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  1. #1

    Default TNU - Chapter Two - Facing the Music

    Open your eyes.

    Alex Summers?s body began to obey his mind, only to find the action easier thought than accomplished. His vision burned as he attempted to part his eyelids, but thankfully the darkness around him eased his anxiety if only slightly. He hadn?t been sure how long he?d been unconscious, but it was likely a number of days, judging by the crackling of his dried skin and the sharp pains in his stomach.

    The last thing he remembered was standing his ground in Storm?s attic, fists clenched as he tried to best one of the Shi?ar in hand to hand combat. Alex raised a hand ? both hands in fact, due to their being bound together ? to his face and instantly felt the sting of pain in his jaw. ?I?m guessing that didn?t go well,? Alex said to himself, trying to recall his final moments in the mansion. It was all a blur after Za?ken?s wheeling kick to his face, though he did remember the somewhat nauseating sensation of being transported. But after that, nothing. At least, nothing until now.

    His eyes began to adjust to the darkness, allowing him to survey his room. Calling it a room was being generous; he knew the truth of the situation. He was in a cell, a prisoner of the Shi?ar for? how did Deathcry put it?... crimes against the Royal Consort. That?s what the Shi?ar called Professor Xavier, due to their romantic relationship over the years. Apparently news of the assassination attempt on Xavier traveled fast, but the revelation that Alex had been brainwashed into the task did not reach the Imperial ear. The younger Summers brother had to chuckle; here he thought that making amends with his X-Men family would be the difficult part of his actions, but now it had become an intergalactic incident. The trouble he could get himself in was reaching Tony Stark proportions.

    Running his hands down from his face, Alex couldn?t help but notice the thick, electronic collar that wrapped around his throat and neck. If Shi?ar technology was anything like what he?d seen on Earth, this was likely the device that was inhibiting his mutant powers. Of course, with little environmental energy available to him in this dark cell, Alex likely wouldn?t have much of a well of power accumulated even if he wanted to muster a plasma blast. Clearly, the Shi?ar had done their homework.

    The pain he felt while pushing himself to his feet was excruciating, but he managed it nonetheless. While he couldn?t be sure that these bruises and aches weren?t accumulated through unfair treatment by his captors, he suspected they were the after effects of his battle on Earth against the Shi?ar landing team. Their freshness seemed to indicate to Alex that it hadn?t been too long since he was apprehended, something to file away in the back of his mind.

    Surveying the small cell, Alex noted its round shape, almost like a pod, and the clear barrier on one edge that would serve as the cell?s door. As he staggered towards it, he could hear the faint hum of electricity, alerting him to the fact that it was likely better to look rather than touch. Still, he could hear other faint sounds from the opposing side of the barrier, which made him ponder how occupied this prison may be.

    ?Hello?? he mustered, his hands up against the cell wall on either side of the barrier. He leaned his head forward, close enough to try and get a view of what was going on outside.

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  2. #2


    A voice from the other side of the barricade caused Alex to jump back in surprise.

    ?Hello, Alex Summers,? said the voice. It was small, meek even. He couldn?t be sure, but it sounded like a young girl.

    ?Umm, hello?? he repeated, trying to peer around the corners of the door frame as best he could, but still failing to see who was at the other end of the conversation. The voice?s origin seemed close enough that, whoever it was, they weren?t locked up in another cell across the room. They certainly weren?t speaking loud enough to draw the attention of the other prisoners that Alex could see or the occasional Shi?ar guard that was working in the distance. ?Who?s there??

    ?My name is Tal Clorvix,? the voice responded, and finally, a slender Shi?ar girl appeared from the side of Alex?s view. She was dressed plainly, not a member of the Shi?ar Imperial Guard or the military. Her feathers were flattened atop her head and rounded out to the side, a beautiful combination of blue and green. In her hand was a small datapad, likely a device she used for whatever job she was doing in his facility. Perhaps it contained information about Alex?s captors, something that could help him in his escape.

