Monday, January 30, 2006

As I sat back in my chambers in front of the roaring fire, sipping a tumbler of warm cognac and thinking about how much I enjoyed my evening with Vampirella, my thoughts wondered to how Gaia and Cable's date was going.

I had made arrangements for them to see the hit Broadway show Spamalot and then engage an intimate dinner at the fashionable Tavern on the Green restaurant in Central Park. True the show is sold out, but I have a lot of friends who owe me big favors. Okay, the manager of the theater is a mutant code named Pitch Perfect. He has the ability to determine exactly what pitch someone is singing in. Actually, he can identify any sound that way. He gets it perfect, every time. Truthfully, it's really not really a very useful power. That's why he's not one of the X-Men. Not all mutants are cut out to be super-heroes. Hence his career in the private sector.

I decided to "eavesdrop" on the date telepathically. Just to make sure everything was alright. The musical was already over and the two had just sat down to dinner.

"That show was so funny!" said Gaia brightly.

"Oh yeah!" Cable replied. "That song 'Run Away' was hilarious. That Tim Curry is great!"

"And that 'Brave Sir Robin' bit with David Hyde Pierce . . I couldn't stop laughing!"

"Excuse me," said the waiter with a smile. "Are you ready to order?"

"Um, I think so," said Cable. "Let's see. I guess we can have, well, the um, maybe . ."

I should stop here just to explain in Cable's defense that he is from a rather harsh, desolate future and he has not had a lot of experience dining out. For that matter, neither has Gaia. The whole ordering food thing can be a rather awkward moment, one that takes practice to master. Fortunately for both of them, the moment was interrupted.

" . . the, um, steak? How would you like -"

Just then a giant metal foot crashed through the glass roof of the restaurant. Then, out of the night sky, a giant metal fist reached down and scooped up Cable. It was a Sentinel! Four full grown Brood warriors swarmed down it's arm and spilled into the chaos that had erupted in the dining hall. They moved to attack Gaia.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Looking back on all the students who have passed through the hallowed halls here at the school, I realized that quite a few of them have "hooked up" with each other, as the kids say today. While the primary purpose of this school is education, and of course developing unique mutant talents, the students do also learn socialization skills.

I suppose it's inevitable that when young people get together they are going to be attracted to one another and form attachments, perhaps even strong relationships. The fact that there really is very little supervision here might also contribute to the free-wheeling bohemian life style that so many adopt. Though leaving the students to their own devices might have been a mistake, it was a conscious choice. The best way to make people responsible is to make them responsible for themselves.

The reason why I bring this up is because I have decided to play match-maker. Gaia recently went on a date with Quicksilver. It didn't go that well. I could have told her that, of course. Pietro has a lot of unresolved issues with his father that interfere with him relating to other people. Gaia has hinted, very subtly I might add, that she would be interested in getting to know Cable.

I do have some reservations about these two as a possible couple due to their age difference. Cable is probably in his 30s or 40s at this point (all that time traveling makes the math a little hard), while Gaia is thousand of years old. They do seem to have compatible personalities in that they are both good natured people. Cable might be a little stiff for Gaia, though. We'll see. I have arraigned for them to see Spamalot tonight and I have made reservations for them at Tavern on the Green. Hopefully they will have a wonderful time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

After our return from successfully stopping Apocalypse from his rather devious but ultimately silly scheme (again), I took a nice long hot bath and had my first good nights sleep in quite a while. Waking in the morning, completely refreshed, I decided to pay a call on Vampirella. I've found myself strangely attracted to this alluring woman, for some reason I can't quite put my fingers on.

We spent the whole day together and I must say, I had a wonderful time. Vampirella really is quite fascinating. I am definitely looking forward to spending more time with her. The fact that she is a vampire, and apparently an alien, though making her dangerous, also make her all the more exciting.

When I returned to the mansion, I found that I had been tagged with a Meme by Jon, the Intergalactic Gladiator. Thanks Jon. And then I found that Vampirella had tagged me too. This counts for both of you!

Four Jobs You've Had
Ladies Man

Four Places You Have Lived
Alamogordo, New Mexico
Oxford, England
Cairo, Egypt
Westchester. New York

Four TV Shows You Love To Watch
My Name is Earl
Celebrity Fit Club
Project Runway
American Idol

Four Place You've Been on Vacation
Muir Isle, Great Britian
The Shi'ar Galaxy
Atlantic City

Four (or so) Blogs You Visit Daily
Jon, the Intergalactic Gladiator
Gaia, of the Universal Amalgamator
Jean Grey, the Phoenix
Deadpool, the Merc with a Mouth
Selene, the Black Queen
Lt. Commander Oneida
Captain Picard's Journal
Master Yoda

Four of Your Favorite Foods
Fish and Chips
Loaded waffle fries from Friendly's
Anything with shrimp in it
Sasquatch's Homemade Great White Chili

Four Places You'd Rather Be
On a date with Vampirella
Climbing Mt. Everest
At the movies

Four Albums You Can't Live Without
Pink Floyd - The Wall
Xavier's Best of the 80s Mix
Xavier's Best of the 90s Mix
Xavier's Best of the 00s Mix

Four Vehicles You've Owned
Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II
The X-Jet
Various X-Bikes
My hoverchair

Four People to be Tagged
Jean Grey

Monday, January 23, 2006

"Having trouble, Charles?" Magneto asked as he and his Brotherhood strode into the large room.

"What took you so long, Eric?" I asked.

"Oh, you know how it is. Finding a parking place this time of day can be such a bitch."

Magneto raised his hand and the metal containment unit in the center of the room holding Scarlet Witch, Sabertooth, Quicksilver, Emma Frost and Polaris flew apart into hundreds of pieces. As the metal components started to fly around the center of the room, the four Horsemen moved in on Magneto. The Blob stepped between them.

"I'll handle lard-ass," Oprah said with a sneer.

"You should talk, wide-load."

Oprah pointed at the Blob and large waves of pure force shot out, smashing into his flabby belly. The jumbo sized mutant barely seemed to notice.

"Ha!" he shouted. "Nothin' moves the Blob, you fat cow."

Steam started to radiate from her ears and sparks shot from her eyes. Oprah began spinning around, releasing tremendous amounts of energy. A vortex opened up between her and the Blob. It looked like it opened up into the nothingness of deep space. The cosmic breech expanded, moving closer to the Blob.

Just then Exodus unleashed a ferocious blast of psionic energy at Oprah. The mental assault caught her off balance and she lost control of the vortex. It suddenly snapped back on her, sucking her and the other Horsemen out into some farflung corner of the galaxy.

As the X-Men got back to their feet and the newly freed prisoners joined their comrades, all eyes turned to Apocalypse, who suddenly seemed nervous. His eyes glanced quickly around the room, perhaps looking for the nearest exit.

"I am not looking for an exit, you worm!" he bellowed. "I don't need those fools! I am overflowing with the power of Harmonic DNA! With it I shall I infuse the core of the Earth with enough energy to raise the surface temperature to an average of 150 degrees Fahrenheit! All the weak chaff will parish and only the strong shall survive! HA HA HA!!"

We all looked at each other for a moment.

"That is your big plan?" I asked with disbelief. His inane cackling just continued. "And may I ask, why is it you always care so much about the strong surviving? What difference does that possibly make to your life? How does that help you?"

"Because then only the strong will be left and I shall rule them!"

"Yes, but why not just try and rule everyone? Why kill most of the people first?"

"Because I am so great, it would demean me to rule over lesser, unworthy beings."

"You are demented, aren't you," I responded. "Eric?"

Magneto smiled and gestured with his hand. The large machine he had assembled above Apocalypse out of the components of his energy draining confinement unit began to hum. Like a giant vacuum cleaner, all of the Harmonic DNA began to drain from Apocalypse.

He screamed his objections but Jean and Exodus and the other telekenetics held him firmly in place. As the stolen energy was sucked out of him, his body began to shrink in size. By the time Magneto turned off his machine, all that was left was a frail little Egyptian man. Wolverine walked over to him, claws out.

"Not today, Logan," Magneto said. "I have plans for this one."

Sabertooth snatched the former dark lord up and the Brotherhood left.

"Well Gaia," I said, "it looks like another adventure is resolved. How are you liking being an X-Man?"

"It certainly isn't dull, Professor. I wonder what lies ahead for us?"

"Only tomorrow will tell, my dear. Only tomorrow will tell."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

In front of our assembled team stood the dark lord Apocalypse, his massive form reaching 30 feet high. Pure energy, drained from his mutant captives, rippled through his body. Behind us stood his newly revived Horsemen - Oprah Winfrey, Celine Dion, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. Our team was already pretty drained from our battles to reach this large inner chamber. We had little left for this fight.

