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THE UNCANNY X-MEN #392: "PAX, Part Three: Natural Selection" (October, 2005)

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  • Kenn Beck
    THE UNCANNY X-MEN #392: PAX, Part Three: Natural Selection (October, 2005) ... Writer: Kenn Beck Editor: Meriades Rai Playin With The Queen Of Hearts: JM
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2005
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      THE UNCANNY X-MEN #392: "PAX, Part Three: Natural
      Selection" (October, 2005)
      -------------------------------------
      Writer: Kenn Beck
      Editor: Meriades Rai
      Playin' With The Queen Of Hearts: JM
      Webmaster & EIC: Liam Gibbs
      -------------------------------------

      [Genosha, Now…]

      "Jeannie?" Iceman said, rushing into the room from the hallway
      outside. The scream he heard was undoubtedly from his
      teammate, but when he came into the room and saw her holding
      the assembled group in a telekinetic crush, everything he was
      sure of was toppled.

      The woman he thought he knew suddenly seized him and
      slammed it against the wall. He screamed in shock and his
      eyes went wide as he looked to his friend. "Jean! What… are
      you… doing? We're… your friends! Why are you hurting us?"

      "My friends are dead! My home is destroyed! How could you
      possibly conceive of what pain is?!? But you will know… you will
      know unless you tell me where you have taken my children!"

      She slammed Iceman into the wall again, his concentration
      broken to the point where he couldn't use his powers.

      "Jean," Professor X said, cursing the fact that his powers were
      now beyond his use thanks to Magneto. "Please, you're killing
      him."

      "Jean? Is this the name of the woman who has invaded my
      mind? I-" her features softened for a moment. Here eyes
      seemed to lose their fiery intensity, the raw hatred she was
      expressing simmering down into a dull burn. "I have been able
      to hear what others are thinking before… but never with such…
      clarity. This woman… this Jean… I see her thoughts so clearly…
      her fears, about the great bird of fire… the Phoenix. It holds such
      prominence in her thoughts. But why has she invaded my
      mind?" Her features hardened again, and she tightened her grip
      on those around her. "Get her out of my mind!"

      "Beatrice," Shortpack said, gently probing the foreign thoughts
      that swirled through her head. "That's your name, isn't it?
      Beatrice?"

      "A tiny man," she said, her eyes narrowed. "Can you see my
      thoughts the way I can see yours?"

      "Yes," he replied, his voice as soothing as he could possibly
      make it. "I can sense your agony. Your grief. So can Jean. She
      has been sensing it for a while now, and she has been trying to
      help you. She is the one that was in your thoughts on the night…
      on the night your children were murdered."

      "No! They aren't dead. I can save them!" Beatrice screamed. "I
      killed the bastards that were responsible, I… I used the fire they
      built to fry them all! But before I could see if my children could be
      saved, I woke up here! Where are my children?" she wailed,
      desperation breaking into her voice. Tears built beneath the eyes
      that felt alien and unfamiliar to her. "Where are my babies?" She
      relaxed her telekinetic grip on everyone, finally breaking into
      sobs.

      "Beatrice," Professor X said sadly, "that night happened over a
      century ago. Jean told us about what she experienced while
      linked to your thoughts."

      "A century? That's not possible. How could I be alive? This
      woman in my mind, Jean…"

      "Jean isn't in your mind," Professor X replied. "You are in hers."

      She looked around in terror and confusion. "No. I don't believe it.
      I used the flames to destroy the men that… hurt my children. I
      was about to look for them."

      Professor X felt immense sorrow for the confused woman. She
      had no knowledge that she was dead, let alone her children. It
      was going to be up to him to convince her that her life was over,
      and that the alien voice she heard in her head was actually the
      landlord, and she the temporary tenant in this body.

      [Outside, On Stage…]

      Nightcrawler followed Cyclops as he strode up to the throng of
      cameramen and reporters, his visor dangling loosely around his
      neck. Despite the serious gravity of the situation, Nightcrawler
      couldn't help but notice a slight smirk on his former leader's
      face. Since his ressurection within the cloning cylinder during the
      last hours of the Gene War, Cyclops was noticeably more
      relaxed. (1) It was most likely due to the fact that his new body
      now had complete control over the optic energy that had been
      unchecked for his entire adult life, but it was still unusual for the
      normally stoic Scott Summers to be so… chipper.