    Realizing that he?d been staring at the girl longer than was likely appropriate, he finally spoke up once more. ?You know my name,? he thought aloud, though that likely was not a surprise. He imagined that anyone who had access to this part of? wherever he was? knew who Alex Summers was. ?Where is Syaoran?? he demanded instantly, his hands pressed up against the cell walls next to the energy door that contained him.

    Tal Clorvix looked puzzled for a moment, and then it dawned on her. ?Oh, the Shi?ar male that was apprehended with you,? she nodded in understanding. ?He?s been transported to a more? secure location. Living outside of the imperial domain without contact or consent is a serious offense, you know.?

    As serious as attempting to assassinate the Majestrix?s consort? Alex thought to himself. Better not to say it out loud; he didn?t want to give the Shi?ar any inclination to believe he was guilty of the crime they claim he committed. The truth of the matter was that Alex blamed himself enough already for what happened to Professor Xavier. After all, it was his hand that powered the near fatal beam, though he had to keep telling himself it was neither his mind nor his soul behind it. Would the Shi?ar be receptive to such a defense? Would he even have the opportunity to defend himself?

    ?He doesn?t deserve to be imprisoned,? Alex retorted, stepping back from the door in frustration. ?Neither of us do.?

    ?That?s not up for me to decide,? Tal acknowledged with surprising honesty. Alex expected a more critical response to his comment, not a somewhat empathetic one. ?If what we?re told about your actions are accurate, many would say you deserve far worse.?

    ?Well, it?s not what it looked like,? he barked, instantly breaking his own stratagem about keeping quiet regarding the assassination. Oh what the hell, he told himself. He was already jailed, and from the sound of it, his fate was all but sealed. If the Shi?ar had been interested in hearing his side of the story before playing judge and jury, they?d have asked for it at the Institute. ?Why do you care, anyways? I?m sure you could get into a lot of trouble by consorting with someone of my? reputation.?

    ?Perhaps,? Tal said, shifting the datapad into her other hand as she slid to the other side of the cell door. ?But I?ve never met a human before, and we rarely see prisoners here who have been charged with so serious a crime. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, really.?

    ?Well,? Alex said after a moment, an exhausted smile appearing on his face as he slid down the rounded wall of the cell into a sitting position. ?I?m happy to have made your day.?

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  3. #3


    ?So how does it feel,? Tal Clorvix continued, having either missed Alex Summers?s sarcasm entirely or choosing to ignore it. ?To be the most wanted man in the entire galaxy??

    Alex sighed, allowing aching fingers to comb back his matted hair. How exactly did he feel? He?d been trying to deal with the ramifications of his actions for quite a while now, and it didn?t seem to get any easier. If the inner guilt hadn?t been enough, the lingering glances from friends hurt just as much. He knew what was going through their mind, what they?d think of him if Xavier never rose from this coma. Or worse yet, died. But now, as it turned out, the judgments weren?t just coming from his own conscious or those around him, but from interstellar space as well. ?Just great,? came the dry response.

    ?Strange,? Tal continued, the tips of her fingers glancing over the datapad as she accessed more information. ?Our research indicates you were actually one of the consort?s pupils at one time, is that correct??

    This was becoming tiring. Being held prisoner here in this egg of a cell was bad enough, but having to listen to the endless questions from the Shi?ar?s version of Diane Sawyer here was getting on Alex?s nerves. Her datapad could provide helpful information should he be able to orchestrate an escape, but he was starting to wonder if it was worth having to put up with this line of discussion. ?Yes,? he begrudgingly made his choice. ?I was one of what Professor Xavier referred to as X-Men.?

    ?Ironic that it was one of the men he himself trained that brought about his demise, no??

    ?Alright, that?s it, lady,? Alex huffed, his fists clenched as he sprung from the floor of his cell. He slammed his hands against the walls once more near the edge of the energy containment field that acted as a door, inching his face as close as he could without receiving the electric shock that likely waited for him.

