All characters, and events in this story are fictional. The X-Men and all related characters are (c) and (tm) Marvel Characters, Inc., and are used without permission, but not for profit. This is just a fanfic. It also does not rigidly follow events in the X-Men comic, but rather takes place in its own little time-node or something. It's difficult to explain.

"Into Sight, Into Mind"

an X-men fanfic

"Prepare ta die, One-eye!"

"Just play the game, Jubilee."

"All right, already."

Thumbs feverishly pound buttons, as the action on the screen erupts. The two prattling combatants, Jubilation Lee (known as "Jubilee" because it sounds better) and Scott Summers (codenamed "Cyclops" due to his natural ability to emit concussive energy blasts from his eyes, and ability that is moderated by a visor that gives him the appearance of having one eye. Jubilee still sounds better), are at war.

"Take THAT, ya stiff!"

"Blocked it. And watch your mouth."

On a normal occasion, their battle might have taken place in a simulated training environment affectionately dubbed "The Danger Room." But on this day, Jubilee's attempts to expose Cyclops to some culture has resulted in hours spent in front of the TV set, playing a fighting game.

"Ha! Ten-hit combo, sucka!"

"Reversal. Nice try, though."



"Oops, sorry."

Their attempts to lay waste to each other via video game avatars leave them oblivious to the arrival of four of their teammates. Like Jubilee and Cyclops, these four are X-Men, men and women with special genetic traits that endow them with superhuman abilities. The general public calls them "mutants', a rather derogatory term. Nonetheless, they use their inborn powers to bring peace between normal humans and mutants.

At least on most occasions. Whenever they manage to snag a free weekend, though, some of the X-Men choose to spend it divesting shopping malls of their inventory. Such is the mission of these four intrepid mutants: the weather-controlling Ororo "Storm" Monroe, the ex-theif Remy "Gambit" Lebeau, the telepathic Jean "Phoenix" Summers, and Rogue, whose real name is a mystery to her teammates, perhaps even to herself.

"Having fun, Scott?" Jean asks her husband, putting her hand on hid shoulder and almost startling him half-to death.

"Uh...uh...yes,'s not The Danger Room, but it's diverting, at any rate."

Remy studies the screen. "Wait a sec," he asks Jubilee. "You're Player 1, right, petite?"

Jubilee winces. She HATES it when Gambit calls her "petite." Of course, ANY inference that she might be a child (instead of the oh-so-mature fifteen) goes vastly unappreciated. "Yeah, as always, Gumbo. Why?"

"'Cause from the look of dis screen, Ol' One-eye is winnin'.

"Details, details. Just beginner's luck. The game ain't over." Then, to Scott, she states on no uncertain terms, "You're goin' DOWN, fearless leader!"

All four non-playing X-Men start snickering wildly. Jubilee pauses the game and shoots them a "what's YER problem?" look.

"Only that it ain't 'beginner's luck', honey," Rogue replies. "Y'see, Jube, Ol' Straight-Arrow Slim here," she points to Cyclops, "has been playin' this game on Jean's Playstation. He's now THE undefeated champeen of these here parts."

"It is true, Jubilation," Ororo explains. "Jean wanted him to work out his frustrations in some way other than a Danger Room on Level 12. So she bought this game console for him. The results speak for themselves."

"He's much calmer now, and I don't have to worry about him getting too injured to perform at night," Jean adds mischeivously.


"Uh, never mind, Jubilee..." Jean declares sheepishly. 'Think I said too much', she thinks.

"So yer sayin'..." Jubilee ponders, "...that Cyke is an expert at this game, and was playin' INNOCENT?"

"Pretty much," respondes Cyclops, while rubbing the back of his head and waiting for Jubilee to take the game off of pause.

"Look on the bright side, Jubilee," Jean points out. "At least you're not making a wager on this game."

Dead silence from the pair on the couch.

"'t make a bet on this game, did you, Jube?" Rogue prods.

"Scott?" demands Jean. "What wager did you two make?"

"The winner of ten matches in a row," explains Scott, "gets to redesign the loser's costume. And the loser has to WEAR it."

Jubilee is seen trying to sink into the couch cushions.

