From 2001-02, Tribune Entertainment created six Mutant X faux websites as part of the Mutant X official site, in order to supplement the information from the television series. These sites featured a great wealth of background information about the Mutant X characters and plot's storylines, but they vanished in early 2005. Taken from Internet Archives of the faux website Mutant X Lives, none of the following material is my own.
MXL Part 1: The Underground ~ MXL Part 2: Adam's Diary ~ MXL Part 3: Sanctuary ~ MXL Part 4: Adam's Serials
Serials - The First Draft, Pt. 1
I sit back at my workplace in Sanctuary, deep within the caves of Stormking Mountain. My chair is set in the perfect vantage point to watch the team of young champions I’ve mentored exercise a daily routine in the holographic arena of my own invention called the Dojo. Dodging and pacing an onslaught of projected adversaries, they practice drills and simulations designed to bring out the highest potential of the powers they were born with; genetic mutations I am partially responsible for from my days as an over-reaching scientist in a corrupt government agency. I created this band to counteract those damaging actions. They are the key to my redemption and appropriately called, “Mutant X”.
Watching them in action, I can’t help but swell with pride: Brennan, our streetwise Elemental, juggles bolts of electricity as casually as a pro pitcher spins a curveball off his fingertips; faerie-like Emma aims a devastating mental flare from her forehead with such precision that only her intended targets will be staggered by its psionic effect; Jesse, serious beyond his years, switches his Molecular body mid-fight from ghost-like wraith to granite-hard density with seamless effort; and finally Shalimar, the exquisite feline Feral I took under my wing despite the heated warning of others, proves that animal grace can be lethal as she slashes her phantom foes with an intense fury almost too fast for the eye to see. Working together as a single unit, these four are unstoppable. They easily disable whatever surprises the Dojo tosses out to them. I sheepishly realize that I’ll have to up the strategies of the holo-program to keep a step ahead of them.
Mutant X is starting to fulfill its promise. Genomex, a faction that threatened all New Mutants, has been leveled largely due to our efforts and now the team’s genetic powers are being used to benefit all mankind in increasing public missions. I dream for a day of acceptance and integration; a day when my conscience will let me rest again. It’s close, much more so than it ever was. As the quartet steps off the Dojo platform, laughing and relieved, I can’t help but wander back in time to a different group of four: the ones who paved the way for this current line-up to flourish. My original Mutant X. The first draft.
Paul, Ben, Allison and Eli. They paid the price for my ambitions. I brought them together and made them soldiers. Through their efforts I would learn how to face the great evils I had fled. I would hone a method of operation superior to that of my enemies. I would also make mistakes the team would suffer for. It is time to give them their due…and to ask for their forgiveness.
These were the days before Stormking Mountain, when all mutants, no matter how human in appearance, were regarded as monsters. The Underground was being formed in the dark corners of antique bookstores and abandoned warehouses. The public at large was hostile, as they knew only fear and rumors about a DNA-altered breed that walked among them. There was danger in every breath a New Mutant took.
I had just confronted my own guru, Dr. Paul Breedlove, and left his oppressive genetics empire (now known as Genomex) stripped of a vital database and temporarily crippled. Blinded to its malevolence for so many years, the decision to defect nearly cost me my life. I became a fugitive from those who had nurtured my scientific mind. They were now my deadly enemies.
Where once resources were unlimited, they were now reduced to my wits and a cause: I had to change the fate of the new race I had brought into being. My single ally during the Genomex melee gave me undeserved trust in spite my past. Most people think I stood alone for, while this friend was constantly at my side, he could not be seen most of the time. Paul Walker was a Molecular Stealth, a New Mutant man who could make himself invisible. He was also the first member of Mutant X.
...Serials - The First Draft, Pt. 2
I was a cocky kid with an advanced brain that understood the intricacies of genes better than grown scientists with decades of experience. Dr. Breedlove himself had been a wunderkind and saw me as the perfect heir to his throne. So, at an age where most young men were struggling with high school algebra or trying to get to “first base” with the girl-next-door, I was drawing a six-digit salary as resident genius and troubleshooter for a government sponsored genetics Empire. Behind our secured doors, we nurtured the growth of New Mutants for “the advancement of the human race”. At least, that slogan was what let me sleep without conscious in those days. Despite my I.Q., I was still an immature boy. I still am.
Stealths were a dirty secret from Genomex’s past. In an attempt to create agents with desired abilities as effective spies or assassins, Dr. Breedlove set out to control the DNA in Molecular embryos. A similar procedure had been done successfully with Ferals but in that case the genetic material manipulated was purely organic. Molecular New Mutants possess traits that defy nature. The instability of their gene-codes is dangerous even when not tampered with. The experiment resulted in the births of many short-lived monstrosities. The few “normal” children that did survive were plagued with lifelong fragile health or mental defects. Among these was Paul Walker.