      "Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, and people of Genosha,"
      Cyclops addressed the cameras. "I am pleased to announce
      that the sniper has been captured and is currently being
      detained. We still have no word on the condition of Mister
      Moorhouse, but we will keep you informed of details when we
      know them. That's all for now." They turned to make their way
      into the Medical Labs, where even now Shadowcat, Synesthesia,
      Wolfsbane and Scarlet Witch were securing the sniper, Douglas
      Hinson. Hinson's involvement in the assassination pointed a
      pretty strong finger at Bennett Serringer, whom Hinson was
      running for Vice President under. But something about the whole
      set up didn't sit right within Cyclops' mind. Relaxed or not, the
      same analytical computer that was his brain was working
      overtime, and red lights were flashing all over.

      "Scott," Nightcrawler said, "you're thinking this doesn't make
      sense."

      "Not one bit, Kurt. If Bennett Serringer wanted Pierce Moorhouse
      dead, why would he have his running mate do it? That would
      implicate him almost beyond a doubt. He may be belligerent and
      arrogant, but he's not an idiot. This operation was sloppy, not a
      lot of thought put into it. Seems like an obvious red herring. But
      who else benefits from Moorhouse being out of the way?"

      "Dane Scurry, for one. If everyone thinks Serringer arranged to
      have Moorhouse murdered, Scurry would be the only candidate
      left."

      "True. Also, we have consider Xavier."

      "Stephen?"

      "No, Charles."

      Nightcrawler was stunned yet again. "Scott, I don't-"

      "Relax, Kurt, I was joking. Yes, Stephen."

      "I don't know what shocks me more; the concept of the Professor
      being involved in a murder, or you cracking a joke."

      "Let's just say I've had some pressure removed from my life.
      Being able to open my eyes without disintegrating a city block
      does wonders for one's disposition. The fact is, Stephen Xavier
      stands to gain from Moorhouse's death. I expect he'll step into
      the vacancy."

      "But why wouldn't he have waited until after the election?"
      Nightcrawler queried. "Moorhouse was a shoe in to win, and his
      death afterwards would have given Xavier the power. Is he
      counting on Moorhouse's popularity to win the election for him?"

      "We'll see what Hinson has to say when we question him,"
      Cyclops said. "Let's get inside and find out why Jean dropped
      her telepathic link."

      [The Med Labs…]

      "Beatrice," Stephen Xavier said soothingly, "tell me about your
      children."

      Beatrice looked at the man and began to speak, but silenced
      herself before she uttered a syllable, looking cautiously at the
      man. "Do I know you? You seem… familiar to me."

      "Doubtful," Xavier said, looking at the others. "I wasn't born until
      1963."

      Beatrice shook her head at his mention of a year that to her was
      in the far, far future. "Impossible. It is only 1859. There is no way I
      have been unconscious for a hundred years."

      Professor X sighed. His tone was gentle, but reassuring.
      "Beatrice, I need you to look around at where we are. The style of
      clothing we are wearing. The technology that exists in this very
      room."

      Beatrice looked around the room as if waking from a dream,
      studying the devices of the medical facility within the Genoshan
      Parliament building. "I admit, these devices are strange to me,
      but Dr. Milbury had many strange devices in his labs."

      "Milbury?" Professor X asked, his voice edged with concern.
      "Doctor Nathan Milbury?"

      Beatrice's eyes flickered with hatred. "You know him? You've met
      him?"

      "Unfortunately," Iceman said.

      "Now I know you're lying. If it has been over a century, how is
      Milbury still alive?"

