“Generation Next - part 1: Encounter”
At night, along a road up on the mountainside, a limousine straddles the hash marks in the middle of the pavement, maintaining the safest course amid the dangerous, rainy conditions. The limo’s occupants: a British woman and a young girl. They’re holding a conversation, or more to the point, the British woman, Gayle Cord-Becker, retired colonel and former MI-6 director, is trying her best to get through to the young lady, Monet.
Gayle explains to Monet how her father still won’t accept the fact that she needs help. It has been three months since Monet has spoken a word, Gayle continues, and yet her father still won’t accept that she requires assistance. Gayle says she understands that her father is upset after what happened to his son and the twins, but he needs to face facts. Gayle mentions how she even went so far as to tell Monet’s father about a School for Gifted Youngsters run by a man named Charles Xavier. Gayle tells Monet that if she would just say one word that her father would have to consider. Monet continues to stare out the window in silence.
Then suddenly everything goes haywire. The state of the art vehicle filled with hi-tech gadgets galore begins to go berserk. The limo, purchased at two million dollars, was designed to withstand an assault by an army of terrorists. Unfortunately, none of that matters when your enemy is of the Phalanx. The limo rams into the side of the mountain and comes to a halt.
A member of the Phalanx approaches the vehicle. It runs an analysis on the occupants, deems the unconscious driver non-essential and absorbs him into the collective. The driver yells out in agony before being assimilated.
The Phalanx entity makes its way to the back of the limo. It peers in through the window and identifies Mrs. Cord-Becker as a non-threat as well. Gayle opens the opposite side passenger door, pushes Monet out and tells her to get running. She assures her that once they notice they’re missing her father’s people will come looking for her.
The Phalanx entity tells Gayle that it is impossible to escape. Gayle tells it that her plan was not to escape, but to fight. She pulls out her handgun named Pickering. Monet sits on the side of the road as three shots ring out, followed by a piercing scream cut all too short.
The Phalanx creature absorbs the automobile and everything inside before moving on Monet. The creature approaches its intended target. It picks her up and attempts a biocentric scan, but due to some high levels of psionic interference is unable to do so. This leads the Phalanx entity to assume that the collective intelligence was correct, that Monet was the most powerful of the Next Generation of Homo Superior. “That is why” he explains aloud “she is scheduled for termination.”
The Phalanx transforms from its humanoid form into a cocoon, wrapping Monet up within. With its target successfully apprehended the Phalanx entity teleports to the weigh station to await the final compilation of mutagenetic testing data.
Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters
Banshee is back in West Chester after enjoying a weekend in Massachusetts and is checking in on Emma Frost, the X-Men’s recently awoken comatose patient. Emma struggles against her restraints and Banshee tells her to calm down, that nobody is going to hurt her. Emma explains that they’re trying to kill her, referring to Storm, Iceman, Archangel and the other X-Men. She says that if she wasn’t restrained she could read their minds, learn their plans and destroy them. Banshee plays along with her, but thinks to himself that she has finally snapped, what with the revelation that most of her Hellions were killed and recently having her mind removed from Iceman’s body.
Banshee reminds her that she’s been in a coma for a year and tells her about the stress it could put on her body. Emma attempts to explain, that she feels something is off, something wrong, but her words are cut off. When Banshee asks what happened Iceman tells him it was a sonic disruptor. He tells Banshee they had been listening to her freak out for the past three hours. Storm interjects that they needed a break.
Banshee wonders to himself if Storm and Iceman are the best choices for this task. After all, Emma Frost possessed both of them at one point in their life. Banshee takes Storm to the side for a word. He asks Storm if having Iceman around might be worsening the situation, given their recent history together. Banshee volunteers to take over for him. Storm thanks him, but tells him not to bother as the Professor left specific instructions before heading to Muir Island and she doesn’t want to go against them.
Banshee accepts that the Professor probably knows what he’s doing, but tries to explain his point. Storm grabs a hold of his arm and begins leading him out of the room. She explains the Professor wanted Bobby and Emma to work things out immediately and not to let their feelings of animosity linger and multiply. Banshee again tries to get a word in, but Storm insists he go get a shower and get some sleep. Banshee tries to butt in once more, but Storm cuts him off explaining that in the morning he won’t have a care in the world. The door to the med-lab comes slamming down leaving Banshee in the corridor by himself, confused.
Banshee considers going back in for an argument, but decides against it. He thinks the main reason for her attitude probably has to do with his lack of commitment to the X-Men than anything else. He knows nothing’s been the same since he left to search for Moira. He thinks he may be more useful to his fellow mutants somewhere else.
As Banshee continues his walk through the corridor, the alarm denoting an incoming call on the priority frequency begins to blare. He considers letting someone else get it, but decides not to let what Storm said get to him. He enters the control room and patches the call through. It’s Scott and Jean fresh from their honeymoon.
