Friday, August 25, 2017

X-men Supreme Issue 156: Drug War Part 2 PREVIEW!

Just how bad can things get for the X-men before it gets to be too much? That’s a trick question, by the way, and one I’ve tried to answer on multiple occasions throughout the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. I’ve put the X-men in many overwhelming situations, from clashes with cosmic forces to battles against Magneto to tolerating Deadpool. My point is it takes a lot to overwhelm the X-men. Say what you will about Charles Xavier and his methods, but he’s very good at preparing his team for the worst.

That’s what makes the current conflict in the Drug War arc so exciting. Xavier has prepared his X-men for a lot of conflicts, but he’s never had to deal with a team that’s divided, under-confident, and frustrated. Cyclops and Wolverine, once his most ardent champions, have left the X-men to form X-Force. That leaves the X-men in the weakest condition, from a team standpoint, that they’ve ever been in this fanfiction series. Their struggles were painfully apparent in the Volatility Sensibility arc. Now, the stakes are much higher in Drug War.

That’s because Sebastian Shaw knows how to exploit an opportunity. He did it before in the Phoenix Saga and in Dark Legacy. He’s certainly capable of doing it again, especially when there’s a profit to be made. His latest venture involves a volatile substance called Mutant Growth Hormone, also known as Kick. X-men fans who follow the comics remember how dangerous this stuff was when it first showed up. It’s going to be even more dangerous here in X-men Supreme. X-Factor already got a taste in X-men Supreme Issue 153: Revolting Youth. Now, both the X-men and X-Force are about to see just how bad it can get.

It may very well be the situation that finally overwhelms the X-men. It’s one thing to take on the Phoenix Force or Mr. Sinister. At least in those conflicts, the team was united. The X-men could rely on each other and make each other stronger. They don’t have that now. That’s one of the underlying themes of X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided. We’ve seen so many instances where the X-men’s strength as a team carries them through a conflict. What happens when they don’t have that strength? How do they overcome a situation when they’re divided, overwhelmed, and lacking the team cohesion that makes them so strong?

They’re about to learn the hard way just how important that team cohesion is. At the moment, Captain Freeman is the leader of the X-men, but he’s made clear already that he’s not Cyclops. When I first brought him into the X-men Supreme fanfiction series back in X-men Supreme Issue 75: Renegade, I made it clear that he’s not much for teamwork. Now, under the orders of General Grimshaw, he’s tasked with carrying the X-men through this clash with Sebastian Shaw. Given his less-than-perfect history with the X-men, expect plenty of chaos. It could be the kind of situation that finally breaks the X-men. As always, I’ve prepared a preview of what may very well be what breaks the X-men.

Tessa could already hear Bishop and Multiple yelling at her from District X. They had both been against sending Jubilee to spy on Shaw. They were concerned about her ability to handle herself in a tight situation and potentially undermining the deal they had going with Shaw. It looked like both their fears had been realized. She worked feverishly to reestablish a link with the transmitter. All she could get in return were error messages.

“If you need me to push the panic button, I can do it in a heartbeat,” said Captain Freeman, “The General has the President of Mexico linked up in a conference call. MSA forces are prepared to surround the compound and strike!”

“Knowing Shaw, he’s probably prepared for that,” commented Colossus.

“We need to hold off a bit longer. If Jubilee is in trouble, then this just became a rescue mission,” said Phoenix.

“Is there any chance you can trace the location of the signal before it cut out?” asked Storm.

“I’ve been trying. Something keeps blocking me out,” said Tessa, her frustration building rapidly, “I designed this transmitter myself. It has no fewer than three fail-safes!”

“Keep trying, my dear,” said Beast as he ignited the afterburner, “We’ll be right on top of Shaw’s location in less than three minutes. If you want an explanation, you’ll have to forcibly extract it.”

It seemed to be the only option at this point. As eager as she was to beat the answers out of her former boss, Tessa had reservations. Shaw knew her as well as she knew him. He was capable of hurting her in so many ways. She tried turning those feelings off as she had tried turning off so many others. She kept working while the rest of the X-men prepared to attack. Then to her surprise, her transmitter became active again.

“Wait…I think I have something,” she said as she worked to unscramble the signal.

“Please tell me it’s Jubilee saying she ate a spoiled burrito,” said Psylocke.

The signal came in clear, so much so that it triggered a loud screech that forced Beast to level off the jet for a moment. Before Tessa could decipher anything, the signal turned into a message. From her laptop, a familiar voice rang out.

“I hope this is on because I have an important message to deliver.”

“That’s him! That’s Shaw!” exclaimed Phoenix.

“My signal? How is he…” began Tessa.

“We’ll figure that out later. Hank, level the jet! We need to hear this!” Professor Xavier urged.

The X-men, Tessa, and Captain Freeman fell silent as they listened in on this transmission. Beast kept the jet level. Below, Shaw’s villa was in sight so he likely knew they were close.

“First off, don’t fret for Miss Lee. She’s fine. So are the five strapping young mutants that accompanied her. I assume you think you’re saving them. Although, I must say I’m disappointed. I expect more cunning, especially from former associates.”