      "Beatrice," Professor X said soothingly, "use the gifts that you
      and Jean share. Read my mind. You will see the truth. Nathaniel
      Milbury is also known as Nathaniel Essex, who is also known as
      Mister Sinister. He is a mutant geneticist and a terrorist who
      experiments on mutants. Many of my students have suffered at
      his hands. He died before my students eyes. (2) I know this
      must be impossibly difficult for you to believe and accept, but
      your… spirit, your mind, is co-habiting within the body of one of
      my students. Your body died that night, burned to death by the
      villagers. Jean told me she experienced your death through
      nightmares. Somehow, your mind has connected to hers,
      almost a century and a half later, and shared what you went
      through. But you need to understand, that is Jean's body you are
      speaking through. Her life you are usurping. Her gifts you are
      tapping to reach out into my mind."

      Beatrice sobbed and dropped to her knees. Stephen Xavier
      walked to her side and knelt, placing an arm around her
      shoulder comfortingly.

      "Milbury," she cried, "Milbury was supposed to protect us. But he
      released the mists, and they deadened our gifts, leaving us
      defenseless before the angry villagers. They thought one of us
      killed their child, but it must have been Milbury." She looked at
      Professor X and her eyes seemed to have lost any hatred they
      once had. "I thought I'd never wake up. I thought I was caught in
      a bizarre nightmare, where humans came and enslaved
      mutants, made them property, and then were liberated by a white
      haired mutant. I tried to tell him that we weren't safe. I tried to
      make him defend the colony. But I was sure I was going to wake
      up and it would all have been a dream. But it wasn't, was it? All
      this time I was just… haunting Genosha?"

      Professor X smiled a sad smile and nodded. "That white-haired
      mutant was a man named Erik Lensherr. And your
      communications have not gone unnoticed. He told me that
      Genosha had a voice all it's own. (3) It was your voice he was
      hearing. And he did what he thought was necessary to protect
      the `colony'. But you should know that genosha is now free.
      Mutants and humans live here in peace. Today the people are
      selecting their leader."

      Beatrice looked at Professor X and smiled weakly. "I am sorry
      that I hurt you and your students, sir. I have been… blind to what
      happened on that night. I thought I could save my children, but
      Milbury signed their death warrants. And mine." She grit her teeth
      and shuddered as she spoke. "He swore he'd always care for
      Genosha. He promised he'd watch over us." She began to weep
      again. "My sweet darlings. My babies," she sobbed.

      Stephen Xavier gently held her, soothing her as best he could. "I
      am truly sorry for your loss, Beatrice. I lost my child, too. When he
      died, there was nothing I could do. The pain was so great that it
      made me blind to what was happening in my life. It devoured
      me. Such was your pain. Your grief was so powerful it wouldn't
      let you leave. You stayed, thinking you could eventually save your
      children, to see them again. And you can see them again. But
      you have to let this woman go. Your children are waiting for you,
      just as my son is waiting for me. You just have to let go. Your
      work is done."

      Beatrice nodded. "I pray you are right. I pray that I am still found
      worthy of God's Kingdom. I want so badly to see them." Cyclops
      and Nightcrawler walked into the lab, and instantly, Beatrice's
      face changed. "Your name is Scott," she said, smiling weakly.

      "Of course it is, Jean, what are you talking about?"

      "Scott," Professor X said, "this is not Jean. This is the woman
      Jean told you about. She is speaking through Jean."

      Cyclops looked at Professor X and then back at Beatrice. "Jean
      told me what happened to you and your children. I'm very sorry."

      Beatrice continued as if she hadn't heard him. "The minute you
      walked in the room, her mind erupted in joy. She loves you so
      much. She… she lives for you." Tears spilled in a fresh flood
      down her cheeks. "I once knew love like that. Hamish… he was
      like a father to my children, and like a husband to me. He gave
      his life so I could get to my children. Milbury… Milbury killed him.
      He killed us all. I wish I could have seen his face when he was
      killed." She once again looked at Professor X. "I'm sorry for
      everything."

      "There is nothing to be sorry for," Professor X replied. "Grief is a
      powerful force. But you have not let it destroy you. Jean wanted to
      help you. I pray you'll find peace now that your tale has been
      told."