The X-Men responded heroically, of course. Jean did her Phoenix thing, charging at Apocalypse himself, buying the rest of us time to try and overcome the Horsemen. Celine started her horrible cackling screeches again. Gaia was able to throw up her sound dampening shield around her but this time Oprah slammed her with a wall of force and sent poor Gaia flying across the room. The force field enclosed around Gaia into some kind of airtight cage.

I engaged Oprah in a psionic duel, keeping her occupied so the others could hopefully take out the rest of the Horsemen. Wolverine, screaming his battle cry "I'm the best at what I do!" charged Tom Cruise, but he was stopped in his tracks when Cruise started talking about Scientology to him. The totally illogicalness of what Cruise was saying left Wolverine a vegetable.

Deadpool and Colossus charged at Brad Pitt. Just as they were on top of him, Pitt's eyes started to sparkle and he licked his lower lip. Both Wade and Peter were locked into his hypnotic "pretty boy trance." His enemies left as drooling zombies, Pitt was able to move on to Northstar. Unfortunately, given Jean-Paul's tastes, it didn't take much for Pitt to zombie-fy him, too.

Celine, free from Gaia's restraints, started her horrible, mind-numbing singing again. Now Selene, the Black Queen, jumped at her, doing a triple forward flip, catching the Vegas diva in the throat with her boot. With her trachea thankfully stunned, she was left powerless. Selene was able to land several blows against her. That is, until Tom Cruise flashed his "dazzle smile" at her, leaving Selene blinded and stunned.

To my surprise I was having a very difficult time in my mental struggles against Oprah. Her power was incredible. I unleashed everything I had, but I wasn't able to get an advantage. I could actually feel her assault starting to wear my defenses down. Just then a huge energy blast shot out from the center of the room. Jean went hurtling by.

As I looked around, all the X-Men were lying defeated on the ground. Apocalypse and his four Horsemen were moving in on me. Things were looking pretty bleak.

Just when I felt that all was lost, Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants burst through the entrance and charged into the room.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The two new Horsemen of Apocalypse, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, laughed maniacally in the doorway to the control room. The X-Men and I stared at their unexpected arrival for a few moments before we were able to react. Deadpool was the first to gather his wits.

A spray of steaming hot lead flew from his twin Uzis, hurtling with deadly accuracy towards the two actor/mutant/Horsemen. Cruise, still laughing, pulled his lips back in an inhumanly large smile. His teeth quickly grew to five times their original, already humongous size and then an insanely bright white light flashed from them. All the bullets melted in mid-air.

Jean was the next to spring to action. She rose into the air and launched energy blasts at the two. At almost the same instant, Cyclops fired his optic beam at them. Pitt's smile also broadened. As his mouth widened, the fabric of space in front of him warped. When the energy beams passed through the warped space, they gathered up into a ball and started spinning very quickly. The fiery red balls rapidly grew in size and then hurtled back towards Scott and Jean.

Seeing his friends in mortal peril, Northstar hurled himself in front of the blasts. He let out a terrible screech of pain as he made himself into a human shield, saving the lives of Jean and Scott. Jean-Paul's charred, dead body dropped to the ground.

"They killed Northstar!" Scott said.

"You bastards!" yelled Jean.

Everyone but Gaia and myself charged at Cruise and Pitt. A ferocious battle ensued. As the fight raged on, Gaia focused her energies on Northstar. She covered him in a shimmering light. Slowly his charred flesh returned to normal. Focusing her energies delicately on his heart, she acted like a living defibrillator. Slowly, painfully, Jean-Paul lifted his head.

"Oh la la," he moaned. "Je suis ou?"

Just then Brad Pitt went flying over his head. When he crashed into the ground, he did not get up. Colossus ran up behind him to make sure he was out.

"You can be talking about zat fight club all you be wanting to," the large Russian said with a triumphant smile.

Then a high pitched girly scream filled the room. We all turned to see Selene standing behind Cruise, her hands on his temple, draining his life essence. I could see that he was trying to focus his strength for a counter attack. With his defenses momentarily down, I was able to launch a sharp mental attack, rendering him unconscious.

With the four Horsemen beaten, we charged on into the room where the prisoners were being held. We saw the giant containment unit housing. In the center, under a massive array of distributors, stood Apocalypse. The meters above the prisoners indicated that their life forces were almost completely drained. Apocalypse was three times his normal size and bristling with power. He turned slowly towards us.

"So Xavier, you wanted to know my ultimate goal? Now you do . . power!!" With that he unleashed for bolts of pure energy. They flew over our heads and zipped into the room we had just come from. We looked around confused for a moment until we saw the four, now freed and re-energized, Horsemen run up behind us. All of them were laughing insanely.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Apocalypse has had the Scarlet Witch, Sabertooth, Quicksilver, Emma Frost and Polaris as his prisoners for two days now. Surely this must have given him enough time to get all of his diabolical plans into their final stage. This means two things. One, we can find out what his ultimate goal is. Two, in the event that we are able to stop him, we will have done so in a very dramatic way. That is always far more heroic, of course.

Our team assembled in the Ready Room at the mansion. Gaia had done a quick recon of his base in France and reported that his mutant prisoners were all placed into capsules in some kind of giant contraption. The device appeared to be some kind of generator or siphon.

As I looked over the assembled team, I wondered if we had enough fire power to take on a being such as Apocalypse. Not to mention his Horsemen, Oprah and Celine. Wolverine kept popping his claws.

"Let me at 'em," he growled.

"Can we get on with this already?" Jean asked impatiently. "I want to get back at that fat cow. I don't know what the hell that anti-Phoenix force was, but I'm going to take it out permanently."

Northstar nodded agreement but he had a nervous look on his face. I didn't blame him. The way Jean has been slipping back and forth between her Dark Phoenix personality is definitely a cause for concern.

Just as I was about to give Gaia the signal to teleport the group to France, the Ready Room door opened and in walked Selene, the Black Queen. Deadpool was at her side.

"How did zey get in vithout tripping ze alarm?" Nightcrawler asked.

"Because I invited them," I said. "Now we are ready to go. Gaia, if you would?"

"You got it, Professor." She folded her arms together in front of her and nodded. Instantly we were all transported from the mansion to the control room of Apocalypse's hidden base. Waiting there for us was Celine Dion and Oprah Winfrey, his extremely powerful mutant warriors.

"You are too late, X-Men!" Oprah shouted with glee. "The master's plans are almost complete!"

"Now!" I telepathically told the team. Everyone sprung into action.

Celine opened her mouth wide and started to emit her nerve shattering screech. Northstar, as planned, charged her at near light speed and slammed into her hard. Despite her small thin size, she proved to have tremendous strength. Northstar bounced off of her and went ricocheting across the room.

Celine's horrific song started to fill the room. Charging X-Men began to falter but fortunately Gaia was able to get a sound proof energy shell around her at just the last moment. Celine continued screeching and I could see the shell start to waiver. Gaia had to use all of her concentration to hold it in place.

Meanwhile, Jean called upon the Phoenix force and flew directly at Oprah. She laughed back. Rather than call upon her own fiery bird, she raised her hands and waves of force slammed into Jean who was knocked back hard.

Colossus picked up Wolverine and threw him at Oprah. With his claws leading the way, he sped for her heart. Oprah waved her hand though and stopped Logan in mid-air. She spun him around and then hurtled him back at Colossus. Nightcrawler leapt onto Peter's back and teleported him out of the way at the last possible second.

As other X-Men charged at her, I reached out telepathically and picked my way careful through Oprah's substantial mental defenses. Cyclops fired his optic blast at her but she easily deflected the assault. The Black Queen psychokinetically caused panels from the computer banks to rise up and fly at Oprah just as Deadpool pulled out his two Uzis and opened fire. Oprah was able to redirect those attacks also, but her distraction gave me the opportunity I needed.

Reaching through her shields deep into her inner mind, I suddenly unleashed a psionic firestorm. Oprah screamed and fell to her knees. The X-Men quickly swarmed her. As she was restrained, loud maniacal laughter filled the room. Everyone turned to the door and saw Apocalypse's other two, newly acquired Horsemen. Both were also dressed in Hellfire Club attire. It was Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. Two of the most powerful mutants on the planet.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I assembled a team to protect the Scarlet Witch from the inevitable attack by Apocalypse. Gaia would have been a part of that group but she was still feeling a bit shell-shocked after Apocalypse told her that he was her brother.

