"Humanity will not remain on the Earth forever, but in the pursuit of
light and space will, at first timidly, penetrate beyond the limits
of the atmosphere, and then will conquer all the space around the
-- Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, 1911.
The mob outside the house paid no attention to the pigeons who flew
into the rafters of the house that was being set ablaze. Their
attention was fully on the furor that they were engaged in.
Inside the house, the angel congealed from the pigeons, taking a more
human appearance, wings folded on his back.
After doing a cursory sniff to make sure these were indeed the right
ones, with the right bloodline, "Give me your child," he commanded
her. She did nothing. "If you want to live through this, then give
me the child."
"D-d-d-did God send you?"
Uriyel almost didn't reply. "I was not sent," he said at last, "by
Lucifer." That much, at least, was true.
Sniffling, the woman handed over the child. "Good," Uriyel said,
cradling the infant monkey in one hand easily. "Now hold still,"
and, with one swift move, grabbed her throat with his free hand.
Now, to engage the mutation latent in here...
A younger angel would have not been able to do this. Even most
angels of his age would have difficulty. But Uriyel found it simple
to do this.
Curl one wing around, touching the monkey lightly. She moaned, a
fairly irritating sound to Uriyel' ears.
And her skin changed, became corrugated. Uriyel pulled his wing
back, and let go of her throat.
She could not start fires, but she could survive them.
Uriyel left through a window, nobody seeing him because he did not
wish to be seen.
As he ran off with the child, Uriyel knew the curse he had placed on
her. She would, as promised, survive the fire. But she would also
learn that she could only survive, could only thrive, in the middle
of a fire. Uriyel didn't need to be able to see the future to know
that she would start fire after fire, until the monkeys stopped her
"It's the simple pleasures," Uriyel said to the infant.
Gabriel had, after some talking, been convinced to let everyone else
"Get out of here," Xavier said, wheeling over from where he'd been
counseling some students who'd wanted to talk to him. "Now!"
Scott and Logan both raised eyebrows at the forceful tone coming from
Decidedly unimpressed, Gabriel just lifted a finger to his lips
Professor Xavier was asleep in a second.
Daniyel grumbled. "Would you please stop doing that?"
"What?" Gabriel asked.
"Who exactly are you?" Cyclops asked, feeling the authority defer to
"`Exactly'?" Gabriel repeated. "Oh that's a tricky one, monkey."
"I'm not a monkey."
"I say you are."
"And who are you to say that?"
"I'm the Archangel Gabriel," relieved that he hadn't been demoted
after that whole business with being a monkey and all.
Scott looked over Gabriel, his eyes hurting from his reflective sight
being hindered and even aggrivated by Gabriel. "Where's your
"Kt!" he click-snapped, a sound in his mouth. "Why is that always
the first thing people ask," Gabriel asked, "when they find out who I
Meanwhile, the fastest boy on the school grounds was eyeing Gabriel.
He looked carefully at what was in front of him, and then he ran. In
the bodies of even non-mutant humans, electrical impulses race
through the body at roughly two hundred miles per hour. But the
human eye cannot focus that fast. And neither could the eyes of this
boy: his mutation was soley running, just speed.
So his eyes and brain had a locked image: the unswerving, unchanging
image of what was in front of him. Unfortunately for him, Gabriel,
in that span of time, held out one hand, stopping the kid in his
"They never learn," Gabriel muttered, and "Shh," to the runner, who
collapsed in the grass.
"What're you here for, bub?" Wolverine asked.
"Oh, just to pick up him," pointing to Nightcrawler.
"Why him, when there're other mutants here?" trying to distract him.
"Who said he's one of you?" Gabriel asked.
"It was a rational assumption," Nightcrawler remarked.
"Why's that? You start turning water into wine?"
A little pot-bellied kid raised his hand. "No, that's my mutation!"
Gabriel chuckled. "That's nice, monkey."
"I'm notta monkey!"
"Answer the question," Bobby said strongly.
"And why should I - Bobby?" reading his name as easily as he'd done
in years past. "Because you're going to try and stop me?"
"Oh brother," Daniyel said, covering his eyes with one hand, then
uncovering that. "Look, we found who we were looking for. Let's
"Why are you here?" Nightcrawler asked.
"I only know where we're going," Gabriel said, "and who we're looking
"Who?" Nightcrawler asked.
Gabriel gave the list as though he'd memorized it somewhere... "An
army man, a man who is an army, a woman who is the abyss, and -"
"You know where Rogue is?" Bobby interupted.
Gabriel did *not* like being interupted. "Who?" And, before Bobby
could reply, "Shh." Grumbling about monkeys, "Let's go," he said to
Nightcrawler and Daniyel.
