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??? 2004 - #??
X-Men logo
World of Today
by JM de Joya

" . . . and now back to your CNN Las Vegas."

" . . . This is Jacob Kane for your daily news update. Mutant activity has been rising in America recently, due to the official signing of the Registration Act by the Congress in favor of the pro faction. In response, mutant terrorists have recently appeared across the country, already causing damage and panic on whatever they touch. Let's go to our field reporter at the Mirage, Manoli Wetherell. Manoli, give us a brief report . . . ?"

"Thank you, Jacob. Tonight, the Governor of Texas will be arriving from the hotel, on his way to the Convention Hall, as the last of the government officials representing the West Coast discussing counteractions against these recent attacks. -- Wait, here he is now -- sir, what is your opinion on the mutant issue?"

" . . . it's only a phase. This mutant paranoia will pass us by quickly. Other than that, I have no comment."

" . . . And there he was, Jacob. Governor Wallen has just left the Mirage, and is on his way to the Convention Hall. For CNN Las Vegas, this is Manoli Wetherell. Back to you, Jacob."

" . . . it's only a phase. This mutant paranoia will--"

For us, paranoia is such a simple word.

"--pass us by quickly. Other than that, I have no comment."

I clicked the rusting switch off, and the screen fades to black. Grabbing my black coat and shutting the lights off, I locked the door of my apartment, sailing down the creaking wooden steps, as the grim yellow glow of the lightbulbs smoothen the atmosphere. "Going somewhere?" the landlady asked me, as walked unlatched the front door, and stepped out into the lighted city. "Nothing, Ms. Pelski," that was my reply, before I shut the door behind me. I walked past the run-down apartment, in the grittiest slum in town. This is Vegas.

This is my life.

If they only knew my secret, would it change for the better?

"Sir. Something wrong?" The bodyguard turned to him, as Governor Wallen began to sweat in anxiety. "It's . . . getting hot in here," he said, grabbing his handkerchief, wiping his forehead. Suddenly the car jolted, stopping in the middle of the silent outskirts, miles away from any man.

" . . . driver, the convention east of here," the bodyguard said, grabbing onto the shoulder of the limo driver. Suddenly, the man burst into ashes, as the horrified man held back his awe and fear. "Wha--"

Out of the blue, a bolt of fire struck him in the chest, burning through the car's skylight. He felt the intense heat from within, as in seconds, his chest lit in flames. He fell to the ground, the searing flame engulfed his soul. Governor Wallen began to back away, then behind him, someone knocked at his window.

"Good evening, governor."

Wallen scrambled out of the limo, and began to run for his life. The figure floated into the air, burning like a fiery sun in the moonlit sky. "Are we making a run for it, Wallen? I don't think that's going to be possible." Another bolt flame flew into the air, its aim swift and true.

Within a few inches, the sand beneath Wallen's feet exploded, sending the man tumbling onto the sandy grounds of the desert. Before him, the figure landed, eyes a gleaming fire. The hands grabbed Wallen, and he saw.

The face of mutantkind. The angry face of mutantkind.

"How does it feel, Governor? How does it feel, scampering like a rabbit, hunted down for canon fodder?"

"I don't know what you're talking about . . . "

"Don't tell me about what you don't know, Wallen. You know very well. Who ordered the massacre of Kelly's Orphanage? Death toll, 43. All mutants." The figure began to float, and they sailed across the night sky, 20 feet above the ground. "All this, behind the back of the government. It's too bad we take care of each other, Wallen. Not like your kind. You would have gotten away with it . . . "

" . . . you're mad . . . "

The eyes ignited with rage. The clench of the fists grew stronger, as Governor Wallen began to feel the heat of the flames. "Of course I'm mad, Governor. In fact, I am furious. How dare you idiotic bureaucrats believe that we are the problem? What has the children of tomorrow done to you? Nothing but ask for your help. And you strike them down."

They flew higher, as the air began to grow thin. Wallen gasped for oxygen, while the figure stopped in midflight. "Maybe it's because you think of us like that of the costumed fool Magneto. How typical. How typically human."

" . . . air . . . "

"Eat, you pompous cow. Eat the last of your breath, as I make sure, that none of your kind shall ruin the future of ours. Justice shall be redeemed for the broken half of the world, Governor Wallen. By bloodied hands if necessary."

The figure suddenly let go.

And Governor Wallen dropped thirty feet above the ground, a crunching thud to mark his end.

"Unlike your kind, Governor, we will stick together. The past months has thought us well. See? We're already two steps above you, evolving. This time, I will make sure . . . the world is safe for the weak of our kind."

The night sky burnt infinitely, as the figure disappeared into the heavy clouds.

I made no intentions to go to work. I could be spotted, I guess. People already suspect me. People already fear me, they just don't really know how right they are. The fading headlights disappear, only to be followed by another, as I walked down the Vegas strip, searching for nothing in particular. Funny, I never really noticed that my job as a waitress had its benefits. In reality, they don't. I'm broken, out of luck. And I'm cursed. How could my life be so bad?