Those who Apocalypse had already taken prisoner - Emma, Sabertooth, Quicksilver and Polaris all eagerly volunteered to be on the team. Jean Grey, who had been posing as a Horseman, also wanted to go. Several of the other X-Men had come to the front yard to investigate the sudden appearance of those who had managed to escape from the fearsome foe's clutches. Storm insisted that she lead the team. Not wanting to make a scene, I agreed. Besides, she was qualified to fly the X-Jet.

The team quickly scrambled into the plane and headed towards Manhattan. Using Cerebro to scan the city, I was able to locate Wanda at Macy's in mid-town. She was alone. The team was there in just a few minutes. Setting the X-Jet to hover, everyone jumped out of the plane. Jean levitated those who couldn't fly. Needless to say, Wanda was quite surprised to see all those mutants falling from the sky.

Almost the instant that even landed on the sidewalk, Oprah and Celine Dion, the two remaining Horsemen of Apocalypse, materialized into thin air. They were both dressed like Hellfire Club Queens.

"So you traitorous whore!" Oprah spat at Jean. "You think you can protect the Witch? She will be our Lord's!"

"I don't need any protection, you fat cow!" Wanda said as a hex bolt flew from her finger tips and slammed into Oprah's chest.

The sudden change in the probability field around her caused some bricks from high above to come loose and fall towards Oprah. The erst-while talkshow host waved her hand and the bricks bounced harmlessly off an invisible energy shield.

"Is that the best you have?" she taunted.

"Hardly," replied Wanda coolly.

She twisted her fingers around and spoke some arcane words. A blinding flash lit the sidewalk and Oprah found herself suddenly encased in cement, completely unable to move. Sabertooth moved towards her, claws out, ready to strike his helpless victim.

Just then the most horrible screech imaginable erupted from Celine's lips. Everyone on the street screamed in pain and dropped to their knees. Celine threw back her head and continued her terrible cacophony.

A tremendous burst of energy flew from Oprah's body, smashing her stone confinement. Laughing with an evil cackle, she waved her hands and energy globes formed around the helpless bodies of Wanda, Sabertooth, Quicksilver, Emma and Polaris.

Jean, exerting tremendous willpower, forced her mind to focus long enough to call upon the Phoenix power. An awesome fiery red bird formed around her, lifting her into the sky and protecting her from Celine's catterwalling. Jean looked down at Oprah with a maniacal glee.

"Let my friends go," she ordered.

Oprah looked up at Jean defiantly. Then a giant black flaming bird, every bit the equal in size and majesty to the Phoenix, formed around Oprah. She too raised into the sky. They stood there silently facing each other for several moments. Then the birds rushed towards each other and with a deafening explosion, collided.

When the smoke cleared, only Jean was left, the Phoenix entity momentarily gone.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

My afternoon meditations were interrupted by a loud commotion from outside in the front yard of the mansion. Quickly scanning the area telepathically, I found that Gaia and Jean Grey had instantly teleported from Apocalypse's base in France. With them, they brought his former prisoners: Emma Frost, Quicksilver, Polaris and Sabertooth. And of course the ubiquitous talking fox, Fred, was with them. I went out to greet everyone.

"I'm sorry for appearing so dramatically, Professor," said Gaia. "I know we had a plan and all to find out Pokey's true goals, but things just got too weird for me. I just had to get out of there."

"Why, what happened, my dear?"

"I . . I found out that Pokey is my . . brother." Gaia's head hung low.

"What? That's impossible."

"I saw the DNA test results, too," Jean said. "They clearly stated that the two of them are siblings."

"But how can that be?" I asked. "Apocalypse was born in Egypt . . 5,000 years ago!"

"The fact is, I don't really know much about my origins," Gaia replied. "I was trapped with the Universal Amalgamator for what seemed like an eternity. But there was really no time there. It was like it's own dimension."

"I understand but . . Apocalypse's sister!"

Everyone stood around silently for a few moments. Then Emma spoke up.

"You do realize it's entirely possible Pokey was just faking those test results."

"But why would he?" Gaia asked. "He already thought I was working for him as a Horseman. What would it gain him?"

"Why just to screw with you, my dear. He is a sadistic creep, you know."

"None of that matters now," said Quicksilver. We all turned to look at him. "That bastard is after my sister, the Scarlet Witch. We have to stop him!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

As you may know, I was served with a Cease and Desist order yesterday. Today I received the lawsuit that Apocalypse has filed against me. He's seeking 2 million dollars in damages for my mis-appropriation of his image. This is crazy!

Obviously this is all part of whatever sinister plan he is hatching. I am so distressed about this that I can't even deal with it right now.

Deadpool is recasting his Bravo television show. In order to get away from all this madness for a bit, I have offered myself for the part of the Police Sheriff. Today I also received the publicity stills that the show plans to use of me in promoting the show. Apparently Deadpool himself designed them.

And apparently there is a plot in the works to have my character recover the use of his legs. I can only assume they have some fancy special effects in store.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I received the strangest visitor today. As you may be aware, the really, really evil Apocalypse (like his name wasn't enough to tell you he's evil), has been doing what he does, ie-hatching evil plans. We have decided to let him unfold his plot so that we can find out what his ultimate goal is this time. Apparently his plan of attack is a little more convoluted this time. My strange visitor was Apocalypse's lawyer.

"Charles Francis Xavier?" the little mousy man asked.


"On behalf of my client, Apocalypse, I am officially serving you with this cease and desist order."

"What are you talking about?"

"It's all there in the documents. You've been served. Good day."

As the creepy little man in the suit left, I opened the large envelope and peered inside. The top of the papers were emblazoned with the words "Cease and Desist." Reading further, it became apparent that I was being ordered to immediately stop any and all distributions, licensing arrangements and/or marketing campaigns for the video game X-Men Legends 2: Rise of Apocalypse.

How bizarre, I thought. I immediately reached out telepathically to Jean and Gaia and got the phone number for Apocalypse's base in France. After letting it ring about ten times, he finally picked up.

"En Sabah Nur here. Whoever this is, this better be about money you owe me."

"This is Professor X."

"Oh, you. What the hell do you want?"

"Nice to talk to you to. Please tell me what this cease and desist order is all about."

"Oh like you don't know."

"No, I don't, or I wouldn't have asked."

"Don't play Mr. Innocent with me Xavier! I don't know how you found out about my top secret evil plans, but you totally ripped them off in that stinking video game of yours! This will not stand!"

"First of all, I only license out the characters for use in the video game. I have nothing to do with designing it. I have no idea where their plots come from. Second of all, that game was really quite good. Especially for a super-hero game."

"I don't believe you for a minute! You totally used your wussy telepathy powers to steal my brilliant plans! Well don't think it will work! I am unstoppable!!"

And then the line went dead. Sigh.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Things are getting a little out of hand with this Apocalypse thing. As most of you may know, this totally evil mutant who was born some 5,000 years ago is off on another misguided attempt to take over the world. He likes to recruit Horsemen. It fits in with his whole god complex thing.

This time around he managed to recruit four very powerful beings: Phoenix, Gaia, Vegeta and Oprah. Apparently Oprah had managed to use her dark powers to take over Vegeta's mind. Fortunately he was able to break free and escape Apocalypse's control. Oprah had set a trap for Gaia which she narrowly managed to escape. None the less, she and Jean both told Apocalypse they were signing up, though in reality they were just trying to find out his plan. Oprah, who is evil through and through, seems to be the only one completely aligned with him.

When Vegeta left, Jean and Gaia were ordered to find a replacement. They chose Celine Dion, perhaps the most evil being of all. She can reduce a man to a blubbering helpless pool just by uttering a single note.

Now that his Horsemen are in place, Apocalypse has revealed the first stage of his plan to his agents. Apparently he is ripping off the plot of X-Men: Legends II, a very lucrative game I might add. He had Jean and Gaia attacked the mansion and kidnapped Polaris.

Not wanting to tip off Apocalypse, I dispatched several X-Men to try and stop them. Jean and Gaia did an excellent job and repelled the counter-attack. Now Apocalypse has Polaris.

The choices are to strike now or wait until he has revealed his ultimate plan. Personally, I prefer to wait until the last possible moment. It's much more dramatic.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I took a long sip from my glass of cognac, thankful that I finally had time to myself. Silly me.

"This sucks!" Wolverine yelled as he crashed into my room. "I totally demand you do another Amazing Race right now!"

"Are you kidding? Do you have any idea much work Gaia and I had to do to organize that last one? And we only had a couple of days to do it all. I had to call in a lot of favors."

"But it's not fair! Emma and Selene cheated!"

"It didn't make any difference, Logan. They still lost."

"And that damn Hudson shot my ship. I am gonna totally get that weasal."

"Oh, Hudson is alright. Besides, he was really quite helpful in the off-world battle against the Brood/Sentinel hybrid that had launched that attack against New York a couple of months ago."