In the second before they all took to the air, Gabriel said "Shh" to
Daniyel inverted his wings into existance, as did Gabriel; while
Nightcrawler moved through the air in *bamf*s.
Once they had left, a flock of birds -- falcons & doves & hawks &
storks & crows -- flew over the school, landing on the school roof.
The beating of their wings made a gentle "ssshhhhhhhhhhh" sound.
AT THE GATES OF EDEN:
The guardians were, as they had every and always been, Cherubims.
Like the flaming swords, they had spaced themselves at decent
intervals along the perimiter of Eden.
In the Cherubim, the firey composition of their bodies was more
active than in most other angel castes. When Gabriel, Zenophyael, or
any of the others became wounded, any observer would see blood.
Blood that ran hotter and faster than a human's, but still blood.
The Cherubim, because of their status as guardians, had no such gift;
when a Cherubim was wounded, flames spat out from the wound.
And now, now many of their ears perked up, hearing the sounds of an
approaching force, an encroaching group. Soon. Perhaps, they
thought in their minds, perhaps the oncoming ones will actually
challenge us. So many millenia without a decent challenge, without
any risk of losing.
Their minds did not ask the next question: if they lost, what fate
would befall Eden?
I am the one telling you this story. So I tell you this.
Humans had many relatives.
I emphasize `had' deliberately.
Where are the Neandertals (Homo sapiens neandertalis or Homo
neandertalis, depending upon the scientist questioned) ? You did
not interbreed with them. I know. I watched.
Where are the other members of your family? Homo erectus, Homo
habilitus, Homo erganser, Homo heidenburgis? Or, closest to you of
all, the Cro-Magnons?
In your calendar year 1699 (Christendom), the chimpanzee was given
the name `Homo sylvestris' == `Man of the forest'. The name was
later changed to `Pan troglodytes'.
Chimpanzees differ from gorillas in their genes by only 2.3 percent.
Chimpanzees differ from Bonobos by only 0.7 percent. Chimpanzees
differ from humans by a meager 1.6 percent.
Do you wonder still why we call you monkeys?
Logan and Scott followed Xavier into a room whose protective walls --
both in the room and during the walk into the room -- looked even
more secure than half of Stryker's compound. "What's this?" Logan
"Hopefully nothing more than a false fear of mine," Xavier said,
tapping at the keys of the central computer. The monitors now showed
empty room after empty room. "No," Professor X whispered strongly.
The walls in the monitor-shown rooms were ventilated, and not with
ductwork. "No!" again a strong whisper.
"What'cha lookin' for?"
"Them," tapping another key, the computer screen filled with mug
shots of various mutants; most of them looked reasonably human.
Every one of them had a telepathy-proof helmet on.
"Looks like Magneto's," Logan said.
"It's the same design," Xavier said. "That's how he was able to make
his own: because he'd already helped me to invent them for these
"Why'd you make helmets in the first place?"
"In part, to protect my own mind. And also, to protect them. It
would seem that I didn't make them invisible enough." Under his
breath, "But why now?"
"Why now what?" Scott asked. He'd thought the Students In The Attic
were just rumors spread by students. "Why were they up there?"
Logan was certainly surprised now: he would've thought that, being
close to the Professor, ol' one-eye woulda known about something like
In answer, Xavier tapped one more button. Next to the mugshots, now,
was a list of information on each one...
Blurring Extensile Motion
...and the list went on and on. "Each of the students volunteered to
go up there. They count among the most extreme mutations I have ever
Wolverine looked the listed accounts over. "Half of them don't sound
as dangerous as you two."
"Scott's mutation fires a laser-like energy from his eyes," Xavier
said. "And I was once dangerous -- our guests just now are part of
the reason I've reformed myself."
"Oh yes. Before I started this school, I was worse than either Erik
or the late Colonel Stryker."
Logan winced. He remembered the Professor telling him `when I was a
boy, I discovered I had the power to control peoples' minds, to make
them do or say exactly what I wanted'.
"Maybe," Wolverine said, only half believing it, "they're going to
help reform those kids the same way."
Now Xavier winced. "Scott, I think you should warm up the X-Jet. We
may have need of it very soon."
"Who were those people earlier?" Scott asked.
"They weren't people, that much I'm sure of."
"C'mon," Logan said, "what happened to that we're-all-good and equal-
rights and kindness-to-each-other stuff you're always talking about?"
"Logan, mutants were once human, our parents were human. What
visited here, what Mr. Wagner left with, were never human, and I
doubt they had parents."
"A hint?" Logan asked.
"I never found out what they were, and I hope I never do."