      "Go, now Beatrice," Stephen Xavier whispered. "Let this woman
      go, and be with your dear children. Do not burden your soul with
      hate for this Dr. Milbury. I'm sure he suffered for what he was
      responsible for."

      Professor X looked appraisingly at the man who shared his last
      name and smiled as he saw Marvel Girl's eyes flutter and then
      resume their normal look. She shook her head and tears spilled
      down her cheeks.

      "Oh, Scott," she said, holding Cyclops, "she's gone. I wish there
      was a way I could have helped ease her pain."

      "You did," Professor X smiled sadly. "You gave her a voice to
      speak the grief and fury she has been existing with for over a
      century. You have helped her find some sense of closure."

      Angel stepped over to Stephen Xavier and put a hand on his
      shoulder. "You've got an amazing talent with words, Stephen.
      Pierce was wise to choose you as his running mate. I think the
      people will consider that if you step into his place for the
      election."

      "No," Xavier said. "I am willing to do what it takes to serve
      Genosha, but I don't want to use my friend's death to achieve
      power. But," he continued, looking up at Dane Scurry, "I would
      like to put my services at your disposal, Mr. Scurry, should you
      win today's election."

      Dane was visibly taken aback and his eyes went wide in
      confusion. "Of… of course," he stammered.

      "This is outrageous!" Bennett Serringer bellowed. "Your
      tampering with the election! Your defection to his side effectively
      destroys my party's chances!"

      "I think your chances," Scarlet Witch said as she entered the
      room, "were destroyed the instant Douglas Hinson
      assassinated Pierce Moorhouse. There will be a formal
      investigation, but we have Hinson in custody below in the brig.
      He was found in the woods fleeing the scene, he attacked us,
      and his energy signature was the one that melted the murder
      weapon. He won't yet tell us who put him up to it, but the truth
      WILL be revealed."

      Serringer's mouth was agape. "Hinson? Hinson killed
      Moorhouse? I… I don't… how…."

      "His surprise is genuine," Shortpack relayed to Professor X
      telepathically. "He has no knowledge of Hinson's involvement. I
      think Hinson may have acted alone on this."

      Serringer looked up at Stephen Xavier and his eyes were wide
      with fright and realization. "I swear, I had no knowledge of this.
      There is no way I would ever… I never would have done anything
      like this. I swear to you! There are telepaths here! I'll let them
      read my mind! They'll tell you!"

      "He's telling the truth," Professor X said. "There is no trace of
      knowledge in his head about assassinating Pierce. His running
      mate was not acting at his request."

      Xavier looked at Professor X and then back at Serringer. "It
      doesn't matter. A good man died today, and from what Beatrice
      showed us, even death cannot kill your spirit if you believe in
      something strong enough. Pierce is still with us. He would want
      me to help the right man lead Genosha. And guilty or not,
      Serringer, you are not the right man. The people won't care if
      you're innocent or guilty. There's blood on your hands. I'm
      making my stand with Scurry." He stepped up to Serringer and
      lowered his voice. "And God help you if you did have anything to
      do with this."

      Professor X nodded to his students. "It's time to tell the people
      what has transpired."

      [New Orleans…]

      Gambit stood atop one of the highest buildings in New Orleans
      and looked down on his city. There was a time when nothing
      could have made him leave. The smells, the sounds, the sights,
      all evoked pleasant memories of nights in the French Quarter,
      picking pockets and cracking safes, running with sweat beading
      down your neck, the thrill of the chase. But even being immersed
      in the sensations of the city he called home, Gambit found no
      solace. He eventually planned on returning for good to the city,
      but it would not be alone. He planned on returning with Rogue
      and their child. But that was not to be. She instead returned to
      the ground from whence all people came, dying at the hands of
      that strange alien Artifact. The X-Men had gathered the pieces of
      Artifact and kept them locked away in separate containers in one
      of the sub basements. There was no energy detected in the
      fragments of circuitry and gemstones, and it served as a grim
      testament to Rogue's sacrifice.

      Gambit felt tears begin to flow again. Their child would have
      been less than a month away from being delivered. He imagined
      what she would have looked like, her belly and breasts swelled
      from the pregnancy, her face glowing with happiness. The vision
      was angelic, as were all visions of his dear Rogue.

