Brotherly love takes a nasty twist! In association with the X-Men Comics group on Facebook, we play Cyclops against Havok!
So this is what it’s like to be an Avenger.
Alex Summers had never felt more powerless. He’d have given anything to be out there, in the thick of it, taking on some super-villain or another. But instead, he was seated in Avengers Mansion, playing co-ordinator to a bunch of Avengers as they tried to work out just what was going on with the X-Men.
The nerve-centre of Avengers Mansion was a combination of antique redwood and futuristic Stark-tech, and one panelled wall was covered in view-screens. One after another, these screens were flickering to life; Alex, seated opposite them in a comfortable chair, wished he could be getting better news.
“…Beast had gone off the grid,” Captain America was reporting from the Jean Grey School. “There are some students missing, too, and evidence of a fight in the graveyard, of all places.”
The maddening thing was, the fight could be unconnected. At any one time, the X-Men could be embroiled in any number of threats; a standard week could involve Sentinels, a new Hellfire Club, a new Brotherhood, and some old enemy getting resurrected. Alex thanked Cap for updating him, then leaned back in the chair and covered his face with his hands.
What the Hell was going on?
S.H.I.E.L.D. had first realised something was going on when they detected what they called a ‘temporal dam’, preventing changes in the past impacting the present. Alex vaguely understood that to mean somebody was changing the past, but making sure the present-day didn’t fluctuate – not that he’d thought time-travel worked like that, but he was no temporal physicist. Reed Richards, who was, had then advised that the same ‘Doomlock’ – a term Alex considered much more ominous – was preventing him investigating the nature of the changes.
And the Unity Team had been called in when Richards discovered that the X-Men were at the centre of the temporal anomalies.
Hank McCoy simply had to be involved, Alex mused. This was the guy who’d dragged the original X-Men out of the past. And now he’d vanished. Yeah, McCoy’s fingerprints were all over this.
A screen flared to life, and Maria Hill’s face was displayed. “Alex,” she said formally, and Havok tried to hold off the urge to sit up straighter.
“You got an update?”
“Sort of,” Hill confirmed. “Something’s going on in the present-day as well. Major damage in Russia – the kind of damage associated with Storm going out of control. And reports Agent Dazzler was involved in a ruckus in Times Square, taking on a temporally-displaced Jubilee.”
Alex grimaced. What was connected, and what wasn’t? “Dazzler and Jubilee is the obvious link,” he began. “What does Dazzler have to say?”
Hill shrugged, and scowled. “She disappeared immediately after rendering Jubilee unconscious,” she explained, and Alex winced. “We’re finding evidence of conflict in other sites, but don’t know how to join things up. In Scotland, Cassidy Keep has been levelled.”
Now that was close to home. “Didn’t Reed Richards say Banshee and Siryn were involved in these temporal anomalies as well?”
Maria nodded. “We’re assuming there’s a connection.”
That was when her eyes suddenly widened, and another voice – one from behind Alex – chipped in. “Of course there is.”
Alex leaped out of his chair, already knowing who he’d see there. Scott Summers, his prodigal brother, dressed in his X-focused crimson outfit and looking as though he thought he had a right to stand in Avengers Mansion.
Cap’s gonna have my head for this, Alex mused.
“Scott, what are you doing here?”
“My people are being affected too,” Cyclops answered calmly. “Storm was involved in a battle over Russia – at the old Rasputin farmstead. And Magik’s gone missing. Which means we have two locations, each important to the people involved.”
“A S.H.I.E.L.D. team is on its way,” Hill stated calmly, no doubt pleased to hear Scott didn’t have a teleporter handy anymore. “Alex, hold him.”
Cyclops’ response was to project a crimson blast of energy from his eyes, shattering all the screens in the wall. “I came to talk, Alex,” he explained. “Something’s going on. I know the Unity Squad are looking into it, but the less said there, the better.”
“Excuse me,” Alex snapped back, “I kind of lead the Unity Squad, so I’d really like it if you didn’t talk about my team like that.”
A smirk tugged at Cyclops’ face. “Cap got the hang of you being in charge yet?” The look he received was all the answer he needed, and he chuckled. “Listen, Alex, someone’s pitting X-Man against X-Man. All our other enemies have gone quiet, and I speculated it was because someone was letting them watch the show.”
He tossed a card towards Alex, who caught it neatly. It was a business-card, with three stylised letters upon it; XvX.
“I found this at one of Sinister’s old bases,” Scott explained. “Someone’s making a game of this.”
“Well, I’d call it in,” Alex responded, “But, you know… No signal and all,” he gestured back towards the wrecked communications array.
Cyclops chuckled again. “Look,” he continued, “My guess is that, sooner or later, they’re coming for us. I think Logan was matched against Deadpool, and I know Ororo went up against Illyana, so you’re the logical match for me.”
It was Alex’s turn to find humour in all this. “Someone wants me to fight you? All they need to do is stick you in front of my face…” His voice trailed off.
Scott smiled. “Let’s just say, do you really think I’m stupid enough to walk into Avengers Mansion?”
“Someone teleported me in,” he explained. “I’d just pieced together that I’d probably have to fight you, and next thing I knew I was here.”
Alex frowned, and suddenly got it. “And they know I won’t let you leave,” he finished. “They know we’ll have to fight.”
Cyclops nodded. “So, what’s it gonna be, ‘Lex? You gonna do what they want, or you gonna let me get out and get on with sorting this mess out?”
The man known as Havok sighed wearily. “Scott,” he replied, “You know what I stand for, and I know what you used to stand for. You screwed up, and my job is to bring you in?”
Scott shrugged. “I’m walking out of here now, Alex. You can try and stop me if you want to.”
His brother stepped forwards. “I’m not going to try,” he replied.