After the snickers die down, Scott nods to Jean and crew. "Enjoy your shopping spree." The rest say their goobyes and leave the two opponents to their game.

"So are you going to play or not?" Cyclops asks.

"Jus' be quiet an' prepare ta die," mumbles a very frazzled Jubilee.

"Computer? Run 'Sentinel Program 26-4.'"



Four in-uniform X-Men enter the Danger Room cautiously.

"See anything, Kurt?" asks Bobby "Iceman" Drake.

"Not yet," replies Kurt "Nightcrawler" Wagner. His yellow nocturnal eyes search the dark room. "Only simple machinery."

"I must point out," Hank McCoy, also known as The Beast, pipes in, "that machinery, in this instance, is our adversary."

"We know, Beast," Iceman replies. "You programmed this scenario, so what happens next?"

"Well, the events in this simulation have much bearing on our actions, so it is up to us."

"In other words," their large Russian teammate, Piotr "Colossus" Rasputin, states from the rear of the group, "You are trying to keep us in suspense until the last possible moment."

"Gotta keep your skills sharp. That requires keeping you on your--"

He freezes in midsentence, as several lights switch on. "MUTANT BIOSIGNATURES FOUND," a deep robotic voice in the background announces. Those lights turn out to be the "eyes" of at least two dozen large hunter-robots, called Sentinels. "INITIATING CAPTURE PROCEDURES."

"Now would be a good time to--" Beast advises, but by the time he gets that far he realizes his teammates are already moving. He ducks as a Sentinel fires an energy beam at him. The beam singes the blue fur on the back of his neck. 'Just a fraction of an inch closer...' he thinks.

"So tell me, comrade," Colossus shouts to Beast over his shoulder, all the while activating his mutant ability to convert his skin into organic steel (gaining tremendous size, strength and mass in the process), "What danger setting is this game on?"

"High enough to keep us on our toes!" Beast shouts while dodging energy blasts from several Sentinels. He takes cover behind a large block of machinery. The Sentinels converge on him.

The air gets suddenly colder, then a LOT colder, then even colder still. After a minute Hank looks out from his refuge spot and finds all of the Sentinels covered in a layer of ice at least a yard thick.

Hank turns to Iceman, who's leaning against an ice-covered wall and grinning. "No need to thank me," he states, rather pleased with himself.

Nightcrawler teleports from his position on the ceiling to the floor and almost slips on a patch of ice. "Mein Gott," he curses, his breath visible now that the room temperature is somewhere below zero. Did you have to make it so cold so quickly?"

"I stopped the Sentinels, didn't I?"

"That you did," Colossus said, walking up behind the temperature-contolling mutant. "But I believe the point of this excercise is for us to work as a team."

"Details, details," Iceman replies candidly. "I know what this training is for, but none of us are new at this, hell I'm one of the first members of the X-Men to begin with, but where's the harm in testing the limits of my powers?"

"Nothing, provided we all survive the experience," Kurt pointed out. "You can withstand below-zero temperatures easily. We can't. Welll...except maybe Piotr, here. And Beast."

"Shaggy blue fur or not," Beast stated, "I simply can't STAND freezing."

"Hmph," Bobby frowns. "I try and bail my buddies out and look at the thanks I get." He shakes his head in frustration and heads toward the exit.

"Bobby, wait--"

They hear sounds of robotic fists smashing through ice. They turn to find that the Sentinels had overcome their frozen obstacle. They were merely replicas of actual Sentinels, but they had been programmed with the real ones' adaptability.

"INITIATING PURGE OF MUTANT TARGETS," the Sentinels announced in unison.

In the Danger Room's observation booth, another team member (there are a lot, and luckily their mansion is big enough to house them) named Kitty Pryde watches the action through a monitor.

She sees Beast leap out of the way of Sentinel laser blasts and Nightcrawler teleport large objects into the robots' frames; while Iceman uses his power to freeze the water molecules in the air and form giant stalactites to fall on and impale the robots. Colossus, meanwhile, plows through the pack of robots at full speed, punching and ripping them apart in the process.

