Academia Arc:

Annual 1:


by Phil Hartman

DISCLAIMER: Everyone here is Marvel's, except for
Soraya, who's mine, and Subreality, which is Kielle's.
No money is being made off of this. Please don't sue.

NOTE: This falls between Chapters 5 and 6 of Starting

9/16/00: CBNC Studios, Manhattan: 20:15 hrs EDT:

13-year-old Charles Lehnsherr looked up at the
shattered ceiling of the "Confront" news magazine's
studio, not seeing the tunnel bored in the roof by the
man floating in mid-air, only seeing the man himself.

"DAD !"

Magneto laughed, dropping the magnetically-levitated
Graydon Creed to the stage and landing so Chuck could
run to hug him. "You've grown," Erik Magnus Lehnsherr
told his youngest child after a long moment. "I'm
sorry I was unable to come after you and your mother
two years ago, Charles -"

"It doesn't matter," Chuck laughed, releasing his
father. "You're back ! You're alive ! This is so great

"A moment, son," Magnus said, turning back to where
Trish Tilby watched him with wide eyes. "I will repair
the damage from my entrance, Ms. Tilby. However, I
make no apologies for storming in to deal with this

"ANIMAL !?" Graydon Creed screamed, leaping to his
feet. "I'll GUT you, you mutant freak !"

"You are pathetic, Creed," Magnus snorted. He grabbed
Graydon in another magnetic field and levitated him,
adding, "You will never become President of the United
States. I listened to 'Confront' using my
electromagnetic powers on the way over here - your
'Children of Humanity' are nothing more than Hitler
Youth all over again. Your precious Friends of
Humanity have no right to exist now that the United
States has secured mutant rights."

Magnus dropped Graydon again and removed his helmet,
glancing upwards to close the hole his entrance had
made into the CBNC studios. "There," he said, looking
at the New Mutants. "Much has changed in two years, I
gather - and my mission must change with it. But
first, I need information ... are any of you
teleporters ?"

"I am, sir," Claudette St. Croix said, opening a
transportal. "But how did you escape the destruction
of New Avalon by the Prime Sentinels ?"

"I tried using the teleportation system to reach
Earth," Magnus said, striding through the portal, "but
the Prime Sentinels' attack disrupted it. I was thrown
through time and space, and found myself in Bombay a
week ago (SEE Starting Block # 4)."

"Where he met me," Soraya Haspurinam said amicably as
the mutants stepped onto the X-Mansion's front lawn.
"Uh - are those metal thingies supposed to be popping
out of the ground ?"

"Let me handle this," Rachel Summers sighed. She
punched the intercom button and spoke into it as metal
tentacles crept towards the mutants, calling, "Bishop
! Shut down the sec-grid - Magneto's with us !"

"MAGNETO !?" an outraged voice rang back from the

"Hoo boy," Rachel sighed. "One of two things is about
to happen: Either the grown-ups'll freak out that
Magneto is with us, or -"

The mansion's front door exploded, admitting a streak
of yellow and white which tackled Magnus and started
to kiss him repeatedly.

"ERIK !" Rogue shrieked happily. "It's you ! You're
alive ! Mah GOD, ah've missed you - snog me, Erik !
Snog me lahk a real man should ! Snog me NOW !"

They kept making out all the way to the mansion's
front door, as Frank Richards looked at Chuck with a
wry smile.

"That's the last time I let her hang out on for hours," Chuck said, blushing with a
goofy smile.


After a few hours (and rude noises coming from the
mansion's second floor), Magnus and Rogue descended to
find the mansion's library filled with X-people.

"Ahem ... y'all didn't have t'wait up for us," Rogue
said, glancing around.

"An y'didn't hafta go runnin back t'your husband,
didya ?" Remy LeBeau muttered darkly.

He jumped when Chuck rammed his face in the Cajun's
and snarled, "GET OVER IT, LOTHARIO. They're back
together, and you're just bitter. They were MARRIED,
happily, and you've got no right to complain."

"Charles !" Magnus exclaimed. "Gambit had no way of
knowing I would return. Now that your mother and I
have ... talked, I have a better picture of what I
must do."

"And that is ... ?" Cyclops asked, letting Jean
Summers slip her hand into his.

"The Acolytes must be regathered, and New Avalon must
once more exist," Magnus said. "I give you my word,
Cyclops, that I will harm no humans or mutants in this
quest - but I cannot, will not, attempt to co-exist
with humans. I respect your achievements, and the
Kelly Act, but this is not my path."

"An ah'm goin' with him," Rogue said, looking around
with some sadness. "Erik an' ah've been t'gether since
before ah met the X-Men, an' we want some time
t'gether at last. Too often, we've been torn apart by
circumstance or some idiotic supervillain - not

Chuck felt himself rock on his feet, and sat down.
"That means ... I'll have to leave school ?" he asked,
looking at his parents.

A look of pain crossed Rogue's face, and Magnus took
a deep breath. "We ... have many details to refine,
son," he said. "There will be time to discuss this in
the morning. If you will excuse us, Charles ?"