    The audacity of this creature was too much. Alex accepted the fact that, while someone else was pulling the strings in Xavier?s assassination attempt, he would be blamed and held responsible as it was his body being manipulated. But what he wouldn?t accept was the torturous line of questioning that seemingly served no other purpose than to get under his skin and remind him about a series of actions he had no control over.

    As Alex stood and filled the cell frame, surprising Tal enough to force a step backwards.

    ?Nobody asked for my side of the story before they said I was guilty,? Havok said, his gaze piercing through the cell?s opening where his body couldn?t. Tal composed herself and stepped back to her previous spot. ?You people just showed up with your minds? made up. Did you ever stop to think for even a moment that one of ?Xavier?s own pupils,? as you put it, couldn?t have done that to him? I don?t know how much you know about us, but the X-Men fight to the death on the dark side of the moon for one another. Unlike other species in this galaxy that try to take out our family members just because we woke up on the wrong side of our nests.?

    He took a breath, not realizing until just this moment how heated he was getting. Shoving himself away from the wall, he disappeared slightly into the darkness of the cell before pacing back into Tal?s view. It was undoubtedly a good thing he was wearing the power-dampening collar; were he not, a bolt of plasma energy would be charging in his fists as he moved, and angry as he was, he didn?t think he could take on the whole of this Shi?ar crew by himself.

    ?Well,? Tal Clorvix said, once more tapping her fingers rapidly on her datapad. ?Feel better??

    He exhaled, his pulse dipping a bit with each passing moment. ?Yeah, I guess I kinda do.?

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  4. #4


    For a long while, there was silence. So much so that Alex thought this Tal Clorvix had left altogether. He?d finally calmed himself again, realizing the futility of his current situation as well as that in getting upset or angered. He didn?t have access to his powers, and even if he did, he imagined at this point he was deep in space with little idea of how to return home.

    Like it or not, he was a prisoner. Just like he had been with Stryfe and Sinister pulling the strings.

    ?Your claim,? the voice returned, and Alex wasn?t sure to roll his eyes at her constant presence or leap to his feet at the gratitude of having something to get his mind off of his predicament. ?With so many witnesses, I do not see how you can refute the charges.?

    ?What you see with your own eyes isn?t always the truth,? Alex muttered, deciding to push himself to his feet once more and engage in one of the few reasonable conversations he was likely to have in a long while. As an X-Man, he knew he could never really accept the despair and hopelessness in a situation, but this one was looking pretty bleak. With every passing second, he continued to regret the choice to seek out Sinister as a means of ridding himself of the Stryfe psyche; with each of what could be only a few remaining breathes, he silently cursed the scientist?s name.

    ?As a scientist, I am trained to trust my eyes and that which I observe,? Tal continued, her analytical mind seemingly confused by Alex?s assertion.

    He moved back towards the clear barrier that separated them, and saw her standing still as a statue, her datapad still in her hand but clearly not a priority at this point. If what she was saying was true, if Alex was in fact the first human she?d interacted with, then she wasn?t hiding it. She was all ears, completely attentive to his words and doing her best to get the most out of this opportunity. In some respect, Alex felt a bit honored at the thought? until he quickly remembered that her race was likely going to put him to death for what she ?observed.?

    ?Your Imperial Guard,? Alex began, trying to find a way to reach her scientific mind in a manner in which she?d understand. ?Do they have a mind reader??

    Tal Clorvix?s head tilted for a moment, like a puppy who had just experienced an unfamiliar noise. ?Yes, Oracle.?

    Alex nodded an affirmative. ?We have our share of mind readers on Earth as well.? His nod became a focused attempt to not only make but retain eye contact with Tal, hoping to drive in his point. ?They can do more than just read, though.? Tal?s datapad fell further towards her hip as she pondered Alex?s subtle but to the point explanation. Her eyes went from Alex to some faraway place, possibly in consideration of his point but also considering the danger of such a power when unchecked or unregulated at the hands of someone who could abuse it.

    ?Fascinating,? she offered.