One of four Stealths to reach adulthood, Paul never knew a life outside of Genomex’s walls. Security Chief Mason Eckhart oversaw that he was trained and hounded to perfect his powers in bludgeoning workout regimes that make the Dojo look like Little League. The strain Paul’s body underwent to consistently project auras to render him invisible took damaging tolls on his immune and nervous systems. Despite this, he was a sharp intellect with a teasing charm and good, dark Irish looks. Only a few years my junior, I had done my best to improve his medical condition and we became friends, at least as much as Eckhart would allow. Paul is the only person who has ever beaten me at chess.
He had mastered control of his invisibility enough to be sent on covert missions. Eckhart thought Paul’s mind had been conditioned to accept whatever assignment he was given and he’d carry it out like a drone. That was a miscalculation. Something solid and honest remained uncracked in Paul’s core. Whenever he returned to Genomex with blood on his hands, the reality of it would eventually surface. Through Paul’s whispered confessions, my own naivety in regards to whom I was actually working for got shattered.
“We’re the bad guys, Adam.” I’ll never forget the sober rasp in his voice. “We serve corrupt, power-hungry liars…the small handful that bend the world for their own profit. I’ve murdered, stolen and betrayed just to push their schemes forward. New Mutants haven’t been made to improve evolution, we’re here solely as living weapons of evil.”
At first I considered suicide. My whole life as a prodigy, scientist and miracle worker was a lie. Then came the realization that I had the ability to set it all right. If anyone could free the Children of Genomex and give them a new fate, it was the guilty soul who stared back in the mirror. And Paul. We also gained a third ally. This was a silent partner whose identity I am still sworn to protect. Suffice to say it was a woman who, feeling just as dirty and betrayed by the Breedlove Institute as we did, set up hidden wells of capital for us to utilize once we had made our escape. This angel’s sacrifice provided the last jolt to drive us into action.
Paul and I divided responsibilities in a fever-driven plot: He would steal the New Mutant database and destroy the tracking system; I would take care of Eckhart and his growing forces. Our defection became known as Incident X. It did not go off smoothly and the gruesome details are for another time, save Paul’s involvement. Ironically, his Genomex training proved perfect for the coup. Having staged a scene where it appeared he went AWOL, Paul actually remained undetected on the complex grounds keeping an invisible shield around his body for over a month. He never fully recovered from the toll this maneuver took on him. When the time came for us to strike, he was ready and ruthless. We both were. There was no other way. Do I regret the lives we destroyed? Yes. But up to that point, I had done nothing but destroy lives. This explosion had to happen to end that and begin Mutant X.
On our own with no protection but our wits, Paul and I were armed with powerful resources and no clear venue to use them. We had a small window of time before Genomex recovered and came after us. The cooperation of every New Mutant we came across would be necessary to survive.
The Underground at the time was a primitive effort run like an illegal drug operation, trafficking desperate New Mutants from one shabby hideout to the next. They were brave but without structure and needed both my input and financial resources to go on. However, Allison Turner, their current leader, was not about to trust me. A black telekinetic in her early twenties, she had inherited her heavy post when Eckhart’s crew killed her older brothers.
“It’s too late to make amends,” she warned me. “Especially with schemes that will only get more of us slaughtered or caught! For all we know you’re still working for Genomex and setting up a sting.”
We’d rendezvoused at an all-night diner in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Paul had made the initial contact but was too ill to come with me. I came to offer service. Ms. Turner came to offer threats. “Take your snake oil guilt and shove it!” To punctuate her sentiments, she pinned me to the back of the filthy booth I was sitting in with a swiftly levitating fork. Then she walked out.
All illusions about being embraced by the New Mutant community were instantly popped. The clock was ticking. I needed a friend. The one I found was seven feet tall.
...Serials - The First Draft, Pt. 3
The first time I saw Ben Jones I knew we were going to get along, which was good because he was almost two feet taller than I was. Ben was an Ursine Feral: part bear, part man. His thick head of curly hair extended down to his massive shoulders from which hung column-muscled arms and hands that could easily cup a medicine ball. While there was nothing gentle about his form, he had a look of tolerance in his dark eyes that flickered in and out when you met them directly. Fortunately, that’s the only way I address a person.
At twenty-six years old Ben had spent most of his life on the run or in hiding. In the early days of Genomex’s experiments, Dr. Breedlove had allowed several breeds of Ferals to live supervised existences in public. He wanted to see how easily New Mutants would blend in with the average population and if there would be any interaction problems. It was all intended to be short term but the “freed” Ferals and their families had different ideas. Many ran away before Mason Eckhart’s security force could round them up again. Eckhart would use Breedlove’s embarrassing misstep as leverage to tighten his control within Genomex from that point on.
