmas Day, correct?
Yes, Ursula answered.
Bruce saw where Lex was going and nodded. End of year transactions
patterns. We will look for anything outside the norm.
This is the sort of thing that makes matters worse! Magneto
will want to make an example of someone and then whoever is doing
this will go for bigger thrills. Lex clenched his hands into
a fist and groaned. This is not what we need!
Ill get Jason Wyngard on it. Hes done this type
of thing before.
Steve Wilson marched down the hall to Graydon Creeds office.
The assignment in
Houston was done, as was his recon mission in Sydney; now he wanted
some better action. His actual assignment as a mole for SHIELD had
almost gotten him killed in the London bombing and sent an innocent
man to his probable death by killing one of Americas leading
anti-mutant figures, the Rev. William Stryker.
Pausing for a moment, he straightened his back and walked into
the office of the
man behind the current mayhem across the country, president of the
Humanity, Graydon Creed. Mr. Creed, whats next?
Creed turned and smiled at his new consigliore. Steve, sit.
We need to talk about our next project
What would that be sir?
The noose must be tightened around the president. His oldest
capture, putting everyone on alert, so much so that the Secret Service
around the children have been replaced by House Luthor security.
This must be
stretching their resources thin -- his youngest may still be vulnerable.
Washington is in lock down. Steve mentioned. Getting
to the kids there will be
But the youngest twins wont be in Washington much longer.
They are returning to school for the new term. Creed handed
a folder to Steve. Here are some families that also have sons
at St. Albans. A few of them have sympathies with us. Im sure
you can make use of them.
Steve flipped through the file, nodding. I think I could
find this useful.
The sky was dark and dreary, the air heavy with the scent of coming
winds were cold as Ben and Wes made their way across the Commons
of St. Albans. The family had debated long and hard about allowing
them to return to school, but the boys had been persuasive in their
arguments that they need to graduate and move to the next level.
Philip and Hamilton were in Washington and awaiting word if they
could return to Boston.
This weather sucks, Ben announced as he made his way
to the front of the school. Weve been cooped up for
nearly a month, and for our first day of freedom we get a snow storm.
Relative freedom, Wes corrected. There were no House
security personnel in his
direct line of sight, but he had not a doubt that they were there.
I hear you, brother, Ben muttered, then was forced
to come to a stop at the wide double doors when a group of fellow
seniors blocked their path.
Just so you two know, no one wants to be seen with you,
David Martindale, the
apparent ringleader, sneered.
And yet here you are, Ben quipped, his sarcasm tinged
with a bit of surprise,
Practically posting for a photo op.
Martindale scowled at him. Your dad is a mutant lover and
you two are, too.
Ben threw a puzzled frown at his brother. Wes, did you ask
Davey-boy what he
thinks about us?
Wes shook his head. Nope.
Huh. I wonder where he got the impression that we give a
rats ass about his
Martindale and one of the other boys took a threatening step closer
and Ben laughed out loud. Man, you must be the stupidest fuck
who ever got admitted to this school. Ben hooked a thumb over
his shoulder at the security agents who had appeared from nowhere
and were closing in fast. You see whats coming up on
your ass? I got the posse from hell backing me up and you wanna
The seniors backed off. Your goon squad cant be everywhere,
mutant lover. Watch yourself, Martindale warned and disappeared
back through the doors into the rotunda of the great hall.
Ben and Wes looked at each other.
Pansy-ass? Wes queried.
Who writes that guys dialogue? Ben muttered,
laughing as he turned and waved off security. Its cool,
guys! Just a little pissing contest to start the new year out right.
Both boys laughed and entered the school.
Andre Comeaux finished his glass of wine. Not bad for American,
but it is not
Snob, countered Holly Jones with a smile. I didnt
come here to be insulted. In
fact, I shouldnt be here at all. Im on vacation, but
that doesnt mean Im not being monitored.
SHIELD is watching Im sure, but as you said, youre
So this is a purely
Andre smiled and leaned forward. There need be nothing pure
about it, if youre so inclined, but I was also hoping you
might share with me what the FBI knows about Australia that isnt
So much for the flirting and playful banter, Holly
muttered under her breath. Andre Comeaux was extraordinarily attractive,
but they both knew their sexual innuendo was all talk. There were
a lot of empty rooms upstairs in the hotel, but she wouldnt
be sharing one with Andre tonight. Mores the pity.
INTERPOL has some underground information about the political
arrested in Australia, Holly told him. A few of their
ministers were out of the
country at the time of the coup, and all of them have filed for
political asylum in
whatever country they happened to be in at the time. Its creating
everyone. Kane Miller at State is trying to handle this quietly,
but the Freedom Party allies everywhere are trying to block the
term asylum. She sipped her Chardonnay. On a similar
note, I think several of our field offices here have been covering
for Friends activity. There have been a few times that field agents
have been just a hair late in acting to prevent violence against
mutants. Nothing that can be proven, but its a pattern of
behavior that needs looking into.
Institutional indifference, I dont miss it. By the
way, what happened to the shooter in Houston?
Holly frowned. He seems to have vanished.
Jean Grey and Emma Frost waited outside the windswept and freezing
cafe for contact from Sean Cassidy who had been charged with quietly
detaining the Latvian and Lithuanian leaders of the
Freedom Party. X-Corp was conducting the mission under duress, but
Whitney Fordman had been adamant; this had to be done, and done
Charles is against this. To use our powers in this way
Jean could not finish the
The enemy of my enemy is my friend. We have no choice but
to see if we can set our enemies at each others throats.
Emma nodded as Sean made his way to the observation pier.
//Weve got them, but they will be missed soon. You have twenty
Emma and Jean followed Sean to a waiting car. It was a quick drive
to a warehouse and they disembarked. The two telepaths moved in
front of one of the men. Emma reached out and touched the Latvians
head while Jean did the same to the Lithuanian. Emma smiled, Relax,
you wont feel a thing.
Twenty minutes later, Sean was gone with both men. Within days,
Party would be violently protesting Russias mutant policy,
and in the process
creating one hell of a mess for Graydon Creed to clean up. It was
time to change the terms of the fight.
Emma pulled out her PDA. The rabbits are on the loose.
It had taken two weeks of painstaking research, but Dick had finally
nailed down one solid fact a mutant shapeshifter had gained
access to Wayne Manor, made her way into the cave, and onto Batmans
Now all he had to do was figure out who the shapeshifter was. And
taken the data. And whether shed decrypted it. And figure
out how to get the data away from her
His prospects for Christmas
werent getting any better.
The first thread hed unraveled was figuring out when the
unauthorized access had occurred. Once he had that information hed
been able to scour footage from the manors two dozen security
cameras and obtained a fleeting glimpse of a blue-skinned humanoid
captured by a security camera as a dim reflection off of a glass
case. The next clue was the one Dick was proudest of the
image of a mouse caught on an exterior security camera. And the
final nail in the shapeshifters circumstantial coffin was
another reflection of a woman this time fully human -- on
the south slope of the manor.
No way it would hold up in court, but the time stamps on all three
images had him
convinced they were looking for a mutant.
The key to identifying the woman now was the closed circuit television
system the flowed through the city. Traffic cameras, bank ATMs,
The city was a veritable treasure trove of images,
and Dick was running a facial recognition program across the whole
system, comparing those faces against that final image. It was going
to take several computing cycles, but Dick figured hed get
a list of partial matches within the hour. He stared at the image
hed pulled from the remote camera the nearest entrance point
to the Batcave. Amazing that can almost pull images from
a reflection in a pool of water from space. There is no place to
While the software did its, thing, Dick leaned back, propped his
feet on the console and opened his favorite superhero comic book.
Two hours later, the disembodied barely-recognizable-as-female
computer told him, Facial Recognition program complete. Probability
of match, 97.68%.
Bingo. Display locations.
Three times the target was seen entering a known access point to
headquarters in New York. Dick covertly accessed a Top Secret databank
in the DOD until he came up with a name: Raven Darkholm. Three keystrokes
later, he had her home address and her personnel file. What
were you doing here and does SHIELD know you can shapeshift?
Lex sat back and stared at the television. Underground feeds from
St. Petersburg, Vilnius, Minsk, and Novgorod were showing massive
unrest as Freedom Party rallies protested Russian involvement with
mutants. How the underground Freedom Party had the images of those
Russian special units from the invasion of Ukraine was something
Lex didnt want to ponder at the moment.
Russian imperial ambitions may be taking a hit, Mr. President,
stated as she walked into the Oval Office. Vitaly Kirov has
ordered troops toward St. Petersburg. Iran may be able to revolt
and so might Ukraine and Kazakhstan if we could provide them some
The images of rioting and smoke from several cities in the Russian
influence made Lex grin slightly. Whitneys idea had been brilliant
execution flawless. Of course there was no way Nancy McNally could
ever be told of the maneuver. No, we had nothing to do with
this and we have our hands full as it is. Let the Freedom Party
and Russia go toe-to-toe for a bit.
What I wouldnt give to be a fly on the wall in Graydon Creeds
office right now.
Satellite imagery depicting scenes of chaos in Russia filled several
monitors. Id offer to break out the popcorn, but who
do we root for? asked
Good question, replied Gyrich. Both of them need
to have their momentum
slowed, so how about a nice long drawn out stalemate. We can order
General Isling walked in and motioned for Gyrich to follow him
into a private
conference room. Wilson has been debriefed and also been hit
with a few
posthypnotic suggestions. Hes a fighting machine and Im
ready to use him.
Well use him when we take down Darkholm. I want that
to go smoothly. Justice has been asking about him. Make sure no
one can recognize him when this goes down.