    Suddenly, the cell seemed to lurch a bit. Not the physical cell itself, but the entire environment, as Alex staggered a bit to one side before regaining his footing. Were they under attack? Was something wrong with the ship? His hands instinctively flexed into fists as he began to wonder if an opportunity for escape was presenting itself after all. But on the other side of the barrier, Tal appeared unshaken by the event, her deep contemplation of his side of the story broken but not in an alarming or unusual matter.

    Before he could ask for an explanation of his own, Tal looked back at Alex, this time with a regretful expression that suggested that maybe, just maybe, she understood his plight. ?We?ve arrived.?

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  5. #5


    The ship finished lurching, and Alex slowly regained solid footing. On the other side of the barrier, Tal Clorvix took a step back. Alex raised an eyebrow, but the reason for her retreat became obvious soon enough. As soon as the barrier dissipated, two Shi?ar guards plowed through the opening, stun batons in their hands. Alex had no intention of resisting them? at this point? but they weren?t taking any chances. They prodded him with the wrong end of the stick, sending paralyzing electrical currents through his muscles.

    When he regained his complete consciousness, he was being carried down the corridor of the ship?s brig, one guard on either side with a gloved hand crimped to his underarm. His hands remained bound, his legs felt like Jell-O. Even if he wanted to try something, he?d barely be able to stand, let alone flee. Even then, where would he flee to? He had no idea where he was or how he?d get home. Did that make the entire ideal futile, Alex asked himself. Not entirely. One thing you need to know about Alex Summers ? he likes to make things up as he goes along. His brother Scott was the master tactician, a plan for everything and three steps ahead of whomever he was facing. Alex? well, he was a capable field leader as well, but his style of leadership was more instinctive, in the heat of the moment so to speak. Whereas an escape attempt didn?t appear to be in the cards at present, nothing prevented Alex from taking advantage of a new hand being dealt to him.

    As he was dragged through the passageways of the ship, Alex did his best to steal a look outside, trying to get some kind of bearing on a location. In the distance, the image of a planet flashed across his vision, but that was all he could make out before he was abruptly yanked down a perpendicular hallway. He wasn?t sure where exactly in this maze of a ship he was being taken to, but until he got some sensation back in his legs, he wasn?t in much of a position to do anything about it.

    His arms aching from the tight grip of his captors, Havok turned his head to see if Tal was following him. She wasn?t, at least not that he could see. Strangely enough, that disappointed him. She?d been so curious about him while he was caged, but either her curiosity had waned or she simply wasn?t going to be part of the next stage of his journey. Despite knowing next to nothing about her, Alex had hoped it was simply the latter and that she hadn?t given up on him. She was unquestionably the only Shi?ar he?d encountered on his short voyage thus far that had showed even a remote interest in his side of the story, and truth be told, he didn?t expect that to change any time soon. The Shi?ar hadn?t beamed onto the planet, weapons drawn, if they were interested in Alex?s opinions on the entire ordeal. They?d made up their mind already; any appearance he?d make in front of the High Council would be nothing but a formality. In a week?s time, he?d probably find himself rotting in a hard prison somewhere, left to be forgotten at the edge of the galaxy. Then again, Alex knew another man by the name of Summers who had been tossed away by a Shi?ar ruler only to come back with a vengeance. If the opportunity arose, would Alex take it?

    The ship lurched once more, the sudden shake accompanied this time with a loud clanking of metal against metal. Just what the hell was going on here? The two guards led Alex into a large room with a number of smaller shuttles and portholes on the other side ? had to be the docking bay of this freighter. As the Shi?ar pulled him around the perimeter of the room, hugging the railing that separated the walkway from the hanger, Alex began to realize that the strength in his legs had returned, but his arms were beginning to go numb from the grip of the guards on either side. Passing the shuttles and nearing the portholes he?d seen in the distance, Alex let his eyes wander. The ship?s hanger door was open, an energy field the only thing standing in the way of open space. The hanger itself was minimally staffed, only a few dock workers transporting cargo on and off some of the ships, not much in terms of security. This was his chance. If he wanted to get out of this prison sentence, this was his chance.

