Marvel classic novels x.., p.1

Marvel Classic Novels--X-Men, page 1

 

Marvel Classic Novels--X-Men
 



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Marvel Classic Novels--X-Men


  CONTENTS

  Cover

  Novels of The Marvel Universe by Titan Books

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Book One: Siege

  Dedication

  Prologue

  One

  Two

  Three

  Four

  Five

  Six

  Seven

  Eight

  Nine

  Ten

  Eleven

  Twelve

  Thirteen

  Fourteen

  Fifteen

  Sixteen

  Seventeen

  Epilogue

  Acknowledgements

  Book Two: Sanctuary

  Prologue

  One

  Two

  Three

  Four

  Five

  Six

  Seven

  Eight

  Nine

  Ten

  Eleven

  Twelve

  Thirteen

  Fourteen

  Fifteen

  Sixteen

  Seventeen

  Epilogue

  Book Three: Salvation

  Dedication

  Prologue

  One

  Two

  Three

  Four

  Five

  Six

  Seven

  Eight

  Nine

  Ten

  Eleven

  Twelve

  Thirteen

  Fourteen

  Fifteen

  Sixteen

  Seventeen

  Epilogue

  Acknowledgements

  About the Author

  Also Available from Titan Books

  NOVELS OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE BY TITAN BOOKS

  Ant-Man: Natural Enemy by Jason Starr

  Avengers: Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Dan Abnett

  Avengers: Infinity by James A. Moore

  Black Panther: Who is the Black Panther? by Jesse J. Holland

  Captain America: Dark Design by Stefan Petrucha

  Captain Marvel: Liberation Run by Tess Sharpe

  Civil War by Stuart Moore

  Deadpool: Paws by Stefan Petrucha

  Spider-Man: Forever Young by Stefan Petrucha

  Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt by Neil Kleid

  Thanos: Death Sentence by Stuart Moore

  Venom: Lethal Protector by James R. Tuck

  X-Men: Days of Future Past by Alex Irvine

  X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Stuart Moore

  X-Men & Avengers: The Gamma Quest Omnibus by Greg Cox (January 2020)

  ALSO FROM TITAN AND TITAN BOOKS

  Marvel Contest of Champions: The Art of the Battlerealm by Paul Davies

  Marvel’s Spider-Man: The Art of the Game by Paul Davies

  Obsessed with Marvel by Peter Sanderson and Marc Sumerak

  Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover by David Liss

  Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – The Art of the Movie by Ramin Zahed

  The Art of Iron Man (10th Anniversary Edition) by John Rhett Thomas

  The Marvel Vault by Matthew K. Manning, Peter Sanderson, and Roy Thomas

  Ant-Man and the Wasp: The Official Movie Special

  Avengers: Endgame – The Official Movie Special

  Avengers: Infinity War – The Official Movie Special

  Black Panther: The Official Movie Companion

  Black Panther: The Official Movie Special

  Captain Marvel: The Official Movie Special

  Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years

  Spider-Man: Far From Home – The Official Movie Special

  Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – The Official Movie Special

  Thor: Ragnarok – The Official Movie Special

  X-Men: The Mutant Empire Omnibus

  Print edition ISBN: 9781789093322

  E-book edition ISBN: 9781789093353

  Published by Titan Books

  A division of Titan Publishing Group Ltd

  144 Southwark Street, London SE1 0UP

  First edition: November 2019

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and events are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  © 2019 MARVEL

  Special thanks to Lou Aronica, Ginjer Buchanan, Ken Grobe, Steve Roman, Bob Harras, Julia Molino, Stacy Gittelman, Lara Stein, Mike Thomas, Steve Behling, John Conroy and the gang at Marvel Creative Services. Original trilogy edited by Keith R.A. DeCandido.

  FOR MARVEL PUBLISHING

  Jeff Youngquist, VP Production Special Projects

  Caitlin O’Connell, Assistant Editor, Special Projects

  Sven Larsen, Director, Licensed Publishing

  David Gabriel, SVP Sales & Marketing, Publishing

  C.B. Cebulski, Editor in Chief

  Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer

  Dan Buckley, President, Marvel Entertainment

  Alan Fine, Executive Producer

  X-Men created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

  A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.

  For my good friends

  Steve Williams and Jeff Galin, the Xavier and Magneto of my life.

  Neither of whom will have any idea what that means.

  PROLOGUE

  CLOAKED from all detection by its extraordinary technology, the space station Avalon described an elliptical orbit around the Earth. On her observation deck, a gleaming metal platform with little ornamentation to warm the cold expanse of space, Eric Magnus Lehnsherr stood alone, gazing down at the planet of his birth with a heavy heart. He was no longer welcome on Earth. More than a man without a country, he was a man without a world. And he feared that such would be the fate of all his kind.

  Eric Lehnsherr was a mutant.

  He was not an uncommonly large man, standing just over six feet tall and weighing just under two hundred pounds, but there was a quiet fury about him that gave even the bravest soul pause. His eyes were the blue-gray of an impending storm, his long hair an extraordinarily perfect white. Defined by his command, of himself and others around him, he was not given to frivolous commentary or physical expression. Still, he allowed himself a low sigh, a shake of his head, and then his hand came up to stroke his smooth chin.

