Charles Xavier is dead. The X-Men have not assembled in ten years. After Iron Man led a mutant registration campaign, war broke out between man and mutant; there were casualties. Who lived? Who died? Who registered? What happened? The United States is close to WAR with Wakanda, the country's only ruler, Queen Ororo, in opposition with Stark and the U.S. Government. Seven remaining X-Men wish to make contact with Munroe in hopes to make their agenda her own.
What happens when they do?

chapter one: contact


"I'm sorry, Agent," Carol Danvers began as she led the new agent trailing behind her down the hallway to the briefing room, "I don't remember your name."

"Adler," the woman replied. "No need to apologize, ma'am."

"Call me Carol," Ms. Marvel replied with a smile. Holding cells lined the hall, various prisoners of Tony Stark's war laid about lifelessly within them. Agent Adler stopped at one of the cells, running her hand over the nameplate which ran beneath the window.



Robert Drake, a collar around his neck and shackles around his wrists and ankles, sat huddled in a corner -- battered and defeated.


Agent Adler turned, making eye contact with the prisoner for only a moment. "I'm sorry, ma'am. Carol. Just not... used to all this quite yet."

"It is early on in your career here to put you on the Mutant Task Force," Carol noted. "If you'd like I can see about a new assignment."

"No," Adler replied. "This is fine... I'm just ironing a few things out."

"It takes some getting used to," Danvers said more to herself than to the rookie agent who'd picked up the pace again. She followed Danvers down another hallway, finally watching as a scanner ran itself over Carol's eyes, verifying her identity and releasing the lock on the door.

"Welcome to the briefing room," Ms. Marvel began, taking a seat and notioning for Agent Adler to do the same. "Let's get you caught up."

A screen lowered from above, the two women watching as an image of Tony Stark appeared on it.

"The Mutant Task Force began nearly ten years ago," the image began, "after the death of known mutant Charles Francis Xavier. Mutants, born with the X-Factor gene, are gifted with a range of abilities; abilities similar in nature to super-powered beings forced to register in the so-called Registration War."

Danvers winced.

"Those beings who did not register were forbeyed from use of their abilities -- and if they chose to use them were labeled as criminal. Those with superhuman abilities have a responsibility -- to the government, to the people, and to themselves: to register. Why would mutantkind be regarded as any different?

Some mutants were not keen to register -- it was called a violation of rights. But not every mutant was to register, only those actively participating in using their so-called 'powers' in organized groups such as the X-Men or X-Factor. They were no less of a danger than a rogue superhero; those with superhuman abilities must be trained; must be able to be held accountable for their actions."

Nearly an hour later the screen rose into its resting place. Carol sat forward for a moment, silent, until turning to face Agent Adler. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm here for my briefing."

"Let me ask you again, Mystique."

Adler's eyes narrowed. "It's been too long, Carol. I thought it was time for a visit."

"Can't say that I've missed you. I thought you were smarter than this... smarter than just showing up on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Hellcarrier, thousands of feet in the air, without any hope for escape when we take you down."

"I'm not here to fight. I'm here to deliver a message."

Ms. Marvel stood. "You're under arrest."

"Hank McCoy."


"The Beast."

"I know who Hank McCoy..."

"He needs to see you. Westchester. I'm going to leave, Carol, and you aren't going to stop me."

"Why wouldn't I?"

"You owe him."

"How do I even know he sent you?"

"You know, Carol. They never found a body -- and the only reason they didn't find yours was that he got you out of Stark Tower before it went down."

"The old Institute. Tomorrow, seven pm. Come alone."

Agent Adler's form began to shift -- Mystique contorting her body into another nameless agent. "This is bigger than you can imagine."

Carol Danvers pulled her hood back, her blonde hair falling loosely over her masked eyes. She took only five steps into what was left of the War Room of the Xavier Institute before feeling the gun at the back of her head.

"You alone?"

"As requested," she replied coolly. "I could have already had the gun out of your hand, Gambit. Let that be your warning."

"I trust her," Henry McCoy spoke up from the darkness -- flipping down from the ceiling and landing in front of Danvers. "Put the gun down, Gambit."

Remy pulled the gun back, sliding it into a holster on his waist. "No hard feelin's, Chere."

"Some," Marvel replied. "Speak fast, Hank. I don't have much time."

"We need to get to Wakanda."

Danvers laughed. "In case you've forgotten, Hank -- other than the fact that you're both fugitives running from the government -- the United States and Wakanda are on the brink of war."