    As the trio approached one of the docking bay portholes, Alex sprang into action. He swung his entire body weight to the left, allowing the side of his head to collide with temple of the Shi?ar flanking him. The sudden movement freed his right arm, and instinctively, Alex?s right elbow sprung backwards, smashing into the opposite guard. Within a matter of moments, both guards were staggering and Alex was on his feet. Clasping both of his bound hands together, Havok brought his grip down on the nape of the guard?s neck, knocking him to his knees. With the fluidity of a trained combatant, Havok used his body?s own momentum to swing his leg upwards, extending into a swift side kick to the torso of the other Shi?ar warrior. It had all happened so quickly, but suddenly, Alex was free.

    He hopped the guardrail and dropped a few feet into the main hanger, then sprinted towards one of the vessels. The dock worker who was loading cargo into the rear of the ship saw Alex coming from the corner of his eye, and abandoned his machinery. The bystander ran to one side, and as Alex followed the alien?s path, he could see an emergency distress panel within a few yards. The hanger hissed behind him as Alex planted his foot on one of the cargo boxes, springing into the air. He brought the full force of his joined fists down upon the worker, preventing him from sounding the alarm. Rising to his feet, Alex jogged towards the unoccupied vessel, nearing the ramp that would lead him through the belly of the shuttle and to freedom.

    Just then, a hand clasped his shoulder. Before he was knocked senseless, returning to the blackness that he?d risen from in his cell, Alex turned just soon enough to see Gladiator bring forth his massive, clenched fist.

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  6. #6


    The audible sound of boots clicking against the starbase?s floor demonstrated the respect that the rest of the Shi?ar military had for its praetor, and the confident manner in which the warrior known as Gladiator carried himself demonstrated the respect he had in return for the Empire and his responsibilities. Ever since the news had reached the distant corners of the universe of Charles Xavier?s condition, Gladiator had been preparing for this moment. His empress, Lilandra Neramani, had ordered him to oversee a rescue operation, one that would bring her consort Xavier back into the folds of the Shi?ar Empire, where he?d been healed before and, as she told it, would be healed again. Having selected trusted soldiers to accomplish this mission, he?d given the recovery team the authority to act on their own instincts.

    And act they did. Not only did they recover the consort, but they also discovered the presence of Xavier?s attacker and a Shi?ar youth among the X-Men as well. Despite the X-Men putting up a fight, the recovery team managed to retrieve all three targets. Gladiator would have to give his regards to Sharra on an excellent mission, though they appeared to have lost contact with the ship carrying the Shi?ar boy [1]. Nevertheless, Xavier and his would-be assassin were in his possession, just like the Majestrix ordered. He?d fulfilled his duty once again, and would maintain the honor of his position.

    When the ship arrived at the Shi?ar homeworld of Chandilar and docked with the Imperial High Council?s space station, Kallark himself wanted the personal glory of escorting the universal criminal to his place of judgment, the throne room of Empress Lilandra herself. Upon contacting the personnel at his cage, Gladiator was informed by the scientist Tal Clorvix that the Terran known as Alexander Summers was already en route to the docking bay. Ignoring her interjections about what the prisoner had to say during his trip, Gladiator cut off their communication channel and strode proudly through the corridors of the orbital palace, acknowledging the nods and bows of his fellow Shi?ar as he graced them with his presence. His confidence was at an all-time high, pleased not only with himself but the effectiveness of those under him, which also served as a reflection of his own achievements. Lilandra would be happy, which in turn would please Kallark, as satisfying the Empire always pleased him.

    Stepping through the docking bay connection, Gladiator was surprised to find the Terran putting up quite a fight for someone who was supposed to be bound and incapacitated. He?d quickly dispatched two guards and was making his way towards one of the unmanned ships, likely hoping to find some kind of escape from his imprisonment. He?d find no such escape today. Lifting to the air gracefully, Kallark closed the distance between himself and the mutant known as Havok. Grabbing the prisoner by the shoulder, Gladiator repositioned the man slightly so that he could bring his free hand, clenched in a mighty fist, across Havok?s face, knocking him unconscious in one blow. He cursed silently at having to intervene, as his attack will probably leave a mark on the assassin that indicated he?d been roughed up on his journey home. Then again, perhaps that?s just what Gladiator wanted the rest of the galaxy to see.