Isling nodded. When are going to do it?
The timing has to be right and we needed the right personnel.
One down and one to go.
Dick crossed the Hudson into New York when hed heard that
hostilities had broken out between the Freedom party and Russia.
SHIELD, and just about everyone else, would be distracted. He was
still a student and expected to maintain that image even though
Bruce had him covering for Batman in Gotham in Dicks alter
ego of Nightwing.
He pulled his motorcycle to a stop across the street from the brownstone
that Raven Darkholm called home. Mighty nice place on a
government salary. He went around back and quickly disabled
the alarm system. He found her study and a government issued laptop.
The first step is the easiest. With ease he hacked
her password and went into the BIOS. Making sure he covered his
tracks completely, he opened a window into the computers basic
programming. Fifteen minutes later he was out of the townhouse and
back on the street. He quickly ran a remote access program and got
a positive lock.
Now for phase two of the plan. How the hell am I going
to get into SHIELD?
What the FUCK were they thinking! Who gave the order to start
shit in Russia?
Creed slammed his fist down on his desk. He turned to his nearest
aide. Find out
what is going on over there! And get me Morgan Edge! I need to see
if he can pull a fucking rabbit out of his hat!
Creed turned and stared at the feed. In Vilnius, the Freedom Party
was now engaged in exchanging gun fire with the Lithuanian security
forces. Several buildings were burning. The same was going on in
several cities. This was not on the agenda!
Damien Parker was having difficulty believing what he was seeing.
fighting Freedom Party protestors? Absurd!
For Damien, this was two of his pawns going at it and that had
never been on his
agenda. He controlled Australia because he controlled the Freedom
Australia. He controlled Russia because he controlled Vitaly Kirov.
Plans to take over the Freedom party worldwide were in the works,
but they may have taken a hit.
Victoria sauntered into the room, belting her robe. Damien had
been up for hours,
but she was only just rising. What is it this time, my darling?
Is the world ending
again? she asked with an indolent yawn.
The Freedom Party is having riots in Russia and some of its
That woke her up. How rude! And inconvenient. What the hell
does Creed think hes doing? Creed is a zealot with an insane
agenda, but this serves no purpose.
Damien shook his head. Im not sure this is Creeds
doing. One of my spies in their headquarters reported he went into
a fine rage a few hours ago, about the time these reports started
coming out of Russia. But if he didnt instigate this, who
Spontaneous combustion? Victoria suggested lightly.
Damien scowled at her. On a half-dozen separate fronts? No,
this was planned, and it must be stopped!
She considered that for a moment and then shrugged. Perhaps
it is best to let this play out as it will. If you try to control
too much, then you may be exposed as the puppet master before you
want that to happen.
I need Russia in a position of strength when I go after House
As long as you have them then, you can get House Luthor,
but if you expose Kirov to discovery, then Russia will not be ours.
Let this play out. It may work to your advantage.
Damien stared at her hard, How can this be good for us?
We dont control the full Freedom party and this may
limit them in the short term. If he is running scared, hell
be an easier target for you to acquire. All you have to do is be
Bruce had instructed Dick to keep his cleanup operation strictly
internal, so Dick was completely on his own; otherwise hed
have gotten the Wonder twins involved and maybe Elsa, too, to hack
the crap out of SHIELD just to piss them off. However, he knew that
SHIELD and the Luthors could barely stand each other and he need
to keep what he was about to do to limited to as few people as possible
namely himself. The murky water of the Hudson River and his
very low profile hid his approach from sonar and visible detection.
He knew from his diagnostics that Raven Darkholm had run her home
laptop several times and had remoted into SHIELD three times, which
had spread Dicks little tapeworm inside SHIELD. So far, so
good. Now it had to be activated
He disconnected from the small aqua pod hed used to propel
himself across the
river. SHEILD headquarters was fifty feet away through multiple
layers of concrete, steel, and other types of shielding his small
computer could not hope to penetrate.
Fortunately, he had a small robotic computer that Wayne Tech had
dreamed up. He placed it near a power tunnel and watched as the
three inch robot motored into the murky darkness and disappeared.
Now I have to wait again.
Twenty minutes went by when he got detection the robot had
connected to not one, but two data lines. Dick quickly accessed
the lines and moved into SHIELD communications. He knew he was leaving
a trace, no way he could avoid it, but when SHIELD backtracked the
trace it would lead straight to Raven Darkholm. But there was no
way they would ever detect the tape work.
It took about 30 seconds to find and activate it. He ran several
file searches over
SHIELD activity in the last three years to make the tape worm move
firewalls could not engage because he was behind them. Now if the
data that had
been stolen from Bruce was activated, the tape worm would eat it
before it could be used.
Bruce had better be happy with this!
Tristan and Lionel looked over the numbers. Tristan pointed to
a specific set. Our income from Vulcan Energy is about as
How about the cancer trials? After the incident in Houston
I dont know where we stand.
Tristan clicked on a file and moved it to one of the large monitors.
People are still flocking to Houston seeking a cure. All we
need is for Lex to get Congress to open up the process and we can
start to heal them.
Lionel frowned. Ill see if we have any magic wands
lying around and get right on
Raven Darkholm sat with her friend Val Cooper at a nice Georgetown
wiped the corners of her mouth and sighed. I miss this. Everything
feels like its
teetering on the edge.
I hate feeling like this could be the last time we see each
other in a peaceful
setting. Raven brushed her hair back. The world has
shifted and is shifting. Where we end up is unknown.
Val leaned forward. Leave SHIELD, come back to DARPA. Gyrich
is an ass who will get everyone under him killed before he admits
Raven shook her head. The action is at SHIELD right now,
not DARPA and Im a
researcher. Thanks for the offer though. Anything I need to know?
I shouldnt tell you this, but Holly and I have been
watching Gyrich and SHIELD for a few months. Since the incident
at Eagle Lake theyve been moving more and more people from
facility to facility. We dont know what hes up to, but
those movements dont make any sense.
A thrill of anticipation coursed through Raven. If SHIELD was moving
assets, this could be the perfect chance for Magneto
to finally free Scanner. She hid her excitement with an easy smile
and a shrug. Who knows what Gyrich is up to? It could be anything.
Magneto must be informed. Scanner must be freed!
White Sands, New Mexico
Jamison Brand hated being out in the middle of nowhere. However,
tasked him to come here and remove one of SHIELDs greatest
assets to a safer
place. Fucking Magneto and the fucking leak if they
hadnt gotten to Eagle Lake Id be home watching St. Johns
kick UCLAs ass!
He was heading with his caravan towards White Sands missile range
and the SHIELD installation built into the nearby mountains. He
had two hundred soldiers with him. Gyrich thinks this place
doesnt have the strength to hold out if Magneto attacks
The sun was setting and they would move the prisoner under the
cover of night to the facility in Mexico. The sentinels were there
and that was the only place Gyrich thought that Scanner could be
held. If he wants to expose his secret weapon so soon!
A flash illuminated the sky from the east. MOVE! Brand
barked out. This is Brand on SHIELD frequency two three five.
We have unknown forces to the east of White Sands. Repeat unknowns
to the east of White Sands!
Confirm we have Exodus signature near White Sands!
yelled one of the Operations officers.
Move Luxor towards Brands position as quickly as possible.
Gyrich hit a button on the console. Get the Ultimates to New
Mexico. See if the Presidents drinking
buddies can stop Magneto.
Sir, Luxor has launched four flights of Talon strike fighters.
ETA, three minutes!
Inform Col Brand that the Talons are coming in weapons hot.
Hed better find
Brand ordered his caravan to pull off the road and prepare to hit
Magneto and his
Brotherhood as they approached the SHIELD facility. Everybody
down, Talons are one minute out!
Magneto floated towards the main entrance with several of his lackeys
flying support or being carried on a platform suspended in the air
by Magnetos awesome might. Brand ducked as streaks of light
impacted the area around Magneto. The air was bright with light
and full of heat.
Brand came up and saw Magneto still in the air, but none of his
around him. A flash broke Brands vision for a moment and he
floating near Magneto. Exodus raised his arms and energy lances
flew towards the area the approaching Talons would come from. In
the distance, explosions told Brand that at least some of the Talons
had been hit.
This is Brand. Whats our status?
Col Brand, Talon flights have been intercepted. Ultimates
are en route. ETA
The communications were interrupted
as a massive bolt of lighting filled the cloudless sky. Thor, the
self styled God of Thunder stood in the middle of fused glass sand.
The Ultimates had arrived with him.
Check that, theyre here. Brand gathered his weapons
and got on his com set for his troops. Move to secure the
facility. Let the big boys go at it. We have a different job to
It was like watching a video game except in real life instead of
computer generated. Multiple feeds were coming from White Sands
as the Ultimates tangled with Magneto and his Brotherhood. Lex leaned
back in the Situation Room and said nothing, only gripping his chair
every so often.
How many did Magneto bring with him?
We estimate the Brotherhood totals twenty to twenty five,
responded Dr. McNally. Its difficult to get an accurate
Two dozen mutants against seven Ultimates that were available
for transport with Thor. Those are not good odds even if you have
Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and Wonderman there.
The air carrier Luxor is in position to support.
Lex waved off that bit of information. You dont send
a knife when you need a
sledgehammer to do the job.
Tony Stark fired two more repulsar blasts. We need back-up!
He moved as quickly as his Iron Man suit could carry him away from
the flying mutant Kleinstock triplets. Im good, but
four-to-one ratios are not good in a fight!
Thors hammer went flying between Tony and his pursuers to
nail Exodus in the
chest. Your running commentary is making my ears bleed, Stark.
