Author's Note: Well, after a couple weeks away from home, several more without a computer, and finally several months after that doing a large variety of other stuff I am now FINALLY back in business with the next chapter of my X-Men story. Now I thought I'd take the time to address something that was pointed out in one of my reviews, namely the massive jump forward in time.
Here's the thing: I just don't have it in me to do a comprehensive story detailing the entire history of my world's X-Men. I just don't. I'd never get anything done. Therefore this fan-fic is only dealing with the most major and relevant periods in Angel's life. The first three were all about his introduction into the X-Men. This chapter and the last are all about his relationship with Storm, and so on. It's the highlights. Because I simply don't have it in me to do more than that. And so therefore, without further adieu, I give you chapter 5 of my story.
Part 5: Malakhim
"Some better news this time I trust?" asked the shadowy figure as Nathaniel Essex bowed before him.
"Indeed master. While my attempts have been met with many complications I believe I have finally hit upon true success in my efforts to replicate and mass produce the Mutant X-Gene."
"Excellent. What are the projected quantities?"
"At this point difficult to say, but I estimate somewhere in the several hundreds if I'm given enough time and…test subjects."
"And what about these 'test subjects'? What can we expect to see from them?"
"Well obviously we're looking for as many success in this project as we can get but there will inevitably be…disappointments. We'll have to compromise, and cut losses. But if all goes well the success will far outnumber the failures and we can usher in a new age on this planet of ours"
"I hope you are correct Essex" the shadowy figure responded in a warning tone. "For your sake"
"Come now when I have ever let you down?" Nathaniel Essex asked with a smile.
Warren found himself more and more finding it difficult to think of anything but Storm's beautiful face and white hair as he continued to eat his lunch, his thoughts repeatedly drifting to images of Storm flying graciously through the sky, and of her calling down all manner of things from said sky and clouds, from the most terrifying of lightning bolts to a harmless drizzle, which, Warren noted, Storm liked to bask in for comfort.
The sound of Bobby munching hard on what sounded like a cracker shook Warren out of his thoughts and he turned to look at his old friend. In his hands he held a large cracker that he bit into periodically. Notably the experience seemed to bring him no joy whatsoever considering the miserable look on his face. Bobby's eyes briefly fell to the sandwich Warren held in his hands.
"Ugh, please, don't taunt me with that." Bobby moaned as he bit into his large cracker again.
"…what on earth are you eating?"
"Matzah" Bobby replied bluntly. "And I'm stuck with it for the rest of the week. No leavened bread for six days. Hoo-rah."
"Aw come on, it's not that bad" Warren said reassuringly. "It just means you can't eat a few things for a little while, that's all"
"How many bread items do you eat in a day?" Bobby countered. Warren thought about it for a moment and realized there were quite a few.
"…point taken. But still. It's not the end of the world"
"Never said it was" Bobby replied. "Just that it's not fun. You wouldn't happen to have some jam would you? Because I really can't eat this stuff plain for much longer or I'm gonna lose it"
Warren chuckled at his friend's exaggerating his situation. "I'll see what I can do" he said reassuringly. Getting up, he went to get some jam for his friend, and while in the kitchen he was pleasantly surprised to see another familiar face.
"Hello Warren" Ororo greeted with a smile.
"Hey Ororo. Just getting some jam for Bobby. Poor sap's suffering without it"
"Oh? Why is that?"
"Personally I think he's overreacting, but since I don't eat matzah I suppose it's not fair to judge. Either way, here I am trying to get him something to make his meal better. From what I've gathered it doesn't taste like much on it's own"
"I see. Your friend…what is he like? I have not really had the opportunity to socialize with him yet…"
"Bobby? He's a good guy. Very laid-back, very casual, very…cool. Really he's just one of those mutants whose powers match his personality perfectly"
"Really? Because he does not seem like a very cold-hearted person. And if he's as nice as you say he actually sounds more the opposite"
"I was kind of thinking more "cool-headed" than 'cold-hearted' but I see your point" Warren trailed off before saying: "But so anyway Ororo, I've been meaning to ask you this for a while now, and I figure now's a good time. I was wondering if perhaps you'd like to go out with me. To dinner. Just the two of us"
Ororo seemed to consider this for a moment before replying: "I would like that" she admitted before adding in a more cautious tone: "You seem to have taken a particular interest in me Mr. Worthington"
"Please, call me Warren, and I have"
"Well I do enjoy spending time with you. I don't see any reason why we can't have a private dinner together. Did you have a place in mind?"
"Yep. The best place in the city"
Bobby's voice called out from the other room: "Warren! Where's my jam?"
