Before Evolution

Written by Darkstorm5000

Disclaimer: X-Men Evolution, the X-Men, and other related characters in their various incarnations are the property of Marvel Entertainment Group and Film Roman Productions, are used without permission and not for profit.

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Chapter 1- Come Together

-Roughly Fifteen Years Ago…

The prestigious Xavier Institute, located on the isolated outskirts of Bayville, New York, sits here nestled on a protected cliff's-edge overlooking the central body of water upon which the city has drawn its rather descriptive name from. It is a private school known to academic elites as a distinguished and ultra-exclusive place of learning. And it is a notoriety that this institute has earned, in great part, due to the fact that it is helmed by one of the nation's pioneering figures and foremost experts with regards to human genetics, Professor Charles Xavier.

A man, who as a result, has also found himself deeply entangled within the growing debate about mutants, humans born with super-human powers. About whether they actually exist, and if so, whether these 'mutants' pose a threat to the public at large. If judged by his perception in the public-eye, one would assume Professor Xavier himself to be a rather unassuming individual, an advocate attempting to insert reason and moderation into an issue that would appear to have little impact on him personally.

But, usually when looked at beyond its face-value, what seems to be clearly obvious is not always as it may first appear.

"…is merely the public face of what we do here. But the lower-levels, as you will soon see for yourself, is another matter entirely." Were the expositive words now being spoken by Professor Xavier, as he wheeled in through the large, front double-doors of his Institute, doing so while in the company of two other individuals, each walking in alongside of him.

"Yeah, that's where we stash the kegs, togas, and all that other party-surplus we lucked out and got our hands on, after those Delta guys accidentally blew up their frat-house." A teenage boy with dark-brown hair, who was currently walking beside Professor Xavier and whose appearance upon initial sight didn't seem to be all that out of the ordinary, humorously remarked.

But, if his intention from his comment had been to get a laugh, or at least some sort of noticeable reaction out of the young lady also in their company, then it appeared that he had failed, as she didn't really seem to even acknowledge his joke. In fact, as she walked with him and Professor Xavier through the front entry-area, and then down this lengthy hallway corridor in the mansion, her attention was more pre-occupied at the moment with taking in her new, expansive surroundings. Which included numerous statue-busts, paintings, and other classic furnishings and valuable heirlooms, some of which had been passed down through the Xavier family for generations.

"Morph, I believe that you should perhaps save your witty repartee for a little later. At least, until Ms. Yashida has had the opportunity to conclude this tour of her new home, and to confirm for herself that the Danger Room is not, in fact, the locale for some outlandish Hollywood free-for-all." Professor Xavier admonishingly, and somewhat sarcastically, smirked and said to Morph.

"Hmph. Says you." Morph replied, this time with his tone a bit more downbeat and with a slightly lessened smile on his face, but still with a smile nonetheless.

Morph by now had used his mutant powers to shift back into his true physical form, as his skin quickly took on a pasty, paler tone. He had also transformed his casual outfit before their very eyes, converting his clothing into a black and khaki-trimmed spandex uniform, which included two circular, black-and-red 'X' badges on each shoulder, and one on his belt-buckle.

Meanwhile Professor Xavier, who was attired in a customary brown-tweed suit and matching tie, and Mariko Yashida, who herself was wearing a medium-brown trench coat over a plush, cream colored short-sleeved sweater-top, a purple knee-length skirt, and a pair of brown sharp-toed ankle boots, both continued on down the hallway with Morph, before they all stopped about halfway down.

Suddenly, the solid oak wall-panel in front of them slid to the right, opening up to now reveal a secret elevator shaft behind it. Professor Xavier and Morph seemed hardly phased by this occurrence, as they without any hesitation boarded the elevator within. But, Mariko appeared to be a bit more reserved, as she paused momentarily before stepping onto the elevator with them, an instant before its doors slid closed behind her and they began their rapid descent downward.

And as Professor Xavier had promised, Mariko was about to receive her first-glimpse at the brand new life that she was about to jump feet-first into, which was beyond anything that she could have ever imagined.

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Nearly a mile below the Earth's surface, lay a complex maze-work of underground corridors, tunnels, and sub-level rooms. But, for Professor Xavier, Morph, and Mariko, their destination was one room in particular, a very large and specifically-tasked room at that.

"Last stop Danger Room, all aboard please return your trays to their upright positions, file out in an orderly fashion, and have all baggage-claim tickets ready before disembarking. Thank You." Morph said, as his visage briefly took the form of a train's conductor, before he morphed back to his regular appearance.

The trio then stepped out of the elevator into a smaller metallic corridor, with a large sign a few feet away in front of them that read 'Danger Room', with an arrow pointing to their left and down at an angle. The sign also read 'Control Booth', which had another arrow pointing to their right, and to where a normal-sized steel door stood.