Suddenly, he tapped me in the back.

"'scuz me, ma'am," the hooded boy told me, as I turned to face him. He was hiding his face, probably a bad zit or something. I don't care.

I'm broken.

"What's it?" I told him, grabbing onto his hood. He backed away, and shunned me.

" . . . don't touch them hood, ma'am." he said, lowering it til I couldn't imagine a head in there.

" . . . so what do you want?"

"Can you give me directions to Golden Boulevard?"

"Sure, I'll bring you there. You'd get lost here." I took him by the hand, and we crossed the street.

I guess someone really needs me in this life after all.

"Okay, boy. Show me your catch of the day," the heavy muscled man said, as the hooded boy went to him. He brought out the packet of cash, and the man grabbed it. I didn't know what to say.

" . . . Oh? And who's this little miss? Hey Leech, you didn't tell me you were bringing me a present!"

Two other men suddenly appeared out of the shadow, and grabbed my wrist. Couldn't move, as the boy went to my defense.

"No, Mack! She helped me! Let her go!"

The one named Mack shoved the boy aside, and he fell upon the trashbags by the alley. Mack then turned to me, grinning a dastardly smile. Jerk. "So, how'd you like to come with me? Looks like Tyra Banks, what do you think guys? Should Tyra explore our secret havana?"

The men who were holding me snickered. Jerks.

"Let go of me," I demanded, angrily. My eyes beginning to glow. It's happening again. "And what, missy? Why don't you shut up and spend a time with me . . . " Mack suddenly dropped me on the ground, and began to rip away what was part of my blouse . . .

I warned them.

The brilliant lights. Then the explosion. Mack and his buddies flew across the wall, as the impact made them crash through it. Another one, and their skin began to peel off. And another. And another. Until I was weak, out of the power, but in grief. Once again, I have done it. Their bodies bleeding, skull smashed. All of them. Suddenly, I felt their energies, released from their death, enter me. Yes, I felt my will and stamina return. I could stand up. And mourn for the dead.

The hooded boy stood by my side, and stared in awe. "Wow . . . "

"Oh my god . . . "

"How'd you do them?"

" . . . I don't know."

"Those guys, had it coming. If you asked me, ma'am."

"Tell me something,"

"Yes, ma'am?"

"Are you . . . afraid of me now?" He had to be. Everyone was when this happened back when I was twelve. I killed my best friend. I killed my brother. After that time, I ran. Another life, another dream. And I killed again. And I ran. By now, the faces that I've worn and the lives that I've had could've been a pile, and it overwhelmed me. I wanted to start again, and this time for good.

Now, I did it again. And I felt like running.

Only this time, I had no more breath to continue any further.

The boy, silently paused. "No, why should I be?" I turned to him in sudden surprise, staring down at a boy who believed in me. Even after this incident. "You're joking,"

The boy lifted his hood, and I saw. I saw his green skin, his expressionless eyes. In him, I saw myself.

"I'm not afraid. I'm just glad I'm not alone."

And I embraced him, crying tears of joy and hope. Hope that, this time, I don't have to run any longer.

I shed my tears away, and stood up. "Why they call you Leech?" I asked him, as we dumped the bodies into the garbage bin.

"Dunno. Guess I look like one." He flung a disembodied arm into the bin, and faced me. "What do they call you?"

I paused briefly, as I never ever stopped to think of that before. All the running, the masks, the lives . . . they covered me inside.

"Sometimes they call me Miss, ma'am, toots," I told him, then lied to him. " . . . but you can call me Lian. That's what everyone calls me."

"So, where're we going, Lian?"

We made our way away from the place, and I looked back, one last before it faded away.

" . . . somewhere safe, Leech. Somewhere safe . . . "

" . . . and now back to CNN Las Vegas."

" . . . and good morning. This is Barbara Terryson for your daily news update. Last night, Governor Desmond Wallen was murdered east of the Las Vegas Convention Hall, where the meeting discussing counteractions against the mutant terrorism took place. Police have found the body of the former Governor and an unknown victim right near the limousine he was supposed to take to the meeting. Let's hear from our reporter out there, Manoli Wetherell. Manoli? . . . "

" . . . I'm sorry Barbara, there's been a slight transmission problem . . . okay, we're ready. Police have already confirmed the body of the unknown victim as Governor Wallen's bodyguard, Peter Kelvins. More or so, they cannot confirm how it was possible for the Governor to have his bones cracked, nor Kelvins' burnt condition. Police suspect . . . oh, wait a minute! Sir, sir! Can you spare us a minute? Okay, Barbara, here we have Police Sergeant Harvey Lexington. Sir, can you tell us who do you suspect is responsible for this tragedy?"

" . . . I can't really say . . . "

"Possibly a hint . . . ?"