Hawkeye danced out of the way of Rampage and fired off two more
arrows. Black Widow and Tigra were in hand-to-hand combat with several
of Magnetos shock troops.
This is Cap, all SHIELD personnel, plan Delta Bravo Alpha!
he yelled over the
In moments several of the troops in Brands caravan moved
in squads on the left
flank of the Brotherhood while several dozen troops came flying
in via jet packs from Luxor to move on the left flank.
Captain America lifted his shield and yelled, Attack!
The Ultimates regrouped and moved to join flanking groups. Brands
defending the front of the SHIELD facility while the combined SHIELD-Ultimates
group attacked from the flank.
Arclight stepped up and sent multiple waves of energy as she flattened
flanking force. Avalanche used his power to flatten the right flanking
force. Those still
in the air were pummeled by energy blasts from the Klienstocks and
Thor and Wonderman got up and moved near Captain America. Got
a Plan B?
Gyrich watched several monitors at once trying to determine the
scope of the battle. What assets do we have in the area that
A second group of Ultimates headed by the Black Knight and
Wasp are fifteen
minutes out, responded the Comm officer.
Waller shook her head, This could be over in two.
Sir, we have several more mutant signatures converging on
the installation. Hard to determine the number, but we register
a few alphas among them.
Rubbing his chin Gyrich nodded. Lets see how bad this
could be. Stand by to launch Operation Wide-Awake.
Waller grabbed Gyrichs shoulder and spun him towards her.
Henry, there is no way you are doing that now. We lose all
surprise if we do that and we have a great dealing of explaining
to do to the President!
Gyrich was about to respond when another officer yelled, Look!
Jamison Brand rubbed his forehead and tried to clear the dust from
his eyes. Blinking several times, he could see a green glow and
rubbed his eyes harder. In front of him several hexagons, brilliant
clear green panels, began to build one on another to form a wall.
A geodesics type dome soon surrounded the SHIELD installation. He
looked up and floating down was the Green Lantern. I thought
you were dead?
Kyle Raynor, garbed in a green costume and his eyes covered by
a mask, shrugged. And I would have thought you would have
figured out how to take Magneto down by now.
Brand scowled but said nothing.
Magneto moved towards the SHIELD facility. A green energy field
engulfed it. He
raised his arms to prepare to attack it when a brilliant red energy
beam nailed him in the back. Magneto turned as his Brotherhood was
engaged from a new force. He watched as someone flew into the sky
and suddenly a monsoon was engulfing the area. Regroup! We
have company. The mutant traitor X-Men are here!
Colossus ran through the ground forces followed by other X-Men.
Winds of hurricane intensity howled over the battlefield as lighting
illuminated the area. Torrential rain made it difficult to stand.
Thor smiled as he watched the weather-witch named Storm pummel
Brotherhood. Not bad. He rose in the area and when right
after Magneto. The
Green Lantern was holding the facility safe so Thor swung his hammer
and sent it at Magneto with the power of a thunderbolt behind it.
Magneto moved a tank in the way to cause the hammer to expend its
force on the tank instead of Magneto.
Jean Grey moved forward with three mutants protecting her. She
gathered her might
and sent two telekinetic bolts at the master of Magnetism. In the
blink of an eye,
Nightcrawler, a mutant with the ability to teleport, appeared over
Magneto and took his helmet. Jean Grey sent a mind bolt at him and
Magneto screamed as his brain felt seized between two locomotives
traveling at full speed.
Lord Magneto! screamed Exodus. He was too far from
Magneto to get to him and too many enemies were between them. I
will rescue you! Exodus gathered the Brotherhood and vanished.
Captain America moved forward and grabbed a syringe from a medic
bag. He jabbed it into Magneto. That will keep him out for
a few hours. Send word to the President, we have Magneto!
Nancy McNally smiled broadly as the monitors showed a scene none
would see. We have Magneto in custody.
Lex nodded and turned to Attorney General Gunn, Please inform
Mr. Gyrich that the mutants who assisted in capturing the known
terrorist, Magneto, were operating under the jurisdiction of the
Justice Department as emergency deputized Marshals.
Ursula Gunn smiled and nodded. He wont like that.
They won this battle, not him. I dont much care what
Mr. Gyrich likes or doesnt
Yes, Madam Attorney General. SHIELD will not pursue the mutants
Indeed, we do need to thank them for their invaluable aid in apprehending
Magneto. Gyrich choked out the words as he said them. He hung
up the phone. I want Magneto in a plastic cage before he wakes,
and then I want to know every secret the man has ever had.
And the other group of mutants? asked Waller.
Find them. A few of them joined the Fantastic Four in defending
this building a few years ago. I want to know everything about them.
We may need to include them in our little surprise scenarios.
She paused and pointed at the monitor bank. Henry, this is
a good day.
Yes, but it doesnt change the underlying problems the
country faces. One threat is eliminated, but more remain.
My fellow Americans, as you have no doubt heard by now, the
United States has the terrorist Magneto in custody. SHIELD, the
Ultimates, and a group of mutants known as the X-Men combined to
take down the Brotherhood and capture Magneto.
It was an act of extraordinary courage on their part. Mutants
have been reviled by many across this nation and around the world
and yet this group chose to fight for justice and peace. They chose
to unite against a madman and see that he pays for his crimes.
This is a shining example of what we all share; our values
to live in peace and work together for the common good. Hate has
done nothing but destroy across the world and take lives of people
who were only different. And yet it is in that difference that the
strength arose to fight and beat the embodiment of evil.
I encourage all of you to take a deep breath and understand
that the threat of
Magneto has been contained. A new day dawns and I hope a new day
for all of us to look at one another with new eyes. Take a moment
and think about what we have in common. It is a new day and I for
one am going sit back and smile. Much must be done to rebuild bonds,
ties, and lives, but today on this day we have much to be grateful
As the sunsets across the country I hope that tomorrow all
of us will wake with
hope renewed and see the world with new eyes. Thank you and good
SHIELD was silent as the President finished his speech. Morale
was high from the
fact that Magneto was in custody, but there was a tinge of bitterness
in it as well since SHIELD was not the one who had captured him.
Henry Gyrich and Amanda Waller met with the senior military staff
Jamison Brand, who had led the investigation into the security leak
uncovered Raven Darkholm, was brought and Gyrich motioned him to
Were ready to move on our mole, Mr. Brand. With Magneto
in custody we can take the initiative and go after his associates.
What do you need to take out Raven Darkholm?
Take her out permanently, or capture her?
I want her in custody. Ms. Darkholm may be the key to handing
some of them to us on a plate. Gyrich paused for a second
and then motioned toward the doors. The President is being
celebrated out there. We have to hurry while we have the cover of
our victory to achieve even greater goals.
We have to be careful, cautioned Waller. The
Justice Department is going to
handle the case and they are taking custody of Magneto in a week.
Gyrich nodded. Brand, I want Darkholm in chains by the end
of the week. I want
her mind opened up and I want to use what she and Magneto know to
find any and all of their associates. Justice doesnt need
to know about this.
Frank Craft waited for Gyrich to join him. While the news of the
week was very good
it also placed him in several dangerous positions.
Mr. Craft, as always a pleasure to see you again.
We have come to a difficult point in the affairs of our country,
Mr. Gyrich. Snap
public opinion polls have given Luthor a significant bump. I imagine
that polls over
the next few days will reflect this changing political landscape.
Craft stirred his tea in his china cup after adding a hint of sugar.
You figure largely in several of the Consortiums plans,
but in order to make sure the nation remains stable and
governable, I need greater access to the resources The Consortium
has helped you acquire.
Gyrich frowned. Im not following you, sir.
Weve made contact with Graydon Creed and his Freedom
thugs thanks to the
moles you have inserted. We must control that force, but it is in
danger of being
marginalized by recent events. The public only reacts when frightened
and then they can be controlled.
Now I see. We know that Creeds thugs were behind the
devastation in London and the actions in Russia. Those zealots are
barely contained, but they do make for good shock troops.
Gyrich, we need to come up with a new boogeyman. And we need
it sooner rather than later. The more time that President Luthor
has to bask in this victory the weaker our collective position becomes.
Your head is not safe either.
I have the perfect person in mind. We have Strykers
assassin and hes a mutant. He just might do what we need done.
Graydon Creed felt like a deflated balloon. The biggest rallying
cry for the Friends of Humanity and the Freedom Party was Magneto
and now the Boogeyman was in
custody. The Freedom Party was still engaged in combat with troops
across Eastern Europe. Russia had banned the Party and was arresting
known members, accusing them of sedition.
Dining on ashes? asked Morgan Edge as he walked in.
It doesnt become your
normally televangelistic personality.
The anger of the people may be assuaged with the Presidents
Magneto coup. The hard core believers will continue to follow, but
those who were only scared of the big bad creature they are
happy tonight. That cripples political power and influence.
Edge shrugged. You need to go back on the offensive now that
Magneto is no longer out there. Without Magneto to drive fear, why
not force Luthor to confront Registration again? Couldnt hurt.
Ive tried to intimidate the First Family through surrogates,
but that is proving
ineffective. Theyre surrounded by the Secret Service and their
Creed scowled. There have to be ways to unsettle Luthor.
Edge smiled. All you need is an infiltrator in the Secret
We have a few sympathizers, but they are on counterfeit detail.
How much would it be worth to you if I told you I have more
than one in the First Family detail?
Creed felt the balloon inflating. Tell me more.
Raven Darkholm walked into townhouse and flicked on the light switch.
There was no power.