Ben lived with a clan of other Ursines, working mostly in secluded logging camps throughout the Pacific Northwest where their size and strength were looked on as blessings, not monstrosities. He probably would have continued this existence had Eckhart’s forces not caught up with his crew. Ben was the only one to escape capture. He decided then and there to fight Genomex and joined the fledgling New Mutant Underground.
Allyson Turner may have rejected my offer for help but Ben, her bodyguard on the evening we met, could not be so choosey. He was ill with a fever that can sneak-attack all Ferals. It affects their minds, like rabies, and within minutes Mr. Jones went from hailing a cab to furiously lifting one up over his head. Allyson froze knowing their cover was blown. I saw my chance and took it.
Drawing on courage from years of having a genius ego stroked, I stepped into the street and met Ben eye to eye.
“Why don’t you set down that cab, Mr. Jones?” I managed to get out with a slight smile. He could have easily crushed me with the taxi.
“People hate us,” Ben growled, “I’m burning up and people hate us.”
“And why wouldn’t they? Look how you’re behaving. You’re better than this. All New Mutants are.”
A series of sirens went off. I thought for certain the final curtain had dropped but I pressed on. “You’re sick. I know the type of fever you have. I’ve treated it before.”
Tears streamed down Ben’s face. The tires of the taxi continued to spin. “You’ll help me? Why?”
“Because I can. To me, your just as much a man or a freak as I am.” I never broke eye contact with him.
Sighing, Ben lowered the cab like a baby in a cradle. The terrified driver took no time in speeding off down the street. I took the giant New Mutant’s hand and turned, expecting to find an angry mob behind us.
There was only Allyson. She had used her Telekinetics to set off the fire alarms of buildings down the block and provided a distraction. That was the sirens we heard. Ms. Turner was one smart woman.
“C’mon!” she ordered. “I’ve only bought us a few seconds! Let’s get him out of here!”
It took all the strength Allyson and I could muster to shoulder Ben’s weight and duck into a network of back alleyways that San Francisco is famous for. As we trudged to safety, I kept whispering descriptions of cool rivers and breezy glades to calm him down. The heated fever in his body was raging so high, he could easily have panicked and killed us both.
Allyson used her Psionics to dial her cell phone, contacting other members of the Underground for help. The two Ursines who met us were not happy to see me but I pushed past them into their safehouse and began rolling up my sleeves to save my patient. Allyson didn’t protest and Ben was so delusional by this point he was calling me, “Daddy”. To date, he’s been the only soul ever to address me as that.
I won’t go into the details about how I culled together the appropriate vaccine to stop Ben’s virus and keep it from infecting the others. When your brain works as mine does a lot of innocent household items can be honed into suitable formulas. In the right hands this knowledge is life saving, but in the wrong…Let me just say that when Ben regained consciousness, his great maw of a hand gripped me with a hold of warm trust and allegiance that only grew with time. The others followed suit, even the reluctant Ms. Turner.
Eventually, I was allowed to take over the Underground and a solid base of networking was formed to take on Genomex. Then came the construction of Sanctuary at Stormking Mountain. And then came the Judas who almost destroyed it all.
...Serials - Game #1
I have taken more time and detail to chronicle the following Mutant X mission than with previous ones. It has had a dramatic effect on the entire team. The knowledge we gained about a rare race of New Mutants and our own place in the greater scheme of things has made this a venture that will forever color our time together…and our lives beyond. Hopefully, my words will convey a fraction of what was felt.
Jim Hennesy didn’t realize he was a New Mutant until he turned sixteen. He had been adopted as a baby and his parents had no clue that their boy’s DNA had been artificially marked and tampered with at a Breedlove clinic while he was still inside his birth mother. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. They loved their son with a devotion that accepted every quirk, tantrum, C average and growing pain as a gift they could never get enough of.
Not that Jim was a difficult kid. He grew up an average suburban boy. In the summers he played Little League and collected allowance for mowing the lawn. In winters, he shoveled snow from the driveway and made forts in the backyard with neighbor boys. He griped about teachers and homework, watched too much television and always remembered to make a card for his mother on her birthday. And then he started to jump.
At first it just seemed like a typical teen growth spurt. Jim was becoming all legs, so naturally there was a new “spring” about him. Better for basketball. Better for track and field. However, the progress didn’t stop. By eighth grade, the boy not only slam-dunked every shot he made but started clearing the goals. From three feet in the air to six. Then eight. And he always landed with a grace that never broke his stride. No one could catch up with him in a footrace and he seemed to have an uncanny instinct to be one step ahead of any opposing team.
While his new skills made Jim a coach’s dream and a bit of a local legend, other kids began to resent him. Peer acceptance being a cornerstone of teenage life, Jim quit school sports to get his friends back. Still, he felt compelled to stay in shape. He began a course of early morning runs and workouts to answer the pangs of his evolving body. Only Jim’s buddy, Bobbie Paulson, knew of this fitness regime. Like all best friends, he kept the secret sacred.