"The muties. Most likely the muties. They already destroyed the salt mines of Ohio, what next?"

" . . . thank you, Sergeant. For CNN Las Vegas, This is Manoli Wetherell reporting."

" . . . thank you, Manoli. Lieutenant Governor Graydon Creed is now in position of becoming the new Governor of Texas. More information will be revealed shortly. Meanwhile, on other measures, the Vegas police have already apprehended their first mutant, in the form of Clarice Ferguson, third year student enrolled in Nevada State high school. Where they are taking her, the high rankings officers have no comment on whatsoever. And that has been your daily news update. This is Barbara Terryson signing off--"

"That's the way the cookie crumbles, I guess," the African-American detective said, sitting on top of the desk, while Graydon Creed pinned a Graydon! Hope of Tomorrow! button on his jacket. He then grabbed the tape, and played it all over again.

"NO! What did I do for this? NO! Don't drag me away . . . what did I do?!?!" The screams of plea from the young girl in the video enticed Creed, as his grin grew wide.

"Don't you think it's funny, Charlotte? When it comes to it all, I hope these people get what they deserve."

Charlotte Jones took out her Colt .45, and aimed at the television. One shot was all it took.

"We're here to help them, Creed."

"I was thinking the same thing." Graydon lit his cigarette, as cinders fell onto the floor. "Overpopulation is such a bad thing--"

"I meant this, Creed. What's this all about? This mutant thing, it's dragging on into a conspiracy."

"It's such a shame. The world fears them so much, they're the bogeyman this time. Well, I can't let that happen," he said, slamming his fist onto the table. "Peace is what this world needs, not some freaks who can scare the hell out of us. We're Americans, we must fight back."

Behind them, Clarice Ferguson was struggling to free herself from the mechanical bindings. High tech as it was, it already subdued her latent mutant ability. "Don't try to escape, girl," Creed said, slapping her face. "You're going to save America from the bogeyman."

"Wow, nicer place than I ever got with them guys," Leech said, as he awoke from sleeping in the couch. Truth is, my apartment wasn't that all too big. Not even running tap water.

"Just help yourself," I told him, giving him a bag of chips. Leech munched on, chomping enthusiastically, like he hadn't eaten for awhile. I thought I should take a breather, so stared outside the window. Outside the window, was something that took my breath away.

Die, Mutie Scum!

Go back where you came from Muties!

Kill the Mutants!

There were vandals abound that night, painting anything. They must be high, was my thought, before I spotted something below us.

"I'm sorry, ma'am, but are you saying you saw a boy with a green face in here?"

Ms. Pelski. She ratted on us. She must have been peeping when I came in last night. We had to run.

Then I stared at Leech, happily sampling the tasty chips. "Come on," I told him.

"Where're we going now?"

"Remember, I promised you we'd be safe? I'm keeping it."

I took some of my belongings, and got out the window. We took the emergency ladder up, and then I heard the crash of my door. And voices of fear and hatred.

"There were here last night! I knew it!" Ms. Pelski's voice imprinted itself from my mind. She betrayed me. Like everyone else did before. We got on the roof, and pushed the ladder away. It fell two stories down, before crashing on an empty taxi cab.

"Over here," Leech called me, as he leapt to the other building. I looked down, and saw the policemen, aiming their guns at us.

"Great," I muttered, as I made a leap of faith.

I opened my eyes, and found myself on the other side, safe and sound. But not for long, if those bullets has hit me. Leech called to me, telling me to hurry. We were wasting time standing around like idiots, until she appeared, sleeping among the newspapers that flew.

"What's going on . . . ?" She stared at the both of us for the moment, and then laughed. "Oh, mutants right? Superpowers and all that crap?"

I stared uncomfortably, as the policemen have already climbed the building. "Look, get out of the way, and we won't hurt you," I threatened, shaking in panic.

"Please, you don't even look scary. C'mon, I'll give you a lift," she said, suddenly bursting into flames. We were surprised, if not myself alone was, as she grabbed us and we flew high into the sky.

"So, where are you going? I was doing something last night, and I think I overdid it. Now I'm on the run, I guess."

I stared down, as we were flying above, like birds soaring in the sky.

"Kewl," Leech said, as the woman ignited, and we sailed to the outskirts of town.

"So, what's with the fuss then? Tell me, I gotta know. I'm like you too, you know."

"Why should we trust you?" I asked.

"Coz' I'm Frankie. Anyone can trust me. Besides, we're one of the same kind."

I turned to our destination, as we landed in a motel out of nowhere. Frankie turned back to her normal looks, and unlocked the door. "This's my place. You can stay here if you like, it's pretty much me, myself and I here."

She turned her head back, before entering the door. "Trust me, it's safe. For all of us."

I turned to Leech, and he smiled. This could be the beginning.

Next issue: Are mutants truly safe? Find out when the Brotherhood turns 1. Soon.