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Academy X #17

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  • Dean Conley
    Megan Gwinn watched Clive Ulney as he lazily floated across the roof of the Institute. His moves seemed effortless as he simply glided across the length of
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2006
      Megan Gwinn watched Clive Ulney as he lazily floated across the roof
      of the Institute. His moves seemed effortless as he simply glided
      across the length of the building, only to fall quickly as he
      cleared the roof.

      Megan's breath caught in her throat as she watched him fall, and
      then let out in a sigh of relief as he caught himself only a couple
      feet from the ground, to float on as if nothing had happened.

      Then she saw the other girl, Melody, as she flew out of one of the
      second floor windows to join Clive. Megan stopped in her tracks,
      for she herself was about to take to the air and join him. She
      wanted to talk to him a bit, but had no clue what she'd talk to him
      about once she caught up with him.

      Megan sighed and settled back into the chair she was sitting in, and
      watched the pair float out of sight. She felt worthless right about
      now. Too scared to even approach Clive, even though she thought
      about him all the time.

      "Feeling a bit left out, are you?" a voice came from behind her, and
      she turned to see Sydney Greene, standing behind her. God, but he
      was huge, she thought. At least six-five, and built like Colossus,
      and maybe as strong.

      Megan tried to come up with something to say, anything to get
      Sydney's attention diverted from her real problem, but he wasn't
      having any of it.

      "You like him," he said.

      Megan turned away. "I don't see where it's any of your business,"
      she said.

      "You're right. It's not." Sydney said, not moving. "But when
      you're obviously wasting your time pining for the guy, and then not
      taking advantage of the chances you get, it tends to irk me a bit."

      "Like I said," Megan repeated. "I don't see where it's-"

      "Yeah, yeah. Any of my business," Sydney finished for
      her. "Listen. Why don't you just go and tell him how you feel
      about him? Even if he's not interested, it'll still make you feel a
      lot better." He turned to leave, and said something else that Megan
      would remember. "I wish I'd done it when I had my chance."

      Callie Mastin smiled as her father handed her another gift. It
      wasn't her birthday or anything like that, but this day would go
      down as one of the special ones in her life. It was the day she had
      earned her father's respect.

      Of course, Jack Mastin always respected her, and had told her as
      much several times. Even Jean Summers, sitting nearby, had told
      Callie as much. But the light in Jean's eyes as she watched Callie
      open her next gift was something to behold.

      Callie pulled off the giftwrapping and held aloft the pair of staves
      that Jack had just made for her a few days prior. As Callie had
      improved with the longbow that had long been her trademark, Jack had
      brought in other melee weapons, as had been Callie's request long
      ago (1), and had been teaching her how to use them. The staves
      Callie now held were based on the designs of the former Avenger
      Mockingbird, who had died long ago and recently returned to life
      (how did that happen?) (2). The staves could be joined to form a
      quarterstaff or broken to form shorter staves, or joined by a small
      chain to form nunchaku. Callie had the staves she wanted now, and
      strapped the leather holster on her hip, sliding the staves into
      their new home.

      "A perfect fit," Jean Summers remarked.

      Callie nodded, hugging Jack. "Thank you so much," she said.

      Jack held her for a moment, and then pulled away, looking into her
      clear green eyes. "Don't thank me," he said. "You do what's right
      always. Stick to your friends like glue, and you'll do fine. Learn
      all you can, because you'll someday need all your knowledge and
      courage to make it through the trials coming our way."

      Just then, both Mastin and Jean caught the Professor's telepathic
      call. "We're on our way," Jean said, and both of them rose and
      left, making room as they passed for Cessily Mastin as she entered.
      Mastin looked at his adopted daughter and smiled as he passed her,
      and a few seconds later, the only two occupants in the room were two
      adopted sisters who had never spoken to each other.

      Julian Keller used his telekinetic powers to carry the medical
      equipment as he followed Melissa Myers toward the front gate of the
      mansion. Apparently, Colossus, Cyclops, and Nightcrawler were en
      route back to the school with a new student who had nearly been
      killed by some human bigots. (3)

      Julian saw the gathered students as they surrounded the newcomer,
      and noticed Bret Bohannan as he entered the gate after everyone had
      approached the new girl. Julian noticed that Bohannan was actively
      trying to avoid any attention, but had failed miserably, as Mister
      Mastin and Professor Xavier both approached him.

      "Julian," Melissa called to him. "Over here." She was standing
      next to the young woman, who looked positively weird to Julian.
      What with all those mouths on her neck and all.

      Julian brought the supplies over to Melissa and watched as she
      expertly hooked the new girl up to a couple of machines. "Don't
      worry, young lady," Melissa said. "These are only to do some basic
      tests. We're going to make sure that you're healthy enough to walk
      around, and then we'll get you some food. You must be tired from
      all the traveling you've done."

