X-Men 2099UGR #3 - June 2006

Issue Three, Volume One


Written by John Bush

Edited by Jason McDonald

Assistant Editor: Jason McDonald

Editor-in-Chief: David Ellis

Timothy Fitzgerald

La Lunatica

Henri Huang

Krystalin Ogada


Victor Ten Eagles

Xi'an Chi Xan
Desert Ghost


Eddie Van Beethoven


Shakti Haddad

Morphine Somers


“Quiv? Buddy? You home?” Sham knocked on the apartment door for the sixth time in five minutes, and for the sixth time got no response.

She began to worry just a little – well, a little more. She had been worried since last night, when Quiver hadn’t showed up to meet her and some of the X-Men for dinner. She had forgotten about him during the excitement surrounding the incident at the convent of the Sisters of the Howling Commandment, but that morning she had excused herself from the morning briefing a few minutes early to check on her friend. Everyone was talking about Xi’an, anyway – he was an X-Man before her time.

“You know that guy?” an unfamiliar voice said from behind her. Sham turned around to see a burly man with a blazing red beard hugging his chin. The gruffness in his voice was a little offsetting, but the large ring of keys around his belt made Sham think he might be her one chance to get into the apartment without drawing upon some of the skills she had acquired in her rather… colorful past.

“Yeah. Are you the landlord?”

“Yup. Tell yer friend to keep it down, eh? Some of his neighbors complained about a bunch of noises last night.”

“Sure thing. Do you know if he’s still inside?”

“I ain’t seen him leave.”

“Well, I’m a little worried about him. We were supposed to meet last night, but –”

“I don’t need yer life story.”

“Okay, can you let me into his apartment?”

“Don’t think so, honey. Ain’t lettin’ some punk I never seen inside’a someone’s home.”

Sham thought for just a second before remembering that she possessed the closest thing to a Halo City all-access pass. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out an item Shakti had told her repeatedly not to abuse. Shakti probably wouldn’t find out about this anyway.

“I’m with the Protectorate,” Sham said proudly, “And I need into this door.”

The man’s eyes grew wide when he saw the badge. Within seconds, his entire demeanor changed. Gone was the tough guy, and in its place an apologetic giant humbled himself before her, reaching for his keys and fumbling for the right one.

“Oh, sorry, miss. I didn’t realize you was with the X-Men. You’re a bit young and all, but I remember you now. Saw you on the TV with the whole team. Right sharp-looking group of people, they are,” the man rambled, trying a small key in the door. After a few seconds, he pulled the key out, and turned to Sham.

“I’m sorry there, miss, but… the key don’t fit.”

“Did you use the right one?”

“Yes, ma’am. See? Right here – apartment 114. Doesn’t fit in the lock.”

Sham looked closely at the door. It seemed almost brand new – in fact, she was sure it was new. When she had helped Quiver move in, there were several scuffs and even a little graffiti on the door. She hadn’t noticed before, but this door was perfectly clean. If someone had replaced the door, the lock would have been changed as well, wouldn’t it? But who would change the door without the landlord knowing?

“This is a new door,” Sham said aloud, not to anyone in particular, but the man chimed in anyway.

“It is, ain’t it?” the man said, stroking his beard, “That ugly bugger better not’a busted this door up without tellin’ me. That’ll cost’em.”

Sham was worried more than ever – she needed to use some more drastic measures.

“Kick it in,” she said seriously.

“Doors don’t grow on trees, girl,” the man said, irritated.

“Wooden ones do,” Sham said under her breath, then, raising her voice, continued, “The Protectorate will pay for the damage. Just kick it in.”

The man eyed Sham suspiciously, but then just shook his head. One swift, strong kick later, the door splintered and flew open. Immediately, Sham knew she was right to be worried – but she should have been worried more. The wooden chair she had bought for Quiver lay splintered on the floor; a trail of blood led away from it. She gasped and dropped to her knees.

“Lookit this place,” the man said, “Gonna take forever ta clean.”

“I… I... I’m going to need to use your phone,” Sham said from the floor.

“You want me to what?” a stunned Rosa asked, eyebrows arched in surprise. Eddie van Beethoven looked back at her, a sheepish smile slowly parting his lips.

“I want you to move in with me, here, in the protectorate building,” he said softly.