"Yeah, good for him. The worst part of this whole stinkin' thing is that the winners weren't even mutants! It's suppose ta be the Amazin' Mutant Race for pete's sake! The winners were human!"

"Actually, Oneida and Yoda aren't humans. They are aliens from a galaxy far, far away and a time long, long ago."

"Well if they're from a time long ago, how can they be here today?"

"Umm, have you ever heard of Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity?"

". . no."

"Well, there you go."

"Yeah, whatever. I still want a new race!"

"Look Logan, if you're looking for something to do, Deadpool is casting a new television show. Or if you prefer, Apocalypse is looking for some new Horsemen. You could be War again."

He stood there for a long moment, his face full of frustration, until he finally admitted to himself that I wasn't going to do another race. With a grunt he turned and left. Thank goodness.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator and Private Hudson, Emma Frost and Selene and Lieutenant Commander Oneida and Master Yoda all gathered in the throne room of the Golden Palace in the Inhuman city of Attilan. The king of the Inhumans, Black Bolt, sat silently in the grand chair as his wife, Medusa, stood at his side. Gaia stepped forward and addressed the group of racers.

"Congratulations to all of you. As the finalists of the Amazing Mutant Race 2, you have proven that you are each champions, regardless of what happens today. This is the final leg of the race. Whichever of the final three teams reaches the last destination first, shall be the winner. Emma and Selene, as yesterday's winners, you are the first to depart today."

Smiling triumphantly, Emma stepped up to Gaia and snatched the clue from her.

"Be transported to the African Kingdom of Wakanda. There seek the king and ask him for help reaching your finally destination - Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters."

"Finally, civilization," Emma said. "I assume Lockjaw will do the honors?"

Gaia smiled and nodded. The two racers walked over to the giant beast and placed their hands on either of his shoulders. A glow emanated from Lockjaw and in a wink, they were gone.

The three appeared on the other side of Africa, standing on a stone dais along a sandy beach. Around them were several people in formal dress, including a man dressed from head to toe in a black skin-tight outfit and a long flowing cape - the Black Panther, king of Wakanda. At his side was the X-Man, Storm. She and Emma exchanged nods.

"Welcome to my home," said the Black Panther in a deep booming voice. "I extend to you the hospitality of my people."

"Thank you, King T'Challa," Emma replied with a respectful bow. "What we would like is your help in getting to Xavier's mansion."

"To get my help in this, you must prove your worth. Before I could assume the mantel of the Black Panther, I first had to pass two tests. One of combat. The other of perseverance. To achieve your goal, you must also pass a test. One player from your team must score three hits against me in hand-to-hand combat."

"I will do this," Emma announced.

"No Emma," objected Selene. "I am stronger and faster than you. I should do it."

Emma looked at her partner and then spoke to her telepathically, so that the others could not hear. "I have psionics, you fool. While he's bouncing all over the place dodging punches I can just zap his brain."

"But we're winning! There's no reason to take such chances."

"Don't be silly. We have the advantage and we must preserve it."

"Alright fine. But if we lose it's your fault."

Meanwhile, Lockjaw teleported back to Attilan. There Oneida and Yoda stepped up and were taken to Wakanda, leaving Jon and Hudson behind.

"The others have a bit of a lead," Jon said glumly.

"Hey, it's no problem man! I am totally pumped. I'm takin' the gloves off and I'm gonna step up to the plate."

"Hudson, do you mean to tell me that you've had gloves on this whole time?"

"Uh, well not literally gloves. You know, it's a metaphor."

"So you're saying that you've been holding back, then?"

"No, no I haven't, man. I've been giving it my all!"

"Then what are these gloves you are talking about?"

Hudson looked rather confused. Fortunately for him, Lockjaw reappeared at that moment and spared him any further embarrassment. The two hurried over to the dog and were transported to the ocean front kingdom of Wakanda. There they saw Emma laughing triumphantly as the Black Panther rubbed his shoulder.

"I think I can take him, Master Yoda," Oneida said. "I've had a lot of hand-to-hand training in the Royal Navy."

"Maybe so, that is. But a Jedi I am. My ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. It flows through us, binds -"

"Um, yes, I know all that. But I am a soldier. This is kind of what I do. I mean, he did say it was without weapons. That means no lightsaber."

"Hmm, true that is. Alright, do this you may."

"Thank you, Master Yoda."

Oneida climbed up onto the raised platform and assumed a combat stance, her feet spread, body crouched and arms ready to strike. Slowly the two warriors circled around each other, sizing up their opponent and looking for an opportunity to strike.

Suddenly lunging forward, Oneida used a double feignt, throwing first a right jab and then twirling around with a roundhouse kick. The Black Panther jumped back out of the way but Oneida pressed her attack. She delivered three quick left jabs which the Panther ducked and then a high scissor kick.

As the Panther crouched down under her kick, Oneida fell forward, her body still spinning through the motion of her leg. Falling on top of the Panther, she wrapped her left arm around the back of his neck and proceeded to rap on the top of his head with her right knuckles in rapid succession. The crowd laughed and cheered.

As she and Yoda were lead away, Jon stepped onto the platform. Hudson had pleaded to let him do this challenge, but Jon pointed out that he was an Intergalactic Gladiator, which was a much more impressive title than a Colonial Marine. Hudson, conceding that truth, backed down.

"I realize it may not be obvious," Jon said to the Black Panther as they slowly circled each other, "but I'm really a mutant."

"You are? And what is your power?"

"Oh, it's a really good power. Definitely one of the most useful powers that any mutant has ever had."

"Yes? What is it?"

"I have the mutant ability, which manifested itself during my teens just like all mutants, to not be detected as a mutant by magical, scientific or psionic means."

Puzzled, the Black Panther thought about this for a moment. Then he suddenly threw his head back and started laughing. Jon laughed too as he stepped up to his distracted opponent and gently knocked three times on his chest. The Black Panther laughed again and then lead the two racers over to an elaborate building on the beach.

Inside, the players saw a gleaming metallic dart-shaped craft. It looked almost alien in design.

"Wakanda has a very valuable and useful natural resource - Vibranium," the Panther explained. This is the only place on the planet where the metal can be found. It has unique properties which allow us to make fantastic machines. This ship for instance, it can cross the Atlantic Ocean with astounding speed. What use to take man months, now can be done in hours. The other teams have already left in similar ones. Good luck, my friend."

The Panther extended his hand to Jon and the two shook. Then he and Hudson jumped into the ship. The controls were surprisingly simple. The engine roared to life and Jon floored the throttle. The ship leapt into the air, quickly reaching 600 miles an hour. Hudson, acting as navigator, was able to find the other two ships on the radar.

"You know, they aren't all that far ahead of us, Jon. We may still have a chance."

"Oh yeah? Do you even know where Xavier's school is?"

"Sure, it's . . um . . in America, right?"

"Well he says on his blog that's in Westchester."

"Uh, yeah. That's near Maryland, I think."

"Well stop it. Emma Frost knows where it is, we'll just follow her. We have to close the gap, though. This thing kind of flies like the Danger Sled. Hopefully that will give us some advantage."

The three evenly matched crafts tore through the air, flying just over the water line. Miles zipped by in the blink of an eye. Emma and Selene were able to stay in front, but both Oneida and Jon, seasoned pilots, were able to cut their lead significantly. By the time they reached Montauk, Long Island the three ships were less than half a mile apart from each other.

They rounded the North Fork and raced down Long Island Sound towards Westchester County. When Emma and Selene's craft finally passed over the water line and started over land, Oneida and Yoda were only a few dozen yards behind.

Suddenly Oneida felt the controls start to buckle under her hands. She fought with the stick but it stopped responding. Her ship started to veer off course.

"Master Yoda, something's wrong!" she shouted.

Yoda scrunched up his nose but could detect no psionic forces at work. "That Selene cheating again, it is not."

Jon, still about half a mile behind, could see above the other ship a man in a red suit, flowing cape and helmet hovering in mid-air. It was Magneto! He was gesturing at Oneida and Yoda's ship, forcing it to change course away from the mansion. Jon felt his blood start to boil.

"Not on my watch, creep!" he shouted as he pulled his stick back and started a charge directly at Magneto.

Seeing this instrument of impending doom coming straight for him, Magneto was forced to release the other ship and throw up a magnetic barrier. The ship bucked wildly but the vibranium elements of the structure were having a weird effect on Magneto's power.

Jon's ship suddenly surged forward. He heard the dull thunk on the outer hull as he collided with Magneto. He tried to regain control of the craft but it was useless. The magnetic field had some how energized the vibranium and it was now hurtling forward at tremendous speed.