Charles Xavier nodded, looking at his namesake as the
New Mutants gathered around their classmate. "Curfew
is 11 p.m., students," Xavier said, maneuvering his
hoverchair to the staircase.

"Chuck ... we never really thought ... I mean ..."
Tom Shade said sympathetically to his uncle.

"This blows," Tom's twin Bill sneered. "You're one of
us ! They can't just pull ya out of here !"

"But ... what if it's for the best ?" Chuck asked. "I
don't believe in Professor Xavier's dream - mutants
should be seperated from humans for both sides'
benefit. At least ... I think so ..."

"Think about it," Luna Maximoff asked, kissing
Chuck's cheek. "You'll always have a place here,
'Uncle' Charlie. Remember that."

The other kids trickled away, some walking with their
parents, leaving Chuck to look at Soraya.

"Don't look at ME," the Hindu girl said, shrugging as
she frowned at the Darkforce energies swirling around
her. "I'm still new to this mutant stuff. Maybe Baldy
can help me get a handle on these funky powers."

"The Prof's a good teacher," Chuck admitted,
standing. "I ... gotta go think about this. See you
tomorrow, Soraya."


#What Dad said before,# Chuck thought as he prepared
for bed, #about Creed ...#

He threw a robe on over his boxers and opened his
door, tiptoeing his way to Rogue's bedroom on the
women's side of the mansion. Chuck prepared to knock,
but heard raised voices from within.

"A 'pre-emptive strike ' !?" Rogue snapped. "Erik, ah
thought we agreed t'stop this kinda crap !"

"We will have none of our people TO rescue if the FOH
decimate them, Adelaida !" Magnus replied heatedly.
"Creed snapped tonight, and a wounded animal is the
most dangerous ! Who knows how many of his 'Children
of Humanity' are lurking out there - do you want them
to ambush Charles !?"

"Leave our boy outta this, Erik," Rogue said, ice in
her tones. "Although, if we're gonna involve him, how
about letting him have a say in where he's gonna be
educated ? He has family, friends, here at the mansion
! Yankin' him inta orbit ain't what ah had in mind -
he should be a kid first, an' the Son o' Magneto
second !"

"He no more wants to be around humans than I do,
Adelaida," Magnus huffed. "That was why he was not in
the television studio tonight watching Franklin be
verbally abused by that misbegotten Creed. The only
reason I did not slay that animal then and there was
because the world was watching - setting off a race
war after peace is achieved, for at least some of us,
is not my plan."

"Well, that's a relief," Rogue said, softer. "But
Charlie's home has been here. T'make him give that up

"Did he not tell you himself that he does not share
Xavier's views ?" Magnus said. "I will ask him in the
morning - after all three of us have had a night to
think over our positions."

#Oh crud,# Chuck winced, sneaking back down the hall.
#He knew I was there the whole time ...#

"Midnight snack, mon brave ?"

"DAMNIT, LeBeau, don't DO that !" Chuck
whisper-yelled, glaring at Gambit. The Cajun stood at
the top of the stairs, red eyes glowing dimly in the
gloom of the darkened mansion. "I suppose you're gonna
whine at me some more about how I ruined your love
life ..."

"Rogue done made her decision," Gambit replied
calmly. "It be you I be curious about. You not de same
hurt, scared kid who came here two years ago, non ?"

"I'm my father's son," Chuck said coldly. "I was hurt
and scared when Mom and I came back after the Prime
Sentinels blew up Asteroid M. I knew the first New
Mutants from when Mom and Dad were the headmasters
here, but not you X-Men - I've grown up. What do you
care, anyhow ?"

"I know de price o'lettin' someone else run y'r life,
Charlie," Gambit said, his eyes drawing Chuck's gaze.
"De cost o'followin' someone else's lead. You got
t'decide what you gon' do wit' your life."

"And if I become the leader of the Acolytes someday
!?" Chuck snapped, louder. "You're trying to turn me
against my dad ! Well, stick it, you waste of an
x-factor ! You waste your powers on theft and laying
every woman in sight - and trying to cuckold good men

Gambit didn't flinch, but something in his face
seemed almost regretful to Chuck as the boy headed for
his room. "I done worse t'ings, Charlie," the thief
called. "You not like me f'r a lot o' good reasons,
but I do wan' help ya."

"My life IS mine, thief," Chuck snarled over his
shoulder. "And don't ever call me Charlie again."


#Like that idiot's got room to preach to ME,# Chuck
thought angrily, throwing his robe aside and climbing
into bed. He listened for a while to Leong Coy Mahn's
slow breathing, and tried to let it rock him to sleep.

#So what if I went to New Avalon with Mom and Dad ?#
Chuck thought. #I mean, Dad's said he's not gonna be
some overblown avenger of mutantkind anymore ...#

#Will he ?#


He awoke, morninglight wafting in through the closed
blinds, and sat up with a yawn.

"Couldn't sleep ?" Leong said.