"We just need a plane," Gambit chimed in from behind her.

"Oh, no problem then," Carol laughed again. "I'll just borrow one from Tony and fly you to Wakanda myself... since I'm licensed and head of a S.H.I.E.L.D. division. I'm sure he wouldn't wonder why I was flying to Wakanda... and hell, I'm sure Storm wouldn't shoot a United States aircraft down without any hesitation."

"Dis is useless, Beast," Gambit turned, leaving the two alone in the dimly-lit room.

"Hank," Danvers lowered her voice, "come with me. Just register. I can probably get you an immunity... they'll go easy on you, you were an Avenger once."

"And an X-Man first," Hank replied. "I won't turn my back on them."

"I'm not asking you to -- maybe they'll follow your example..."

"...and as I recall, Carol, T'Challa was an Avenger once too."

"What happened with him was an accident, this whole thing--"

"--The Black Panther is dead, Carol, and at the hands of your boss. An accident."


"Aren't you tired of making excuses for Tony Stark, Carol?"

"It isn't like that..."

"When was the last time you felt like you were doing the right thing?"

"I'm always doing the right thing."

"Then why are you here?"

Ms. Marvel sighed, running her hand through her hair.

"To get you to Wakanda."


The doors to the throne room hissed open, Queen Ororo standing at the sudden change in silence. Her gown was full, a soft pink; her headress lined with various jewels native to only the country she now ruled alone after the death of her husband.

"What is it, my friend?"

Her chief of security took a small bow. "I must insist you leave, my Queen. There has been a breach in security."

"Do not treat me as if I am helpless, N'jari."

"Never," he replied -- pulling a small gun from a pouch which hung at his side. "I only wish to talk."

"With a gun?" Ororo walked forward.

"Stop where you are, Storm."

Munroe paused. She had not been called Storm for nearly ten years.

"What is this?"

Without hesitation, a burst of wind flew forward, N'jari slamming into the wall behind him. Lightning flew into the ventilation ducts overhead nearly a second later, the metal casing giving way for a man to fall at Ororo's feet.


"Gettin' rusty, non?"

"I heard you even before I realized N'jari was in fact Mystique," Munroe replied.

Remy LeBeau gathered his senses, pulling himself to his feet. N'jari stood from across the room, shifting into his true form -- that of Raven Darkholme.

"Have you harmed any of the guard?"

"No," LeBeau replied.

"What business do you have in Wakanda?"

"We need your help," Raven answered for Gambit -- taking a few steps toward Munroe, who'd already raised her hand toward Darkholme, ready to strike.

"We couldn' just waltz in here, Stormy."

"I will ask you once more, Remy, if only out of respect.

What business do you have in Wakanda?"


Ororo Munroe took a seat next to Susan Richards. "It's good to see you, old friend."

"And you, Ororo, though I wish the situation were a little less tense. You aren't safe here."

"I am safest in your home, Susan," Munroe replied. "I believe that."

"God, if Reed knew you were here," The Invisible Woman smiled softly to herself.

"He is missed," Storm spoke solemnly.

"T'Challa, too."

The two women sat in silence for a moment -- it had been several years since their husbands had been killed together; several years since Storm had even been to the United States, let alone seen her friend. The Invisible Woman had agreed to move Wakanda's embassy into the Baxter Building as a favor to Ororo; it wasn't safe anywhere else, not in the time of war.

"Tony didn't take all of this lightly, you know," Sue spoke up. "My public image has gone to hell."

"And what of his?"

The two women laughed.

"Why are you here, Ororo?"

Munroe cleared her throat. "I need your help. Telecommunications to Wakanda are monitored by every faction of the government. The United States is no longer a safe place for mutantkind."

Sue sat back in her chair. "You do remember Magneto's Genosha."

"I want to settle this," Ororo replied. "To end this before war can begin. And if I can help my friends in the process..."

"That's noble. But what does it have to do with me?"

"I cannot be seen here," Storm replied. "Stark already believes I am on U.S. soil, there is no doubt of that. I need your help in retrieving the Xavier Protocols."

"Ororo, I have children.."

"I ask only that you allow me to run my organization through your home, Susan; a request I do not make lightly, nor pretend to."

Susan bit her lip.

"It's your embassy, Ororo. I wouldn't dream of stopping you."

"It was good of you to come to me, Carol," Tony Stark said softly. "Assemble a team."

NEXT: Tony Stark pays a visit to The Baxter Building... oh, and maybe some mutant mayhem!