AoA: The First Horseman

September 30, 2017:

Nate Grey goes to meet the AoA Emma, also wanting to introduce Jean to her. But someone else has different plans for Nate, and has sent a powerful agent to retrieve him.

AoA Central Park

Central Park has been turned into an amazing garden/orchard by Storm and other mutants.


NPCs: AoA Gabriel Summers/Horseman War

Mentions: Magneto

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

The X-Men Danger Room was a bit of a disappointment. It was mechanical, crude compared with the Shi'ar holosuit back home. It was not of any help for returning home. And the problem was probably something Nate, Rachel and Illyana did during the session.

Bad news is Nate said Illyana wasn't able to reach Limbo and he couldn't leave either. He said he couldn't see his 'Spiral of Worlds' as he calls his ability to see parallel Earths. And Rachel's control over her time-travelling abilities is faint.

But Magneto spoke of an alien artifact, the M'Kraan Crystal, which might help the displaced X-Men. To reach the crystal they need the help of a galactic-level teleporter, and fortunately Magneto knows one. So there is hope.

But right now, the next morning, they are not going to another galaxy. Instead Jean and Lorna are meeting Nate and someone else. Nate didn't say the name because Emma asked him not to do it, but he doubts they will fail to recognize her. Unless Emma in this world is a brunette or something strange.

Nate is waiting for the women in a corner of Central Park, wearing a hooded cloak over grey and black clothes. The morning is chilly, feeling more like early winter than early fall, but it is not freezing and sunlight sometimes manages to break the cloud cover. It is actually a very nice morning, for this world.

Coffee, apparently, is impossible to get in current day New York. Not something that can be easily cultivated around here. But some enterprising New Yorkers have managed to grow tea shrubs, so he has a steaming mug. It helps a bit.

Lorna had had a tough night. She had questioned who she was all over again. Who was she if not Magneto's daughter. What could she do? Should she stay in this reality was, it possible for her to get home? She didn't know if it was worth the fight almost. Here at least, no one would go after her for her heritage..

Lorna sighed, even as she followed along to meet up with Nate. She had discarded her X-man uniform for something more low key. A leather jacket and pair of beat up jeans with a matching pair of boots were the result. "Nate?" She called cautiously.

Jean was overjoyed for the chance to reunite with the rest of the missing X-Men, happy for more familiar faces in a world that seemed to be filled with too much of the unfamiliar. With Lorna, she made her way to meet with Nate; anxious for once in her life for a fight to begin, because once that fight was over it meant that they could all return home.

As she looked around what passed for Central Park, she didn't call out for Nate, but instead reached out telepathically to let him know that they were here.

How is it that one can get their nature-given abilities back, and feel all the more vulnerable for it? The blonde whose boots crunch over the worn and age-cracked paths of Central Park, wrapped in a long grey duster - unseasonably heavy - with white fur fringe along its hood. Beneath the coat, there are signs of a proper pair of black slacks, and a pop of color at the collar of a bright purple shirt. Her hair spills out unevenly from beneath that pulled up hood, over her one shoulder and her hands stay plunged into the pockets. Emma Frost is nearly to the rendezvous point when she detects… something. Something unfamiliar. Another psychic's presence, when she wasn't expecting one. And it draws her to a premature stop.

The young man looks up. For Jean there was no doubt it was Nate, since he is such a telepathic beacon. Lorna gets at brief grin, as he pulls the hood down. "Yeah, good to see you, ladies. I feel dumb meeting like this, given the city looks much better than the last time…" he looks around. "Rachel said it might not be my world but something similar but weird in some surprising ways. But if feels…" not right. That can't be said of the Age of Apocalypse. Just it feels IT.

"Anyway. The reason I am here and I didn't go directly to meet the local X-Men is, well," he looks at the currently still blonde. "Emma Frost. I am Nate Grey," he greets, stepping forward. "Jean Grey, Lorna Dane, they came with me from… the place I was the last three off years." he offers. Introducing the redheaded and green-haired women.

Lorna had no psychic tells to go off of. Only her usual senses and she paused until Nate pushed his hood back and greeted them. She smiled faintly, exhaling a breath. "Glad to see you're ok, Nate." She glanced back to Jean and then back to Nate, looking mildly confused.

"So wait.. this is like your world but… not?" Her brows furrowed as her gaze shifted toward Emma when Nate greeted her. Green eyebrows hooked towards and she rocked her weight back onto her heels.

"It's good to see you as well Nate." Jean nodded to Emma, another person who was familiar and yet not, "Miss Frost, nice to see your fashion sense is as extravagant in this world as it is in mine."