Never as ignorant as a junior high student supposes, Jim’s parents couldn’t help but see the unnatural way he was developing. Around his fifteenth birthday, his posture began to slant forward and the bones and muscles of his legs and feet seemed to be deformed, despite the fact that he had no trouble walking. Doctors had no explanation. Bones aside, the Hennesy’s son was in excellent health. Jim began wearing baggy jeans and insisted he was fine.
The Hennesys saw other changes beyond the physical ones. Overnight their son had gone from being very outgoing to somewhat tense and eerily quiet. He was always alert and flinched at the slightest sound around him. His focus switched from catchy flash to small details and sensitive concerns. Still good-looking, girls from his class would always phone but Jim never took their calls. And for a boy who had once thrived on fast-food hamburgers, he now only ate greens yet never dropped weight. Mrs. Hennesy’s mother told them, “Welcome to adolescence!” but they knew it was more than that. Their fears kept them up at night, which is how they discovered the truth.
On a spring evening, around midnight, Mr. Hennesy had padded into the dark kitchen to get a glass of milk. He heard what sounded like several pairs of hooves plodding around outside. Figuring deer had gotten into his wife’s garden; he went over to the picture window to take a look. What he saw prompted his first call to Mutant X.
Lit only by moonlight, five or six antlered creatures leapt and bounded about the yard in a wide ring. Mr. Hennesy saw they were not deer, but men. Unhuman men. Dressed in what looked like camouflaged army fatigues; they all had strong upper bodies and odd muscular legs, not unlike his son’s. Even in the dark, he could see the antlers were not artificial but actual branched horns that grew out of their foreheads.
The mutated men seemed to be in the midst of some type of primitive ritual. The only thing that kept Mr. Hennesy from yelling out in terror was the recognition of the calm youth they circled around. It was Jim.
...Serials - Game #2
For those of you who don’t know, Ferals are a class of New Mutant with animal DNA. They possess many characteristics of their fauna counterparts. The most common are feline (or cat) hybrids. My own associate, Shalimar Fox, is one. She maintains a continual struggle balancing wild, predatory instincts with vulnerable humanity. For the most part, Shalimar succeeds.
Cervine (or deer) Ferals are more complicated. They inherit taut strength and agility. These combine with a hypersensitive paranoia and usually add up to sociopathic tendencies. They also grow antlers.
Unlike other Ferals, Cervines prefer to stay together. They often form sects and live away from society in secluded wilderness camps like military survivalists. While not aggressive, these groups have been known to use violence to defend their privacy. They also are extremely possessive of their own.
“They’re taking my boy!” Mr. Hennesy cried into the telephone, “They’ve brainwashed him! Please! My wife and I are helpless against them!”
I tried to calm the poor man down. He had contacted Mutant X through a hotline number given to him after locating a branch of our Underground. “We always suspected that Jimmy was…one of you. It didn’t matter, of course, but we did some research and found out about your organization. Oh God, please. Help us get him back!”
“Mr. Hennesy, you must tell me exactly what happened,” I stated. He went on to describe his son’s progressing mutation and the ritual scene in his back lawn. I surmised it was definitely a Cervine Feral cult. They trace their own kind through scent and approach them at the peak of adolescence.
“Has Jim had any headaches in the last few weeks?” I asked.
“Yes, he has.”
I sighed. The boy’s antlers were beginning to sprout. It would be just the time for elder Cervines to seek him out. In fact, they would be drawn to each other. I didn’t tell Mr. Hennesy that, however. He was panicked enough.
It was surprising to learn that a “Deer Tribe” existed in the area. My sources had not tracked one there before.
“Did the New Mutant men say anything to you?” I continued.
“Only that my ‘task’ with my son was over and he needed to go with his own kind. My ‘task’! Like raising him was a temporary job!”
“He didn’t say anything. He obeyed me when I told him to go indoors. But it was like he was in a trance.”
“They let him go?”
“Into the house with me, yes. But they’re still out there… waiting for him. In the day they hide, camouflaged. No one, even the neighbors, can spot them. But you always feel them watching.”
“And when the sun sets?”
“They’re back. Bounding and leaping like silent devils. Jimmy just sits at the window staring at them without a word. His mother or I stay with him at all times. It’s like his personality is fading away. We’re scared out of our wits that if we turn our backs, he’ll run off!”
He was right. Jim would have. All Cervine Ferals seem to feel a need to bond with their own and escape their human halves. I’ve never seen an exception. Again, I refrained from relating this aloud.
“We couldn’t called the police,” explained Mr. Hennesy, “They might take our son as well.”
“You’re right there. Authorities would only complicate things.”
“So we’re prisoners in our own home. It’s been nearly three days now.” His voice began to tremble. “You can talk to these men, right? The woman at the Underground said you would. Make them leave our family alone.”