    And thus, he dragged Alexander Summers through the halls of the starbase, the comatose Xavier behind him in a Shi?ar incubator container, an entire squad of Shi?ar warriors surrounding them as they advanced. It took only a few moments for Kallark to reach the throne room, as the praetor was well-versed in the fastest ways to reach his destination aboard the Empire?s prized nest. Walking the long distance from the entrance of the throne room to the inspired seat itself, Gladiator kept his eyes affixed ahead at all times despite the glares and whispers from those occupying the room, recognizing the man that dangled like a rag doll at his side.

    As he reached the apex of the short staircase near the end of the room, Kallark tossed the man in front of him and dropped to one knee, his head bowed in reverence. ?This is the man you seek, Majestrix,? he acknowledged, finally looking up to gauge her reaction. ?This is the man who would have murdered your consort.?


    [1]: For more about the fate of Syaoran, be sure to catch him in Daydreamer!
    Last edited by Gladiator; 05-24-2012 at 11:22 PM.

  7. #7


    The chamber doors flashed open, and through the doorway walked Lilandra Neramani. She cupped a hot herbal tea in her palms, a regal cape flowing behind her ceremonial attire. It was time to rest, her day of galactic decisions, important meetings with foreign dignitaries, and conferences with advisors finally over. Looking through the large transparent panes that surrounded her personal quarters, staring out into the blackness of space, it was easy for someone to forget exactly when day and night were on this orbital palace. But this is where she ruled from, a safer and more fortified castle than the one she occasionally used on the planet below. Here, her advisors and technicians operated from a mobile command base, in constant contact with ambassadors from across the universe, able to execute her every command at a moment?s notice. The convenience was simply astounding, but at the end of the day, Lilandra sometimes wished that she were back in her quarters on throneworld, and the windows she was looking through showed the setting of Chandilar?s twin suns rather than the vast emptiness of space.

    But as Majestrix of the Shi'ar Imperium, she?d had to sacrifice a lot. Her personal freedoms and desires were buried for the glory of the Empire, as she was now its constant leader and, in many ways, its servant. It was a role that, growing up, she never envisioned for herself. Though she was trained at the Chandilar Academy and prepared for life as a royal, it was always her sister Cal?syee who was destined for the throne. At least until she murdered their father, the sitting emperor of the Shi?ar. For that, Deathbird had been exiled into outer space, a vacancy that allowed the Neramani middle child D?Ken to ascend into power. Lilandra would serve as Grand Admiral of the Imperial Guard, overseeing Shi?ar law through the universe, the Imperial hand that enacted what its master commanded. It did not take long for Lilandra to see, however, that her older brother was as troubled as her sister, and with the help of Charles Xavier and his X-Men, Lilandra herself became the new undisputed leader of the Shi?ar.

    Oh, Charles.

    Hanging her ceremonial armor on its pedestal in her chambers, Lilandra allowed a wispy nightgown to fall over her skin as she thought fondly of the man she once called consort. He?d stood alongside her until he?d been forced to return to Earth, the Phoenix Force acting as a cosmic wedge between them. She?d seen her love too scarcely over the years, and as she set her beverage down near her circular bed, she recalled the details of their last face to face encounter ? their tense meeting on Hala as Deathbird was to become viceroy, squelching a Kree rebellion that jeopardized the entire planet, arguing with Charles over whether a Kree rebel deserved clemency despite his acts of terror.