Oneida was firmly in control of her own vessel, however. She flew at top speed, desperately trying to catch up to Emma and Selene who had managed to lengthen their lead thanks to Mangeto's interference. The school was suddenly visible on the horizon.

Oneida, an experienced pilot, dropped behind the other ship and road in their slipstream. Without any wind resistance, she was able to boost her speed, accelerating faster than Emma could. She kept on a straight line, headed directly for the other ship. Just as the two crafts were about to collide, at the very last possible moment, Oneida swerved around Emma and Selene, passing them, just in time to sail across the finish line first.

Emma cursed as her ship crossed the line, a very close second. Up above them, Jon, who had been able to regain control of his vessel, finished third.

All three ships landed in the back yard of the school were Gaia, the X-Men, various students, all the other contestants and myself waited for them.

As Lieutenant Commander Oneida and Master Yoda walked into the winner's circle, a load roar erupted from everyone. Thunderous cheers and applause filled the air. Gaia waited patiently for the clapping and hollering to die down.

"I am so pleased to tell you that as the first team to finish, Oneida and Yoda, you are the winners of the Amazing Mutant Race 2! Congratulations!!"

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The four remaining teams gathered at the base of the mountain upon which the Inhuman city of Attilan perched. In four separate piles lay their climbing gear. The players moved towards the equipment.

"I suppose you want me to strap you onto my back and carry you up?" Selene said to Emma.

For a long moment Emma stared at her partner like she was seriously considering it. "Well, you do have enhanced strength, my dear."

"Forget it! I was being sarcastic!"

"I guess you really don't want to win, do you?"

The two women put on their equipment in silence. The other players also prepared themselves. Except for Vegeta who pulled his partner, Son Goku, to the side.

"Look Kakarot, we don't have waste our time climbing. We can fly! We can beat these fools easily!"

"Come on Vegeta, the rules are we have to climb. We can't cheat."

"Would you stop being such a wuss for just one minute! We have an advantage and we should take it!"

"I know you used to be evil but you've reformed. We have to play by the rules. The humans have a saying which is full of truth. 'Winners never cheat and cheaters never win'."

"Bull crap!! Cheaters always win!"

"If you fly, then I'm forfeiting."

"You are such a wimp, Kakarot. Sometimes I really hate you."

Goku just smiled in response, satisfied that he was doing the right thing.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Commander Oneida hoisted Master Yoda onto her back and prepared to start her ascent. "I haven't done any rock climbing in quite a while Yoda. This is going to be tough what with me carrying you. I still don't see why you had to eat those extra Twinkies last night."

"Energy food, they are. Strength, they will give."

"But you don't need any strength, Master Yoda. You're getting a free ride!"

"Worry not, you should. The Force is with us. Sustain us, it will. Make your burden lighter, it will."

"If you say so."

The teams started their climb. The first few miles were relatively easy as the base had a light grade. But as their altitude increased, so did the incline. Soon the racers had to use spikes and pitons to make their way up the icy vertical wall. After several hours, Jon, the Intergalactic Gladiator and his partner Private Hudson had managed to pull ahead.

"I'm telling you man, in the Colonial Marines they train us to fight in all environments," Hudson said, his breath forming puffy mists in the cold air.

"Yeah, that's great," Jon wheezed.

Vegeta and Goku were following closely behind. Much further back were Emma and Selene with Oneida and Yoda bringing up the rear.

"Shall I improve our odds a bit?" Selene asked breathlessly to Emma. Those were the first words she had spoken to her partner in hours. All Emma could manage in response was a terse nod.

Selene looked back down at Oneida and gestured with her right hand. Rocks and pebbles began to come loose from the mountain side and fall down towards the young girl. A look of panic crossed her face as she saw the stones headed straight towards her.

Then the rocks suddenly stopped in mid-air. They hovered a moment, vibrating slightly as if caught in some kind of invisible tug of war. Then the rocks started hurtling back upwards until they pelted Selene. Unable to keep her grip, she slipped and fell. The rope connecting her to Emma caught her, but their combined weight was too much for the piton holding them. Both women came loose and started to plunge screaming down the mountain.

After about two miles of free fall, their descent suddenly slowed to a stop and then they too were hovering in mid-air.

"Let you fall, I will not," Yoda called. He held them in place while they hammered in new pitons and secured themselves to the wall. Now, of course, they were far behind everyone.

Exhausted, with muscles aching and hands bleeding, Jon and Hudson managed to reach the plateau upon which was set the main gate to the beautiful, ornate city of Attilan. They lay flat on their backs for a few moments, totally spent, before dragging themselves to their feet and stumbling over to Gaia, who stood with Black Bolt and Medusa before the entrance to the city.

"I great you, proud champion," Medusa said to the men. In two locks of her enormous flowing red hair, she held goblets. "These healing potions will restore your strength and energy."

As the two gratefully drunk, Vegeta and Goku came running over. Silently, Black Bolt handed Jon the next clue.

"Make your way through the Maze of Randac to the Golden Palace. There you must complete the Choning Gil. The last team to finish, will be eliminated."

Jon and Hudson, feeling renewed by the Inhuman drink, headed down the marked trail towards the maze. Vegeta and Goku soon followed. About an hour later, Oneida had reached the plateau. She gratefully drank the potion. As she and Yoda headed for the maze, Emma and Selene climbed over the edge of the mountain.

"You - you cheated!" Emma shrieked at Yoda.

The Jedi Master just shook his head. "Save your lives, I did."

"Our lives were only in danger because you threw rocks at us!"

"Want Xavier to telepathically scan our minds when we return, do you?"

At that, Emma bit her tongue. She and Selene gulped down their potions and headed for the maze.

The Maze of Randac was a huge patchwork of paths surrounded by stonewalls, each depicting various important moments in the 25,000 year history of the Inhumans. The roads had many dead-ends, winding lanes and forks - and only one exit. Jon and Vegeta's teams were still trying to find it when the others arrived.

The first team to successfully navigate their way through was Jon and Hudson. Vegeta and Goku would have made better progress but every time they hit a dead end, Vegeta would throw a tantrum, delaying their progress. Oneida and Yoda were the second to emerge, followed by Vegeta and Goku and finally Emma and Selene.

Jon and Hudson raced into the enormous Golden Palace. They found there a sign that said "The Amazing Mutant Race 2," under which was an arrow pointing down towards a question mark.

"I guess we have to search for whatever this Choning Gil is," said Jon. They decided to split up.

While they searched, the other teams arrived and chose the same course of action. Emma and Selene, the last to enter, saw Hudson run by on an elevated bridge in the giant open hall.

"I have an idea to get us an advantage," Emma announced with a mischievous glint in her eye. "You go look for whatever this thing is. I have a pigeon to pluck. Jon may have been able to resist my charms, but his partner won't."

"Wait a minute, you're going after that pathetic loser?" Selene asked in disbelief. "Surely he is beneath you?"

"What on earth are you talking about?" Emma replied indignantly. "Do you actually think that I would engage in any kind of daliance with that worm? Did you think that is what I was after with Jon? You can be such an idiot. Of course I would never go after a happily married man. I was merely using my natural talents to trap him, as I shall do with Hudson if you will just let me get to it."

"By all means," Selene said, waving her hands in the air.

As everyone searched the vast palace for some clue as to what a Choning Gil was, Emma hurried after Hudson. She caught up with him just past the Throne Room in the Royal Family's living quarters.

"Well hello, stranger!" she called out, a bright smile on her face.

"Oh, uh, hi."

"Any luck with your search?" As Emma spoke, she walked up next to Hudson and placed a hand on his bicep.

"Um, no, not really." Hudson's eyes ran up and down her curvy body. His heart beat started to quicken.

"I've been feeling really tense about this whole race thing," Emma said, leaning up against him. "I desperately need to do something to unwind or I think I might just go crazy."

"Uh, yeah. I know what you mean." Hudson licked his lips.

Emma brought her mouth up to his ear. "Maybe we can help each other," she whispered.

"Sounds good to me."

"Good. I tell you what, why don't you go in that room there. Take off all your clothes, and wait for me."

A big grin crossed Hudson's face. He started nodding. Without another word he hurried through the large ornate door with an 'L' carved into it. Emma walked up to the door and turned to her diamond form. She smashed off the knob, effectively sealing the door shut. With a laugh, she ran back to find Selene.

Oneida, still with Yoda on her back, bumped into Jon back at the entrance in the main hall.

"Do you have any idea what the heck this Choning thing is?" she asked Jon.

"Not a clue. How can they ask us to do something if we don't even know what it is? All they've told us is what's on that sign over there. An arrow pointing down and a question mark beneath it. It doesn't make any sense. The arrow just points down. Hmm, I guess it could be pointing down further than just the question mark."