Sensing movement, she moved quickly but not quick enough. The taser
that zapped her chest sent her into screams of excruciating pain
and she fell to the ground.
Jamison Brand walked into the room and nodded to the soldier who
was controlling the taser. Put the new mutant restraints on
her and take her to SHIELD. Tear her place apart. I want to know
everything shes been hiding. Well let the Psy-Corps
look inside her mind.
Mystique slowly regained consciousness and realized that she was
strapped down to a table. She couldnt move anything, panic
flooded her body and mind.
Nerve induction, you cant feel a thing. For a shapeshifter
it has the ability to keep you looking like your natural scaly blue
self. Henry Gyrich walked up and peered down at her. Im
not going to bother to ask you any questions. Instead, Ms. Darkholm,
Im going to let my telepaths peer into your mind. And frankly
I dont care if they leave you a drooling idiot or not.
Three members of SHIELDs Psy-Corps walked in. Their eyes
were hidden by
sunglasses. Panic again flooded Mystiques body, but she could
not so much a move a finger.
She silently screamed as her mind was assailed from three directions
at once. As
strong as her mental discipline was, it was no match for the combined
effort of the Psy-Corps. Shed concentrate to keep one person
out only to sense another person attacking her mental defenses.
Bit by bit she could feel her psychic walls crumbling under the
weighted assault. She screamed as the walls fell and her mind was
wide open. It was akin to mental rape as they ruthlessly plundered
every corner of her psyche.
The three agents spent four hours sifting through Mystiques
mind. When they left tears rolled down her cheeks; never before
had she felt this naked and vulnerable. They knew almost everything
she did. Only her innermost thoughts, hidden behind walls built
by someone else had been safe. It was there that she was able to
see some of what they were doing. Most importantly it was from this
hidden point that she would recover and plot her revenge.
Morgantown, West Virginia
Gyrich pulled up to the abandoned factory in his bland government
issued sedan. It was nondescript and blended well into the old town
scenery. This was as far from SHIELD as he could be and still be
able to get back quickly if necessary. He entered the old factory
and went down a flight of stairs into the very well lit and immaculate
underground area. Inside a containment area was the mutant captured
So you are Wade Wilson, the one who ignited a firestorm.
I have to hand it to you, I couldnt stand Stryker and you
took the sonofabitch out. Bravo! But, I know Isling has had conversations
with you before about being all you can be. And weve certainly
been helping you in that regard.
Wade Wilson no longer looked as he had when captured. The meteor
by USAMRIID had been injected into his body, further mutating him.
His mouth had been sown closed and now his body gained its energy
directly from the sun and other background cosmic radiation. He
looked like a menace. The containment unit had a dampening field
that keep Wilson, now known as Deadpool, in place.
Gyrich raised his hand. No, dont say anything. You
are about to be the star
attraction in the next round of the Mutant Menace. Youve got
now. And you are going to attack the White House at the next Cabinet
President Luthor is to survive, but if you killed a few of his secretaries,
that would be perfect.
Wes and Ben grunted a half-hearted good morning as
they walked into the kitchen for breakfast. Neither of them was
And a cheery good morning to you, too! Whitney chirped
enthusiasm. He handed them both a glass of juice. How does
it feel to be officially teenagers? I cant believe youre
thirteen. It feels like just yesterday we were having to change
DAD! It feels like it did yesterday except we have one less
day to come to a decision about where we are going to college. If
Father had his way wed be heading to a monastery, Ben
whined as we grabbed a chocolate chip cookie.
That is not breakfast young man and youd be safer,
or the female population would be safer, if you were cloistered.
Wes chuckled, Can he go someplace where they take vows of
Ben shot Wes the finger when Whitney wasnt looking.
Boys, get ready to go. And Happy Birthday. Well celebrate
when we can gather the family and your brothers can get away from
Cabinet Secretaries entered the White House through various entrances.
The mood of the nation had been much lighter since the capture of
Magneto. The Justice Department, in conjunction with other nations,
was preparing a prosecution of Magneto. Intense negotiations about
the venue were taking place at the highest levels. A blind lawyer
named Matt Murdock was defending Magneto. Even those machinations
though could not keep the feeling of relief from permeating every
aspect of American, even global, life.
Lex walked into the Cabinet Room and everyone stood up. He motioned
for them to sit. I hope everyone is well today. Bruce, what
is the current economic picture?
Bruce nodded and three screens in the room soon showed graphs and
activity projections. Tax revenues appear to be higher than
anticipated by fifteen percent. People seem to be spending money
and with several urban cores undergoing reconstruction we have areas
of vast economic expansion. Secretary
Manheims three year plans for reductions coupled with increases
in revenue means we might be able to balance the budget. Murmurs
of approval began to rise, but Bruce held up his hand and warned,
Before anyone gets starry-eyed, I said might.
Lex smiled. Heaven forefend that anyone become carried away
Secretary Wayne is
Whatever Lex had been about to say was cut short when the doors
burst open and Secret Service agents burst into the room. Sir!
Were under attack! Dan
McConnelly shouted as his agents fanned out, some pushing Cabinet
secretaries to the ground while Lexs personal guard swarmed
toward him. They were still several yards away when they were suddenly
scattered like bowling pins by an assailant moving too fast to be
An instant later, a figured morphed in the center of the table
in front of Lex a
bulked-up monstrosity with wild eyes and scars where his mouth should
have been. His gun moved to fire on Secretary Manheim, but a laptop
hit him in the head. Bruces aim had been spot on. Lex pulled
a pen from his suitcoat pocket, aimed it and fired at the intruder.
The high intensity laser nailed the figure in the back. He turned
and fired at Lex, but the bullet impacted a force field covering
Lex. Several Secret Service members fired. The assassin was hit
several times, but vanished before he could be apprehended.
The sudden silence was deafening.
Is everyone alright? Lex asked. He looked around and
nodded at the Homeland
Security Secretary. Go and find out what happened. Report
back ASAP. Everyone else, we finish the meeting.
Bruce entered his office after the chaos of the Cabinet meeting.
The least boring
meeting ever. I wonder if we can arrange that kind of fun every
Jason Wyngard was waiting for Bruce when he entered. Mr.
Secretary, I have some news for you.
What have you learned?
Sir, Ive followed a lot of the money trails for the
Friends of Humanity and some of it travels back to known institutions
that are less than reputable on the international level. Ive
been able to correlate known InterGang activity, but there have
been some recent transfers from entities that have been dormant
since the nineteen sixties and seventies.
Bruce frowned and then nodded. Give me that list and do not
let anyone know what you are doing. Follow the InterGang money for
now. I think Justice would be very interested in what you turn up.
The information that SHIELD obtained from Mystique was frustratingly
fragmented. Such was the result of a psychic examination with an
unwilling subject -- nothing was ever linear. Moreover, the data
that they gathered from Mystiques computers was corrupted
and so were all the SHIELD computers. A tapeworm had infected everything.
Scanner was now onsite trying to reconstruct the data, but that
would take time.
One thing was clear from the fragmented data Mystique had
damaging on Bruce Wayne, and Bruce Wayne, in turn, knew something
damaging about Lex Luthor. Mystique had unearthed secrets that she
believed had enormous value. The exact nature of those secrets,
though, had so far eluded SHIELD. But there was more than one way
to unearth secrets.
Gyrich watched his monitors as his team crossed the Hudson to Gotham
City. Their ETA to Wayne Manor was less than five minutes. Gyrich
wanted to know what Wayne was up to and what Wayne might know. Broken
computer files and psychic images were not enough evidence to convince
people that the plan to remove Lex Luthor from office was just,
but Gyrich had a feeling he had a smoking gun within his grasp.
The attack on the White House had been downplayed by Katherine
Tyers, the Press Secretary, much to Gyrichs annoyance. There
had been no fatalities, but the technology that Luthor had so deftly
displayed had been awe-inspiring to the Secret Service. The
President has a fully functional personal body shield. That is
impressive. And disturbing.
The plan to reignite fear in the population had only ignited such
passion in those that were already protesting. Most of the nation
heard the news and simply shrugged. As soon as Scanner
knows something, well be ready to act..
A tech ran to Gyrich holding a print out. Sir, Scanner has
located a possible place for the Wayne information files. Theyre
in a junkyard.
Abort and prepare to be redeployed. New mission location.
Gyrich read the printout again. This had better be right or
Im plugging Scanner into a toaster.
Jamison Brand stared out over an abandoned storage yard. Hundreds
cargo containers were stacked around the weed infested place, providing
camouflage for three points of entry into a hidden underground facility.
Brand figured that this was the best place hed ever seen to
hide a secret hiding place. That would be the point of course,
he muttered to himself. Scanner had been able locate this place
in the jumble of information he was still untangling. The techs
that were helping pegged recovery of the data at less than twenty
percent. But in that twenty percent was a chance at the whole enchilada.
All three teams are in position, Colonel.
Brand gave the signal and the teams moved into different zones
to breach the
underground facility. The entry points were not close to each other,
at least half a mile from each other. Ground support was scattered
and no air support was allowed because of the nature of this raid.
Team One has entered the main floor!
Brand waited for the signal that they were online with the SHIELD
mainframe. They would then penetrate any possible computer security
that was in place.
Sir, Team Two is taking fire!
Team Three is also under heavy fire. We dont know the
point of origin. The ground shook with slow roll. Sir,
there has been an underground explosion. Team One is offline. They
were online with SHIELD for twenty seconds.
A series of explosions dotted the landscape of the container field.
yelled Brand. Get everyone out!
More explosions rocked the ground and containers began falling
all over the place.