Kitty grins. In her younger days she and Colossus used to be an item, and even though they're not romantically linked now, she still enjoys watching him excercise. Old habits die hard, she guesses.

She debates joining them in their training session, but one look at the battleground's room temperature forces her to reconsider. 'Besides,' she thinks, 'they're big boys. They can take care of themselves.'

After another minute of watching the simulation, Kitty taps into the mansion's security cameras to check out what's happenning in the rest of the mansion. In the den, Cyclops and Jubilee are hard at work determining the outcome of their wager (and periodically consuming corn chips by the fistful), while in the main library, the founder of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning as well as the X-Men, sits in his hoverchair, absorbed in a book of some kind.

Suddenly curious, Kitty gets the camera to zoom in, hoping to catch a better glimpse of the book. 'Wonder what it is,' she thinks to herself. '"Modern Psychology?" "Stephen Hawking's Universe?"' She chuckles. '"Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?" "Calvin and Hobbes Collected Edition?"'

{{If you must know,}} Xavier's telepathic voice thunders in her head, {{I'm reading, "The Hobbit." Hank recommended it to me. Now MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!!}}

Kitty bangs on the side of her head with the palm of her head, experiencing the telepathic equivalent of being just about deafened. "Err..sorry sir.." she says out loud rather sheepishly. Eavesdropping on a psion definitely has its drawbacks. Especially one of the world's most powerful psions, as Xavier is said to be. She switches the monitor's uplink to another camera, then another, then another, until it becomes completely apparent that there's no one else in the mansion save for herself, the Danger Room occupants, the gamers, Xavier, and Psylocke, another telepathic member (this one also a female ninja), playing a game of Solitaire. She sighs. "Shoulda gone with Ororo, Jean, Rogue, and Gambit on the shopping spree," she mumbles to no one in particular. "That, or I need a date."

Hours of shopping at Salem Center Mall is not for the weak-at-heart. Or for those who lack stamina. The X-Men, on the other hand, spend most of their time fighting for their lives and eliminating threats such as other mutants, raving mobs of humans, giant robots, and occasional extraterrestrial empires. They are thus fit to brave the hordes of rude shoppers, long lines, bad service, and annoying songs played over the P.A. system.

With the sun setting in the west, the victorious mutant shoppers return home in a nondescript minivan (well, nondescript except for the Spider-Man doll suction-cupped to the window).

"So what'd ya get me, Remy?" Rogue begs, snuggling close to him. "I hope it's pretty. And useful. Ah'm a big believer in 'form-follows- function'."

"Well, that explains the belt on your spandex uniform," Jean deadpans while driving.

Rogue glares at the back of Jean's head. The driver's fiery red hair just flaps in the wind defiantly, daring Rogue to come up with a witty come-back. Rogue shakes her head and turns to Remy, who adamantly refuses to reveal the contents of his bag until they get home.

Jean begins honking the horn for some reason, startling her passengers. Especially Ororo, whose claustrophobia barely allows her to ride in the vehicle without an anxiety attack. The fevered honking is most unwelcome.

"Stupid traffic jam," Jean answers her friends' unasked question. "At this rate we won't be able to get back to the mansion before 'Martial Law' comes on."

"Anybody else hear sirens?" Remy asks nervously. He looks out a window past Rogue and sees a wiry man of about 30 years of age charge toward the minivan from a nearby gas station. And show no signs of slowing down.

"What the...he's gonna crash into us!" the two occupants of the back seat notify Jean and Ororo in unison.

Before Jean can shape a telekinetic force field to halt the man's arrival, he manages to hit the plate-glass window with his nose.


Remy and Rogue peer out the now slightly-cracked window nervously. Remy makes a joke about seeing this in a Jim Carrey movie, while Rogue gets out and checks the man's vital signs. "He's still breathin'," she confirms as two police officers march into view.

"Thank you for help us catch this guy," the taller, 50-something Caucasian officer announces in his best "Dragnet" voice. The shorter one, an African-American male of about 25, inspects the fallen perpetrator's body and pulls a gun from the man's pocket. He looks up at Rogue. "How'd you catch him?"