At that they all looked down at the elaborate design inlaid into the floor. They quickly realized that it depicted an image of supplicants coming before the king on his throne. Each knelt at the sovereign's feet. Below the mural, in giant letters, were the words "Choning Gil."

"Holy crap!" Jon yelled.

He and Oneida burst in a run towards the throne room. Along the way they passed Emma and Selene who had managed to find one another. Seeing that the others were on to something, the women gave chase. Vegeta and Goku, up a level on an open stairwell, heard the running footsteps and decided to investigate.

Reaching the Throne Room, Jon saw Black Bolt seated on a magnificent gold chair, his wife Medusa at his side. Gaia and Fred were also there.

"Oh no!" shouted Jon. "Where the hell is Hudson?!"

"A moment wait," Yoda told Oneida. She looked visibly distressed as Emma and Selene raced past them up to the throne. Yoda wrinkled up his nose. "I see your friend, nearby he is. In a room, with a giant dog."

"A dog?" Jon asked bewildered. "Then maybe, just maybe, we still have a chance."

As Oneida turned towards the throne, Jon threw back his head and started making very loud barking sounds. He was indistinguishable from a real dog.

Around the corner and down the hall, in the room Hudson was trapped in, the Inhumans' giant dog, Lockjaw, heard the barking sounds. His short stubby tail started wagging. Suddenly filled with excitement, the huge behemoth charged through the door of his room, easily knocking it down and ran to the throne room. Hudson followed after him.

He arrived just in time to see Vegeta and Son Goku entering the room. Still following Jon's barks, Lockjaw crashed through them. The two warriors went flying. Hudson ran into the room and over to Jon, who quickly dragged him before the throne. Lockjaw looked around confused, wondering where his potential playmate had gone.

"Why aren't you wearing any clothes?" Jon asked Hudson as the two stepped before the throne.

"Uh, it's kind of a long story," he said sheepishly, unable to look at the smirking Emma standing nearby.

Vegeta and Goku charged into the room. They saw the others were already there.

"Damn!!" shouted Vegeta.

Gaia turned to them. "Boys, I'm sorry to tell you that as the last team to arrive, you have both been eliminated."

While his partner cursed and stomped on the floor, Son Goku held his head high. "It has been an honor to compete in your challenge. You have all been worthy opponents and I thank you for letting us participate."

Vegeta looked at Goku in disbelief. "When we get home, you are getting such a beating."

Gaia hurriedly coughed. "Emma and Selene, as the winners of this leg of the Amazing Mutant Race, you will be the first team to depart tomorrow."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

As the hour approached for the four remaining teams in the Amazing Mutant Race 2 to depart, breakfast was served for everyone in the main eating hall. The players all sat together except for Emma Frost and Selene who took a table by themselves in the corner.

"I can't believe Master Yoda and I made it so far!" Lieutenant Commander Oneida said to the others at her table. "I mean, I'm in another galaxy! How cool is that?"

"Hey, I know what you're saying," Private Hudson responded. "I've been to other planets and all, but never other dimensions. This is like some kind of real cool Travelocity vacation package."

"Ahh, it's not that big a deal," Vegeta said. "I'm from another planet, too. I'm always battling weird monsters and stuff. This is just like every other weekend for me."

"Well I still things it's amazing," Oneida replied. Then she leaned in closer to the others. Nodding towards Emma and Selene, she continued in a hushed voice, "What about those two? There's something I don't trust about them."

The others turned and watched as Selene pushed her still full plate away from her.

"After that crap yesterday, I don't think I'm ever going to be able to eat again," she said to Emma.

"I can't tell you how interesting that is. Let's talk about something important, shall we Selene? We are in last place. I refuse to lose to this bunch of misfits. We have to use our talents to improve our odds."

"What did you have in mind?"

Emma sat in thought for a moment, then a smile slowly broke across her face. A very evil smile. Standing, she slinked over to the main table. The others had finished their food and were starting to break up.

"Jon, can I talk to you a moment?" Emma asked in her most innocent yet suggestive voice.

"Um, sure. What's up?"


"Well, okay."

The two walked over to a corner and sat down. "So, what did you want to talk about?" Jon asked.

Emma leaned in close to him and started to twist one of her fingers around a lock of her platinum hair. "I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate having you around. You've been doing such a great job keeping it together. Especially with that partner you have."

"Hudson? Oh, he's okay. He got through that eating contest yesterday."

"You see, that's just what I mean. You really took charge of that, just like I had to do with Selene. We're two of a kind." Emma leaned towards Jon, her breasts almost touching his arm. The Intergalactic Gladiator couldn't help but take a quick glimpse down. She reached a hand out and placed it on his knee. "I was hoping we might be able to get to know one another better."

"Ms. Frost, are you trying to seduce me?"

Emma smiled coyly. Then she leaned in for a kiss. Jon backed away.

"Ms. Frost, I am a married man, and I take that quite seriously."

Pouting, Emma said, "But what happens in Genosha, stays in Genosha."

"Sorry, babe," he said as he stood up and headed back to the others. After a few steps, he turned back and asked with a smirk, "Do you want me to send Hudson over?"

Emma gave Jon the finger, to which he just laughed. Just then a bell sounded and everyone heard Gaia announce telepathically, "Please assemble at the departure point. The race is about to resume."

Everyone quickly headed for Freedom Center, the deluxe centerpiece of the still under construction city. Gaia and her fox, Fred, where there with the next clues. As the previous day's winners, Vegeta and Son Goku approached and read their instructions.

"Take an Air India flight to Kathmandu. Then travel by bus through the Himalayan mountains to Attilan."

Vegeta looked over at his partner. "That's in Tibet," Goku told him.

"Great," Vegeta said, slowly shaking his head.

"I saw a plane landing here yesterday. I think there's an airport."

Vegeta seemed rather unhappy. "I don't want to climb mountains!" he finally spat. "I want to fight things!" Goku just shrugged.

The two ran towards the airport. When they arrived, they were most unhappy to find that there was only one Air India flight to Kathmandu, and it wasn't leaving for four more hours. The other teams soon arrived and they all waited together in the lounge.

After a rather tense four hours, during which time Son Goku once again exceeded his capacity to hold liquor and had to be removed from the airport bar, the plane started boarding and everyone hurried to their seats.

The six hour flight seemed to take forever. When they finally landed, the players rushed off the plane. To everyone's surprise, the temperature was a very pleasant 62 degree Fahrenheit.

"Somehow I thought it would be colder," Jon told the bus driver as he and the rest of the racers piled in.

The driver smiled back at him. "We are located in a protected valley. It's like this most all year round."

Soon the rickety old bus was driving north towards the Himalayan mountain range. The long slow trek lasted for many hours. As the players eyed each other, their tensions grew. They climbed higher and higher and the air got colder and thinner. It was pitch black by the time the bus came to halt.

The players rushed out into the freezing night air. Gaia stood before them, dressed in a giant snow parka. Not far behind her were several high quality looking camping tents.

"This is a non-elimination round," she told the group. "Tomorrow morning, at preciously 7 Am, you can start your ascent to Attilan."

Looking up at the giant mountain looming over them, they could just make out a faint glow near the top. Grumbling, the tired and achy players all moved to the heated tents to try and get some rest before the arduous journey ahead of them.

Monday, January 02, 2006

After a relatively peaceful night spent at the Brotherhood of Mutants base in the Savage Land, the five teams participating in the Amazing Mutant Race 2 met in the central planning room. Magneto addressed his guests, the disdain in his voice unmistakable.

"So . . you are the ones who have made it this far, eh? I can't say I'm impressed. There are only two mutants among you, for pity's sake! I say Emma and Selene win by default."

Gaia quickly interrupted, "Um, you can't do that Magneto. They have to keep going. The Professor opened the race up to everyone."

"Pitiful," was the Master of Magnetism's only response.

"Besides," chimed in Deadpool, "Cable and I are mutants, too."

Magneto turned his gaze towards them. "You? You are just a pathetic human who happened to have genetic material from a Homo Superior spliced into you. You are nothing but an abomination."

"Actually, I think that's the guy who fights the Hul- oww!" Deadpool turned sharply to Cable who had just jabbed him in the arm. "What!" he demanded, but Cable just shook his head, motioning him to silence.

"Fine. Continue your little race," Magneto said at last. Then an evil smile crossed his face. "Yes, I think you might just enjoy this next part. Wait, did I said you would enjoy it? No, I meant that I would enjoy it. Heh heh heh."

"Um yeah," said Gaia. "The next bit is a food challenge. Everyone will proceed to the dining hall, in the order of your arrival. You must then chose one memember from each team to complete the eating challenge. The first person to finish their whole bowl gets the first clue, and so on."

