Krakoa...The Island That Walks Like A Man...
By Madripoor Rose
Disclaimer: Adapted from the original comics by Marvel Entertainment, no copyright infringement intended.
Images flood mutant minds as they stood rooted to the spot...the sun-burst brilliance of an early atomic test, whose unseen radiation permeated every living organism here...until they grew linked in a colony intelligence that gave the island a life of its own.
But Krakoa grew hungry then...a hunger barely appeased when the X Men arrived upon the scene.
Krakoa fed upon their mutant energies and grew hungrier still...thus it released one X Man and sent him forth to find more food...which Cyclops unwittingly did.
"And now we will go hungry no longer!" The monstrous mutant was almost smug.
"Filthy monster," Cyclops shouted, realizing, "you USED me like a Judas goat, leading lambs to the slaughter!"
"Yes, we used you, eyeless one, as we used the crippled on who gathered you all together at the command of a voice only his mind could hear."
Piotr glared at the creature of animated mud grimly. He had wondered why Gospodin Xavier sought to create a new team for this rescue mission and sent them out untrained and untried, when the time it took locating and recruiting them all would have been better spent enlisting the help of other superheroes, appealing to the Avengers or Fantastic Four for aid.
If this living landmass had the telepathic strength to fool even the great Xavier into doing his bidding, would the X Men old and new even stand a chance of defeating it?
"But the time for explanations is past! Now it is time for Krakoa to feed!"
"Scatter, X Men! Quickly," Cyclops shouted as the creature moved.
"You lily-livers want to scatter, that's swell---but the Wolverine is going out for blood!"
'Maybe if they all attacked in force, at once...a cow can kick a wolf to death with a lucky strike of the hoof,' Piotr thought. The island had formed a vaguely man-shaped avatar to gloat over its captives and intentions. Piotr charged up onto one of Krakoa's feet and started pounded at the ankle, trying to break through as they had the stone of the false temple, trying to force it off-balance.
MY X MEN, STOP. I'VE BEEN MENTALLY MONITORING YOUR BATTLE THUS FAR---STUDYING THIS LIVING ISLAND---AND I BELIEVE I'VE DISCOVERED ITS SOLE WEAK POINT!
It was the telepathic voice of Professor Xavier. Piotr listened attentively as Xavier outlined the plan.
It is a war fought on two fronts, as Professor Xavier wages deadly mental combat with a crazed community intellect...while his students race to carry out his plan.
At Cyclops's command, the eyes of the mutant called Storm grow dark once more and she soars aloft on the wings of the wind. High above Krakoa she hovers...slowly summoning to her the tempest's full fury...then suddenly transmitting those seething energies to the lithe young woman who waits anxiously below, thus restoring the mighty magnetic powers of the girl called Lorna Dane!
Within moments the circuit is completed and Lorna Dane screams in anguish as her physical limits are reached and exceeded!
Havok grabbed at his brother's arm as bolt after bolt of lightning struck the woman he loved. "You've got to call it off, Scott! Lorna can't take that kind of punishment! She'll be killed!"
"Alex...I can't! I can't sacrifice a world to save one woman, Alex, even if she is your girlfriend."
"I swear to you, brother or no brother...if she dies..."
The remainder of Havok's angry outburst is slain by the crackling roar of the thunderous downpour, even as the torrential waters lend life to something else.
"The blinkin' beastie's gettin' stronger now! But how?" Banshee shouted.
The creature Krakoa seemed to bathe in the rain. "Fools! You brought rain from the sky to destroy us!" it roared, "but it serves only to replenish us and give us the strength to destroy you!"
They attacked again, Piotr still striking at his chosen target. It was like punching the earth itself. Iceman, Banshee, and Sunfire all attacked from above. They could barely slow it down.
"We can't hold that thing off forever, Scott! If the Professor's plan doesn't work..." Marvel Girl called out.
"We'll know if it works soon enough, Jean! Get everybody back, we're ready to begin!"
With that, a solemn Scott Summers turns, to find that the figure of Lorna Dane has become lost within a coruscating incandescent tower of sheer magnetic force. His mutant eyes narrow, and a single word forms on his lips; "Now!"
Both Cyclops and Havok turn the full fury of their powers upon the spot where Lorna stood.
With almost indescribable force, Lorna's magnetic energies erupt downward...through five miles of ocean...through four thousand miles of the Earth's ancient crust...down to the very molten core of the planet itself, where the effects are immediate and violent.
The creature Krakoa staggered. "Wha-what is happening to us? Why do we feel so strange? Our mind...can't retain form..." The vaguely humanoid form began to melt into a misshapen mountain of mud.
"It's working! Exactly as the Professor said it would!" Cyclops cried out. "We've only got seconds to get out of here, before the end!"
"Lorna's too weak to run, I'll..." Havok turned to find that Iceman had already scooped the Mistress of Magnetism up into his arms.