“I – I just don’t know…”

“You don’t have to decide now, I just thought, you know, we have Joaquim now and all, and I just figured, you know, this would be a better environment for him than – than where the Freakshow is.” “They’re my family! What’s wrong with –”

“No, no there’s nothing wrong with them – that’s not what I meant, I just… they travel around a lot, and some people say, you know, that it’s kind of important for kids to have stability and stuff… besides, I… they… they’re staying in the Alley.”

“ ‘The Alley’?”

“Yeah… Dead Alley. It’s sort of a…”

“Sort of a what?”

“It’s just not somewhere a baby should be, Rosa, especially one as gifted as Joaquim. There are a lot of unsavory types down there, and the rumors about what happens down there…”

“So this is all about Joaquim, then?” Rosa asked, narrowing one eye.

“No – Rosa, no. I – I want you to be here, too. I – for a long time now we’ve been together, sort of, and I know that I want to be with the X-Men, but I want you to be there – no, that’s not it – I need you to be here, too. I… I love you, Rosa. I don’t ever want us to be apart. I guess… that’s what this is about.”

Rosa smiled for the first time all day. Eddie smiled weakly, nervously right back at her. Rosa shifted the baby into her right arm, and walked over to Eddie to put the left around him. Her head dropped onto his shoulder – at this moment comprised of the softest tin alloy he could muster.

“I guess that’s all I wanted to hear,” she said.

“So, is that a…?”


Eddie’s weak smile broke into an uncontrollable grin – his skin matched his feelings, turning to a glowing half-ton of gold. The baby giggled as he caught the light bouncing off his stepfather’s skin.

“Your brother’s going to kill me.”

“Yeah, he probably will.”

“You wanna grab a beer or something later, Henri?”

“Nah, I’m on duty for a while, Tim. Besides, I don’t drink. Hyper-metabolism pretty much negates the effects of alcohol – takes all the fun out of it.”

“Ouch. K, well, Luna and I are gonna be imcommunicado for a few hours tonight, then. Have fun holding down the fort with… who else is on duty tonight?”

“I think I’m alone for the next few hours – well, besides Shakti. She’s on call 24/7, technically, I think. Krys will be on by morning.”

“Ah. See you later, man.”

Henri tossed a short salute as Tim hurried out the door of his office before returning to the work on his desk – all of which he had finished ten seconds before Tim walked in the door. The Foolkiller report had taken quite a while – almost four and a half seconds, all told. The paperwork had all gotten easier since Shakti had let him start doing it - or, rather, since Henri had redirected it all to himself, despite Shakti’s protests. A knock at the door interrupted Henri’s thoughts, and, speak of the devil, there she was. “Shakti! What’s up?”

“Just seeing if you needed any help with the –”

“Nope. All done,” Henri grinned, “Checked, double-checked, and submitted. It should be in the Council inbox already.”

“Wow, that’s…”

“Amazing? I know. I’ve often thought so myself.”

“So what are you doing right now?”

“Oh, you know… stuff. Junk. Thinking about heading down to the commissary – I’m getting kind of hungry.”

“Want some company?”

“Couldn’t hurt, beautiful.”

“Right. Let me grab my ID badge – left it on my desk.”

“Rightey-o,” Henri responded, turning back to his desktop. A small icon in the lower corner informed Henri that he had one new message from an unknown sender. Henri muttered something inaudible about junk mail, but opened his mail client anyway – technically, if it was an anonymous tip, he had to listen to it. Henri was a little leery of opening any mail on the Protectorate PCs – he hadn’t had a chance to write his own security software. The security of the HCP computers was horrendous, as several cyber-vandals had proven on various, slightly amusing occasions.

Henri shook his head and concentrated on the screen in front of him. There it was; the one unread message, entitled “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”

“The heck…?” Henri muttered to himself, opening the message.

To: Meanstreak@hcp.gov
Subject: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
You are! I’m in a bit of a bind, H. Run on down here and help me, or I can visit your new place. Whichever. Consider this payment for your great escape.

“J? Do I know a J…? Aw, shock. I did not need this,” Henri grumbled, rubbing his temples. He quickly typed out a message and sent it to Shakti. She’d be mad he skipped out on her, but she’d probably be even madder if he let that kind of problem waltz into Halo City. Five seconds later, there was nothing in Henri’s office but a strong gust of wind.