Brand ran from his isolated command center on the edge of the yard.
explosion lifted him off his feet and threw him twenty yards. Huge
plums of smoke
rose from the ground. Brand groaned and passed out.
Amanda Waller looked down into the medical unit as they brought
in the survivors of the raid on one of Bruce Waynes storage
sites. How long will he be in surgery?
Hard to tell, maam. He has some internal bleeding and
multiple breaks to his right leg and a fracture in his left forearm.
Waller nodded and left. She walked into Gyrichs office and
pointed across the river. Did we get anything out of that
Scanner was able to use his limited time to get the file
structure keys. He has
reassembled what data he could from Mystiques corrupted data
dump. We have a limited view of some very secret files of Waynes.
It will take time to see what we have, but I think we have our smoking
Bruce got off the phone with Alfred. He speed dialed and waited
for Dick to answer. Dick, the storage site was hit, but Alfred
informs me that no information has been taken. Recon and report
back to me. Those SHIELD bastards are about to take it in the teeth.
The offsite facility was a complete loss, but it was designed to
self destruct if
unauthorized entry was gained. The catch being the destruction happened
one and a half minutes after entry was gained.
The media was calling it a gas leak coupled with some old hazardous
chemicals that we abandoned on the site. The result had been a spectacular
light show and
fireworks display that people on both sides of the river had been
able to witness.
Dick knew that his old access to SHIELD was no longer valid, but
he was at a loss for how to proceed. Breaking in would
be bad, but we need to see if they got anything. He pulled
up the remote servers that monitored security and cross checked
what Alfred had viewed. The file dump they pulled had nothing in
it. They got a pile of nothing. Bruce will be happy to know
that SHIELD just attacked him and got a big zilch for it. Now to
Lex sat in the Mural Room with Bruce and Attorney General Ursula
Director Holly Jones and Deputy Treasury Secretary Jason Wyngard
sat in the
background. Lex cleared his throat and motioned to the piles of
paper and data files. I appreciate the politically sensitive
nature of this case, Ursula, but as Attorney General this is your
Treasury stands ready to assist in this case as well. I cant
wait to see Graydon
Creeds face when he learns hes the target of a major
investigation. Bruce smirked and sat back. Jason, are
we still tracking the money flows?
Jason looked around and then nodded at Bruce. Yes, sir, were
monitoring all the
money pipelines weve identified. We need Justice to get the
Court Orders in order to have all those assets frozen.
This has to be kept as tightly wrapped as possible,
Holly stated flatly. This
investigation has tracked international activity going back as much
as two years, but we havent even let Interpol know yet.
Ursula sat back and nodded at Lex. Youre going to get
a lot of heat over this, Mr. President. Creed and the Friends of
Humanity have very loud allies. But as you said, this is my call.
I just wanted to let you know that its going to be very messy.
Madam Attorney General, justice must be blind in pursuit
of the law. Just be sure
that you have all the Is dotted and the Ts
crossed. Far too much is at stake for a technicality to get in the
Ursula stood and nodded. Of course, Mr. President, everything
will proceed under
the rules of evidence and with warrants. Nothing will be overlooked.
The headquarters of the Friends of Humanity was a scene of mayhem
Federal authorities from several agencies were all over the place
seizing computers and interviewing employees.
Steve Wilson had returned from another overseas trip and walked
into a hornets
nest. Whats going on?
A nondescript officer from one of the alphabet agencies walked
over and tapped him on the shoulder. Whore you?
Names Wilson. Steve Wilson and again, whats gong
The officer held a finger to his earpiece and didnt answer
right away. Yes, Sir. Mr. Wilson if you will accompany me.
You are on the list of people to be interviewed. The FBI would like
Chet Desmond sat in the make shift joint operation headquarters
for the multi-
agency sting operation. He stood when Steve Wilson was brought in
for questioning. He motioned for the man to sit. Mr. Wilson,
you have been informed of your Rights. This interview is being recorded
and there are four witnesses here as well. Please state your name
for the record.
And what do you do for the Friends of Humanity?
Chet laughed despite himself. Really? Your passport records
show an awful lot of
activity for a man on a custodians salary. You got off a plane
from Melbourne only ten hours ago.
Steve shrugged. I get good bargains.
What exactly do you clean up for the Friends of Humanity?
Chet asked shrewdly.
Chet and Steve went back and forth for two hours before Chet ordered
detained for the next three days. He had that long to see what they
could dig up on him and several other janitorial members
of the Friends of Humanity.
Morgan Edge watched the TV reports from across the country and
many from around the world as Friends of Humanity assets were seized
in relation to illegal trafficking of drugs, weapons, and people.
The underground mutant-on-mutant fight clubs had been traced by
the gambling and now even he was not safe. Treasury had been more
thorough than anyone had thought they could be.
Sir, Moscow is on the line. They want an assessment of InterGangs
risk in the
Western Hemisphere. They need to know what to move and when.
Edge waved the man off. Tell Moscow that they need to sit
tight on this one. Any money that moves suddenly will set off alarm
bells in Washington and place even more of our money at risk.
He turned back to the TV and saw the image of Graydon Creed being
custody. The world is going insane. Creed and his followers
will see this as all
political. Meanwhile, my assets are diminished and I need to lay
low. If they connect me to Creed, Im done, as well.
Philip frowned at the hologram of his grandfather in Smallville.
This is not what I
had in mind by State actors! The Justice Department is pretty much
going to be
considered doing Fathers dirty work!
What is being done has been in the works for several months
and nothing could be done to interfere with the Justice Department.
Lionel motioned for Philip to calm down. This has the effect
of hurting the Freedom Party globally.
And conveys the impression that Father is going after political
enemies. The politics of this are a mess!
It may look bad, but it also inspires fear in our enemies
minds, Philip. Fear can be a useful tool.
Philip sighed. Only if the fear can be leveraged properly.
This only feeds our
enemies paranoia and makes true many of the rumors weve
heard after the fact.
This doesnt feel right, Grandfather. I think it could prove
to be a mistake.
Whats done is done. Continue to make your plans with
Yes, sir. Philip signed off the holographic network
and sat back in his chair.
//Hamilton, accelerate your combat integration programs. We may
interface sooner than I thought.//
//Ive got partial integration done. You can interface with
three warbots at once
//Ill need to control a whole army of warbots before
we are done. Things are getter dicier.//
Vice President McKenna sat at the head of the table. Pete Ross,
Karl Brooks, Alan
Moore sat in from the House and Adam Chase, Lynn Carter, and Daniel
Price sat for the Senate. Henry Gyrich and Prior Channing were in
attendance for national security input.
In front of them was a print-out of a DNA analysis SHIELD had reconstructed
from data gathered by a mutant infiltrator named Mystique. The original
source of the data, they had been told, came from Treasury Secretary
The data was complicated, but Pete understood exactly what the
lab report meant. He knew he shouldnt have been surprised,
but he was. When did Wayne do this analysis? he asked.
Gyrich replied, Fifteen years ago, as near as we can tell.
Brooks threw his copy of the paper onto the table. Gobbeldy-gook.
That the hell
does it mean? Are you saying this proves the President of the United
States is a
McKenna, whod been briefed yesterday and had had almost a
full 24 hours to come to grips with what theyd learned, shook
his head. Not a mutant, he replied. Mutants have
the same genetic make-up as the rest of us, its just that
some of the chromosomes that are dormant in normal humans have mutated
and become active, giving mutants varying degrees of power.
Whereas Lex Luthors DNA, Gyrich interjected,
Contains nucleotides made up of
two heretofore unknown base pairs.
Brooks still wasnt getting it.
McKenna sighed impatiently. So Lex Luthor, according to this--
He waved the
paper. is an alien.
Holy shit, Brooks muttered. The rest of the room erupted
into chaos with everyone trying to talk at once, and it took McKenna
several minutes to bring the discussion under control. Even then,
it took another thirty minutes of hashing and re-hashing the evidence
to get the group to the point that he felt they could make a rational
Gentlemen, weve known since before Luthor was elected
that his pro-mutant
agenda is a danger to our way of life, but if the President is under
the influence of an extraterrestrial power, our country
whole planet is at risk!
Were being set up for an alien invasion? Price
Gyrich lifted the DNA report. Id say the invasion has
already occurred. Not its just a question of stopping it before
we find ourselves living in the Global Dictatorship of Lex Luthor.
The Vice President let the ensuing silence settle over the room
before he stood. We have to all be clear on this, Gentlemen.
Any course of action we undertake must be done with the full knowledge
that should we fail we will be tried for Treason. But, I assert
that failure to do anything in light of the evidence means we have
failed to uphold our oaths of office.
Pete cleared his throat. Ive known that family for
a long time. Lex Luthor is a threat to the fundamental foundation
of democracy. He must be removed from office.
There is no way to remove him via constitutional mechanisms,
Rep. Moore said.
He is still popular enough in the land and strong enough in
the House to put up a
huge fight. We could not even venture a whip count without there
being a huge
public relations debacle.
Gyrich shook his head. This cant begin in Congress.
SHIELD has a plan in place, but it will need political support after
the fact, Gyrich said. Pieces are moving into place
as we speak, but the window of opportunity is very small.
Channing nodded. Its all very complicated the
plan has several distinct but
concurrent phases that all have to go like clockwork, but it will
allow us to move
against the president and take him into custody before he can muster
extraterrestrial or para-human support.
What are you charging him with? demanded Sen. Chase.