      The girl nodded, looking over her shoulder at Bohannan, who was now
      speaking with Professor Xavier, Mister Mastin, and Mister Summers.
      Julian followed her gaze, and would have loved to be a fly on the
      wall for that conversation, since he knew that Mastin and Xavier
      seemed to disagree on virtually everything.

      Melissa checked the readouts and smiled. "It seems that you managed
      to escape any real injury out there," she said. "Let's get an IV in
      you to get you hydrated and then we'll get you fed and settled in.
      How's that sound?"

      The girl turned to look at her, smiled and nodded. As they left,
      the girl's eyes met Julian's and she smiled at him.

      Julian returned the smile, even though all those extra mouths made
      him want to laugh at her. Freak.

      "So we've been sisters now for almost three months and we have yet
      to speak to each other," Cessily said, somewhat uncomfortably as she
      sat down next to Callie.

      Callie nodded. "We've never had anything in common to speak to each
      other about," she replied. "You have always ran with that Keller
      guy, and I can't stand him."

      Cessily laughed. "He can get on a person's nerves rather quickly,"
      she said. "But that doesn't change our situation. Dad's been
      wanting us to start at least acting cordial to each other, and we
      haven't found anything to talk about, so I figured we at least
      needed to try to find some common ground."

      Callie nodded, and fired the opening salvo. "Are you angry because
      he adopted me?" she asked, and Cessily smiled.

      "You don't waste words, do you?" Cessily asked. "I'll be honest.
      I've always been an only child, and the idea of having a new dad was
      a big step for me. Now, having a sister on top of that is beyond
      anything I've experienced before."

      "But you have Amber," Callie said.

      "She's not my sister," Cessily countered.

      Callie smiled. "You certainly treat her like a little sister," she
      said. "You two have so much in common that she would have been a
      far better choice than me if dad was adopting for that reason."

      "Amber's not interested, though," Cessily said. "She and I have
      very similar powers, yes, but she wants nothing to do with dad."

      "And that similarity draws you two together," Callie said. "Not a
      big deal. You've been very good for Amber. Everybody knows it."

      "No they don't," Cessily said.

      "Yes, they do," Callie countered. "I heard dad talking to the
      Professor about it. Professor Xavier said that Amber has progressed
      so far so fast since you came here. It's because of you that she's
      doing so well."

      Cessily nodded, and then changed the subject.

      "What about you?" Cessily asked. "Do you feel any jealousy toward

      Later that day, the rec room…

      Twilight had just had a conversation with Crimson Tide that left him
      livid at his rival, and when he saw his own sister, Sara Kalus,
      Dusk, leaving with Bohannan, Jessica Vale, Celeste Stepford, Chris
      Bradley, Hisako Ichiki, and Sydney Greene, he was positively
      furious. (3)

      He turned to see Clive Ulney, Flutter, as he tried to make his way
      past him. Jason moved to one side, allowing him to pass, and headed
      back toward the front entrance of the school.

      Jason didn't need all this crap he was constantly putting up with
      here at the school, and he didn't care what Cable had told him.
      This place was for mutants who were too weak-minded to reach out and
      take control of their destinies for themselves. All they wanted to
      do was follow Xavier's weak-kneed dream of harmony.

      Mutants didn't need harmony; they needed action.

      And it was time for Twilight to make that happen for them.

      As he headed back to his room, he saw Ben Hamill, Match, heading the
      other way.

      "Ben," Jason said. "Find Axe. We've got work to do."

      "I don't know what Celeste is thinking, but she's going too far with
      this," Esme Stepford griped as her other sisters, Sophie, Tara, and
      Phoebe, walked into their suite.

      "What now," Tara asked. "Don't we have better things to do than
      worry about each other's love lives?"

      "Not really," Phoebe said. "I find it tantalizing how Celeste has
      fallen so deeply for the roguish Bohannan boy."

      "Tantalizing," Esme scoffed. "Pull your mind out of all those
      romance books you've been reading and listen to me. We are the five-
      in-one, and Celeste is ruining that for us."

      "How so?" Sophie asked. "How is it that every time she, or any of
      us for that matter, go out on our own or with a group other than
      ourselves (3), we're automatically in the wrong?"

      "Because we have to stay together," Esme replied. "We are the five-
      in-one, not them. And without Celeste, we lose a part of our power."

      "Is that what this is about, Esme? Power?" Phoebe had sat in a
      recliner, and was looking at her sisters. "You were pushing for
      greater power back when we were members of Infirna Terra, (4) way
      back when, and we followed you right into prison. We followed you
      then, but I'm not certain that we're all going to follow you now."

      "You're missing the point," Esme said. "Our plans cannot be
      fulfilled if there are only four of us. We need all five if we are
      going to become the power we always wanted to be."

      "So it's about power," Tara said. "Well, I'm not in the mood for
      power plays anymore. You can have it. We're done." And with that,
      Tara rose and headed for the door.

      "We're not done here," Esme said as Sophie turned away from her to
      follow Tara. "We cannot let this happen to us. We cannot become
      like the rest of those here at the school."