    They?d reached a stalemate that day, realizing that as long as they served in the same roles, their relationship would always be strained at best. Lilandra, the empress of a galactic empire, and Charles, the leader of the X-Men. Neither could abandon their posts, much as they may have been captivated at the thought of simply running off with one another to the far reaches of the galaxy to live the rest of their lives in peace and with each other?s love. Except for a brief dialog as the fabric of reality tore itself open [1], the last image of Charles etched into Lilandra?s mind was of him walking away from her on Hala, their relationship fractured.

    Sprawling across the luxurious bed, Lilandra sank into a sleep befitting a ruler who had spent one too many days receiving the wisdom of her advisors rather than the unconditional love of her consort.

    The Empress couldn?t be sure how long she?d slumbered when a buzzing from her chamber communicator panel caused her to rise abruptly. A voice interrupted the disconcerting sound, calling for her by her title. She rose groggily but with a familiarity that suggested this wasn?t the first time her sleep had been interrupted by a late night emergency. Lilandra acquired a robe on her way to the communication panel, covering her body so that her servants would not have the privilege of gazing upon her in her most vulnerable state. As she attained an acceptable appearance for the circumstances, Lilandra pressed the activation button on the communications panel, approving the video feed from her command center.

    ?What is it that causes you to disturb me at such an hour?? she said hastily, immediately regretting the unfairness that she cast upon an officer simply doing his job.

    ?My apologies, Majestrix,? the male on the other end of the video stream conveyed, bowing his head as she spoke. ?I would not disturb you if it was not vital to your interests.?

    ?Go on,? she responded, complete alert now.

    ?We?ve received news from Sol, your majesty,? the communications officer reported. ?Charles Xavier has been gravely injured and may not recover. The assailant is--?

    ?I?ll be right there,? Lilandra interrupted the officer, deactivating the communications console and immediately reaching for her royal armor.


    ?Where are they?!? Majestrix Lilandra Neramani demanded from the steps of her golden throne, growing impatient at the failures of the Imperial power she commanded. She?d ordered Gladiator, Praetor of the Imperial Guard, to dispatch a rescue effort to bring Charles back to Chandilar where he would receive the finest treatment in the universe, treatment he?d received before to restore the use of his legs. It would work again, the Majestrix told herself, refusing to believe that the last time she?d ever speak with her love was on that damned Kree homeworld during such troubled times.

    Chancellor Kra?nour turned from his own perch at the base of the throne, the small console next to him buzzing with information. ?They will be here shortly, Majestrix,? he assured her with the calm words of a regal advisor. Her fuming eyes centered on him, looking for reassurance that they hadn?t acted too late. ?Lord Gladiator assures me that, despite a small delay during transport, both Xavier and his attacker are being moved now.?

    ?I want to see this coward immediately,? she barked, retaking her royal seat as she brushed her cloak out of her path. Were she of a more rational mind, listening to the tone of her own words, Lilandra would likely hear her brother?s voice, shouting orders with a ferocity and irrationality that nearly destroyed the Shi?ar empire and the universe as a whole. With nothing left to do but wait, Lilandra took in a deep breath and began to calm herself as she?d done countless times in the past when faced with crises. She glanced over to Chancellor Kra?nour and nodded in appreciation, a signal she?d given him before when things began to escalate, when he?d done such a good job at remaining the calm voice in the room. He?d have to maintain that presence, for soon Charles?s attacker would be before her, and it would take all of her might to hold herself back from tearing his throat out herself.

    Within moments, the towering doors at the opposite end of the throne room parted, revealing a small contingent of the Imperial Guard, led by Gladiator, a man in tow. The Praetor walked briskly towards his commander, dragging the prisoner in one hand callously, an entrance he most certainly deserved. A sea of whispers began to rise from the onlookers on either side of the room as they began to recognize the assailant; Lilandra herself took in a sharp breath as she identified the prisoner, but made no outward change in her fierce demeanor to indicate her surprise. Friend or foe, this was the man responsible for Charles?s condition. Her wrath would not be subdued.

    As Gladiator reached her throne, he tossed the prisoner to the bottom of the staircase, dropping him just a few feet from the Empress herself. Despite taking a knee in honor of his Majestrix, Gladiator?s voice silenced any discussion that was still taking place in the throne room. ?This is the man you seek, Majestrix. This is the man who would have murdered your consort.?