Book, Personal Journal Entry 13499.2

Mr. Huang certainly proved easier dealt with than I had originally anticipated. One letter from his old “friend” and he’s out of the picture for days, at least. The X-Men are so conforming to my expectations that they’re just taking all the fun out of it. Though it makes me a bit uncomfortable to admit it, it seems that I really would enjoy an unexpected variable or two in this equation, but it appears – Hold one moment. It seems I have a visitor. How… expected.

-Dictation Interrupted-

“Enter,” Book’s raspy voice called out. The door to his city-supplied apartment slid open slowly, revealing a thin, well-dressed man. The man’s expensive-looking shoes clacked on the tile floor when he walked inside. Book studied him thoroughly, a thin smile cracking his rocky face. The figure walked up to Book and held out a hand.

“Hello, Mr. Book, I’m –”

“Morphine Somers. How pleasant of you to drop by.”

The green-haired visitor raised an eyebrow at his host, before adopting a more placid expression. He continued speaking, addressing the rocky invalid with a politician’s silky tongue.

“Of course, you’ve probably seen me on the news feeds. May I sit?” Morphine asked, looking around the room. He could find no chair, save the one holding Book.

“If you wish, but I didn’t think the mighty Morphine Somers sat on the floor anymore.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Why, surely a man in your position is bound to have been exposed to the… finer things in life. I’m certain that the days of the penniless revolutionary are long gone, eh?”

Morphine smiled politely, but his eyes betrayed more than a little indignation. Book smiled himself, amused.

“I’m not here today to discuss myself, Mr. Book. I’m here with an offer for you. I’m sure you’ll find it very … accommodating.”

“Oh? An offer? How very interesting. Whatever could I have to offer a man like you, Mr. Somers?”

“The only thing you have to offer anyone, Mr. Book: that amazing brain of yours.”

“I’d like to think I have more to offer than –”

“You would, I suppose, but that doesn’t mean you do. Now, as for my offer, as you may know, I have proposed that a new police department be formed in Halo City. I am in need of… competent personnel. I want you to be working directly under myself in my proposed. Something of a personal assistant, but with elements of a vice president. I’m sure you’ll find the perks to be well worth the work.”

“When would I start?”

“Right now, if you accept.”

“Interesting, and what would I be doing…?”

“Our first project involves a little research, actually.”

“What kind of research?”

“Find me the ten most dangerous mutants in this city, but none of the X-Men. I’ll be back here tomorrow to collect your results.”

“I haven’t said yes.”

“Then say yes now. I have places to be.”

“Drop by tomorrow, then. I’ll have ten names for you.”


“Care to tell me why we ran away so quickly? The X-Men will be worried about you,” Victor Ten Eagles said calmly, staring at his traveling companion’s emotionless eyes under a lightly billowing hood. Xi’an Chi Xan did not move, nor did he respond. He merely listened to the hum of the bus’s anti-grav engines, and stared at the lush Vietnamese countryside as it whisked by outside the window. Victor scratched the top of his bald head and grunted.

“You haven’t said much since we left Halo City, Xi’an. It’s getting kind of tiring.”

Xi’an turned his head and stared at the muscular Indian.

“I’ve just been thinking.”

“That’s descriptive…” Victor said, sinking back into his seat. Xi’an turned back to the window.

“Sorry,” Victor said softly, “Where are we going, anyway?”

“A small shrine a few miles outside of Saigon. I spent many months there during my first trip here. It is where I found the first few fragments of inner peace. I hope that a trip there may help me to clear my mind, to dispel the confusion clouding my thoughts. Ever since Luna used her powers on me, I feel… unbalanced. It is difficult to describe.”

“I understand. You’ll speak when you’re ready.”

“Thank you, old friend.”

“We’re not so old, yet.”

Xi’an smiled for the first time since the journey began. “But we are getting older.”

“And you say Henri just left?” Krystalin said, confused, “That doesn’t seem like him.”

“Yeah, he sent me a message that said ‘Went to Vegas,’ and then he was gone,” replied an exasperated Shakti Haddad. The two women stood in the HCP’s lounge area, next to a perfectly comfortable white sofa set.

“Vegas? Why would he go there?”

“I’m not sure. Didn’t you say that Henri was done with Halloween Jack after his last visit to Vegas?”

“That’s what he told me,” Krystalin responded, folding her arms, “Was there anything else in the note?”