Cyclops asks to speak with the Professor; they may have found some information that would help in the cure for the Legacy Virus. Banshee is pleased, but informs him that the Professor is on Muir Island. He asks the two lovebirds how their honeymoon went. Jean tells him it’s complicated. Banshee guesses they were bored out of their minds. Scott pushes through the chitchat and tells Banshee to let Storm and the others know that they’ll be heading straight to Muir. They sign off and Banshee smiles remembering what it was like to be young and in love.
Flying in to the room is Archangel and he’s none too happy. He demands to know who was on the comm-link and what was said. Banshee tells him to calm down and that it was Scott and Jean wanting to speak with the Professor. He tells Archangel that the two of them are headed straight to Muir. Archangel yells at Banshee for giving information to “unauthorized personnel”. Banshee is confused and reminds Archangel that Scott and Jean are two of his best friends. Warren relaxes and agrees. He tells Banshee he is going to radio Muir and let them know of the impending arrival. He then tells Banshee very darkly that only X-Men are allowed to handle any future X-Men communications. He asks Banshee if he’s clear on that. “Crystal.” Banshee replies.
Later, Banshee dresses down in the locker room into some workout clothes. He reflects on the old Irish proverb “Ye can never go home again”, obviously distraught over the attitude he’s been shown by Storm and Archangel. Banshee thinks about all the major changes in his life beginning with his life as an Interpol Agent, his residing over Cassidy Keep, his time as a NYC police detective as well as his stint as a villain in Tennessee, all before becoming an X-Man. Now fully changed Banshee makes his way to the Danger Room. Beast has been bugging him to try the Heather Locklear program he created, he remembers.
Outside the Danger Room entrance, Banshee finds it occupied and locked. He checks with the computer to see who’s using it. The computer responds with Jubilee. Banshee expects the computer to list the adult supervising her, but no one else is listed. Banshee inquires about it and the computer responds that Jubilee is alone. Banshee is shocked that they’re allowing minors to use the Danger Room by themselves and sets off to find someone to complain to.
Banshee turns a corner and finds Psylocke emerging from the Professor’s Ready Room, which is an outright violation of Xavier’s privacy. Following his instincts, Banshee quickly ducks back and hides within the shadows. Psylocke walks past unaware of his presence. Banshee begins to worry. He wonders why Psylocke would be in the most off-limits room in the mansion, and also how he was able to hide from her, a ninja-trained telepath.
Banshee decides to walk into the Professor’s Ready Room with the sinking feeling that there will be no turning back if he does. Banshee enters and finds Gambit and Bishop hard at work inside. They both say hello and Bishop explains to Banshee they’re working on Cerebro and asks if he needs something. Banshee lies that he was looking for Xavier and since the door was open he thought he was in. Gambit tells him they’re just doing some work while the Professor’s out. Banshee pretends to believe them and says, “Since he’s started walking again, ‘tis almost impossible to keep track of the man.” Bishop coolly tells him that it’s not their business to keep track of Xavier.
Banshee agrees wholeheartedly and makes his way out, trying his best to look calm and composed. Once outside the room his face takes on a more concerned expression. He sprints down the hallway towards the computer system. He assumes that the X-Men are being mind-controlled or some shape shifters have infiltrated the X-Men, because neither Gambit nor Bishop seemed to notice when he lied about the Professor walking again.
He arrives at the terminal and asks the computer to locate Storm. He wants to get in contact with her quickly to tell her what’s going on. The computer tells him that Storm is not on the premises. Then he tries for Archangel, but the computer gives the same response. Then he tries for Bishop and Gambit and the computer gives him the same results. Banshee gives a general query for all essential personnel. The computer only returns four individuals: Banshee, White Queen, Jubilee and Sabretooth. Sean tilts his head back in disbelief uttering, “Saints preserve us…!”
Sean changes into his X-uniform and goes back to the communications room. He hopes Archangel isn’t around, but what he finds is something much worse. All of the electronics in the room have been taken apart. Every circuit is exposed; every wire is carefully placed, as if it was being dissected. Beast pops his head out from behind some machinery and greets Banshee. He tells him he hopes the call he was going to make can wait another hour or so.
Banshee tells him it’s not a problem, that he was just going to tell Moira good night. He puts on his best smile not wanting to look too conspicuous. Beast asks him if the “good night” call can wait until morning. Banshee laughs a little too hard at the joke and tells Beast he’ll go set his alarm clock now so he can make the call. Beast looks a little perturbed.
Moments later, Banshee arrives at the security ward. He finds Rogue standing guard at Sabretooth’s cell. Banshee tries to sweet talk Rogue suggesting she should be out taking a stroll with Gambit. Rogue insists that she doesn’t mind and stresses to Banshee that she’s supposed to be guarding him alone. Banshee begins punching in the code to Sabretooth’s cell and tells Rogue he won’t be long, but he has to take Sabretooth out for his walk. Rogue explains that she already took him out for his daily stroll. Banshee ignores her and continues punching in the code.