Sedition, but there are other things we are looking into,
McKenna cleared his throat. Our legal ground is murky, but
the moral imperative is clear. There is no other choice. Given that
the Justice Department is now cracking down on anti-mutant organizations
and those that disagree with Luthor, we must move quickly to save
The meeting broke and McKenna left with Gyrich and Channing to
meet with Frank Craft. It was a short drive from the Senate to the
Vice Presidential Residence. Craft was waiting for them in the reception
room. McKenna nodded and sat. We are moving forward. The word
Creed is free on bond, but all his assets are frozen. We
will need his help to secure the peace once this starts, Craft
Luthor has weakened a piece of our support, but we still
have the advantage. Two of his detail are on our side. They will
arrest him for us once the operation is under way. The FBI will
be placing the Cabinet Secretaries under house arrest. The deputies
will be the ones to sign the letter removing Luthor from power.
Once that is done, Creed will be free to aid us.
Gyrich frowned. There are too many things that can go wrong
on that end.
Congress could still get cold feet after the fact. Luthor was a
He was cut off by McKenna. No one in Congress will lift a
finger to support Luthor once this DNA report is made public. There
isnt an elected official in this country who would dare come
out in favor of an alien from another planet.
Youre giving this to the media? Craft asked.
McKenna nodded. Thats Phase One. It should take us
about two weeks to fit the final pieces into place and then Waynes
DNA analysis will fall very quietly into the hands of one of the
most reputable news sources in the country. We give the media just
enough time to spread the word, then we move. We need some legitimacy
or else we are guilty of the very thing we are trying to prevent.
He looked at Gyrich. Now, give the order. We have a limited
window once this is motion. The clock is now ticking.
Steve Wilson waited in the train yard for a few cars to be decoupled.
Those boxes held what he was to pick up. Creed had gotten him out
of jail and now he was back to work. He was in violation of his
bond agreement, but this was more important. Those instructions
came from his real boss, Henry Gyrich. It appeared as though his
assignments were converging.
The sun was setting and he found what he was looking for. He and
a few guys with their pick-up trucks quickly off loaded the cargo
and were on there way. All he knew was that several of these deliveries
were being made across the country. He had another pick up to make
in five days. Something big was brewing.
His phone rang. Wilson. The number was one he knew
that Creed used.
Mr. Wilson, youre to be in Washington with your cargo
by March 30th. Youll be
Used to sudden orders, Steven went back to work and started planning
how to get to Washington without being detected in three days
Snapper Carr was sitting in the backroom of a major Washington
hotspot. As far as covert meetings went, this was the best cover
meeting ever. Do I get a lap dance out of this as well?
Amanda Waller raised an eyebrow and waved the comment away. We
are not here for you to indulge in your frat boy fantasies. What
I am giving to you is being given to two other news agencies. This
information is to be embargoed until after midnight pacific time
on Sunday morning. The Times and Post will be reporting
on it, and as the countrys leading wire reporter, you will
be leading with it.
Carr leaned forward, What is it that that Im reporting?
Your friend Lane is going to love this, but she cant
know until after the embargo is broken. We want this to be a shock
to the Powers that Be.
What are you talking about?!
Waller gave him a tight smile and handed him the encrypted time-locked
crystal. Lets just say that President Luthor is not
what he appears to be. She stood and walked towards the exit.
I look forward to reading your article Sunday
Looking over the small information file, Carr frowned. He knew
that Waller was a
major player in SHIELD and that she never would have come out from
the shadows unless this was big. What game are you playing,
March 30 - Good Friday
Metropolis: The Penthouse
Philip walked from his bedroom straight to the penthouse kitchen
for a cup of coffee. Nightmares had swarmed his sleep until a gentle
touch from Franklin had driven them away, providing him with a few
hours of blissfully peaceful sleep. He was still exhausted, though.
Slowly he began to run through techniques to loosen his muscles
and to center his mind for the day.
Do our parents know that you and Franklin share a bed?
Ben asked as he began
loading his cup of coffee with sugar and cream. Because if
so, then I want a few
Philip arched an eyebrow as another spoonful, then yet another
went into Bens cup. Would you like some coffee with
your sugar and cream? Philip ignored Bens
question knowing full well that his and Franklins relationship
was acknowledged by all pertinent parties.
No, Im good. You okay?
Philip gave Ben a slight smile, touched that his sarcastic brother
concerned. Im fine, just preoccupied.
Wes came in yawning. He moved like a zombie as he made a cup of
looked far more like coffee than did Bens. Ready for
our morning workout?
Are you even awake? You like the thing from Night of the
I can still out lift and out swim you! Wes yawned again
and started stretching
copying the movements that Philip had done earlier.
The banter continued as more of the teenage set arrived in the
kitchen for their
morning doses of caffeine. Peter was supposedly in charge, but he
allowed the boys to do as they please, within reason.
Escaping the crowded kitchen, Philip walked to one of the floor
to ceiling windows in the cavernous living room and gazed out at
the horizon. Arms came around him from behind and he leaned back
into Franklins warmth. I dont need to be a telepath
to know something is bothering you.
In my dream last night all I could hear was the voice of
an old woman saying Weve reached the Nexus; Darkness falls.
I feel as though something is ending, Franklin, and were going
to have to grow up even faster than we have already. I am not so
much scared for myself, but for everyone else. He pointed
out at a storm approaching from the north. A clear line of dark
clouds of a late northern cold front coming across the plains was
filling the view behind downtown Metropolis. Mother Nature
is at work as well. It seems somehow fitting that across the world
people are in church reenacting the Stations of the Cross and the
Crucifixion of Christ. He shook his head. Im sorry
my thoughts are all over the place this morning
Perhaps we should focus on the now and enjoy it. What comes
tomorrow will come regardless of whether we wish it too or not.
For now, try to let yourself enjoy what we have in front of us.
Philip turned around and smiled at Franklin. He kissed him. Perhaps
it is time to
show my younger siblings that I can still kick their asses.
Franklin grinned. At what game?
Philip shrugged. Any one they care to name.
April 1 Easter
New York: SHIELD Command HQ
Gyrich nodded at Waller. Generals Ross, Isling, Hardcastle, and
Kincaid looked at
each other before nodding as well. Then we are committed,
We are, Ross answered. Many are asking this morning
if this some sort of Aprils Fools Joke. The president
is an alien.
Regardless if the public perceives it to be a joke, we know
its not, Waller
countered. We must be committed.
Go, said Ross. May God forgive us if were
We will take Luthor into custody as well as his family. Theyre
ready in Metropolis
and Washington. A full assault on their home in Smallville is ready,
Metropolis: The Penthouse
Some Easter break this is turning out to be, whined
Wes angrily balled up the front page of the morning paper. How?
How do they know that Father has alien DNA? He threw the wadded
paper across the penthouses cavernous living room, but Hamilton
calmly reached up and swatted it over Ben, who batted it to Zach.
Hell have to take blood tests to clear his name,
Ben said as the paper continued sailing unerringly around the room.
There was no joy in the game, but Dick, Elsa, Franklin, Kyle, Zach,
and Peter all took their turns keeping the damaging newsprint in
the air until Philip finally hauled it in.
You know that cant happen, Ben. We can only hope that
the press puts it on a par with UFOs and Elvis sightings.
They stared at each other glumly. Hamilton finally cleared his
throat. Come on, its still a holiday weekend and all three
of our parental units are in D.C. Why dont we get dressed
and go out to a restaurant for breakfast? We own several that are
Peter shook his head. I dont think thats a good
idea, Hamilton. With this hitting the news, even here in your own
city it would be best to keep a low profile. I doubt the Secret
Service would let you leave anyway.
Elsa stood. Well eat here, she decreed, starting
for the kitchen.
Ben lurched to his feet. Youre not cooking, are you?
Elsa frowned at him over her shoulder. Yeah. Why not?
You cant cook, Ben reminded her. Last time
you tried to boil water we almost had to call out the fire department.
That is SO not true! Elsa fired back. Youre
just jealous because youre only
culinary skill consists of opening packages of Hostess Twinkies.
The bickering cousins disappeared into the kitchen and the others
looked at each
other. Somebody should go referee, Hamilton commented
Referee, hell, Wes said, coming to his feet. Somebody
should go cook. Bens right, Elsa may be the next Albert Einstein,
but Wolfgang Puck, she aint.
The others shook off their lethargy and followed Wes into the kitchen,
pretending an enthusiasm none of them felt.
Hamilton and Philip brought up the rear.
//Its starting.// Philip projected to his brother.
//Yes, but what?//
//Im not sure, but wed better be ready.//
Tristan got in the back of the limo with his mother and wife. We
will be at Mass for an hour and hopefully we wont be bombarded
by questions. This is going to get very ugly.
Anne nodded. Given the political climate, this is the worst
possible news for Lex.
Well be caught in the crossfire as well.
As with everything in this family, we take the good with
the bad, Lisa commented. Come, we need to get to Mass
and get home.
New York: SHIELD HQ
Henry Gyrich watched numerous monitors. The live feed from Space
Command held his interest most. One of the Orbital Defense Platforms
was moving into position.
Three minutes sir, one of the technical officers announced.
Gyrich turned to look at other stations. Sit rep? Everything
had to go at once or else the prey might get away.
All the pieces are in place. Two minutes sir.
He nodded, The order is given. Fire when ready!
Washington: The White House
The Residential floor of the White House was silent. The Sunday
morning news shows were being brutal as they reported the bombshell
breaking across the country that morning. Everyone from the House
Minority leader to Lois Lane was weighing in with an opinion on
what it meant to have a President with alien DNA sitting in the
White House. When Lex had had all he could stand, he made his way
from his sitting room to his private office, and was deep in thought
behind his desk when his brother-in-law walked in and gave a half
Mr. President, good morning, sir.
Is it, Jeff?