“No, but I checked his computer. There was a message from an unknown sender, signed ‘J.’ I assumed that meant ‘Jack’ or ‘Jordan.’”

“Jordan Boone. He only goes by Halloween Jack, now, not that it matters. Did his message say anything else?”

“Just that he needed to see Henri. About what, he didn’t say.”

“Whatever it is, it can’t be good. At least we can be glad that whatever they’re doing, they’re going to do it in Vegas. The last thing we need right now is for Halloween Jack to move into our city.”

“No, the last thing we need right now is to be down another man. First Xi’an leaves, and now we have to deal without Henri? We need all the manpower we can get.”

“I know, but how much more would we need if we had Jack tearing up Main Street?”

“I don’t want to think about it. Just… find Tim and Luna, and tell them what’s happened. I’ll find Eddie and Sham, just so everyone knows what’s going on. We’re going to need people to pull extra shifts. I’ll make up a new schedule.”

“Sure. I’ll let them know.”

Krystalin unfolded her arms and walked to the door. Shakti watched her leave, running one hand over the soft fabric of the couch next to her, the other hand rubbing her right temple.

“So… Henri just left?” Eddie said into the vidphone, scratching his head, “That doesn’t seem like him.”

“I know,” Krystalin responded to the glowing image of her friend displayed before her, “I just had to give you the heads-up, and, well, this is where I feel a little uncomfortable…”

“What’s up? Is something else wrong?”

A worried look spread across Eddie’s face. Shakti smiled for a second and sighed.

“Not… wrong, specifically, just…”

“Spit it out! I’m gonna have a heart attack!”

“I just need everyone to take on an extra shift or two until Henri gets back. I feel bad asking, but –”

“That’s it? Geez, I thought we were all gonna die or something. That’s no big deal.”


“Yeah. No problem.”

“Thanks. Listen, I’ve got to find Sham and let her know –”

“Don’t bother. She’s coming over to baby sit tonight while Rosa and I go shopping. They sell clothes in my size in this town. I’ll let her know what’s up.”

“Thanks, Eddie. I’ll e-mail everyone their adjusted schedules once I get them worked out.”

“Sure thing – listen, I gotta get going. Talk to you later.”

“Later. And… thanks.”

“You sound like a broken record. One thanks is good enough.”

“Th-… Bye.”

Eddie laughed heartily before the screen on Shakti’s face went blank. She tapped her left index finger on her chair’s armrest a few times before turning to the holomonitor in the far right corner of the desk. With the push of a button it came to life, and she set her hands on the keyboard. She had gotten spoiled in the few days Henri had taken over the paperwork – she did not look forward to picking up that slack again.

“Who was that, Eddie?” Rosa called out from the bathroom. Eddie turned away from the vidphone and walked to the couch as he responded.

“Just Shakti. Apparently Henri ran off to Vegas.”

“Henri? And he just… left? That doesn’t seem like him.”

“That’s what I said. Anyway, she’s going to need us all to work extra shifts ‘til he gets back.”


“Yeah. Remind me to tell Sham when she gets here.”

“Sure… but, about that… doesn’t she have a real name? I feel bad calling her Sham all the time. It feels like an insult.”

“It’s the only name she gave us. Considering her… background, she might not have another.”

“I guess, but –”

Rosa was interrupted by the phone ringing again. Eddie got up from the couch as fast as he could (he didn’t always remember to change himself to a lighter metal when he got up – it made things go faster). He ran to where the phone sat on the end of the kitchen counter. Tapping the blinking red button, he saw Sham’s face appear on the screen.

“Eddie? Thank God you’re home… look, I’m really sorry, but I’m going to have to cancel on you tonight.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing… well, I mean… it’s…”

“Are you OK? You look worried.”

“I… went to visit my friend, Quiv – Quiver – and… and his door was all wrong and when I went in, there was blood on the floor and the chair was smashed and I think something happened – something bad.”

“Oh my God… Where are you?”

“I’m in the landlord’s room – Quiv didn’t have a phone yet. I’m so worried… I’m sorry, I just have to look for him –”

“Look, send me the address. I’ll be down there as fast as I can and we’ll look for him together.”

“No, I don’t need –”

“Look, this isn’t a good city for a kid to be wandering around in.”

“But what about –”

“She’ll understand. We can go shopping another time – I’m more worried about you.”