      Phoebe was the next to speak. "Esme," she said. "Think about it.
      We're sixteen years old, and we've been part of a terrorist group,
      hunted by the Shadow Kings, both of them, and are now stuck here in
      the school in order to stay out of prison."

      "Yes," Sophie said as she departed. "Maybe you should thank
      Professor Xavier as we have for arranging that little detail. You
      know that the judge wanted us back in the Hole." (5)

      And then Phoebe was gone as well, having followed Sophie and Tara
      out of the suite, leaving a very angry Esme Stepford alone in the

      Blindfold stood atop the hill a few meters west of the mansion,
      enjoying the breeze as it played across her face. She enjoyed being
      outside, and even though she was blind (she had no eyes; not even
      eye sockets), she always felt hopeful about the future whenever she
      was outside and alone.

      Being alone gave her time to reflect. It gave her an opportunity to
      simply meditate on her life, where she'd been, and where she was
      going. She wasn't trying to predict the future, or solve anyone's
      problems. At sixteen years old, Blindfold had enough of her own

      Like many of the students here at the Institute, Blindfold had no
      family; her parents had been killed two years ago. She remembered
      hearing her neighbors talking in the distance, and how they had said
      that her parents' killers were dressed in similar uniforms and acted
      like a well-trained team. That didn't make any sense to her at the
      time, but after being taken by others and experimented on for weeks,
      she finally understood.

      The agents, and that was what Blindfold believed they were, hadn't
      come for her parents, but for her. And they had gotten her soon
      after, just after the dust settled around her home. The Atlanta
      police had simply given her over to the agents and she had been
      taken to a facility somewhere else. She had remained there for
      months, a prisoner, experimented on like a lab animal, until a man
      she had never before met came to her rescue.

      Apparently, the man had learned of her existence and had come for
      her and a couple other mutants in the complex where she was being
      held. According to her fellow prisoners, both of who stayed for a
      short time at the Institute, the masked man fought flawlessly,
      defeating most of the staff at the facility and scaring off the
      remainder, while he freed the trio of prisoners.

      Blindfold never learned the man's name, but she seemed to feel that
      he was close to her almost constantly now. She felt he was always
      near, which was strange, since she couldn't place him among any of
      the people at the Institute

      But she felt that he was near, and for some reason, that made her

      Just then, a voice came to her ears. "Are you well, Blindfold?"

      "I am doing fine, Sophia," she replied, turning to face the
      direction of the voice, as Sophia Mantega floated to the ground from
      above. "And you?"

      "I am well," Sophia said, moving to stand beside her. "What are you
      doing out here?"

      "Enjoying the wind on my face," Blindfold said. "I take it Bret
      Bohannan did not ask you to go with him."

      "No, he didn't," Sophia said. "And that is fine with me. It is
      stupid for him to go out there after those people."

      "He likes to push the limits of the faculty," Blindfold said. "He
      wants to go so much farther than the rest of us here."

      "How so?"

      Blindfold turned to face her, her face "looking" into Sophia with
      such intensity that Sophia could have sworn that Blindfold was
      looking at her and could see her right then and there. "Bret is
      beyond the abilities of most of the students here," she said. "Even
      among the Alpha and Omega mutants. None of them can defeat him in a
      fight, and none of them can think as fast as he can."

      "You've beaten him," Sophia said. "So can he really be that

      "I've never beaten him," Blindfold said. "Dryad always got the
      winning shot. If not for her, Bohannan would eventually wear me
      down and defeat me. He's come close a few times in the danger room."

      "So you have heard of the classifying that Cable has decided to do?"
      Sophia asked, and Blindfold nodded.

      "I knew of it," she said. "So does Preview, and likely Network as
      well. The students are not going to like it at all."

      Sophia nodded. "I do not believe they will, either," she replied.

      Both young women stood there for a time, not really having anything
      else to say. After a few minutes, they turned and headed back
      toward the mansion.

      Twilight waited for Axe and Match to arrive, and his gaze narrowed
      as he noticed two others standing in the distance, watching him from
      afar. He couldn't make them out from this distance, and figured
      that he'd deal with them in a few minutes if they proved to be a

      "What's up?" Axe asked as he and Match came to stand in front of

      "What's up is what happened this morning," he replied. "I'm tired
      of sitting here, waiting for trouble to come to us. After what
      happened this morning, I think it's obvious that we need to do

      "Like what?" Axe asked. "What do you have in mind?"

      Twilight pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to
      Axe, who examined it as Match looked at it from the side.

      "Anti-mutant rally at the local college," Axe said. "Cool."

      (1) Academy X #14
      (2) See current issues of the Avengers
      (3) See current issues of the Crimson Tide Limited Series. This
      story takes place during the events of Crimson Tide #2 and #3.
      (4) See X-Force #12-#14
      (5) The Hole is a superhuman prison at an undisclosed location
      on the east coast of the United States
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