ONE DAY LATER:
The airplane was almost empty, so Joe and Joseph and Kronos had First
Class all to themselves.
"So, anybody have any ideas?" Joe asked. "I was pretty much stumped
by the time the two of you showed up.
"Well," Joseph said, "I do have this," fishing the note out of his
pocket, and handing it to them.
Magdelena's note took up most of a page, single-spaced in crisp and
clean handwriting. It spoke of Eden. Her theory about Eden's fate.
In ancient times, the Garden of Eden was said to be near a land
named `Kush'. There had been a `Kush' south of Egypt during Roman
times. But there had been, even before that, a `Kush' within modern
And there had been a Tree in the Eden which Daniyel's mother had
visited. One Tree. The other Tree was elsewhere.
Magdelena had theorized that the Garden of Eden had been divided up,
and placed at various corners of the world. For what reason? She
"What do you think?" Joseph asked.
"I have an idea where it might be," Kronos said. "That is, if they
haven't moved it since I was last there."
"That why we're going - ?"
"No. We're going to pick up the people we need to pull this off."
"The other two Brothers of yours?" Joe asked.
"`Brothers'?" Joseph asked.
"The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse," Joe said. There was nobody to
overhear them on the flight.
"The fourth is missing," Kronos said. Methos was
unfound. "Therefore we need to reunite as many of the sixty as
"`Sixty'?" Joe asked.
"The number of brothers we had over the centuries. Always in flux,
our numbers were."
"I suppose it makes sense," Joe said. "I mean, the Bible definately
came after the Bronze Age, so the guy writing it would only know
maybe four of you."
"Five," Joseph said. "There was one other guy on horseback...with
God's name on his skin, or something like that." Looking at
Kronos, "We going to get him too?"
Mystique was staring at the uninvited guest who was perched on an
outcrop on the otherwise smooth wall. Magneto hadn't made the
Just then, Erik and Sabertooth entered the room; they looked up to
see at what held Mystique's attention.
Durga extended her arms, splaying them, making it so the monkeys
could not help but notice she had more than one pair of arms.
"Welcome," Magneto told her.
"Why?" Durga asked.
"Have you not come here to join the Brotherhood of Mutants?"
Durga was angelic, though her laugh was more the sound of one hand
"You're not a mutant," Mystique said, drawing Erik's attention.
Then Magneto looked up at Durga again. "Is this true?"
"You can find out on your own, monkey," Durga said.
Magneto reached out with his power -- and found nothing. He
stretched himself mutantly, and still found nothing. Closing his
eyes, he concentrated to his limits...and found that there were no
metals of any kind in the visitor.
Even humans had metals to a small degree.
Opening his eyes, "What are you?" Magneto asked.
Grinning, Durga pretended to be insulted. "You think I couldn't be
God if I wanted to?"
Erik started to mutter in Hebrew.
"Thanks, but I have one already," Durga interupted him. Then, she
took a step. One step forward, and over a dozen yards down. Not
even a twitch, much less a shock.
Without needing to be asked, Sabertooth charged, barrelling at her.
Durga yawned while touching her thumbs to her middle fingers, an O on
each hand. The hands shimmered, and she pulled her arms back, then
hurled them forwards, the cuffs/bracelets flying through the air.
When the cuffs struck Sabertooth's wrists and ankles, they wrapped
around the ankles and wrists, holding him in place in mid-stride.
Pyro stepped forwards. "Get the hell outta here," he snapped at her.
"I've been there, once, actually. Nice vacation spot." She smiled,
this time showing fangs that hadn't been visible during the yawn.
Flicking his lighter open, Pyro commanded the fire to grow, and he
threw it at her. Durga didn't side-step it, she didn't even blink or
She wasn't absorbing the flame, and it wasn't harming her. She was
*ignoring* the fire that engulfed her. Did so for a minute. Then
she walked out of it with utter calmness.
Pyro's face was ashen. "How- how'd you do that?"
"I am Durga," she reiterated. And, she thought to herself, practice
sessions with Kali came in handy.
"Nice ta meed you," said Toad as he leaped through the air towards
her. She looked at him, and Toad tried to back-pedal in
desperation. He was seeing a hawk, a giant bird of prey's face,
hooked beak and all.
Durga ducked. Toad slammed into the wall, barely getting a grip on
"What do you want here?" Magneto asked.
"Just to be sure you'll keep out of what's going on," Durga said,
standing up again.
"And what is going on?" Mystique asked.
"The next step in the conflict, monkey," Durga said, looking right at
her. "And your husband won't stop this one." Durga left shortly
"You mortal men will go far,
"Climb the moon and reach for the stars;"
-- `Princes of the Universe' song, of the `Highlander' fame,
by the group Queen.