"The lady doesn't need your help, hotshot. She's in good hands for a change."
"Why, you little..."
"Argue later, now just move it!" Cyclops ordered.
And move it they do, as few other beings on Earth possibly could. Ororo took to the air again, easily lifting Piotr's weight with her own. Sunfire was carrying Wolverine in likewise manner. Iceman skated along a slide of ice he'd created, like a Baikal seal crossing the lake in winter.
Warpath, in the lead, cried out a warning. "Holy Crow! Will ya take a look at the beach up ahead? This whole freaking island is breaking up around us!"
"And without our Strato-Jet there's no way we can get far enough from the island before...huh?" Angel trailed off as Iceman constructed a large iceberg floating in the sea.
"Never let it be said that we icemen aren't good for something, Angel. Everybody get aboard---and fast!"
Swiftly, the desperate X Men clamber aboard the crude ice raft, then hang on for dear life as the mutant powers of Cyclops and Havok are harnessed for propulsion, sending the makeshift craft hurtling away from Krakoa with the speed of a hydroplane.
Behind them the world convulses in carnage...as the results of Lorna Dane's massive energy bolt become apparent at last. For her electrically charged burst has cut across the planet's primary lines of magnetic force---severing them---and for an instant around the island of Krakoa, gravity ceases to exist.
Then the Earth-forces come violently together...and the effect is the same as squeezing wet soap through a fist! Krakoa is launched violently into space! Krakoa's death cry rings for long seconds through the minds of the awestruck X Men...then a new, more frightening reality intrudes upon the scene.
"Brace yourselves, everyone, there's trouble ahead," Cyclops shouted. "The ocean is rushing in to fill the space Krakoa just vacated...and we're caught in the whirlpool! Bobby, quickly, throw an airtight ice-dome over this raft! It's our only chance to survive this miserable maelstrom!"
Iceman obeyed, just in the nick of time. Voraciously, the great ice bubble is sucked into the wildly swirling maw of the whirlpool, and those within are battered almost senseless against its cold, unfeeling walls.
Piotr found it quite dizzying. Not just the rapid tumbling of their vessel, the way they slid and crashed painfully into the ice and each other. He could not force himself to stay flesh.
He tried, out of fear he would crush one of the others, but instinct returned him to his armored form. Jean cried out in pain, cracking her hand against his shoulder.
The seething waters swirl closed above their heads…and for a time the sea is calm. The minutes pass interminably…then the huge gleaming bubble of ice bursts the ocean's surface…and is itself burst in turn by a beam of scarlet fury, unleashed from the eyes of the Cyclops!
"Fresh air, a warm sun…did you ever see anything more beautiful?" Jean sighed.
"Yeah, that!" Angel called out, as their aircraft bobbed to the surface. "Almost forgot the ol' Strato-Jet was watertight! Paddle on over while I go open up the hatch," he called, launching himself into flight.
They reached the jet and made themselves as comfortable as they could under the crowded conditions.
"Sorry we don't have seats for all of you…but this plane wasn't designed to carry so many mutants!" Angel laughed, "which brings us to our next little problem…what are we going to do with thirteen X Men?"
'Dear Mama and Papa…'
Piotr sat under a tree in the Xavier School's front garden with a clipboard and some typing paper. He had promised to write letters home frequently, but in practice he found it troubling. He didn't want to worry his parents. He didn't want to lie to them either. But almost all he had to write about was fighting.
Letters from home were always packed with news. A new field cleared for planting, yield margins for crops, the health of the goats, new kittens, cute things Illyana had done, general gossip about everyone.
'How are you? I miss you all very much. Tell Illyana that I am thinking of my little snezhinska and please give to her the cartoons I have enclosed showing me with my new friends, my team-mates and fellow X Men.
We have had our first mission, to rescue the American X Men from an island where they were lost. We had to fight the island itself, it was very exciting. I do not think I like the tropics, though, it was very hot and humid.
Gospodin Xavier had taught me to speak and to read and write English fluently, with his mind. His is a very great power.
We all stay in Xavier's family home, a rather grand manor house. I have my own room. He has made the house into a school for mutants. I am the youngest here, and so I am the only one to have lessons, the focus of the school is to learn how best to use the abilities we have been given.
There is a gymnasium with special equipment for us, Xavier is having a set of weights designed for me, for I am too strong for those he already has in place. I can easily lift the old Ford Ranger pick-up truck the gardener uses over my head, and so I have been exercising with that. It makes the gardener nervous, but I have promised him that I will be very careful with his vehicle.
Has the tractor I broke been replaced yet? I feel very guilty about that. But I do not know of any other way I could have saved Illyana, and I might not have discovered my mutation or been invited to join the X Men here in America, where I am convinced I will do the most good….
"Hi, Peter," Marvel Girl, Jean, called out to him from the front step. "Enjoying the nice weather by doing your homework outside?"