"Nate, you should know. When we met with Magneto, he mentioned that the Nathaniel Grey of this world went missing five years ago. I don't know if that means anything to you, but maybe it can help with figuring out if this is your world." She eyed the cup of tea jealousy, damn Nate having tea..

Emma's eyes slide in Jean's direction beneath her hood, for she does not bring hers down. And there's a slim smile, but genuine. It doesn't last. "You shouldn't have this many telepaths together," the woman murmurs. "It is not wise. It is not safe. God, there probably haven't been this many since…" She inhales deeply, and then she considers the other two. "I should go, and you-" another gaze to Jean and Nate "-should likely go separate directions. Easier to stay hidden." Her brow furrows. "This was a mistake."

Nate nods to Lorna. "This is my world. People remember things I knew… just five years after I left. The X-Men won after all, and Magneto stopped the bombs, at least some. Enough for…" he gestures around. "Survival. Maybe a future."

He sips the tea, nodding to Jean. It is a bitter tea, sugar is scarce. But it is the only thing he has put in his stomach since Ray's stolen canned food last night. At least Jean and Lorna had a real breakfast at the Triskelion!

Before he can add more Emma words draw his attention, and he smirks. "Relax. If he comes we will tear him apart. That parasite has no chance against Jean and me together." Arrogance. One of his failings. But he might be right this time.

But it is not the Shadow Thief who is coming.

It is a well-built man in his late twenties. Six foot even, dark hair under the hood. None of the telepaths feels him coming, his mind a sinkhole in the psychic plane. His body a sinkhole in the electromagnetic field. His eyes solid gold, glowing faintly. He walks towards Nate at good pace, although not looking particularly threatening. He only pauses when he sees Jean, surprised.

People gave off slight magnetic fields. It was part of how the body worked. Tiny little sparks that the body used to move, to think, to live. Lorna barely picked up on them on good days. It was all back ground noise after all. So engrossed as she was in what Nate had to say, she missed the void at first. "My father stopped nukes before in my world. Makes sense that he could do that here.." She was still related to a version of the man. Even if she sometimes wished otherwise. "It also explains why the magnetic fields are out of wack." She trailed off as Emma spoke.

"Sorry. I'm not a telepath here, who is 'he'?" She hated the pronoun game that so many telepaths seemed to use.

Then it was she picked up on the man that was void of any fields. Her posture shifted and she held her hands loosely at her side, putting her back to Nate and Jean instinctively.

"The Shadow Thief." Jean replied to Lorna, any further inquiries of Nate or Emma silenced by the change in Lorna's posture and the arrival of the gold-eyed man who didn't even have a psychic presence, "Please, tell me that guy is friends with one of you."

All of Nate's boasting doesn't seem to give Frost any added bravery. To the contrary, it earns the young man a disdainful look. If he was of this world, he should know better than to be so sure, so proud. Because those are the ones that tend to get eaten by this world first, one way or another. And at the new arrival, Emma's chin drops, obscuring more of her face as they are caught by surprise. Or maybe they aren't, but she is. And she does not like it. Still… she says nothing.

"Who the hell are you?" Asks Nate, address the man with yellow eyes. « Never seen him… wait, wasn't he a student a few years back? »

The newcomer tsk, grinning. "Ah, Nathaniel. I am your uncle, Gabriel Summers. So good to meet you at last, we thought you long dead." He looks at Jean, "and you… are an imposter, I suppose." He looks angry for a few instants, then resolute. The man looks at Nate again, "Nevermind. You are coming home with me, Nathaniel." Then the women. "And you all die now."

He strikes at Nate first, his fist moving fast towards the young man's chest. Nate automatically blocks with a telekinetic shield, but the first goes through as if wasn't there, and at hitting there is a bright energy discharge that sends Nate flying back and down, stunned and unable to move.

Lorna moved as soon as the man, Gabriel, started to sling around threats. But she hadn't actually expected him to move so fast, or to be able to break through Nate's shields. Still, it didn't take long for her to twist around and put the stranger into her line of sight. With a sound of anger escaping her, her hands shot outwards, toward the Summers man. And the little metal globes she'd snatched from the X-men's abandoned home flew out at her sides.

"You're not taking him anywhere." She snarled, metal twisting to thick bands to try to snare Gabriel.

Jean realized that the man seemed to be some kind of void, but just because powers could not directly affect someone, it did not mean that they couldn't indirectly harm them. If they could not, she was about to be very scared.

"Get away from him!" Jean screamed before reaching out with her hand to grab a bench with her telekinesis and fling it directly at the golden-eyed man!

As the situation devolves very rapidly, Emma finds herself cursing a great many things. The times. A number of the people in it. The things that have been required to outlive both.