Emma and Selene, the winners from the previous night, were the first to head for the dining hall. When they arrived they found five tables set up, each with one chair and one big spoon. Next to the spoons were pitchers of water. Next to the chairs were large buckets. The Blob came out of the kitchen holding a giant steaming metal vat. He also had a very large grin.

"It's an old family recipe," he told the women. "The Duke's Special Hungarian Goulash. You is gonna love it!"

"You better do this one," Selene told Emma.

"Not a chance, dearie. This is right up your alley. Your little Nova Roma compound is in South America, so you must be use to ingesting bizarre . . I mean "exotic" . . foods."

"Emma, I have my figure to maintain. For you obviously that's not as important."

Flames burned in Emma's eyes. "But my dear, you are thousands of years old. You'll have plenty of time to burn a little soup off your hips, along with the rest of your fat."

Selene's right hand balled up into a fist, but she managed to hold back. "Can't you just turn into Cubic Zirconia and eat whatever you want?"

" . . I can't eat at all when I'm in my diamond form. If you want to go one step further in this race, then I suggest you sit down in that seat and start stuffing your face."

For a long, long moment, the two women glared with smoldering hatred into each other's eyes. Then Deadpool and Cable walked past them. The men nodded to each other and Deadpool took his seat, pulled up his face mask and started eating. Seeing this, Selene cursed at Emma and then jumped into a seat. As the the foul smell emanating from the bubbling ooze the Blob plopped into her bowl hit her nostrils, she almost gagged.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator and Private Hudson were the next to enter the room. One whiff of the goulash made Jon wrinkle up his nose.

"Let's face it Hudson," he said to his partner, "you're the obvious choice to take this hit. I mean you're in the Colonial Marines, right? This is probably a typical breakfast for you guys."

Hudson walked over to the Blob and peered into the vat he was holding. A slithery tentacle lashed out and splashed him with green goop. Hudson gulped.

"Well . . if you say so Jon."

"That's a good soldier," Jon said, breathing a sigh of relief.

Then Lieutenant Commander Oneida and Master Yoda walked in. Oneida inhaled sharply and almost passed out. "I don't think I can do this, Yoda."

The Jedi Master calmly waddled over to the steel vat. The Blob bent over so Yoda could peer inside. He dipped a stubby green finger into the slop and sucked it clean. "Hmm, tasty this is. Dagobah Wamprat Stew, reminds me of. Extra doggy bag, can I get?"

As he sat down to eat, Vegeta and Son Goku entered. Immediately Vegeta started shaking his head. "The only Earth food I like is McDonald's. This one is on you, Kakarot."

Even before he saw the food, Goku started to feel queasy. Just then Selene leaned over her bucket and made the most revolting yakking sounds. "I . . I don't know Vegeta. That l-looks nasty."

"What? You are the fiercest warrior I have ever seen. And you love to eat! You have a bottomless appetite. This task was made for you."

"Well, yeah, Vegeta. But, you know, I like food that tastes good. That stuff -"

"Don't be a wimp! Get in there and eat that crap!"

Reluctantly Goku sat down and dipped his spoon into the thick ooze. He slowly lifted it to his lips and took the smallest sip. Loud wretching noises erupted from Deadpool as he doubled over the bucket next to his seat. Goku looked back at his spoon and continued his sip. He slowly rolled the pungent goulash around in his mouth.

Looking over to Vegeta, he said, "It tastes kind of like White Castle Chili. Not bad at all, really." Then Goku tossed his head back and let the entire contents of the bowl slide down his throat in one gulp. The first to finish, he and his partner dashed over to Gaia who handed them their next clue.

"Follow the trail to the door that leads to the promised land. There, rebuild one wall of the Justice Hall to complete this leg of the race."

"The promised land?" mused Vegeta. "What the heck does that mean?"

"Let's follow the trail and find out," Goku responded, pointing to the far door with a card saying "The Trail" taped on it.

The two raced forward through the door and ran down the corridor behind it. Eventually they came to an archway on the other side of which was a huge room with a large glass chamber in the center of it. Next to the nearby control panel, seated on a pile of books placed on top of a stool, was a fox.

"This way, gentlemen," Fred, the talking fox said, gesturing with a paw towards the chamber.

The two warriors shrugged and entered the glass enclosure. Fred flicked a switch and the room was flooded with a blinding light. As their sight slowly returned, they found themselves still inside a glass chamber. This one, however, had a sign over it that said, "Welcome to Genosha."

"I've heard of the place," Son Goku said. "It's the mutant nation Magneto demanded from the UN."

"Well aren't you just a regular encyclopedia of useless trivia," Vegeta sneered.

"Let's just find the Justice Hall," Goku sighed.

Meanwhile, back in Antartica, Yoda was just licking his bowl clean. Grabbing the doggy bag offered by the Blob, he and Oneida hurried through the door. Hudson was the next to finish. As he wiped the slobber off his chin with his arm, Jon came over and patted him on the back.

"I'm proud of you, big guy. You held it together. Good soldier." Looking into his bloodshot eyes though, Jon wasn't sure Hudson was out of the woods yet. He noticed all the color draining rapidly out of the marine's face.

"Oh, man," moaned Hudson, ". . game over." And with that he dove for his bucket, spewing out all of the Blob's homemade goulash. "Sorry man," he said softly when he had finally finished.

"Don't worry about it big guy," Jon replied. "You finished the bowl and that's the important thing. Now let's get the heck out of here."

As the two ran through the door, only Deadpool and Selene were left at the table. Each struggled to find the will power to lift their spoons to their lips.

"Come on, Wade! Don't get all squeamish on me now!" Cable told his partner. "What about all that crap you have no problem what so ever eating? I've seen you go through a box of Ding Dong's in mere minutes. You've drained a gallon of Double Mocha Chip like it was water. I've seen you eat triple decker Whoppers-"

"You're not helping!" Deadpool hissed, trying not to puke again. With a Herculean effort, he managed to finish down the last of his meal. Staggering to his feet, he felt a wave of vertigo sweep over him. Suddenly Deadpool collapsed in a heap, groaning and clutching his stomach. Cable scooped up his partner, grabbed a clue and raced through the door.

"Selene," Emma yelled, "I will not lose this contest because you are a finicky eater! You only have a few more bites left. Finish it!"

Selene looked up at her teammate, barely able to focus. "I . .
I can't . ."

"Damn it! Are you going to let us be beaten by those two spiky headed freaks and Kermit, the frog?! By humans! By that fool Deadpool for pity's sake? I demand you finish your food right this instant!"

Selene looked down at the green swill at the bottom of her bowl. Every fiber in her body ached. She slowly shook her head in defeat.

"Fine," said Emma. "If you finish your bowl, I will tell you about the Hellfire Club's involvement with Sentinel and Alien hybrid that attacked New York a few months ago."

Turning again to Emma, a look of curiosity now peeked through Slene's pained face. She was aware of the attack, but not the Club's connection. Being thousands of years old, she knew well that knowledge was the most important commodity on the planet. Steeling herself, Selene attacked the remainder of her food with renewed vigor. Soon she was finished and the two hurried to the glass chamber.

As their eyesight slowly returned, the women found themselves in Genosha. They both knew instantly where they were, of course, and they also knew where the Justice Hall was located. They made their way quickly through the bombed out streets, the signs of rebuilding everywhere. When they reached the shattered Hall, they found the other teams already at work, each cementing bricks onto new walls. There was a vacant spot, clearly left for them. With a sigh, they got started on their laborious task.

All the teams worked zealously, rapidly slapping bricks into place. Vegeta and Goku finished first and ran over to the platform where Gaia was standing, not far away. Jon and Hudson were the next to finish, followed by Oneida and Yoda.

As Deadpool remained curled up in a fetal ball, Cable, his body drenched in sweat, worked as fast as he could. Sneaking a glance over her shoulder, Emma could see that he would be done before them. She nudged Selene and gave her a wink. A foxy smile crossed her lips and Selene gestured towards Cable's wall.

Slowly several of the bottom bricks started to slide out. Cable was too focused on adding new bricks to notice Selene's telekinetic manipulation. When he slapped the next to last brick on top, his now weakened wall fell over, the loose pieces scattering all over the ground.

"Damn it!" he yelled in despair. The women turned back to their work, pretending they had no idea what had happened. Cable, swallowing his frustration, scrambled frantically to start over from scratch. But it was no use. Emma and Selene beat him easily.

The two women, choking back their laughter, hurried over to Gaia. They turned to watch with evil glee as Cable picked up Deadpool and carried him to the platform.