Clark came in right behind Jeff and tossed a copy of the New York
Times onto the
desk. Lex, what happens now? he asked.
I wish I knew, Clark.
Where did this so-called evidence come from? Jeff asked.
I wish I knew that, as well. All anyone seems to have is
a DNA analysis with my
name on it.
Then we should have plausible deniability
Only if I take a blood test and prove its a fabrication,
and we both know--
Quiet, Clark raised a hand to stop all conversation
as he extended his super-
hearing. Shit, something is wrong. We have to go. He
hit his bracelet and said
something in Kryptonian.
Go? Lex demanded.
Lex, theyre coming to arrest you!
Metropolis: The Penthouse
The smell of burned biscuits had almost but not quite been cleared
out by the
ventilation system, but Zach was munching on one that Elsa hadnt
charred too badly as he surveyed the beautiful Metropolis skyline.
It was a gorgeous day, the sky a clear, cloudless blue, and light
streamed into the cavernous living room, which was bounded on two
sides by floor to ceiling windows. Zach was in no mood to enjoy
it. Everyone was on edge, Philip and Hamilton most of all. But Zach
had as much reason maybe more to be as scared as they
were. If a witch hunt for alien DNA was about to start sweeping
the nation, he was going to be one of the first lined up to be burned
at the stake.
He scarfed the last bite of scorched biscuit. Good thing Kryptonians
are char-proof, he thought sardonically. Unfortunately, his nephews
couldnt say the same thing.Most everyone was still in the
kitchen, but Ben and Wes had managed to escape cleanup duty.
Why dont we go down to the gym and shoot some hoops?
Ben suggested as they came into the living area.
Weve got enough here for shirts-and-skins if we can
get everybody on board, Wes replied. Uncle Zach, you
Zach started to turn, but then he heard it
The rotors of
helicopters, close. Too
close, considering that the whole area around Luthor Plaza and the
especially were a no-fly-zone!
Boys He started a warning and suddenly three
copters appeared in a chevron
attack formation, rising toward the top of the 60-story building.
The closest was
bringing the barrel of a .50 caliber machine gun to bear on the
living room windows.
SHIT! Ben screamed and both boys dove behind a sofa
just as Zach shouted
Bullets blazed through the living room and another set of windows
were blown out as gunfire came from the north.
In his head, he heard Clark speaking something Kryptonian and yelled,
Now he tells me! Boys, stay down! he commanded as he
sprang up and sprinted to one of the walls. Open! A
weapons rack appeared. He grabbed a small handgun and a shoulder
mounted rail gun. He whirled and pointed the rail gun at one of
the copters. Surprise!
Lionel was exiting his limo at the fashionable Lennox Restaurant
for Easter Brunch, when he saw the flashes of light near the penthouse.
He froze, hardly daring to believe it could be an attack, but Justins
reflexes didnt make allowances for surprise.
His head of security grabbed him and shoved him back into the car,
shouting MOVE! MOVE! to the driver as three black, government-issue
vehicles closed in and tried to cut them off.
Lionel tried to sit up, but Justin was holding him down.
Stay down, sir! We have attack signals all over the place,
and were being
The boys are at the penthouse! Lionel yelled.
STAY DOWN! Justin slammed the door and pulled out his
gun. Six men on foot
wearing nondescript dark suits and carrying automatic weapons opened
fire on the armored limo as it lurched away from the curb. Justin
slit a window just enough to return fire, but he and Lionel were
jolted hard when one of the government cars hit them broadside.
This isnt good. Justins thought
was definitely an understatement.
Lionel rolled to the floor, activated a panel beneath one of the
seats, and extracted what looked like a tiny-but-lethal rocket launcher.
Justin began, but Lionel silenced him
with a shake of his head. He popped a grenade-sized sonic bomb into
the launcher and commanded, Roll down the window, Mr. Daniels.
Im going to show you how a Luthor does damage control.
New York: Fifth Avenue off Central Park
Diana walked towards Tony Starks mansion which also served
as the unofficial
headquarters for the Ultimates. They were gathering for an Easter
brunch and it was a lovely day, not a cloud in the sky. The
news about President Luthor will be the focus of all conversation,
A piercing whine pulled her from her thoughts. She barely managed
to look up as a streak of light impacted two blocks from her. A
moment later she was thrown from her feet and a deafening roar filled
her ears. A second streak of light flew down and the ground trembled
again. She gathered herself and ran towards the crater that was
Tony Starks mansion. NO!
The White House
Gunfire rang below and three Secret Service agents with weapons
trained on Lex
burst into Lexs private office. Nothing but a blur of motion,
Clark took out all three agents in under a second. Jeff, get
Lex out of here! Ill clear the corridor.
He was gone in a flash. Jeff grabbed Lex, but he wrenched away.
Whitney! He was in the media room!
Im here! Whitney came in huffing and with a large
gash on his arm. There are
attack signals all over the place. Communications are a mess, but
I managed to get an alert out to Philip. Someone is storming the
Resort, but theyre trying to get a shuttle with the Midnight
Guard off the ground. Weve got to get to the portico off the
South Lawn and set up a defense until the Guard gets here!
Whitney picked up a gun from a fallen agent and moved to take point.
He pointed at his brother as he ran in. Arm yourself. Marines
are on their way. They are taking cabinet members at their homes!
Jeff grabbed another gun and Lex took the third as the three men
ran for the door. Lets go!
Wait! Lex commanded as he pulled a small disc from
his suit coat pocket. He threw it at the ceiling and instantly the
lights winked off throughout the entire building. Not even backup
power would work.
What the hell is that? Jeff asked.
Pulse dampening field. This will jam their communications
in the White House, and within fifteen minutes it will have a three
mile radius under a full blackout. He nodded at Whitney, Now
we can go.
The explosion of the attack helicopter shattered the last remaining
window in the
penthouse. As Zach recharged the rail for another blast, Franklin
seemingly out of nowhere, raised his arms, and sent the other two
copters into wild spins.
What the Hell is going on?! yelled Ben, popping up
from behind the sofa. Wind
howled through the living room as the family and their friends converged.
were attack helicopters!
Philip pulled out his PDA and scrolled quickly. Shit. We
need to get out and now!
The White House is under attack, too. Theyre trying to arrest
Father! He dashed to the weapons locker. The first thing he
grabbed was the communications ear piece that would put him in touch
with command central in Smallville. As long as The Palace was still
standing, it would be the hub from which everything was coordinated.
Another blast shook the entire tower, this time from above. Plaster
rained down on them and klaxons began blaring fire alarms.
Fuck! That was the helipad! They must have taken out the
Hyperdyne shuttles on the roof! Zach streaked to the other
window, aimed and took out the fourth
Wheres your Secret Service detail? Elsa demanded,
pulling her hair back, getting ready for action.
Locked out downstairs, or trapped an elevator if they were
coming up to join the
attack, Hamilton told them. I put the building on lockdown
when the first blast hit.
Theyre in the security elevators, two floors down,
Zach told them. I can hear
them shouting orders and trying to find a way out.
You think the Secret Service are part of it? Franklin
Im sure of it, Philip replied, tossing his youngest
brother a mini-launcher.
Ben snagged it out of reflex, but made a face. I dont
want this pussy sonic
boomer, he groused, tossing it on to Hamilton. Give
me the other rail gun.
Wes ran back into the room with clothes in his arms and flung them
at Ben and Kyle. We need more than shorts and t-shirts. Whats
the plan, General?
We have to assume that last blast took out both the shuttles.
That leaves us with the escape route down in the bunkers. Unlock
our private elevator, Ham, Philip instructed and Hamilton
made it happen. Just make sure you dont release the
Secret Service. And trigger the other weapons stores, now! Everybody,
get locked and loadedand dont forget your body shields.
There should be enough here for all of us. If they dont succeed
in taking Father, theyll try to use the rest of us as leverage
to get him to turn himself in. Were not going to let that
Peter, Kyle, Elsa, and Dick dashed off to the other weapons lockers.
The four brothers looked at each other. Communicating without words,
thoughts, even, their fear for their fathers, their determination,
Franklin stepped to Philips side. Were ready,
General. Get us out of here.
Philip nodded as all the fears and uncertainties hed been
grappling with these last months melted away. He felt as though
hed been preparing for this all his life.
Smallville: The Palace
Enrique ran at full speed into the War Room. Move the House
to Level One! Give me a report!
Sir, we are reading attack orders against the White House
and the Resort. Philip
reports that the Metropolis penthouse is taking direct fire. No
mobilizing to the bunkers -- and we have military aircraft vectoring
Two flights, eight aircraft total.
Sir! Were reading a signature from one of the Orbital
Defense Platforms! US Space Command just activated an ultra-sonic.
Target? Chris demanded.
There was an interminable pause before the tech reported, New
70th and 5th Avenue.
Enrique could barely breathe. Theyre taking out the
Ultimates, he murmured. He had no choice. Treat all
incoming aircraft as hostile. Get two shuttles to Washington, and
activate the Metropolis detachment of the Midnight Guard. STAT!
What about Space Command? Chris asked.
Theyll never get a fix on the Palace, theres
too much distortion.
But if they start taking potshots, hoping to get lucky
Then SHIELD will be picking the debris from all six Orbital
Platforms off the moon!
We need to get down to the subbasement and get out of here!
Philip yelled over the alarms and the winds whipping the room.