“…Thanks. I’m sending the address to your Protectorate comm.”

“All right. See you in a few.”


The screen died out as Eddie turned around. Now came the hard part. Rosa strolled out of the bathroom.

“You look great, babe,” Eddie said, smiling.

“Thanks. Who was that?”

“That was Sham. She… can’t make it tonight.”

“Oh, no… maybe we can leave Joaquim with my family for the evening… what am I saying? Is Sham all right? Is something wrong?”

“Yeah. Her friend’s missing, there’s blood all over the apartment… I’m gonna have to cancel tonight, Rosa. I’m gonna help Sham look for this guy.”

“I understand.”

“You’re the best,” Eddie said, leaning in and kissing Rosa on the cheek. He turned and walked to the extra-wide door. He looked back and smiled apologetically at Rosa before exiting. Rosa sighed and walked absent-mindedly into Joaquim’s room. The baby was sleeping peacefully, but she talked softly to it anyway.

“All dressed up and no place to go. Guess it’s just you and me tonight, champ.”

The baby made soft gurgling noises in his sleep, and his face soured.

“I know what you mean…”

“I can’t find Tim and Luna anywhere. I’m sorry,” Krystalin said as she strolled into Shakti’s office without knocking. The young mutant walked over to Shakti’s desk and plopped down into a chair opposite the large oak desk. Shakti looked up from her monitor at her exasperated friend.

“Anywhere? Did you try their comms?”

“Yeah. They were turned off.”

“Off? They’re not supposed to turn them off… they’re not supposed to be able to turn them off!”

Krys shrugged.

“Could something have happened to them?” Shakti asked.

“Without Tim lighting up half the city? Unlikely. They’re not the type to go out quietly.”

“True. So where could they be?”

“I don’t know. Could be anywhere, I suppose,” Krys said, reclining.

“This is not good,” Shakti said, rubbing her temples.

“Could be worse.”

“Don’t jinx us, please. Things are looking bad enough.”

“Sorry. Did you get in touch with Sham and Eddie?”

“I got Eddie. He said he was going to see Sham anyway. I’m just working out the new schedule. Can you take an extra shift on Thursdays?”

“Sure. Any word from Xi’an or Victor?”

“Nothing official. Gate guards said a pair matching their descriptions left the night of the Foolkiller incident. That’s about all we have.”

“You OK? You look like hell,” Krys inquired sincerely. Shakti looked back at her and smiled.

“I’m fine – just a little worried. Xi’an disappears, Henri just up and leaves, and no one knows where Tim and Luna are. I really wish Bloodhawk would make up his mind to stick around.”

“Oh, yeah… where did he run off to?”

“No idea. He just flew off after the Foolkiller went down. Didn’t even wait long enough to offer him membership…”

“You think he would have accepted?”

“No, but it would have been worth a try.”

“I suppose. Listen, I’m gonna get some sleep before I go on duty. You want me to bring you something before that? Food, or coffee, maybe?”

“Come to think of it, I haven’t had anything to eat tonight,” Shakti said, patting her stomach, “I’ve got food in my apartment, though. I’ll grab something when I’m done here.”

“OK. Try not to kill yourself, Shakti. If you need any help, just ask.”


The desert air felt strangely cool against his scaly hide, and calming besides. Bloodhawk supposed that he had just been uncomfortable in the confines of Halo City. He had nothing to worry him now, though, in the breezy plains of his sandy home.

He spread his wings wider and wider, catching more of the air currents he needed to fly. He was heading south, towards his makeshift base, to restock on grenades and catch some sleep before returning to patrolling his home. The incident with the Foolkiller had taken too long – who knew what forces had encroached on his home in his absence?

Bright lights and loud nights – Vegas hadn’t changed a bit since his last visit. Well, except for the fact that the laws of physics seemed to be working again. Henri didn’t see a single floating building, and the sky was all the same color.

He turned his eyes to the all-too-familiar Synge casino – he didn’t even see the VU generator sitting atop it like it should be. On second thought, Vegas had changed a lot since he last visited, and it made Henri very uncomfortable.


Next Issue: Henri has some fun and games in Las Vegas, while something sinister develops in Halo City.
Plus, Xi’an gets all spiritual in Vietnam while Victor pretends he’s not bored as hell.

Comments, Questions, Thoughts?