Rogue just barely hears the question, so absorbed is she in the man's features. He isn't a handsome man, but something about him causes her to stare at him anyway. "Hm? I'm sorry, what, officer?"

"I asked how you caught him. He's very dangerous."

"Ah...ah didn't catch him. He just...ran right into the window." She pointed to the crack in the door window.

Both officers look at her, then the man, then each other...and shrug. "Oh. Well, then we'll be on our way," the tall officer nervously replies. He and his partner pick up the still-unconscious man's body and drag him away. The younger cop nods to and salutes Rogue, who's just as baffled as she was when this started. She gets back in the minivan and discusses the matter with her friends. Since none of them are able to reach a good explanation for what has just happened, and since the cars in front of them are finally moving, they drop the subject and continue on their way.

Rogue continues her efforts to find out what her boyfriend Remy had bought her.

They return to their abode, The Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, shortly before 8:00 to find and unusual sight:

A vast assortment of off-duty X-Men are gathered in the living room to witness Jubilee and Cyclops' tie breaking game. This will decide the undisputed video game champion of the Institute, and decide who wins and who becomes victim to the winner's uniform-design skills.

The crowd of viewers consists of Iceman, Beast, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Kat Pryde, and Betsy "Psylocke" Braddock.

Also in attendance are members of Generation X, a team of young mutants in training, of which Jubilee is a member. Everett "Synch" Thomas, Monet "M" Saint Croix, Paige "Husk" Guthrie, Angelo "Skin" Espinosa, and Jono "Chamber" Starsmore occupy the floor, while the X-Men fill the couch and chairs.

Pretty much anything can happen with all these mutants crowded in the same room. The noise level is almost deafening as the audience cheer on their favorite player.

"C'mon Cyke!! Win one for the Originals!!!" enthused Bobby.

"Kick some One-Eyed Butt, Lee!!!" Everett coached.

"Yes!! Good hit, Scott!! Make us proud!" Jean shouted in spite of herself.

"OOh!! You gonna let him dis you like that?!" Angelo asked Jubilee, his eyebrow raised.

"Ach, that HAD to hurt!" sympathized Kurt.

"Pull a Triple Super Counter-Attack!!" Bobby advised.

"A what?"

"I'll explain later, Betts."

"'There is no greater victory than victory over oneself'!" Beast quoted. He frowned. "I...forget where I read that."

"That's a first." Bobby noted, astonished.

"An uppercut! Good one, J!"

The cacophony begins to reach hurricane levels, and Storm, not one for large crowds and enclosed spaces, lets out an unfocused lightning bolt that shorts out every electrical device in the mansion. Which is a lot. Exactly none of the spectators seem too pleased with this development. Some shoot annoyed glares, others curse audibly, while still others bitch and moan about monetary bets riding on the outcome of the match-up.

The most upset are Cyclops and Jubilee, but by then Ororo had already muttered, "much better," and left the room.

Jean breaths a sigh of relief, because all the excited minds in the room were getting to be too much for her telepathic mind to shield itself against. Psylocke had already collapsed from a similar strain.

Remy and Rogue retreat to their shared bedroom, and only then do the TV room's occupants realize that the room had been absolutely silent for five whole minutes.

Cyclops and Beast spend the next half-hour getting the mansion's electrical systems back on line, and manage to look especially xxxxed whenever Ororo passes by.

"Well THAT was interestin'," Gambit remarks in the hallway outside their room. "Remind me never to invite all dem to my next poker game."

Rogue chuckles, and, for the 248th time that day, turns her attention to Remy's bag. The man knows how to keep her in suspense, that's for sure. "C'mon, Cajun, Ah'm dyin' t'know what's in there!"

Gambit opens the door to their room. "Just have patience, chere," he admonishes. "All will be revealed." He walks over to the room's many cndles, charges the wicks up with explosive kinetic energy (something he finds easy to do thanks to his mutant power) and watches with satisfaction as the candles light up the room.

They embrace while trudging to their shared bed, each one finding it absolutely impossible to take their hands off of one another.

Finally, after making out passionately for seemingly an eternity, they release each other and Remy gives the bag to Rogue. She dives into it like a woman possessed, but doesn't find anything. "Whut the..."