Peter and Franklin were standing next to each other and speaking
with an astral
projection of Charles Xavier. //The Ultimates have been hit by a
space-based weapon and we dont know if they survived. The
damage in New York is as if it was hit with a middling earthquake.//
//Charles, I have to get everyone here to safety. Is the safe house
//For now Peter, but SHIELD is behind this and Vice President McKenna
is supporting these actions as best we can tell. This is an all-out
military coup against the government, and it appears that their
anti-mutant technology is far more advanced that we realized. They
are trying rather successfully to disturb long range telepathic
communication. We are evacuating the mansion and going into hiding.
We will get word to you through X-Corp. Do not reveal yourselves
to be mutants at all costs. Our enemies are seizing power.//
Franklin nodded and Charles vanished. The Secret Service
is climbing out of the
elevator cars through the roof access panels. We need to leave.
Kyle moved to the elevators where the Secret Service was trying
to escape and used his ring to weld the doors shut. That should
give us some time.
Philip led the way down the hall and into the media room. Ham,
is there a
welcoming party down on the second subbasement level? The
huge digital theatre screen was disappearing into the ceiling, revealing
a set of doors to the private elevator that even the secret service
wasnt aware of.
Hamilton hit a few keys. Agents are swarming the area trying
to storm the building. Theyre going to cut power soon. The
reinforced parking gates will keep them out for a little bit, but
it will take us some time to get clear of the tunnels.
The ten of them boarded the elevator with very little room to spare
and began their descent. Power went out after a few floors. Hamilton
sighed and quickly routed backup power and the elevator continued
down. They really are amateurs.
They also out number us by several factors, Elsa countered,
So dont get cocky. She pulled a body shield pack
from her pocket and tapped her bracelet twice to activate it.
Bad news, theyve breached the garage gates. We may
have a fight if they find our point of exit. Hamilton typed
a few commands and frowned.
Philip nodded. Once these elevator doors open, its thirty
feet to our tunnel entrance and part of that is exposed by a door
to the actual garage. Kyle, you and Peter will lead. Dick, you and
Zach take the rear. Franklin, if worst comes to worst, you can use
your powers to save us.
But, Prof. X said
Yes, I know, but SHIELD - and even the media -- has
been speculating that youre a mutant for years. Franklin Richards
outing himself as a mutant ranks right up there with Dog Bites Man,
not news to anyone. If it comes to it, dont hesitate.
Out of nowhere the Keeper appeared. A Hologram of the world appeared
middle of the room and he pointed to the United States and several
spreading out across the country. //I count more than one hundred
fifty of these
objects. They are heading to major population centers. They appear
to be a type of hunter-seeker. Their weaponry is very advanced and
they can detect so called
Enriques eyes widened. How soon until those get to
Metropolis? he pointed to a
cluster of dots heading towards the center of the country.
Sir, those aircraft have dropped altitude and are in attack
Disable them, dont let them near us. How soon until
we get the president?
Four minutes until they reach the White House. The Resort
is secured, but we have many injured.
Begin evacuating the Resort. Once it is clear, activate the
shields, that ought to
scare fucking SHIELD to death. He punched open the encrypted
communication line to the Penthouse. Philip, you need to get
secure in two minutes. Something big and nasty is heading your way!
Understood, Enrique! Were on the move. Damn it, that
What? Wes demanded to know. Only Philip had a direct
audio with to the Palace, although Hamilton did have full computer
We have one-and-a-half minutes from the time these doors
open to get into the
tunnels and into the secure network.
Or what? Ben asked.
We get hit with some big and nasty.
Any chance hes referring to a lap dancer named Bertha?
Philip reached over and took the rail gun from Ben and handed it
to Peter. He took the plasma rifle from Peter and handed it to Ben.
More firepower up front.
Philip, agents are on the exit level, Hamilton warned.
Its going to be a fight.
Twenty heat signatures. Maybe more. Theyre clumped
together, coming down
Ingress to our escape tunnel? Elsa asked.
Left 20 degrees after you come off the elevator. Im
not triggering the door to open until were almost on it. Everybody
get ready! 3 2 1! Hamilton counted down and
the elevator doors slid open on cue. Peter and Kyle were out first,
with everyone right on their heels. The space outside the elevator
was part of a cavernous garage staging area large enough for six
limos to park or pick up the family. There were doors to three conventional
elevators, two barred ramps up to the street level and two down
to more parking. Theyre ten feet from the street ramp.
They veered left and were half way across the staging area when
a blast took out the grid covering the street ramp. Shrapnel flew
everywhere, but without breaking stride, Franklin threw out a surge
of energy that blew the debris back up the ramp.
Halt, you are under arrest! Two warning shots were
fired as a dozen secret service agents and as many local uniformed
policemen swarmed into the tunnel. Hamilton triggered the door to
the secret access tunnel and several of their attackers opened fire.
Zach whirled, running backwards as he brought the rail gun to bear
on the tunnel,
but Franklin shouted, No, Zach! Too much! He stopped,
turned, and with the barest hint of movement crushed their firearms.
All of them. And to add insult to that barest of injury, he projected
his thoughts into their heads. //That could have been your skulls,
gentlemen. Count yourselves lucky.//
His diversion was enough for the other nine to make it through
Franklin, get in here! Now! Philip screamed at him,
but before the words were out of his mouth, Franklin was beside
Hamilton sealed the door and Elsa sagged against the wall. That
wasnt so bad.
Yeah, Dick agreed. After those attack helicopters
up top, I was expecting
something with a little more fire pow
Something between bomb blast and an earthquake shook the tunnel,
fissures in the ceiling and raining concrete dust down on them.
Fuck, what was that?!? Wes exclaimed.
My moneys on Bertha, Ben retorted.
Philip brushed past them, taking the lead. Come on. Weve
got to move. He broke into a jog and the others followed suit
as he told them, Weve still got nearly a mile of tunnel
to get through to reach the bunker. Theyll be after us as
soon as they can get a jackhammer in here to drill into this tunnel.
Another deep, rumbling roll shook the tunnel and more cement dust
Jackhammer, like hell! Hamilton gulped. Guys,
I dont know what Enriques Big
Bad Nasties are, but Im reading five of them and theyre
ripping up the garage to
As Whitney, Jeff and Lex hit the stairwell; Clark joined them from
below, prepared to lead them from the darkened White House. I
managed to block their access to the second floor without being
detected, but once we reach the main level I may have to clear the
No! No superpowers! countered Lex as they scrambled
down the stairs. Nothing they can detect. If we reveal what
we are, we prove that their accusations are true and lend legitimacy
to this act of high treason. This is a military coup against the
duly elected President of the United States. We cant give
them any ammunition to use against us once the smoke clears.
The House members that served at the White House converged on the
president and his detail. Together they hit the main floor, expecting
resistance, but heavy gunfire from the South Lawn gave them hope
that help had arrived. They ran down the wide corridor toward the
Midnight Guard from the Resort, Clark confirmed when
he reached the door first.
The marines are almost here! Jeff moved up and activated
his body shield. He fired and took out two Agents coming from behind.There
were only a handful of Guard, but they were dispatching the Secret
Service with ease.
Shuttles should be here any second! Whitney announced.
Dreams from years ago hit Lex with the force of a freight train.
Where is Bruce? Did they get him? His entire Cabinet
was being seized. The government had fallen. Find out as soon
as possible so we can regroup!
Steve Wilson led his group of heavily armed militia towards the
White House as they crossed from Alexandria into the District. The
convoy of trucks and Hummers was a signal of victory. Steve knew
that the marines were coming up from the Naval Yards and were securing
the area around the Capitol first. SHIELD troops had hit the Luthor
Residence first and the Secret Service the White House.
We are taking heavy fire at the White House. President Luthor
has not been
secured! Repeat: The target is NOT secured. The Raid on the Luthor
Residence has been repelled! Steve listened in on the radio
chatter and swore. Split into two groups. Unit A, head to
the other side of the Capitol and storm the Luthor Residence. Burn
it to the ground! Second unit, to the White House!
They took off faster than the victory march they assumed it to
The hyperdyne shuttles came down hot and hard, disgorging more
Midnight Guard. They laid down suppressing fire on the Marines and
Secret Service agents who suddenly found themselves being hit from
The presidential group ran to the closest shuttle, taking fire
the whole way.
Whitneys body shield deflected several hits, but he never
broke stride. Guardsmen kept up the suppression fire until everyone
was on board what officially became Air Force One.
Lex raced straight to the cockpit as the shuttle began lifting
off. Where are the
boys? he demanded. Enrique! I want a full re--
His voice failed when he saw the two huge hunks of metal that left
deep craters as they smashed onto the South Lawn. One of the monstrosities
opened fire on the other two shuttles that were trying to take off
while the second unit began bombarding Air Force One.
What are those? Clark! Get up here! Look at this! The
hyperdynes shields repulsed the energy beams, and when the
flashes subsided, Lex finally got a good look.
Yes, Clark agreed. Enrique, are you seeing this?
From Smallville, Enrique replied over the communications net, Yes,
tracking 150 of them across the country.
How the hell did SHIELD"
Enrique, what about the boys? Whitney demanded from
Sir, we dont know. They escaped the first wave and
are trying to get to the bunker, but five of those things just bored
into One Luthor Plaza. Were registering significant seismic
shocks and weve lost communications with Philip.
HALT, PRESIDENT LUTHOR! YOU ARE UNDER ARREST! SURRENDER
came from one of the large robots.
Like Hell I will! Enrique! We are now renegade! Prepare for
a counter strike! Repeat: Counter Strike!
Clark grabbed Lex to steady him as the shuttle banked sharply and
leaving Washington behind.
Lex grimly shook off Clarks hand left the cockpit. SHIELD
and whoever is pulling
their strings achieved their surprise, but I live and am free. Thats
going to prove to be a fatal mistake.