(Recording of Nathaniel Essex's lengthy studies into the Mutant X-Gene)
"Day 522, Project Marauder and Project U-Man continue. My master has stressed once more the importance of my success in replicating the Mutant X-Gene. And now finally after several years of set-backs in this respect, my genetic studies have at last begun to bear fruit, as can be seen with the latest test-subjects. As has been the case before, I have used humans who lack the X-Gene and am attempting to force it to appear inside the subjects artificially. Once this succeeds I will then move on to further weaponization and improving of the X-Gene as is"
(Sounds of a man pleading to be let free, or at least to not be harmed. Both pleas are met with silence)
"The subject does display discomfort, but as always I regard this as nothing more than a minor annoyance. Proceeding with the rest of the tests…"
(Fast-forwarding. Horrible screams and gurgling noises can be heard as a heart-rate minor goes off the charts before flat-lining)
"Pity. Another failure. The man's heart gave out from the strain of the transformation. Oh well. Science is and always has been trial and error. No reason for that to change. Bring in the next test subject"
"So what do you think Ororo?" Warren asked as he showed her where they would be eating. It had been a personal favorite of his throughout his early years and now that he had just a bit more mobility in his life he was glad to be returning to it, and this time with an incredibly beautiful and sweet woman at his side.
"I think it's lovely" Ororo answered honestly.
"Follow me. I can get us some of the best seats in the place" Leading Ororo inside, Warren made good on his word by swiftly securing them a large table in a nice private corner near a window where they could be together without any outside interference.
"I have to say it's nice to have some time to ourselves out here" Ororo confessed. "I do enjoy the others company a great deal but sometimes the mansion can feel rather crowded"
"I agree" Warren said. "And I've been there twice as long as you at least." Warren trailed off before adding: "You know, when I first went to the X-Mansion, when the Mutants were first becoming recognized worldwide it was so bad…the chaos, the fear, the violence…I remember me and the others being terrified at the thought of stepping outside. We were all afraid that World War III would be started over this."
"Were things really that bad here?" Ororo asked surprised. "I had heard of violence over here regarding mutants, that it was almost as bad as in Africa but I didn't want to believe it…"
"It was" Warren said. "Look at it this way: people have always been terrified about things they don't understand, and also people who are different from them. We're both. So between those two things I'm not really surprised that this is happening. It's the same as any other kind of prejudice…" Warren trailed off as he said this, and Ororo placed one of her hands on his.
"What changed?" she asked.
"Well for the most part, nothing's changed. Or I guess more accurately it has changed but barely. To answer how and why, I think it was after we started getting out there and doing what we could to help and show that we weren't monsters. And I guess over time calmed down a little bit" Warren shrugged. "Things still aren't that great. I mean I still have to hide my wings when I go outside. Kurt can never go outside and I worry for Hank every day now that he's an ambassador for us. The only thing that's gotten better is that now we're not all afraid to step outside for fear of being attacked. The violence and hate, it's still there but it's not so ubiquitous anymore…"
Ororo's blue eyes had taken on a look of sadness as Warren said this. "You've been through so much…"
"Yeah, we have. What about you? I know you're not from around here. What's your story"
"I'm afraid my story is no happier than yours. My parents were diplomats who were killed when we were on a plane…someone who wanted my parents dead had targeted it. I was one of the only people who survived the crash"
"After that I was forced to fend for myself. I didn't trust the people in the area we had crash-landed in, not after the stories I had heard. So I fled. I ran as far as I could until finding a jungle that I took refuge in. It was while I was there that I first discovered my powers. I also learned while there how to hunt for food and to survive on my own"
"Wow. That's incredible"
"Once I got control of my powers it certainly made things easier. If I ever wanted water I could call forth rain. Any danger could be repelled with wind or hail. I could call forth lightning only recently though. Probably just as well. If I had attempted to use lightning when I was younger I would have likely burned down the entire jungle I had fled into."
"So how did the Professor find you?"
"One day my safe haven became violated. A warlord and his men that had tried and failed to take power and land from others of their kind attempted to exploit the land and use it for their own ends, cutting down trees, destroying plants, and killing animals. I also saw that they had prisoners with them. Children they beat, women they violated. I lashed out against them, unleashed everything I had on them. In the end those I freed were just as terrified of me as their former captors were. Apparently through my attack your professor was able to locate me somehow how. He offered me a better life and though it pained me to leave my home I ultimately agreed to do so. The men threatening it were no longer there so I felt that it was as good a time as any for me to leave my nest"
"Wow…you've had quite the adventure growing up"
"Yes, I did. It was nowhere near as fun as it sounds though. I spent so many nights being cold, tired, hungry, and miserable. I had became so thin and tired I felt like a corpse. I do definitely enjoy having a more stable and comfortable life here"
'Yeah. And I can say I definitely enjoy you being here"
Ororo smiled warmly. "Thank you Warren"
"Well now this is interesting" Nathaniel Essex noted as he continued to observe the reports of his latest experiment. "Very interesting indeed. My master will definitely want to know about this…"
As Nathaniel Essex continued to look over his latest findings and took to filing them, the door behind him opened and one of his newest creations stepped in, clad from head to toe in a black body suit and steel gray armor pieces.