Remy grins and takes her hand, opening it up and placing a small velvet-colored box in her palm. "Was in m'pocket all along," he explains. "I had to keep y'busy SOMEhow."

Rogue suddenly doesn't know which to do first: hug him with all of her considerable strength, or open the box. She chooses the latter.

The diamond ring inside catches the soft light from the candles and reflects it in every direction. The diamond is also a fairly good-sized one, something Remy probably would have stolen in his days as a theif. This time, though, as the receipt clearly shows, he paid a lot for it.

"Y'see, chere, it's like dis," Remy continues. "Ev' since we first met, Gambit's been fas'nated with you, and soon, I fell in love with ya. But y'know dat. I just never been able to touch you 'cause o' your powers, and dat...well...sucked." He looks down at the bed. But I accepted it, and even found ways t' be wit' you wit'out having t'touch you, and now...well, I don't even NEED to to show I love you. Den, a month ago, Xavier foun' a way to break through your problem, an' now y'CAN touch anyone you want. Even me." He smirks and shrugs. "'Specially me, I hope.

"I thought I couldn't be happier, but ev'ry day since then...well...." Words begin to fail him. Rogue understands, and looks into his eys, tears streaming down her face. The parts of his eyes that were white on most people are black on Gambit. His irises are blood-red, and very difficult to ignore.

"Yes, Remy," she replies, to a question he hadn't gotten around to asking, "Yes...ah...will."

At this point words are no longer necessary. They resume their embrace. A freak accident and psionic therapy had finally given her control over her mutant ability to absorb the physical and mental energy of anyone she touches by way of skin-to-skin contact. The ability to control that power had been locked away in her mind so far she didn't even know she possessed it. That left her emotionally vulnerable, longing for human contact, and afraid of getting close to Remy. Especially since there was a good chance the person her power absorbed might end up comatose from the drain of energy. It had happened to Remy once... and to a woman named Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Ms. Marvel, whom she reluctantly fought in her younger days as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, a band of mutant terrorists whose name never really sat well with Rogue. Rogue still possesses Danvers' powers, which include invulnerability, flight, and phenomenal strength. She also saw more in Remy's ex-theif mind than he ever wanted anyone to know. But now, she has been freed from all that (except Ms. Marvel's powers), and she aims to enjoy it as much as possible.

Rogue basks in the midst of the warm, running water, replaying the previous hour in her mind over and over, delighting in the smallest details of it.

{{Now THAT was awesome! I tell ya, girl, that Cajun is a KEEPER!!}}

Rogue is startled. SHE didn't say or think that. That was someone else's voice. She looks around to see who the intuder is. "All right, varmint!! Come on out ya pervert, so Ah c'n bust ya wide open!" She peeks out of the shower curtain and sees no one there. But she could've SWORN...

{{Geez, lady! Keep it down, huh? Y'wanna wake up the whole friggin' house? Oh, wait, you already did that a few minutes ago. My bad.}}

Rogue placed the source of the voice. It her mind? 'Whut in the...?' she pondered.

{{Oh. Sorry. Forgot myself a sec. Allow me to introduce myself: I'm Lola Morse, F.T.E., at your service.}}

"F.T.E.??" Rogue asked out loud, astonished.

{{"Freewheelin' Telepathic Entity" of course,}} Lola replied. {{And you don't have to answer out loud. I CAN read your thoughts, y'know.}}

"" Rogue didn't even know where to begin.

{{I'm a mutant, like yourself, but my specialty is psionics. 'Cause of that, my folks and peers loathed me, so one night they just couldn't stand me anymore and beat me t'death.}} She relate this information in such an offhand manner that Rogue can't help but shudder.

{{Or, at least, my body died. I managed to project my mind into the body of a bystander. Then I watched as the fools pummeled a lifeless shell of me, and then I went on my merry way. 'Course, a few hours later I came back and turtured them slowly, but hey, they had it comin', right? Right.}}

"Oh..oh mah god..."