She restates the fact that she already took Sabretooth out and that he doesn’t need to be there. She grabs his wrist and asks Banshee if he’s listening to her. Banshee replies that he is and tells her it’s her turn to listen to him. With that Banshee lets loose a sonic scream that demolishes Rogue, revealing the techno organic circuitry that makes up the Phalanx.
Banshee recognizes this and wonders if the X-Men have been assimilated by the Phalanx. Without time to really worry about it Banshee rushes in to the cell and emits a low-level scream to bring Sabretooth out of his sedation. Banshee tells him to get up and apprises him of the situation, that there are only four mutants left in the mansion. Sabretooth mutters that he knew someone would figure it out, but he didn’t think it would be Banshee. He asks Banshee if he has a game plan.
The Phalanx entity formerly known as Rogue comes running in for both of them. It states their fate will be termination. Sabretooth gets up and tackles it mid-sentence and brings it to the ground. He tells Banshee that it takes nothing short of obliterating them to stop them. Despite having metal gloves that restrict his claws, and a metal mouth piece to restrict his fangs, Sabretooth lets the beast within free and when he is done, piles of circuitry lie scattered all around the cell.
Sabretooth revels in the joy of the kill and asks Banshee why he shouldn’t do the same to him. Banshee informs him of a detonator he holds in his hand that is connected to his muzzle. “Hmm. Just asking.” Sabes replies. Sabretooth asks about the plan again. Banshee tells him he needs to free Jubilee and the White Queen, while he’ll work on getting rid of the Phalanx in the mansion.
Phalanx:Bishop reports to Phalanx:Gambit that the transmission from Phalanx:Rogue has ceased and that Banshee must be aware of their presence. Phalanx:Gambit tells him not to worry, after they finish downloading all of Xavier’s files and have analyzed Cerebro using the captive X-Men the Phalanx will finally be able to assimilate mutants.
An explosion rocks the room. Banshee comes flying in happy to hear the X-Men are still alive. He starts blasting at the Phalanx with a gun he picked up on the way, knowing that the Phalanx have already adapted to his sonic scream power. Banshee’s plan is to start the self-destruct sequence in the Ready Room.
Elsewhere in the mansion, Sabretooth has an unconscious Jubilee over his shoulder and the White Queen at his side. Before them stand Phalanx:Storm and Phalanx:Iceman and their heads are slowly coming apart at the circuits. It’s Emma’s doing and both Phalanx entities’ heads end up totally dispersing.
Sabretooth apologizes to Emma for the delay, but explains he had to rescue Jubilee too. He begins talking about a score he has to settle with the little firecracker, but Emma doesn’t want to hear it. She wants to look for more of the Phalanx and destroy them. Sabretooth tells her it’s not going to happen, that Banshee wants them below. The White Queen asks why she should care what Banshee wants. Sabretooth grabs her by the arm and tells her it’s really about his own interests and also explains that the same trick used on the Phalanx never works twice, so her psi-bolts would be ineffective next time. Sabretooth takes off with Emma in tow. She asks him how she can know to trust him. Sabretooth laughs at the very notion.
Back at the Ready Room, the self-destruct sequence has been engaged and stands at 30 seconds. Banshee asks Cerebro what computer program was running previous to his arrival. The computer screen displays a short list of new mutants: Monet St. Croix, Everett Thomas, Angelo Espinosa and Clarice Fergeson. Banshee comes to the conclusion that they’re going after the children. He tells the computer to bring up the neo-genetic geomatrix, which shows the Earth and where each mutant is located. Banshee asks the computer if the Phalanx had time to download it.
The remaining Phalanx enter the room converging on Banshee. He doesn’t get a response from the computer, but from the Phalanx. Phalanx:Archangel tells him the welfare of Generation Next is not his concern. Phalanx:Psylocke tells him they will be assimilated once they figure out how to assimilate mutants. Phalanx:Beast adds that the only way to deal with troublesome mutants is to terminate them. As if to make good on that statement the three Phalanx entities move in for the kill.
Banshee thanks them for the honesty and then jumps through a hole in the floor. He hopes Charles can forgive him for the loss of a lifetime of information.
”Escape from the Phalanx is fu…” is all they manage to say before the Ready Room explodes and the current Phalanx threat is vaporized.
Down in the sewers beneath the mansion the trio of escapees hears the explosion. Sabretooth wonders what happened.
Meanwhile, Banshee uses his sonic scream to clear a path from the mansion to the sewers while trying to keep ahead of the fiery blast. He breaks through and crashes onto the sewer floor. The White Queen asks him what took him so long. Sabretooth tells her to lay off as he was probably trying to track down the whereabouts of the other X-Men.
Banshee tells him he’s not too far off. He sent out a message buoy to Muir about what was going on and how they have to track down the X-Men. He then asks how Jubilee is doing. Sabretooth says she’s fine, but asks why they’re not going after the X-Men. Banshee tells him that the Phalanx had access to a list of untrained young mutants who know nothing of this. Banshee says that they are the next generation of Homo Superior and they have to find them before the Phalanx does.
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