“Mr. Hennesy,” I tentatively began, “I want you consider that perhaps Jim spending time with these New Mutants may not be a bad thing.”
“NO!” he yelled. “How can it be anything but bad?!! Even if our son is what they say he is, we want him to be a part of this world. Not some scavenging monster. We’ll do whatever it takes to keep him here and help him be recognized as an equal human. And any of them, for that matter! What good are they as freaks in the woods?”
Without realizing it, the man had just paraphrased the mission statement of Mutant X. Cervine isolation had eaten away at me for a long time. They not only rejected ordinary humans but all other New Mutants as well. This might have been an opportunity to crack open a rift.
I buzzed the Comlink rings, summoning my primary team to Sanctuary. The Double Helix could take us to the Hennesy home in just over an hour.
“Keep your head together, sir. Mutant X is on the way.”
“Thank God!” Mr. Hennesy gasped. “When the other group didn’t respond, we’d almost given up hope.”
I paused a moment.
“What other group?”
“ My wife saw a number in the Midnight Press. It was an ad offering counsel and aid to New Mutants. 1-800-GENOMEX. They asked a few questions and then hung up.”
I switched the Comlink page from “Mandatory” to “Emergency”.
...Serials - Game #3
Mutant X does not spend much time in the suburbs. The majority of our action seems to center around urban locations. I’m not sure why. New Mutants are everywhere.
At any rate, being “out of place” made the situation at the Hennesy home even more of a challenge from the get-go. By outward appearances, it was a just an average maple-lined neighborhood: a mail truck stopped and started its way up the street; a few tethered dogs randomly yapped from their yards; smiling meter-inspectors casually moved from house to house. All quiet and perfectly normal…except that the mailmen were really trigger-happy GSAgents looking for a clear shot, the dogs were barking at Cervine Feral mutants hidden in the shrubbery and the utility workers were actually my team and I.
“We’ve been made,” Emma delicately announced. “I’m picking up hostile vibes that can only be Genomex mindsets.” Her telempathy was a hundred percent reliable.
“Want me to throw a bolt or two and take ‘em out?” Brennan suggested, his fingers already crackling with energy. “They’re parked right near a phone pole I could pin it on.” Of us all, he looked the most out of place in his blue jumpsuit. Leather types usually can’t wear much else.
“No,” I answered, suddenly conscious of my own appearance, “The GSA will want to remain as anonymous as we do in this setting. They won’t attack openly. We’ve just got to make certain that we get to the Hennesys first. Jesse?”
My young resident Molecular grinned. “Way ahead of you, Adam.” In an instant he had become intangible and disappeared, sinking into the ground. Aware of his training patterns (I designed them, after all) it was a safe guess to assume he would be traveling from basement to basement until he reached the Hennesy’s house.
The only witness to Jesse’s act was a rather pampered Pekinese that began yipping a blue streak from a house we had just passed. Shalimar turned sharply and hissed with a ferocity she usually reserved for Eckhart’s brood. The poor pup fled, whining through his tiny dog-door
“That was a bit much,” I put forward.
“It’s all this stag blood lurking in the shadows,” she growled back. “Their scent puts me on edge.”
It never occurred to me that the Cervines could bring out Shalimar’s predatory side. Interaction between different types of Ferals is still relatively uncharted.
“Perhaps you should go back to the Double Helix,” I said. “I don’t want your feline instincts to get the best of you.”
Her eyes flared a lethal shade of gold. “Why don’t you put me on a leash while you’re at it!” she snapped. “And leave me a ball of yarn to play with!” With a blur of blonde hair, she moved across the street getting a better vantage point to cover the GSA truck from.
“Man. And I thought I was bad with women,” Brennan cracked. A genuine shortcoming of mine, I admit. We moved closer to the Hennesys.
“Adam,” Emma whispered into her Comlink as she went through the motions of reading a neighbor’s meter. “The Cervines are moving in closer as well. They know something’s up. Their emotions are so primal. Fear-based aggression. It’s like they have no human side at all.”
I hadn’t counted on them venturing out before nightfall. Another sloppy miscalculation. “Brennan, I need you to keep them at bay if necessary. Stun only,” I specified.
“Just call me Natty Bumppo,” he smirked. I always forget how well read he is for a former street hood. Following Emma’s lead, he headed toward a nearby backyard, tipping his hat at an elderly lady in a pink housecoat who peaked out of her kitchen window. “Just checking for a gas leak, ma’am,” he explained.
“Heavens!” she chirped, “Please do. At first I thought you were one of those mutant monsters you hear about on TV. Would a leak be what’s attracting the deer at night?”
“I don’t think so,” Brennan answered smooth as silk. He must have been one hell of a con artist in his day.
“Well they’ve reduced my roses to shreds,” the lady confided. “It must be those fruit trees of Mrs. Hennesy. Do you think that can be what’s pulling them in?”