    Lilandra stood, summoning all of her willpower not to leap from the chair and descend on the man then and there. With a calm and collected manner that masked her inner rage, the Majestrix of the Shi?ar Empire spoke calmly to the mutant at her feet.

    ?Alexander Summers,? she began, identifying the man for anyone who may not have already done so. Saying his name aloud brought her further pain, as it cemented in her mind that Xavier?s assailant had been a trusted ally, his betrayal even more damaging than any other possible attack. ?When news reached the Imperial palace that Charles had been gravely wounded, I scoured my mind to try and determine what monster would have been responsible for such a crime.? Lilandra stood, leaving her position on top of the throne?s perch, descending the few stairs so that she stood next to the weakened body of Havok, her boot nearly caressing his cheek. ?I admit your name did not register as a possibility, but I guarantee you, Terran,? Lilandra?s voice intensified as she leaned down to make eye contact with Alex, her vision now almost as deadly as his brother?s. ?With Sharra and K?ythri as my witnesses, you will receive no mercy for this crime. Consider your life forfeit.?

    Lilandra rose, and in doing so, she flicked the heel of her boot, slamming it against Alex?s jaw violently. Nodding to Gladiator, she turned away from the prisoner and returned to the top of her perch, lowering herself calmly onto her throne as the Praetor of her Imperial Guard removed the man who had nearly murdered her lover.

    [1]: X-Men Vol. 2 #41

  8. #8


    By now, a crowd had gathered to see the criminal thrown at the feet of the Shi?ar Majestrix, whispers around the vast throne room speculating on what Lilandra?s reaction may be. Would she find mercy in her heart for an X-Man, a hero who had fought alongside her consort? Or would she bring the full might of the Empire down upon the man who would have made her a widow? Havok hadn?t the strength to lift himself to his feet; his imprisonment and the sneak attack by Gladiator had taken a lot out of him. Instead, he stayed on his hands and knees, realizing that in this very moment, there was nothing he could do but listen to Lilandra?s words.

    ?Alexander Summers. When news reached the Imperial palace that Charles had been gravely wounded, I scoured my mind to try and determine what monster would have been responsible for such a crime.? She rose from her throne, stepping casually down the platforms that led to her chair of power, approaching Alex as he knelt before her.

    ?I admit your name did not register as a possibility, but I guarantee you, Terran,? she hissed, leaning down to look Alex in the face. He gazed into her eyes, cold orbs that flashed a hatred he?d not seen from her royal face before. This was not the Lilandra he?d known, not the one Charles rarely but passionately spoke so fondly of when he felt the urge to reminisce of the time they?d spent together in space. ?With Sharra and K?ythri as my witnesses, you will receive no mercy for this crime. Consider your life forfeit.?

    Before Alex could react, the heel of Lilandra?s boot was across his face, causing his jaw to throb in pain. Despite his fatigue, this knocked some energy back into Alex, causing him to rise to one knee. Before he could complete his stance, Gladiator approached from behind, wrapping a strong hand around one of Alex?s shoulders, preventing him from moving any further. Lilandra proceeded back to her throne, nodding to her henchman. In response, Gladiator was more than happy to heave Alex up the rest of the way, and carry him out of the throne room towards the detention block.

    ?And I thought her siblings were the cruel ones,? Havok muttered during his escort.

    ?Silence, Terran!? Gladiator barked, tightening his grip on Summers?s shoulders.

    Within a few minutes, he was back where he started ? a Shi?ar prison cell. Not the same one from earlier, mind you. That had been on the ship that had brought him to this damned place. Now, he was in something even more secure on the Shi?ar orbital palace. His chances of breaking out of here were slim, especially since he?d already tried and failed at one jailbreak. The Shi?ar would certainly be watching more closely now, though if Lilandra?s tone was any indication, they wouldn?t be watching for long, because he didn?t have much longer to live.

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