{{Uh, Rogue? The water's getting cold. Thought you'd like ta know that.}}


{{'Cause a cold shower is no fun whatsoever, that's why. Jeezus-frickin'-Christmas, lady, do I gotta tell ya EVERYTHING or what?}}

Rogue turns off the shower. "No...I meant, why'd ya turture yore family?"

{{Yer still talkin' out loud. Amateur. Anyhoo, I tortured my folks 'cause just killin' 'em was too mundane. I consider myself the creative type.}}

'An' a total nutcase...' Rogue returns, this time just thinking it. Lola responds with the telepathic equivalent of an unamused glare.

{{What OF it? So, I got issues. Who doesn't? Certainly not you, Miss Ah-Gotta-Screwed-Up-Lahfe-An'-Cain't-Touch-No-One-But-Now-Ah-Can- Ah-Think-All-My-Problems're-Solved.}}

Rogue returns the glare and steps out of the shower stall. 'So lemme get this straight,' she thinks, 'You're a telepathic entity without a body, so your idea of fun is goin' around, wreckin' other people's lives?'

{{Basically, yeah.}}

'That goes against ever'thing the X-Men stand for!'

{{So this is where you give me the lecture on human-and-mutant coexistence. HELLO?! HUman's can't even coexist with themselves, let alone mutants. Seems like you X-Men're just wastin' your time, cause no matter what you do, you can't change people, an' y'can't make this world any better.}}

'Says you.'

{{Sez me.}}

More than a little annoyed, Rogue decides to just cut the small talk and ask just what the fug Lola was doing in her mind.

{{It's like this, Mudpie: Ever since I escaped my body, I've been livin' from day to day, body to body. I'd ride in someone's mind for a while, have some fun, jump to the next body I find when my host gets arrested or dead or somethin', and just generally live everybody's life to the fullest. For someone who never had much of a life growin' up, it's such a major kick.

{{Anyways, I'm truckin' along, indulgin' my hobby of beatin' on cops, an' getting chased by said cops (it's damn trippy), when I see a minivan in front of me filled with the screwiest thought-patterns I ever picked up. I got curious, so I ran over to ya and made my host body klunk himself on the door an' knock himself out, to get your attention.

{{Out pops you, so's I scan your brain, find it so wonderfully cluttered and phucked up, deem it worthy of me, and hop on inside your subconscious.}}

'Why me?'

{{'Cause I can't commandeer another telepath's body, your African babe friend's mind is too damn organized, and I didn't want to KNOW what was in the babealicious Cajun's brain. I chose you 'cause I always wanted to be a hottie and this way I get to spend "Quality Time" with the Cajun. Good things come to those who wait.}}

Rogue is unnerved by all this. She feels so gross and violated that she considers taking another shower. But since she realizes that won't solve the problem of Lola being there, she gives up, dries off, and gets dressed.

"What'chu sayin' in there, chere?" Gambit asks on the other side of the closed door. "I heard talkin' in there. You sounded upset. Somethin' on y'mind? Was it somethin' I did?"

", wasn't...Ah was just...thinkin' out loud."

{{My sentiments exactly.}}

"Oh, well, if y'wanna talk, y'know where t'find me."


'Dammit, Lola,' Rogue yells mentally, 'Remy knows somethin's goin' on. He knows me too well. He knows Ah ain't a good liar.'


'SOOOOO, yore bein' a pest, and Ah wantcha ta get the hell outta mah head!'

{{Okay, I'll leave. But I have to go SOMEwhere, and if I get into "Rem-my's" head you still won't be rid of me. In fact, I could think of all KINDS of mischeif t'get into in other X-Men's bodies. An' there ain't another human around here for miles that isn't a mutant. So you have a choice: you can let me stay and have fun, or you can send me away, and risk me torturin' your friends. Take your pick, it makes no diff to me.}}

'All right. Fine. Ah give in, Ah surrender. You can stay in mah head for now. But promise me you'll behave and not make me do anythin' terrible. Ah shall be in control of mah body at all times.'

{{I promise.}}

'Ah don't believe you.'

{{I SWEAR I'll be nice. You're the boss, boss.}}

'No yammerin' in mah head, either. Ah gotta hear mahself think, y'know.'