“I’m no deer expert, ma’am,” Brennan crooned, “But if I come across one, I promise I’ll corral it for you.” Satisfying her concerns, he turned the corner and was out of sight.
I turned and caught Emma’s eye. She was just as amused by the vaudeville act as I was. All at once, Jesse’s voice piped in over my Comlink.
“Adam, we’ve got trouble.”
“What is it? Are you in the Hennesy’s house?”
“Yes. And the parents’ve seen me and know I’m from Mutant X.”
“The son is taking it badly then?”
“No. They won’t let me near him. I told to them about Genomex being at their door and they kind of flipped out.”
“Well, Mr. Hennesy pulled a shotgun.”
“Stop him, Jesse.”
“I already did. But you know how my powers look.”
“And now they don’t trust you.”
“It’s the Burbs, Adam.” Jesse sounded uneasy.
I looked around. This was Middle America. The stable still-life where genetic terrorists, DNA experiments and super-powered humans were only colorful items at the end of the evening news. Ours was a world far, far away. Scanning the rows of sprinkler-sprayed lawns and shady sidewalks I felt the brief desire to kept things that way.
It was then that the GSA attacked.
...Serials - Game #4
There were four agents, three men and a woman, all dressed in standard issue black GSA uniforms. They bolted out of the van with weapons drawn and divided instantly in what must have been oft-drilled military maneuvers. A man took either side of the Hennesy house, one swept up to the door and the female agent hung back covering them. Securing their position took no more than five seconds.
“Eckhart certainly has his minions well oiled and reflex sharp,” I thought, “I wonder how much of their independent thought had to be sacrificed to achieve this kind of precision?”
Shalimar leaped over the van with a jaguar snarl. She cleared it with no problem and landed on her haunches in front of the female GSAgent ready to strike. Her kick was stopped in mid-air, as if she had hit an invisible wall. The agent was a Telekinetic.
I quickly ran through the current New Mutant database in my head. The woman was black and in her late twenties. The name Morgan Fortier popped out. Until this unfortunate moment, we had not known Genomex recruited her.
Stunned and angry, Shalimar’s eyes glowed gold as she took in her opponent. Moving in a blur, she faked a blow to the left, missing Fortier’s next psionic bolt, and landed a heavy hit on the right. The agent crumbled.
“My side isn’t exactly out of shape,” I briefly gloated.
“Adam!” Emma’s voice rang out over the Comlink, “The woman’s the only New Mutant. The others are human.” She had mentally scanned the GSAgents and reported to us just as I trained her to.
A bright flash and crack of thunder from the backyard told us that Brennan had done his share and taken out an enemy. Hopefully the neighbors would think it was only an approaching storm. As of yet, the action had happened too quickly to draw attention. I knew in a matter of seconds, this would not be the case. Then on top of the GSA, Cervines and defensive domestics, we’d have to deal with witnesses, the local police, news media…
I hurried across the yard catching sight of Emma reducing her targeted GSAgent to an emotional basket case. He dropped to his knees, sobbing in front of her. She must have tapped his head and planted his worst nightmare inside it. For a fraction of a moment, my subconscious caught a look of hungry delight on Emma’s face. I made a mental note to address this unhealthy aggression back at Sanctuary as I pressed on.
By this time, the husky agent had kicked the Hennesy’s front door in and charged through, his taser aimed and ready. I was right behind him.
Jesse suddenly stepped out into the middle of the Colonial-decorated entryway. The GSAgent instantly fired his weapon. There was no way he could have noted the age, identity or intent of who stood before him. He pulled the trigger like a cold automaton. Just like Eckhart would instruct him to. Of course, this time he was shooting at a Molecular New Mutant who could solidify his body into a bullet proof mass.
The taser’s devastating jolt bounced off Jesse’s impervious chest. Before the agent could get off another shot, I knocked him out cold with a Judo chop to the back of the neck.
Exhaling, Jesse returned to flesh and blood. “Not bad, old man,” he winked, noting my handiwork.
“Don’t forget I invented the tasers too,” I added wryly. “Where are the Hennesys?”
“Back in Jim’s room. Second to the left. Here’s the gun.”
He handed me a store bought 45-caliber. Just your garden variety of household protection, but as lethal as anything man has ever invented.
I absentmindedly tucked it into my jumpsuit belt, an act I would later regret. Moving past Jesse, I went down the hallway. “The others need you outside,” I instructed.
“Adam,” Jesse trailed off, “I’m sorry I couldn’t do more to make the Hennesys trust us.”
Without looking back I said, “You were the man for the job.” Jesse’s self-doubt and perfectionism had crippled him in the past. We’d done a lot of work in sessions at Stormking Mountain, but it had not comfortably receded. I made another mental note as I passed into the bedroom.