"I trust this is important?" Nathaniel Essex asked.
The masked man nodded. "Yes sir. Reports indicate that two of the X-Men have left the safety of their mansion, and are currently alone in the main city"
Nathaniel Essex smiled. "Perfect"
"Well I gotta say this was food was not as good as I remember it…" Warren said, which caught Ororo by surprise. Seeing this, he smiled and added: "…it's better"
Ororo chuckled at that. "I enjoyed this Warren. It was nice getting to spend this time with you, and to learn more about you"
"Same here" Warren said. "I still can't believe that you survived all by yourself for so long"
"I was determined to live" Ororo said simply. "I like to think that my parent's were watching over me when I was in that jungle"
"So…" Warren said awkwardly. "Would you like to do this again maybe?"
"Possibly. I would also like to maybe do this with some of the others. Get to know each of them better. But if you would like to spend more time with me I see nothing wrong with it"
"Good to know"
And so Warren and Ororo left the restaurant and began the walk back to the Xavier Institute. They hadn't gone but a few blocks though before a large van appeared out of nowhere to block their path. Out of this van came a man dressed almost entirely in blue and with chalk white skin and blood red eyes.
"Hello there Mr. Worthington"
"Who are you?" Warren asked, he and Ororo preparing themselves for trouble.
"Ah yes of course. Where are my manners?" as the man said this the man took a bow. "My name is Nathaniel Essex; scientist, geneticist, and visionary. I am honored to meet your acquaintance at last Mr. Worthington"
Warren said nothing, merely looking cautiously at the man, whose white skin and red eyes were a jarring sight and between those and his slick black hair and seeming cordial nature, he reminded Warren almost of Count Dracula.
"What do you want Essex?"
"Why you and your…exquisite associate of course. As mutants you no doubt possess quite the X-Genes. I could use those in my research and work. As such I'm going to have to request that you both come with me"
"Not going to happen"
"Ah, well here's the thing: when I said 'request' I was lying. This is not a request. It is a demand" As he said this Nathaniel Essex snapped his fingers and on cue a half-dozen different individuals clad in black and silver body suits with eerie full-face covering gas masks appeared.
"Who are they?" Warren asked.
"Them? Oh they're my associates. The U-Men I call them. They're humans I've forcefully bonded the X-Gene too. Took me quite a few tries but I was finally able to successfully do it, and the results are what you see before you" he turned to the group: "Take them. And if you kill them do leave enough behind for me to get samples at least"
Nodding wordlessly, the U-Men surged forward at Warren and Storm, both of whom took to the air to move out of the way as one drew a sword and slashed outwards with it. Seeing the two mutants escape, one of the U-Men took off after them as another grabbed nearby cars and began hurling them at Storm and Angel, who maneuvered out of the way of all of them. Two more of the U-Men drew guns and began shooting tranquilizers at their targets only for all of these shots to be avoided as well.
Raising her hands into the air, Ororo called upon powerful winds as the sky darkened above. Soon heavy rains came followed by a hailstorm directed at the U-Men, with the hail being enough to force them to fall back.
Warren for his part too to engaging the flying U-Man in an aerial battle, quickly realizing as they traded punches that his opponent lacked his experience with either flying or brawling. As such Warren was soon able to outfight him, and employing some of the moves taught to him by Scott was at last able to take out his opponent with a punch right to the face that cracked his visor and knocked him out. With him done, Warren swooped down to attack the other U-Men, taking care to avoid their tranquilizers before ramming into two of them and knocking them flat on their backs. As he did though he gasped in pain and clutched his head tightly.
"It's no use birdman. I'm a telepath. You can't resist me!"
Warren cried out in pain as the U-Man continued to assault his mind telepathically, with Warren feeling as though a dozen miniature jack-hammers were being taken right to his brain. Smiling with satisfaction, one of the two U-Men who Warren had previously downed got back up and took aim with his tranquilizer…
…only for him to be blasted backwards by a jolt of electricity that ricocheted into his back after a bolt of lightning struck the ground right near where the U-Men were. Whipping around, the other U-Men tried to attack Storm but this distraction left them open to Warren who tackled the telepath and punched him out, also flying into the air with him to avoid being struck from behind by the other two U-Men.
"Damn, we're getting thrashed. We need to pull back sir!"
"Stand and fight" Nathaniel Essex ordered. "I will not abide cowardice in my creations"
But as Nathaniel Essex said this, several large purple robots began flying to the scene, at which point Essex realized that between the two mutants and the Sentinels to stand and fight would indeed be a foolish move, especially when he lacked any fighting prowess at all.