      "God, Chere, how I miss you." He took a battered old photo of her
      from his pocket and gently stroked the cheek. "Dere ain't a day
      goes by dat I don' t'ink about you, and what I would do do get you
      back."

      He put the photo back in his jacket and sat on the ledge of the
      roof, watching as rain began to gently fall on the streets below.

      [Genoshan Parliament, The Brig, Three Days Later…]

      "Xavier!" Hinson rasped harshly. "What are you doing here?
      You'd better have a damned good explanation for this!"

      "No need to whisper, Douglas. No one knows I'm here, and I am
      undetectable to the sensors. I have gone through great pains to
      assure that no one knows I am connected to Moorhouse's
      murder."

      "Well, you didn't take great enough pains! The teleport unit you
      rigged up malfunctioned! I had to flee into the jungle! You're lucky
      I didn't just rat you out right there and then!"

      "No," Xavier said, pulling a small device out of his pocket and
      setting it on the table outside Hinson's cell, "you're the lucky one.
      I have ample evidence and alibi that exonerates me from any
      involvement. Tell, don't tell, either way, I will never be
      successfully connected to Moorhouse's death. I took your
      silence as honor among conspirators, but now I sense that
      you're using it as a bargaining chip. Well, let me share a secret
      with you, Mr. Hinson. Everything has gone perfectly according to
      plan. The fact that you haven't attempted to reveal my connection
      means you've earned a quick and painless death." He picked up
      the tiny device and held it up.

      "You sold me out!"

      "Of course I did, Hinson. If you escape, they launch a full
      investigation, a prolonged search, and there is still the toss up of
      the election. But with you in custody, that completely discredited
      Serringer, and with Moorhouse out of the way, Scurry was
      guaranteed the Presidency. Serringer dropped out and left the
      country after he was cleared. And my withdrawal from the race
      removed me from suspicion. Now, with my acceptence into
      Scurry's cabinet, I have situated myself directly within the power
      structure of the Genoshan Government, and can manipulate
      things from the inside. Moorhouse's politics were too well known
      for me to manipulate. Scurry, however… he is trustworthy, yet
      flexible enough to be open to suggestion from trusted advisors.
      All that remains is for you to be… removed from the equation."

      Hinson's eyes narrowed. "You'll pay for this, Xavier."

      "We all pay in the end, Douglas. Just as dear Beatrice paid for
      my folly over a century ago." Xavier smiled and pressed the small
      button on the device. Hinson immediately clutched his chest, the
      veins in his neck standing out like high tension wires as his
      body began to convulse. "An electro-cardio pulse modulator. One
      of my experiments, designed to send impulses to a human heart
      from the outside. Think about it as a hand held pacemaker. It
      could save millions of lives. But today, it takes one."

      Hinson dropped in agony, a foamy ring of spittle surrounding his
      mouth, as his eyes rolled up in his head. After a few moments,
      his movements stopped, and the last person alive with
      knowledge of Stephen Xavier's involvement in assassinating his
      friend and running mate was dead. Xavier smiled as he keyed in
      the teleport device and vanished.

      He appeared just outside of the President's office within the
      Genoshan Parliament building. Inside, Dane Scurry was
      discussing the proposed revitalization of Genosha with the new
      Vice president, Jenny Ransome. They looked up when Xavier
      opened the doorway and smiled.

      "Mr. President, Madame Vice President," he said deferentially,
      nodding his head.

      "Yes, come in Mr. Xavier," Scurry smiled. "Jenny and I were just
      discussing what's next for the people of Genosha. And I insist
      that all my top advisors call me Dane."

      "In that case," Xavier smiled, "you can just call me S.X."

      [The End! Be here next month for the start of the biggest X-Men
      tale yet, leading up to issue #400! Revision Quest begins next
      month with the first chapter: WARHUNT!]

      1. In AMU's X-Factor Vol. II #13.
      2. In AMU's Uncanny X-Men #350.
      3. In Uncanny X-Men #384.
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