Gaia, looking visibly unhappy, said, "Cable . . Deadpool, I'm sorry to say that as the last team to arrive, you have both been eliminated." Cable nodded in understanding. Deadpool just groaned in pain. Gaia turned to Vegeta and Son Goku. "And as the winners of this leg of the Amazing Mutant Race, you two will be the first to depart tomorrow."

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The six remaining teams assembled in the main hall of Dormammu's castle. A few of the players looked quite the worse for wear. Son Goku was clutching his head, the victim of a serious hang-over. Deadpool and Cable had also apparently had a very long night. Wolverine, still recovering from the Force Wedgie inflicted upon him by Master Yoda, was walking bow legged.

Gaia addressed the group. "Okay, now that we're all here, Emma and Selene may approach the Dread Dormammu and receive their next clue."

The two women, normally the definition of pose, confidence and assuredness, looked visibly nervous as they neared the giant flaming-headed demon. He held out a large blue globe towards them. A small light was blinking on the bottom of it. As the ladies peered closer into the orb, they began to make out shapes.

"It's the Earth!" blurted Emma with sudden revelation.

Dormammu's dark booming voice filled the cavernous hall, echoing off the stone. "Walk through the fires of Hell and find your relief." He pointed to the far wall and it burst into flames.

"No problem," said Emma, changing into her organic diamond form. She ran and jumped through the flames. Selene, using her power of short bursts of super-speed, quickly followed.

As they emerged from the fire, they knew instantly they were no longer on Dormammu's plane. All around them was a frozen waste land of snow and ice. A few hundred yards ahead they saw sleds and teams of dogs.

"Fortunately for me, when I'm in my diamond form, I can't feel the cold. Looks like you aren't as lucky, my dear," Emma said to Selene.

Suddenly her tight, revealing outfit seemed like a real liability. Using another burst of super-speed, she sprinted to the sleds. To her relief, there were large wooly coats and boots which she quickly started to put on.

"Careful, my dear, you'll use up all your energy running like that," Emma taunted.

"That won't be a problem, dear. I can always drain one of the dogs."

"Holy crap it's cold!" they heard someone yell from behind them. Turning, the women saw Deadpool, his costume smoking slightly, and Cable emerge from the dimensional portal. The men started to run towards them. Without a word, the women hopped on one of the sleds and urged the dogs forward.

"Hey!" Deadpool shouted after them. "Wait up, baby! I thought of a way we could stay warm!"

"Shall I fry him with a fireball?" Selene asked.

"What's the point? The little freak has Wolverine's healing factor. And we don't really want to make Cable mad at this point. He is quite powerful, you know."

"Well then, do you have any idea where we are going?"

Emma held up the clue hanging from the sled's steering bar. And they swooshed over the snow, she opened it and read outloud, "Seek the fruits from the Lord of Land and deliver it to the Master."

"Well that's not too cryptic," commented Selene.

"That's all right. There's only one place of interest in Antartica and that's the Savage Land."

"What makes you think we're in Antartica?"

"Why my dear," Emma smirked, "didn't you see that flashing light on the South Pole of Dormammu's globe? Savage Land dead ahead."

The other teams all emerged one by one from the portal. Most jumped on sleds. Vegeta and Son Goku chose however to fly. After a few miles of barren tundra, Goku moved up next to Vegeta. "Where do you think they're going?" he asked, pointing down to the column of sleds moving single file over the snow.

"I don't know," the Sayian Prince replied.

"Do you think there was a clue on those sleds?" Goku asked.

"I don't know," Vegeta responded with growing annoyance.

"Do you think we should go back and check?" Goku persisted.

"I think, Kakarot, you should stop asking so many damn questions!"

Down below, Lieutenant Commander Oneida, driving the last sled, turned to her partner, Master Yoda, and said, "I think we're losing."

"Worry not, you should. Heard the Jedi proverb of the Bantha and the Taun-taun, have you not? Win the race, the faster beast does not always."

The teams trekked on, holding the same formation as they approached the entrance to the Savage Land. When Emma and Selene reached the gateway to the land, they found they had to ditch their sleds to enter the thick jungle.

"They can't really mean for us to walk all the way to Kazar's place?" Selene moaned.

"There's no point in whining about it, my dear." Emma ditched her coat and started marching though the heavy jungle undergrowth.

Not long after, Deadpool and Cable made it to the tree line. "Well this sucks," Deadpool announced. "Where's Bea Arthur when you need her? She was always good for chewing up scenery."

"I never understood what that expression meant," Cable replied.

"Oh, that's just how us entertainment insiders talk. You know, Hollywood jargon. It means she eats trees and stuff."

"Yeah, that makes sense," Cable said sarcastically.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator and Private Hudson were the next to arrive, followed closely by Wolverine and Colossus. Vegeta, who had been flying over Wolverine, decided this was his moment to strike.

"Comrade!" Colossus shouted. Wolverine spun around just in time to see Vegeta smash feet first into his chest.

"Time for me to teach you some manners, jerkwad!" the prince shouted as Wolverine went flying into the trunk of a large palm tree.

Colossus rushed to his partner's side, his body turning to organic steel as he moved. Son Goku leapt at him, shouting "Jan Ken Gu." He smacked into Colossus with such a powerful attack that the Russian was knocked flat on his back. Wolverine popped his claws with a loud "snnikkt" and charged at Vegeta.

As the four mighty fighters locked into mortal combat, Yoda and Oneida snuck around them.

"See you do, why the Bantha wins the race!" Yoda proclaimed.

The ferocious battle raged on as the first team reached the home of Kazar, Lord of the Savage Land. Emma entered his hut to find Gaia standing next to the jungle king.

"I like the outfit," Selene purred upon seeing Kazar's muscular body clad only in a loin cloth.

"My lady," he said as he presented her with a strange looking red fruit. "This is the Lapidano. It is only found in the Savage Land."

"Wonderful," Emma answered unenthusiastically.

Suddenly Deadpool came crashing through the hut, tumbling head over heel. "Whoops! Watch that first step, it's a doozy!"

"Pathetic," Emma scowled as she stepped over his body. She and Selene exited the hut.

"Hey, so I made a mistake!" Deadpool shouted after them. "It's not like you guys are perfect, you know!"

"Woman problems?" Jon asked as he and Hudson walked into the hut.

"Yeah, those chicks don't know what they're missing," Wade replied as he watched Jon take a fruit from Kazar. "Hey! We were next!"

"Sorry man," Hudson said. "You snooze you lose." The two hurried off after the women.

Grabbing a fruit, Cable shook his head. "She was right. You are pathetic, you know that?"

"Yeah, but I have a winning smile."

"Who could tell? You wear a full face mask."

Oneida came jogging up to the hut as Deadpool and Cable walked out. Yoda was sitting in a make-shift pouch strapped to her back. They soon left with their own fruit. As the teams made their way back through the jungle towards the Brotherhood of Mutants base, the fourway battle between Wolverine and Vegeta's groups raged on.

A solid rounding kick sent Logan hurtling into Colossus' back. Wiping a trace of blood from the corner of his mouth, he said, "Okay Petey, I'm takin' the gloves off. It's time for the old Fast-Ball Special."

Colossus lifted up his partner and pulled back. With great force, he launched Wolverine, claws slicing the air in front of him, straight towards Vegeta. Mere seconds from certain death, Vegeta, at the last possible moment, leapt forward, tumbling just under Wolverine's reach. His claws sunk to the knuckle into the hard wood of a thick jungle tree. Logan tried to pull his hands free but he was stuck.

"Ah ha!" shouted Vegeta triumphantly. "I would tell you what an honor it has been fighting such a brave foe, but you are a worthless loser, so forget it! Come on Kakarot!"

Racing to his side, Son Goku leapt into the air and soon the two were flying over the tree tops in the direction the other teams had taken. Colossus ripped the tree in which Wolverine was stuck in half. The two raced at their best speed towards Kazar's but by the time they got there, Vegeta and Goku were long gone.

When Wolverine and Colossus finally reached Magneto's base, the other players were all standing around with Gaia. Vegeta was smirking.

Gaia looked at the two new arrivals and said, "Logan . . Peter . .

"Wait a minute, Gaia," interrupted Magneto. "I would like the pleasure of this moment." Gaia nodded. Magneto continued. "Wolverine, you irritating, over-rated, over-exposed, has-been - you're fired!"

Deadpool stepped up to Magneto. "Um, excuse me, but that's the wrong show, helmet head."

Magneto casted a withering stare at Wade. "Whatever. He's lost and he's out of here."

"Right," said Gaia. "Sorry Logan. The rest of you have reached the last leg for today and we'll be staying here tonight. Emma and Selene, you won again so you'll be leaving first."
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