The Danger Room, which sat so far down here was built for one reason, and for one reason only, to allow Professor Xavier's students' to better hone their mutant abilities. Which in most of their cases, were powers that had only recently manifested and that these lucky (or not-so-lucky in some of their own humble opinions), recipients had yet to fully grasp on how to properly use.

As Professor Xavier, Mariko, and Morph took an observatory position in the control booth located right above the center of the Danger Room, they now got a birds-eye view of the action currently taking place down below.

"Damn it, watch it where you're blastin' those things!"

"Given our current predicament, I believe that I'm doing the best that I can."

"Girl, if this is the best you 'n him both're able to muster up, then we're all gonna be in a world'a shit real quick!"

Imperfect, as it may have been.

"Mariko, those three individuals who are otherwise occupied at the moment down there, are your other new teammates." Professor Xavier said, as he, Mariko, and Morph walked up to the control booth's main computer console.

The trio then looked out onto this metallic-domed room through a large window, which encased a majority of the booth's exterior in a semi-cylindrical fashion. Professor Xavier then proceeded to identify his other remaining students to Mariko, who numbered a total of three and were now engaged in a Danger Room training sequence. They were dressed in black and khaki-trimmed uniforms that were almost identical to the one that Morph had on, except that theirs had attached hooded-masks on them. Although, none of them were wearing the masks over their faces' at the moment.

"The muscular and robust young man down and to your right is John Proudstar, whom I have given the code-name of Thunderbird. His mutant power grants him superhuman strength, speed, and endurance, the upper limits of which have yet to be fully gauged." Professor Xavier explained, as they witnessed Thunderbird wrestling exhaustively with a huge coiled tentacle-arm that had emerged from the Danger Room's wall, and was trying to sink its steel manacles into him and his other two teammates.

"Next is Logan, also known Wolverine, a name which he has been going by long before his arrival at this school." Professor Xavier said next, as he pointed out the individual close to Thunderbird, who had what appeared to be three foot-long, knifelike blades on each of his hands, using them to hack and slash at the large tentacle-arm temporarily subdued by T-bird, "A man, whose abilities as you can plainly see, more than live up to his namesake."

"And don't you forget it, bub!" Morph now humorously added, as he morphed his physical features and voice to mimic those of Wolverine's, complete with his unique hairstyle and a set of faux metal claws now protruding out of his right hand, before he just as quickly morphed back.

"While he may appear a bit…aged for enrollment as a new student here at this school, Wolverine was brought, and has nonetheless agreed to remain here, in an attempt to learn to control those inner-demons that have only been further exacerbated by his mutant powers." Professor Xavier continued expounding, before moving on to the last of his students down in the Danger Room, "And as you can see, the young lady currently navigating her way around the Danger Room high above her teammates' is Ororo Munroe, whom I have code-named Storm. Which is an obvious choice, given her uncanny ability to manipulate the weather, along with its other related aspects."

"Yeah, that and the fact that she's also--" Morph was saying, as he was about to deliver another one of his wise-cracking comments when Mariko, who hadn't said much of anything since her arrival in Bayville earlier in the afternoon, unexpectedly interrupted him.

"Beautiful." Mariko finished, in an almost whispering voice that was just barely audible, instinctively blurting her comment out without thinking.

Mariko looked briefly out at this girl, who swiftly flew by the enlarged window in front of them, before reticently turning her gaze back to the control panel down in front of her and Professor Xavier.

"Well, yeah, sure, that too…" Morph now said, in response to Mariko's remark about this young lady with shoulder-length white hair that was tied back into a single pony-tail, pristine blue eyes, and near flawless features.

Which, wasn't all that unusual of an initial reaction for anyone to have about Ororo, especially since she had in fact spent much of her formative years worshipped as something of a teenaged weather-goddess by her own people, before Professor Xavier discovered her with his mutant-detection device called Cerebro a few months ago. When Professor X came to Africa and offered Storm the opportunity to use her powers to do some real good for the entire world, the teen guardedly, but wholly agreed to help him.

As Storm was now skillfully and gracefully flying around the Danger Room, she had taken flight aided by a strong gust of wind, which was now whipping around her and up into her lengthy cape, a shear that had seemingly came from out of nowhere. Now, Storm was busily casting down bolts of lightning to draw the fire of its automated defenses, doing so in an attempt to buy some time for her two teammates' currently on the ground. They were struggling to disable the room's mechanized tentacle-arms so that they could complete today's training objective, but had so far met with mixed results.

"X-Men, that will be enough for now." Professor Xavier now said, as he spoke to his students' below through a microphone on the console in front of him, shutting down their training exercise from the control booth above them, "I want all of you to come meet your newest teammate."