The occasional compromise.

For instance, the compromise that must surely come when one realizes that one has nothing to offer in a battle and nothing owed to any of the people in it.

The recent times, perhaps, have dulled her uncertainty and need for contingency upon contingency upon contingency… Because she came here with none.

Later, if she survives, she will consider the lesson learned. But, for now, she fights against the pull of baser instincts. Of her desire to survive. When she can truly think of nothing to help in the moment that comes next, without so much as a place to set her mind to work?

The blonde turns to run with a murmur of apology under her breath.

Gabriel pretty much ignores the metal globes, as Lorna loses control of them when they are about a yard of him and they clatter to the ground half-shaped. But the flying bench makes him frown, and he gestures imperiously, sending some kind of invisible a forcewave to make change trajectories. The bench ends up flying about five feet over his head.

His response is swift, he tears at the magnetic field as if was paper, twisting the power lines with an electromagnetic pulse that affects the whole city… not quite. Lorna can feel how Magneto blocks the pulse in the area around the Triskelion. But it is painful and disorienting for Lorna, she was very close.

Then he leans to grab Nate neck. "What are these women? They can't possibly be who they seem to be," Nate just glares at him, trying to hit Gabriel with his powers and seeing his energy absorbed. Unfortunately his muscles are not responding, so he is unable to resist the old man.

Jean would feel it, though, as Gabriel rechannels the psychic power to her in the form of a crude telepathic strike.

Lorna stared in shock as the metal collapsed unformed on the ground. Her hands still out stretched and she paled faintly as Jean's attack went off kilter as well. Then, then came the head-aching inducing electromagnetic pulse. Her eyes widened as she stared at Gabriel in increasing horror at just how in over their heads they might just be. She felt Magneto's blocking it, and her eyes narrowed. If this world's version of her father could combat his powers, then shouldn't she be able to do something?

But the pulse left her reeling for a breath, two, as he grabbed Nate.. her anger shot back into force. "I said get away from him!" She snarled, and gathered as much of her magnetic powers as she could together and blast them in Gabriel's direction. She'd be exhausted after, but her anger was hot and she wasn't thinking logically now.

Jean had been little focused on her own psychic defenses given what she knew of this world's psychics. Even worse, she had not prepared any kind of shield or expected to have to protect herself from the counterattack that suddenly came.

Jean fell to her knees in pain, hands gripping her head as she cried out, "Lorna! Stop him, please!" She would take a few moments to recover from the attack, but she believed in Lorna.

Blasting Gabriel is just what he wants, and the dark-haired man laughs as he stops the blast with a hand and absorbs it whole. "Why, thank you. Interesting, you are clearly more powerful than the real Lorna Dane."

Then he turns on Jean. "There is no stopping War, woman. And I am but the First Horseman," Lorna's blast is sent back to Jean. But Nate has managed to grab his wrist and is trying to get free, recovering from the shock a little.

Gabriel shakes him like a rag doll, obviously far stronger. "Yes. I know. Quicksilver will be here in a few seconds. Nevermind!" He snarls, angry at someone else. Probably talking by radio or telepathy. "Eden! Gateway now!"

Lorna paled as Gabriel absorbed her powers, and she staggered, exhausted from having thrown so much at him. Her expression growing shocked as she gaped at him. "Shit," Then he was blasting at Jean. "NO!"

Lorna tried, really, she tried to grab at the energy, but it slippery. No longer just her power, and she was tired. Still, as he shook Nate she gave up any sembalance of logic and charged after the man with a shout.

"We will stop you, and everyone else who stands with you." Jean replied defiantly but that defiance was quickly silenced as she was wracked with even more pain by the reversal of the blast which knocks her onto her back despite the telekinetic shields she was trying to erect.

It was struggle to remain conscious from the blow, as she saw stars in her vision and inky black spots.

A portal opens behind Gabriel and he steps back with a smirk, dragging Nate with him. When Lorna charges madly, he smirks cruelly, his eyes glow brighter and he attempts to fry her with laser beams. But there is a blur, and Lorna is no longer there.

The dark-haired man snarls and rushes back, the gateway closes with a loud sound of rushing air.

Quicksilver lets Lorna back to her feet. Then he rushes to check if Jean is alright. "What happened? Who was that man?" He asks, looking alarmed. It has been years since any enemy managed to attack them in New York.

All over the city the humans and mutants felts the pulse. Light bulbs exploded, electronics stopped working. Two hundred feet under the Stark's mansion a man Secretary of Energy Anthony Stark is assessing damages and cursing like a sailor. Fortunately the arc reactors are completely shielded from that kind of attack.

But Stark, just like everyone else in the city, knows the war has started again.

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