"Perhaps I spoke too hastily. Pull back!"
Needing no other invitation, the U-Men clambered into the back of the van and drove off, leaving the two mutants behind. Seeing them flee, Ororo was all set to blow their tires with lightning when the Sentinels arrived in full and addressed her and Warren: "Unidentified mutants. You are causing a disturbance. You have ten seconds to stand down. Failure to comply will result in aggressive countermeasures"
Upon hearing this Ororo turned to Warren, who nodded at her to listen to the Sentinel. Reluctant but trusting Warren, Ororo ceased in her attack and in an instant the winds calmed, the sky cleared, and the rain and hail stopped. All was as it had been moments ago.
"Please come with us for containment and questioning" one of the Sentinels ordered.
"What? But we did nothing wrong!"
"Actually we did kind of cause a scene" Warren said. "And from their perspective we put people at risk. Don't worry I've been in this situation before. We just need to go with them for now and wait for the Professor to show up"
"Are you sure?'
"Positive. Trust me this is the way to go. These things are tough as nails. We never fight them unless we have to"
Ororo nodded. "I trust you Warren"
(Recording of Nathaniel Essex's lengthy studies into the Mutant X-Gene)
"Day 523. Unfortunately today was far from a profitable one. The two mutants I had targeted managed to outfight my U-Men long enough for Sentinels to arrive and force our retreat. I must say I really expected far better from my U-Men. And now I'll have to put them out to pasture. A shame really. But of course making more U-Men will not be any kind of issue. Project Marauder however, will likely be met with more delays and set-backs if I cannot find some more mutants soon. For obvious reasons I will be refraining my telling this to my master and just focus on amending my U-Men's failures. Signing off"
(As the recording ends screams of agony can be heard)
Warren and Ororo were each sat in isolated rooms as a man sat on the other end of a table. On his shirt was pinned a badge with the letters "MRD", for "Mutant Response Division". They were the ones charged with overseeing mutant-related issues and also oversaw the Sentinels. And now one was interrogating Warren and Ororo.
"So let's go over this again" the man said. "You say that you and your girlfriend were walking home when you were jumped by these men in black with superpowers?"
Warren nodded wordlessly.
"And that doesn't sound at all farfetched to you?"
"No more than giant purple robots sir" Warren said.
The man smiled at this but said nothing. Warren decided to try his luck: "Are you going to be holding us here sir?" Warren asked, doing his best to conceal his annoyance at the whole situation. Privately he was praying that he and Ororo wouldn't be jailed for this or worse. You never did know what the powers that be did to mutants who attracted too much attention.
"Probably yes. Not for very long mind you, just a day or two at most until we sort this out. We'll probably have to fine you and the like, but that's it. We're not going to march you into a metahuman prison if that's what you were wondering"
Warren hoped the man was being sincere. He'd heard a lot of ugly tales about what the authorities did to arrested mutants. The prison system, like everything else, was still deeply anti-mutant and Warren didn't see that changing anytime soon. He just hoped Ororo would be okay.
It was then that a woman in a tight white suit with white gloves and trans-orange sunglasses came in. She had a look of disapproval on her face, but it didn't seem to be directed at anyone specifically.
"Let him go. Him and his girlfriend are clear"
"They are ma'am?"
"We've got reports from over two dozen people corroborating his and the woman's stories. No point making a fuss out of this. So they're free to go"
"Understood" the man turned to Warren: "Well mutie it's your lucky day. Stay out of trouble"
Warren nodded and stood up and walked out, as he did still on high alert in case it was a trap. He doubted it was but the things he'd seen and heard had long since made him paranoid. All the while he never took his eyes off the woman in white, who had taken to speaking with some other MRD men about something or another. As it stood he couldn't make it out. Just something about they were now "worried about other problems".
Walking out of the interrogation wing, Warren was pleasantly surprised to see Ororo waiting for him outside. She ran up to him and embraced him the second he appeared.
"Goddess I was worried" Ororo said. "The moment they separated us I feared the worst"
"So did I" Warren admitted. "But they're letting us go"
"I'm relieved" Ororo said before adding: "Perhaps there is some hope for us here after all"
"I wouldn't go that far Ororo. I think we just got a lucky break. Let's not try not to waste it. Come on, we should probably go home now"
Ororo nodded and walked out with Warren. As they left, she held one of his hands tightly and brushed herself up against him, as if for some kind of comfort or warmth. And Warren returned the gesture, as he did smiling as he thought about what it meant and also how she'd embraced him in the station. And then there was the prospect of future dates with her.
The Angel and the Goddess Warren thought. Quite a pair.
Author's Note: And there you have it. With the end of this chapter (and Angel and Storm now a couple) we come to the half-way mark next chapter. That chapter and the next are also, unfortunately, where things will start to go downhill. But for now enjoy this lighter chapter.