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Doing as requested, the X-Men soon exited the now idle Danger Room. And within a matter of minutes, they had made their way up to the control booth above to join their mentor and classmates'.

"This is Mariko Yashida, who has been given the code-name of Sunfire for her mutant ability to generate intense heat and flames. I trust that you will all do your best to help ease her transition here, and to make her feel welcome." Professor Xavier said, as he now introduced Mariko to the rest of his teenaged protégés, with the exception of Logan in that regard.

"Nice to meet you, Mariko." John smilingly said, as he was standing alongside Ororo and Logan and took a few steps forward, raising his extremely muscular arm to give Mariko a greeting wave of his hand.

"It…is a pleasure to meet you as well." Mariko cordially replied, as she looked up at Thunderbird for a brief moment and then cast her gaze back down at the steel-tiled floor, appearing to be slightly intimidated by his massive stature and somewhat booming voice.

"I don't know about you guys', but I'm ready to hit the showers. I'll catch everyone later." John now said to the entire group, as he turned and then proceeded out of the control booth, to unwind after what had been a somewhat grueling afternoon.

"Ororo, would you please show Mariko to her new room. It is in the same wing as yours, right next door." Professor Xavier asked Ororo, as he then turned his wheelchair back around to the Danger Room's control console to begin analyzing the tape playback from his students' training session today, so that he could properly assess and evaluate their performance.

"Of course, Professor." Ororo nodded and replied, as she repositioned the full-length cape that hung down from her shoulders, and was attached to her wrists right above her gloved hands. Once she was ready, Ororo then amiably gestured for Mariko to come and walk along with her.

As Ororo and Mariko now headed out of the control booth together, heading for the elevator that would shuttle them back up to the mansion's first-floor, Morph and Logan also came out into the hallway, as the door to the control booth closed behind them leaving Professor Xavier in there by himself. But, as soon as they were out there, Logan and Morph paused to stop and talk for a moment.

"So, how do you rate the new girl?" Morph now asked, as he stood next to Logan, putting his arm up on the shoulder of the feral mutant and leaning up beside him, "Pretty hot, isn't she?"

But, hardly the touchy-feely type, Logan promptly and forcefully pushed Morph's arm off of his shoulder, causing him to stumble over a few steps to his side. Logan then looked and watched as Mariko, along with Ororo, made her way down to the elevator at the end of the corridor, disappearing inside once it had arrived for them.

"I'm gonna tell you just like I did last time you asked me that same question, 'pasty-pants'. I got better things to do with my time, than to waste it chasin' behind the jail-bait sashayin' themselves around here." Logan replied, in a pretty stern tone, as he looked over at Morph. Who by now, was leaning with his back up against one of the cold, steel walls in the corridor.

And with that said, Logan then reached into a utility pocket on his X-uniform and pulled a cigar out, unceremoniously placing it into his mouth and chomping down hard on the end of it, all in anticipation of lighting it up.

"You know, the Surgeon General warns that smoking can cause lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy." Morph now said, as he suddenly morphed his form into that of the recently-retired Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, at the sight of Logan's cigar.

"Then I'm in good shape, 'cause don't none-of-the-above apply to me." Logan grinned and replied, as he gave little weight to what Morph was saying, and now ardently searched his own person for a lighter or a match.

"I was talking about myself, actually." Morph replied, who now dropped all of his trademark humored pretenses, delivering his remark about Logan smoking with a seriousness that seemed to rival Wolverine's.

"Fine, I'll be out in the woods. Again." Logan slightly growled and replied in an irritated tone, as he now held the unlit cigar between the fingers of his right hand, "Seems like that's the only place I can get a little peace 'n quiet around here, what with your whinin' on top of Chuck's constant bitchin' about my lightin' up in the house."

Logan then began to head towards the elevator to go up to the surface. But, after taking only a few steps, Logan stopped and turned back around to say something else to Morph.

"A bit of advice, kid. If you want girls' like Ororo or Mariko to actually give you more than just a second look, you'd better learn to quit actin' like one first." Logan said to Morph, delivering this derisive verbal jab at the significantly younger X-Man with deadly, precision aim.

As Logan then turned back and stalked his way out of the Institute's subterranean levels, Morph was now left there alone, standing outside of the Danger Room's control booth.

"Sure, whatever. Bub." Morph mockingly responded, although waiting until Logan had gotten onto the elevator and was well out of earshot before saying it.

But, in spite of Morph's seemingly ever-vivacious exterior, the proverbial class-clown wasn't particularly feeling very jocular right now. Which, was in no small part due to his teammate's fairly scornful comment to him just now…

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