The sight of the Hennesy family stopped me cold. The father, about my age, jumped forwards with a look of wild helplessness. Mrs. Hennesy teetered like a lost ghost in the corner. Jim sat motionless on his bed. It was a typical teenager boy’s room with quasi-sexual rock posters on the walls, tennis shoes and sports equipment scattered in caring heaps and a commercial computer for homework and distraction glowing on a particleboard desk. Normally it would have been a comfortable refuge from high school angst. Now it was one from the dark and deadly unknown.
“Who are you?” Mr. Hennesy demanded.
“I’m from Mutant X, like my partner. We spoke on the phone.” I assumed my calmest, business-like demeanor. “We’re here to help you and handle your family’s situation.”
“The way to handle it is to get rid of the G-men and deer tribe and let us alone!” the father shouted.
“It’s not that simple, Mr. Hennesy.” I motioned for him to settle down and directed my attention to his son. “How do you feel, Jim?”
The boy answered in a drained monotone. “My head hurts. And I just want to run. Leap and run.”
He reminded me of a caged animal at a neglected zoo. Two fleshy bumps protruded from his pale forehead. The antlers would emerge within the week. There was nothing the Hennesys could do to stop it.
I knelt down beside him. “I want you to come with me. Get to know my team and other New Mutants. Those who aren’t deer Ferals like you are and have learned to live and cope with their powers within normal society.”
“He’s not going anywhere!” Mr. Hennesy injected.
“He’s already gone,” I snapped back. “His natural biology has taken over. That’s why the tribe has come for him. If you don’t allow a period for him to assimilate his evolution, he’ll be lost forever.”
Mr. Hennesy was silent.
“What do you say, Jim?” I resumed my focus on the lad. “If we work together you have a chance to be both the son your parents raised and the New Mutant you are becoming.”
For a moment I saw a glimmer of a smile on Jim’s lips. Color drained back into his face. Even his parents seemed to relax, seeing this.
“Ah, Adam…” It was Brennan’s voice on my Comlink. “I’ve got a barnyard full of snorting Cervine Ferals here that’re gonna be hard to explain to the Neighborhood Watch group.”
“Jesse? Shalimar?” I called into my ring link.
“They’re out of reach for the moment,” a sultry woman’s voice interrupted.
Morgan Fortier stood in the bedroom doorway. Bruises and tears showed marks of her battle with Shalimar that she had obviously won. “But don’t worry. You’ll be seeing them soon. You’re all coming with me.”
With a turn of her head she telekinetically pinned Mr. Hennesy and me against the wall.
“Under the authority of Genomex and the United States Government, I’m arresting you all.”
...Serials - Game #5
There’s an old Asian combat trick of letting your opponent think they have the advantage and then attacking their false sense of confidence. It’s a strategy I encourage Mutant X to practice time and time again in Dojo simulations at Stormking Mountain. Shalimar and Brennan have particular trouble with it. They both have pride issues. Jesse, however, is more humble and can pull off a bluff beyond my greatest expectations. That’s just what he did with Morgan Fortier.
Seeing that she had taken down Shalimar in the front yard, Jesse let her think the telekinetic bolt she aimed had kayoed him. When she passed into the house, he got up and phased through the walls, hot on her trail.
While I cannot say I had complete confidence that Ms. Fortier had not bested my team, I will testify that there was a slight smugness in my attitude when Jesse’s arm ghosted into the bedroom and knocked the GSAgent out cold. The Hennesys and I were instantly released from her psionic grip.
“I’ve got her covered, Adam,” my intense protégée assured. “You better help Brennan.”
At once I was down the hallway, past the kitchen and out the back door. The Hennesys were right behind me. What awaited us was a deadly standoff.
Eight tall Cervine Feral men dressed in army fatigues with sharp antlers extending from their foreheads stood in striking formation around the yard. Only Brennan stood between them and the porch, a handful of hissing electricity keeping the group at bay.
“Thanks for taking your time,” Brennan snapped, “This ain’t exactly ‘Bambi’ back here, you know.”
Ignoring the sarcasm, I slowly advanced toward the Cervines. I knew my actions had to be as delicate as diffusing a landmine. Only the direst circumstance would bring these recluses out into the open while daylight was streaming. I focused my attention on the leader who was obviously in front of the others. After some effort, his darting dark eyes settled enough to meet mine.
“My name is Adam. I’m from Mutant X,” I began in a near whisper. “I want us all to solve this matter without any harm. The Genomex agents have been dealt with. Do you understand?”
After several seconds that seemed like an eternity, the Head Cervine answered. His voice was even softer than mine. “The boy must come with us. It’s his time.”
“He has a family that loves and accepts him,” I countered. “They mean to care for him and tend his growing needs as a New Mutant.”
“Only we can do that. Cervines don’t pass for human, like other Ferals. We cannot live with them. The boy will never be sound in man’s society. Only in our tribes will he be whole.”