  Lost in contemplation, in waves of hope and grim determination, he barely noticed the hiss of expelled air as a door slid open behind him. There was no danger to him, here. On Avalon, he was …

  “Lord Magneto, you summoned me,” Exodus said reverently.

  Magneto felt a moment of regret for the day he chose that name. In his anger, his need to present himself to the world as a being of power, he had abandoned the name his parents had given him. It had set him apart from the humans, made them fear him all the more. But it had also made it easier for them to hate. That distance, that difference, also existed in the hushed reverence with which his Acolytes treated him. Fear, hatred, reverence … Magneto wondered if he would ever grow used to them, or to the solitary world they had built around him.

  Exodus stood silently, patiently awaiting whatever response M
agneto might provide. His robes flowed around him, reminding Magneto of a purple and black butterfly, such a contrast to the hard shell of crimson that he himself wore.

  “Your tone reveals your hope that I have finally come to my senses, Exodus,” Magneto said. “I’m sorry to inform you that I remain dedicated to the Empire Agenda.”

  “My lord,” Exodus gasped, “you know that I would never think to question your will. I have not …”

  “Yes, yes, I know,” Magneto assured him. “You have no fear that I will question your loyalty. Yet I know that you disapprove of this endeavor. Don’t think for a single moment that I don’t know, and understand, your feelings on this subject.”

  Magneto walked to Exodus, whose eyes were downcast, and laid a hand on the other’s shoulder.

  “Avalon will continue to be a haven away from Earth for those mutants who accept our invitation, our challenge to live free,” Magneto said reassuringly. “And you, my friend, will continue to be the ferryman who guides those lost souls to their new lives, and the chief protector, other than myself, of all who reside here.”

  Exodus nodded, but did not appear relieved.

  “Please, Exodus, enough of this propriety!” Magneto said in frustration. “Ask the questions that weigh so heavily on you.”

  “I know it isn’t my place, Magneto, but it all seems so unnecessary,” Exodus explained. “We have Avalon. What is keeping us from abandoning the Earth entirely?”

  Magneto realized that Exodus simply could not comprehend his plans, and resolved to change that. True, Exodus would follow his orders to the letter, no matter what they might be, and he owed no one an explanation of his actions. But what good was blind obedience? Whoever followed him, Magneto had vowed, would not do so in ignorance. That was the human way.

  “We are the next step in evolution,” he began, and turned to look back out at the vacuum of space, and the blue world spinning below. “We are homo sapiens superior. It is the destiny of the species currently referred to as ‘humanity’ to die out, to be replaced by our kind. It is natural that they should fear us, for we are the harbinger of their doom.

  “I have spent my life trying to carve a place in the world for mutants. By natural law, we ought to be the sovereign race on this world. It is inevitable. Time and again, my efforts have been thwarted by Charles Xavier and his X-Men. Mutants themselves, these so-called heroes have naively worked toward Xavier’s dream that mutants and humans can peacefully co-exist.”

  He paused, but when he spoke again, he no longer seemed to be speaking to Exodus.

  “Xavier is a madman,” Magneto said, a strange sadness in his tone. “What creature ever embraces entropy? How can any rational being live side by side in harmony with the evidence of its impending death?”

  “Yes, lord,” Exodus agreed. “But what you say only strengthens the case for Avalon as the haven for all mutants until we are strong enough to take the entire Earth, or until the humans begin to destroy themselves. Why continue to struggle for a refuge on Earth when we have one in the heavens?”

  “Why indeed?” Magneto asked himself, a wistful smile playing at the corners of his mouth. He brushed an errant lock of white hair from his face, then spun to look at Exodus once more.

  “I must try, don’t you see?” he asked, suddenly vehement. “That ball of dirt and water spinning down there is our home, Exodus. We have a right to it as the next rung on the evolutionary ladder. The Earth is my home, for better or worse. Every moment of happiness, every ounce of agony, sprang from its soil. To abandon it to the new dream of Avalon means putting my vision of an Earth ruled by mutantkind on hold for an indefinable time.

  “That may be what is necessary for the vision to become truth. If so, I am prepared for it. But before I am able to reconcile myself to that decision, I have to make one final effort to create a haven for mutants on Earth now, today! I put the Empire Agenda in place several years ago for just such an attempt. The moment has arrived. Do you understand that?”

  Exodus cast his gaze at the floor again, and nodded. “Yes, lord,” he said. “I realize how foolish I was. Your courage is equaled only by your vast love and compassion for your fellow mutants. I am ashamed to have questioned you. What may I do to atone for my doubts?”

  Magneto smiled now, like a proud and indulgent father. “The only thing I ask of you, Exodus, is to continue to populate Avalon with the seeds of the future of mutantkind and to protect her with your life until my return.”

  “It shall be done, lord,” Exodus said.

  “Excellent,” Magneto responded. “Now, please gather the Acolytes who will accompany me to Earth, and send Voght to me immediately.”