"Nyet," he paused, having to translate his thoughts back into English again. "No. I am writing a letter home to my parents. I have promised to write twice a week so that my mama will not worry so much."
"Mothers do worry." She'd walked closer. "I have a camera, if you'd like I could take a photograph of you in your X Men costume there, then you could send it with your letter and show your mother how handsome you look."
He smiled a little uncertainly. "I would not wish to be a bother, but that would be very nice, thank you. I have been drawing pictures to send back with my letters."
"You're an artist? Can I see?"
"They are up in my room…one moment…." he turned to a fresh page and picked up his pencil again. Sketching quickly, he managed to capture a rough but accurate likeness of the redhead, and held it out for her inspection.
"Oh my! That's lovely! You're really talented. Did you have lessons?"
Piotr grinned at the thought. Art lessons? Between schoolwork and farm-work and family chores? "No. I was just mad for drawing and practiced on any piece of paper we could spare."
"Well, you're really good. Can I keep this? And will you sign it for me?"
Pleased, Piotr took it back and wrote, 'Jean—PR' at the bottom of the page, then handed it back.
"Let me take this to my room for safekeeping, I can grab my camera and take that photo of you for your mother," she paused, and tilted her head curiously. "Why are you wearing your costume now, anyway? Your team's Danger Room session isn't until this afternoon."
"I have been exercising…practicing with my powers. The costume is destined to stretch with my transformations, but my clothing is not."
"I'll talk to the Professor about getting you some proper exercise gear. You shouldn't have to work-out in your costume."
"It is no trouble to, I don't mind," he protested, a bit weakly. He was beginning to understand why Bobby had once referred to Jean as the mansion mom.
She took her sketch upstairs, and returned with her camera, having him pose for several shots before leaving on her delayed shopping trip.
A week later, Piotr found the color photographs in his room, along with a sweat-suit, shorts and a sleeveless tank-top, and a pair of sneakers, all in the proper size. Americans had such odd names for clothing, and clothing for such odd purposes. But he wore them anyway.
"Dear Mama and Papa. Enclosed please find some cartoons I drew for Illyana and also three color photographs of the X Man Colossus. A fine and handsome fellow, isn't he? I have been working very hard at my studies. It seems wasteful that the Professor must spend so much time teaching only me, but my lessons are greatly expanded from what we were taught at home. I suppose having only one student allows the Professor to spend more time on my studies. Stefan and Aloysha, my old friends, must think me lucky to have no chores or farm-work to do here. But I am still getting up before sunrise to keep up with my schoolwork!
I miss you all very much.
I was very relieved to hear that Uncle Ivan delivered the promised replacement tractor, and that it is new from the factory. We spent so much time in trying to repair the old tractor every time it broke down, and trying to find parts for it. Having a new tractor in good working order will, I hope, in some small way make up for my absence. I still feel bad that I am not there to do my share of the work, and I find I miss the work. The smell of turned earth and fresh cut straw. Looking out over the fields and out at the lake gleaming in the distance. Driving to deliver the harvest to the railroad depot for shipment in our old trucks.
I don't miss mucking out the stalls in the barns. I am homesick, not sick in the head. Hah. A little joke.
I also miss Mama's good cooking. We get plenty of food to eat here, I should not complain, but it is American food and strange. They do not have black bread and smoked omul….bagels and lox is not the same. I also miss good cabbage borscht.
I am making some friends here, despite being youngest. Logan has some Russian, although he speaks with a very strange accent, and has asked me to help him practice it. He can be rather crude, like Yuri when he had too much vodka, but I am sure he has a good heart, else the Professor would not have chosen him to join our team.
Kurt was a circus acrobat in Germany. I've told him how I hoped to be a gymnast when I was little. He joked that it was hard to believe I was ever little. I may be the youngest here but I am still taller than everyone else. He has taught me a few moves that even such a clumsy ox of a boy can do. I think that he misses performing for the circus audience. He is very funny, always making jokes.
Bobby is always playing jokes. If you dare leave a drink unattended you will find at your next sip it has been frozen solid.
Ororo and I talk often of our homelands. It seems odd that an African and Siberyaki can have so much common ground…but the others grew up in cities and we both did not. She looked after farmland, but did no farming herself. It is too bad that I was not born with her powers. Controlling the weather is a very good mutation for farmers…and I can only wonder what effect on harvest production she would have had in more fertile lands.
Jean took the photographs I have enclosed. She is nice, but not overly friendly. She is Scott's girlfriend, perhaps that is why. He is training us, after all. She made sure I got appropriate clothing for exercising. It is funny that Americans believe you need special new clothes to sweat in and get all dirty, not your oldest clothes one step from the ragbag. They are very comfortable to work out in.
Well. I have no more news to share, except that I miss you all very much, and I hope you are all well.
Your loving son, Piotr."