Jim Hennesy moved a step closer. A light in his eyes told me he was already more deer than man. I think his parents must have seen it too.
Police sirens began to echo in from a few blocks away. The Cervines all started. It was a tremendous effort for them to hold their positions and not bolt.
“Adam!” Emma’s voice rang out over my Comlink. “I’m blocking off any witnesses so far. But more are coming and my mental grip isn’t that tight.” The poor girl was spreading her telempathy around the neighborhood inserting “innocent” camouflaged views of the Hennesy house into the heads of whoever caught sight of it. Such a feat would have been a challenge for a team of Psionics, more or less a single twenty-two year old. We had a minute at best.
“Surrender the boy,” the Cervine leader put forth. It was almost a plea. “He is one of us.”
“Scared psychos who live in the backwoods like a tribe of ‘Deliverance’ hicks? Give the kid some credit!” It was Shalimar. Perched on the Hennesy’s roof and ready to spring on whoever made a false move, she had obviously recovered. The dried blood on her mouth and ear only added to the fierceness of her Feline demeanor. I believe the Cervines feared her even more than Brennan’s lightning cracks.
“You deer loners give Ferals a bad name,” Shalimar snarled through her teeth. She looked directly at Jim. “They’ll make you an animal and keep you from sharing yourself with others. Is that what you want?”
Jim seemed swayed by her words.
“We can help you in both your worlds,” I began softly. The boy smiled.
“Adam!” Brennan tried to warn me, but it was too late. The Hennesy’s gun was snatched from my belt. I still curse myself for drifting my guard away.
In another moment, a shot rang out.
...Serials - Game #6
Young Jim Hennesy slumped to the ground, a massive hole in his chest. He managed to raise his head and look at the shooter: his mother. Tears streaming down her face, the desperate woman could not bear her son’s agony.
“Thanks, Mom,” Jim smiled weakly. “I’d’ve never been able to choose.” With a sigh of release, he dropped back and died.
Mrs. Hennesy began screaming hysterically and aimed the gun to her own head. An electric jolt from Brennan knocked it out of her hand before she could pull the trigger. Her husband ran forward and grabbed her. It all happened in a matter of seconds.
I was stunned and could not believe the events had come to this. The police sirens were loud and near. The Cervines sprang in thirty-foot leaps over the back fence. Brennan and Shalimar pulled me away from the yard. Jesse and Emma joined us as we bivouacked back to the lot where we’d left the Double Helix.
Looking back over my shoulder, I caught sight of the Hennesys cradling their dead boy as policemen emerged from the front of the house. Shalimar growled slightly to my right. Turning, my eyes met those of the antlered chief Cervine. He had stopped fleeing for a moment and took stock, as I did, of what lay behind him. Rare for a deer. I recognized the look of hatred in his eyes, not for others but of himself. It must have mirrored my own. In an instant, he was gone.
There was not much we could do to provide damage control. As it turned out, we did not have to. The Hennesys took full responsibility for the tragedy and never mentioned Mutant X, Jim’s condition or the three-way fight for control of him. The boy’s death was attributed to a family conflict. His mother was admitted to a psychiatric facility and his father left town. If neighbors ever spotted the Cervine tribe, no one publicly acknowledged them. The same went for the GSA, who are experts at getting themselves removed from any incrimination, any way. The only loose end was how we felt inside. The hollow, cancerous chill of a senseless defeat.
Fate had dealt a difficult hand and I played the game badly. Yes, being involved with mutants means a different set of rules but not to the point where human considerations are sacrificed. If Mutant X had only united with the Cervines Jim would have never been left in the middle. But no one saw the bigger picture and just kept on yanking at the boy, forcing his mother to do the unthinkable.
We approached the situation with an arrogance that assumed we knew best. Just like the Cervines. Just like Genomex. We underestimated the most crucial factor: Jim. No one trusted the boy to act for himself. Not even his parents. As a result, we lost him. For once, being New Mutants was not an excuse for anyone’s actions. It was a cause. In brutal hindsight, I can see how far my focus has shifted from the true foundation of integration to the glory of the fight. I’ve barely slept a night since that haunting afternoon.
My team has responded to the failed mission in his or her own personal ways. Jesse has channeled some family funds into an anonymous scholarship named for Jim. Emma meditates and prays. Brennan pretends to have shrugged the whole thing off but spends most of his free time volunteering with mutant youths in the Underground. And Shalimar…she took a short leave of absence to track down the Cervine tribe we encountered. Not to seek revenge, but to make peace. May her efforts build the bridge mine could not.
As for me, Cervine studies aside, I feel the best course I can take is to never follow the same path in my future with New Mutants. My motives should never be about racing Eckhart’s agents or studying a new breed. They should always focus on the individuals. It’s not a game after all. Is it, Jim?
Return to The Mutant X Warehouse