“Former associates?” questioned Gambit as he looked towards Tessa suspiciously, “What the hell is he talking about?”

“Now is not the time, Gambit. There are more pressing matters that need addressing,” said Beast, ensuring Tessa didn’t have to answer.

Tessa swallowed her anguish at Shaw’s words. It sounded as though her secrets would be laid out for everyone to see. There was no hiding her past any longer.

“I wish I had time to explain the true extent of what I’m doing. I know you’ve witnessed the power of Mutant Growth Hormone. I’m sure you and plenty others think it’s dangerous. Yet it is just a stepping stone. A means to an end. Unlike my previous deals, this has a much grander vision. One that will render the X-men, the MSA, and the Mutant Monitoring Initiative obsolete. I could spend hours explaining to you the true essence of MGH. Instead, I’ll show you. If by chance you’ll survive, then you’ll understand why this is necessary…and why it cannot be stopped!”

With this ominous warning, the signal returned to static. A cold silence fell over the X-jet. The cold voice of Sebastian Shaw sounded as mad as ever and he rarely failed to back up that madness in kind.

“Ah’m probably gonna regret saying this, but what do you think he means by that?” asked Rogue.

Before the team could even contemplate such horrors, the X-jet was rocked by a new wave of turbulence. It wasn’t the engines or the afterburners. Something had actually struck the X-jet from the outside and struck it hard.

“WHOA!” exclaimed Colossus, “Better start regretting, Rogue.”

“What the hell was that?” said Captain Freeman as he looked out the window.

“Not what…who,” Professor Xavier dreaded.

“I sense it too, Professor,” said Phoenix as she clutched the sides of her head, “I think Shaw just made his point.”

All eyes now turned towards the windows where the shadow of a large figure just passed over them. The source of the shadow was revealed as it flew around over the side of the jet. It appeared to be a young girl with a very unusual complexion even for a mutant.

Outside the X-jet, Laurie was thoroughly enjoying her new powers. No longer pale and feeble her skin had completely shifted to a blue, scaly complexion that was complemented by her long flowing pinkish hair. In addition to her skin tone, her whole body became more malleable. She was now shaped like a large sail with talons for feet and a fin-like tail that she had used to strike the X-jet earlier. Before she could only fly. Now she was new breed mutant.

“Are you seeing this, my king? Are you seeing how my new powers strike fear into the hearts of our enemies?” exclaimed Laurie.

“I don’t think they’re afraid yet. But they will be soon!” came another voice.

A sparkling fireball-like figure flew past Laurie as she soared over the X-jet. The figure flew around towards the front of the jet, which was still lumbering forward at an unstable speed. Her body was surrounded by blinding sparks of light, almost as if her entire body had been replaced.

As she flew through the sky, her hands pulsed with balls of energy. Her eyes pulsed as well, dominating a face consumed with focused anger. As soon as she flew in front of the cockpit of the X-jet, Professor Xavier and the others gasped.

“Is that…” began the Professor.

“Jubilee!” exclaimed Tessa.

“Hey guys? Remember me?” Jubilee shouted, “No? Why don’t I remind you!”

The pulsing light on her hands intensified. From it, she formed a much larger ball of energy. Then with a casual gesture, she unleashed it at the X-jet. It struck the windows of the cockpit, shattering the reinforced glass. It sent a rush of cold wind through the aircraft, forcing Hank and Professor Xavier to duck in order to avoid the deadly sheer.

“We’ve lost pressure! I’ll try and activate the autopilot!” shouted Beast over the howling winds.

“I guess say this confirms the link between Shaw and MGH!” said Captain Freeman as he and the rest of the X-men held on in their seats.

“You think?!” scolded Rogue.

While the X-jet started to tumble through the air, Jubilee flew around towards one of the sides where Laurie was still hovering. Not content to just make the X-men uncomfortable, they prepared to deliver another attack.

“I think we’ve officially surprised them,” said Laurie.

“Let’s surprise them more for the glory of our king and queens,” said Jubilee, “Idie, come in and join the fun!”

From behind, a bluish red fireball shot past them at high speeds. It went right for the rear engines of the X-jet and was poised to bring them down.

“Don’t call me that anymore!” shouted Idie, “I don’t want to be that weak, scared little girl anymore. I’m Oya! Spirit of the elements! The Inner Circle is my lord now!”

These are, indeed, dark times for the X-men within this fanfiction series. It’s going to flesh out some of the less-than-heroic qualities of certain characters. I have gotten some feedback from fans who are concerned about those characters. I understand those concerns. I share them. That’s why I want to assure all the X-men fans out there that I am still committed to making every character in X-men Supreme as awesome as they can be. X-men Supreme Volume 7: United and Divided will help contribute to that effort in the end. It may not seem like that now, but that is my intent and my goal.

I understand there will still be concerns. To those loyal X-men fans, I ask for patience and a little faith. I’ve been developing this fanfiction series over the course of seven years. I want to it go get more awesome with each issue. That’s why feedback and support is still vital. Even if you’re concerned or upset, I want to hear from you. Either contact me directly or post comments in the comments section. Just ignore the spam. I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Xcelsior!


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