{{Got it.}}

Rogue reluctantly accepts and makes her way back to bed. Remy still wants to know what went on in the bathroom, but he lets it pass and they both go to sleep in each other's arms. Or at least, Remy goes to sleep. Rogue lays there, determined to keep a mental eye on Lola, the Freewheelin' Telepathic Intruder.

She finally manages to fall asleep, but before a minute passes the X-Men's Red Alert Alarm sounds.

Rogue, Remy, and the rest of the mansion's inhabitants struggle to get dressed in their uniforms and race to the Conference Room. The last two to make it to the room are Cyclops and Jean, who live in the Boat House outside the mansion.

One the main viewscreen is a news report of a full-scale war taking place in Europe. Those fighting are the armed forces of at least four European nation on one side of the conflict, and a fairly large group of mutants led by Fabian Cortez, a considerable thorn in the X-Men's collective side.

The X-Men listen to the report and discover that Cortez and his followers have taken over a hidden military munitions storage. Besides their formidable mutant powers, Cortez's team have at their disposal quite a large cache of weapons. The military forces are just barely holding on.

The report is over for maybe a split-second before the X-Men scramble to their Blackbird jet and depart for Eastern Europe. Generation X stays behind to watch the mansion, chaperoned by Kat Pryde. Which is just fine with them: they were trying to sleep anyway.

Except for two, of course.

Outside the mansion, swinging slowly in a bench overlooking the lake, two young mutants, Jubilee and her boyfriend Everett Thomas, watch the Blackbird's departure.

"Looks like we missed something," Everett notes ruefully.

"Yep. I bet it was important," answers Jubilee. "Some world- conquerin' crackhead is at it again, I bet. Oh well, they can take care of it themselves." She leans closer to Everett and kisses him on the cheek. "Now then...were were we? Ah, yes. Oh damn, here comes M, Paige, and Kitty! Bus-ted."

The Blackbird screams over the Pacific Ocean, making a beeline for Eastern Europe, while its occupants, the X-Men, go over battlefield strategy.

"This is a hostile war, and pressure is running high," states Professor Charles Francis Xavier, the X-Men's telepathic founder, from his hoverchair. "That means charging in violently is not an option. It will only make the situation worse. That is why I have decided to come with you. The telepathic talents of myself, Jean, and Psylocke will serve to try and calm the situation. But the rest of you must be prepared, in case something goes wrong."

His followers nod in agreement and make the necessary preparations. Except for Rogue and Gambit, who are preoccupied with other concerns.

"Chere, I know there's somethin' goin' on, an' the fact that you ain't tellin' me what it is only makes it worse."

"Ah keep tellin' you, Remy, Ah'm FINE. Ah'm just nervous about the fight we're about t'get into."

"That's a lie an' you know it, Rogue." He only calls her "Rogue" instead of "chere" when he's concerned or angry, which saddens her.

Lola, meanwhile, won't shut up in her head.


All activity in the jet ceases as the main moniter, which displays various news reports of the incident, shows Cortez's followers suddenly under attack by large robots.

"What's going on? They don't look like Sentinels," Cyclops ponders.

Beast watches the transport ship Cortez and his men are being herded into. He notes the royal crest logo on its side. "That ship looks...Latverian!"

As if on cue, the news report shows in incoming transmission it just picked up.

In it, a man sits in a chair, staring at the camera. The room is dark, illuminated only by the TV and computer screens surrounding him. He wears mideival-looking armor and a forest-green cloak. His face is heavily scarred from a long-ago lab experiment and covered by a metal mask that looks both crude and ancient, and highly technological. But his eyes, which glare from behind the mask, chill all who view them and exude both devastating intellect and unimaginable cruelty.

"Attention," he commands, his voice deep and powerful. "You are in Latverian airspace. Fabian Cortez and his men are now in my royal custody."

His eyes narrow. "Leave now, or be taken in as well. This is your ONLY warning. Victor Von Doom out." A Logo of the Latverian Royal Crest fills the screen.

{{Holee $#@&!}} Lola gasps, summing up the thoughts of Rogue and the rest of the X-Men.

TO BE CONTINUED...(sooner or later)