  When Exodus left, Magneto’s spirits had risen considerably. Though he was born there, Exodus had no interest in Earth, but Magneto had been able to make him realize what the Empire Agenda meant to all mutants. To have faith. Faith was important. Magneto intended to carve a mutant haven out of the Earth, and from there begin a campaign to gradually take the entire planet. For the mission to succeed, all of his Acolytes had to be as confident as he was.

  There was a rustling behind him, like wind in the fallen leaves, and Magneto turned to see the psychically projected image of the Acolyte called Scanner shimmer into existence.

  “Yes, Scanner?”

  “Voght has arrived, lord,” Scanner said, but did not wait for a response. Magneto watched as her psionic holo-body disappeared.

  The door hissed open and Amelia Voght was there. She was a beautiful woman, with a mane of auburn hair that Magneto found quite alluring. There was nothing romantic about their relationship, yet there was a certain undeniable intimacy between them. Unlike the other Acolytes, Voght did not worship him as her lord and master. She believed in him and his vision, certainly, but when she spoke to him, particularly without the others around, it was with a familiarity that Magneto found refreshing.

  “You rang?” she asked as she stepped into the observation deck.

  “We will depart for Earth momentarily, Amelia,” Magneto said. “I thought it best to take you aside to inform you that I have decided to appoint you field leader for the duration of this operation.”

  Voght was clearly stunned, and uncharacteristically speechless. The effect didn’t last long, however.

  “I’m grateful, Magneto,” she said. “I’m assuming you’ve taken into consideration that the others will be less than pleased, particularly Unuscione?”

  “I have confidence in you, Amelia,” Magneto said. “Now, shall we begin to enact the Empire Agenda?”

  “Absolutely,” Voght said, her voice rising with excitement. “It isn’t every day you get to hold a planet hostage, after all.”

  * * *

  IT was just past seven o’clock in the morning, but the Rocky Mountains were alive with activity. Birdsong filled the air, the wind whipped through the trees, and animals prowled throughout the region. In a remote section of Colorado, on one of the many large sections of land the federal government still owned, a long, open field was surrounded by a touch-sensitive electrified fence, trimmed with razor wire. Inside the fence, a tiny bull’s-eye on the open field, was a two-story gray brick structure that would appear, to the uninitiated, as nothing more than an office building.

  Beneath the field, however, there was something more.

  A crackling sound drowned out the birds and the breeze and the choking stench of burning rubber suddenly filled the air, and was joined by the smell of scorched grass. Though it wasn’t more than seventy degrees, the air above the field warped and shimmered as if it were a summer swelter over heatwave-baked pavement. There was a loud, echoing bang, like the crack of a rifle, and birds fluttered in flocks from treetops around the perimeter of the fence.

  Magneto and the Acolytes had arrived.

  “You realize, my lord, that I could have teleported us here as easily as the technology of Avalon,” Voght said with a trace of annoyance.

  Magneto turned, facing the zealous followers he h
ad chosen for this mission, and nodded patiently. He wore the crimson helm that had covered his head, hidden his face, for so many years. It had come to represent terror in the hearts of so many humans, and majesty in the minds of the Acolytes.

  “The last thing I want, Amelia,” he said after a pause, “is for you to expend energy needlessly.” He lifted his arms to include all of them. “Before this is over, each of you will be taxed to your limits. We must work together, or the dream will fail. Now, let us begin.”

  The Acolytes tensed, moving into offensive positions in preparation for the moment when Magneto lowered their cloaking shield, allowing the base’s security sensors to register their presence for the first time. He surveyed the team he had chosen for this mission, and decided that he had chosen well. They looked organized and strong in their navy and crimson uniforms, and danger crackled in the air around them like heat lightning.

  Senyaka’s face was hidden, as always, behind the cowl he wore, but Magneto did not need to see his face to know the blood lust in the man’s heart. Senyaka held a psionic whip, created by the power of his mind, which hummed with a paralyzing current not unlike electricity. Its every coil and snap was controlled by the Acolyte’s mind and Magneto allowed himself a moment’s sympathy for those who would feel the sting of Senyaka’s zeal.

  Next to him stood Milan, who was invaluable to the Empire Agenda. Milan stood quietly, eyes covered by a visor whose sensors helped him to process incoming information instantly. His brain was like a computer, and could access both human and artificial intelligence, flesh and machine, with equal expediency.

  Magneto allowed himself a slight smile at the sight of the powerhouse Joanna Cargil, once known as Frenzy, attempting to contain her hyperactive personality. Cynical by nature, the black woman had nevertheless become one of the most devout among the Acolytes. She stood next to Javitz, who was equally powerful. At nearly nine feet tall, the gold headset and shoulder armor they all wore made him look even more imposing. The only flaw in the giant’s form was the bandage he wore to cover his useless left eye.

  The Kleinstock brothers, Harlan and Sven, guarded their flank. The twins had once been triplets, but the third brother, Eric, had been lost on one of the Acolytes’ missions. Their power, hideous as it was, had been cut by one third then, but they were still effective. Unfortunately, the twins rarely thought ahead, and had to be kept tightly reined.

 
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