Chuck looked around the room and frowned, standing
with a wince as his joints protested. "You came apart
again," he told his roommate, stepping over Leong's
limbs and propping up the Vietnamese boy's headless

"Dreams got weird," Leong replied, commanding his
arms and legs to reattach to his body. The body stood,
lifting its head, and reattached it to its shoulders.

"I had a nightmare that you had left, and were
wearing a bucket on your head," Leong told Chuck as
the other boy gathered clothes for the day. "When you
removed it, your face was gone."

Chuck looked at Leong and said, "Look - do you guys
really think I should stay ?"

Leong sat on his bed and shrugged. "Not if you'll be
unhappy," he said finally. "But you've got a place
here with us, Chuck."

Chuck sighed, sitting on his own bed, and said, "I
don't know what to do. Dad says he's not gonna attack
humans, but I overheard him and Mom arguing last night
about some kind of 'pre-emptive strike.'"

"Against the FOH ?" Leong asked nervously.

"I don't KNOW !" Chuck exclaimed. "What'm I gonna do,
Leong ? He's my dad - I can't rat him out - but I
can't let him take potshots at the FOH either !"

~Charles, please get dressed and join me in my
office,~ Xavier's mental voice interrupted.

"Busted," Leong tried to joke, watching as Chuck
threw on a shirt and jeans.

"Question is, who got busted ?" Chuck muttered,
heading downstairs.


He found Xavier sipping some tea, looking out into
the yard.

"Sir ?" Chuck said, trying to keep a tight rein on
his thoughts.

"Charles, I consider my students' mental privacy
paramount," Xavier said, rotating his hoverchair to
face the boy. "Please sit." Chuck complied, watching
as Xavier regarded him for a long moment.

"However, I could not help but sense great distress
from you last night," Xavier continued. "I know your
father's return must have been quite a shock -"

"A joy," Chuck interrupted, frowning. "I'm glad he's

"True. But have you considered all the emotions such
a return might generate ?" Xavier asked.

"You mean, am I angry at him for 'abandoning' me and
Mom ?" Chuck rumbled. "Dad didn't have a choice,
Professor. The Prime Sentinels would've killed him if
he hadn't temported."

Xavier nodded, sipping his tea. "Still, you may have
unresolved issues with your father," he proposed.
"Such as the real reason you felt honor-bound to
revere him a few weeks ago (SEE Starting Block
Chapters 2-3) ?"

Chuck frowned deeper and said, "He's a good man. He
cares about mutantkind - is it wrong to want to honor
that ?"

"Not at all," Xavier said. "But his methods -"

"Didn't agree with yours !" Chuck yelled, standing.
"What, you think I'm mad at him, and that's why I
don't like you !? I don't like you because you're a
coward, and you're trying to turn me against my dad
the same way that stupid Cajun did last night !"

"Charles ..." Xavier sighed. "I can see this isn't -"

"You know him," Chuck whispered. "Is he going to
attack the FOH after we leave here ?"

Xavier looked up at the boy with concern and asked,
"You think he would ?"

Chuck swallowed, looking at Xavier with tearful blue
eyes, and said, "I don't want him to hurt anyone. I
just want to go back with my parents and have my
family back. He ... he thinks he has to scare humans
into leaving us alone. I don't think that'll work,
though ..."

"We cannot be 'alone,' no matter how hard we try,
Charles," Xavier said gently. "Your life is your own.
It is never easy taking responsiblity for yourself,
nor is it easy to defy a parent - even if that parent
may make a wrong decision."

Chuck looked away, then at Xavier, and mumbled, "I
need to get cleaned up and talk to Dad."


After he had showered and changed into his training
uniform, he found Magnus on the back porch sipping

"Pathetic blend," Magnus smiled at Chuck. "Sit, son -
an interesting school uniform."

"It's what they give us," Chuck said, trying to smile
back. "I ... I overheard you and Mom talking last

"Then you know," Magnus said.

"Dad, attacking the FOH now is just risky !" Chuck
pleaded, looking at his father. "They're racist
humans, but they've got weapons that could hurt
mutants ! The law can deal with them if they do
something stupid !"

Magnus regarded him, then gave a short laugh. "Your
mother said much the same thing," he chuckled. "No, I
was merely considering the options should the FOH try
to keep us from departing Earth. I have to consider
the impact such a move would have upon terrestrial
governments, and needless bloodshed is something I
want to avoid."

Chuck breathed a sigh of relief, and tried to smile.
"So," he said.

"So," Magnus replied. "Charles ... if you want to
stay -"

"I don't know !" Chuck cried. "You're my dad. I love
you and Mom. But my friends are here ..."

"Then stay," Magnus said. Chuck looked at him in
surprise as Magnus nodded.

"Son, your life must be your own. I have fought too
hard for mutant freedom to force my children onto some
path they truly do not wish to take," Magnus said. He
looked into the distance, as if seeing something else,
and smiled weakly.

"Piet and Wanj, right ?" Chuck asked.

"I would LIKE to think I learned my lesson from
them," Magnus chuckled. "Your destiny is your own,
Charles. I am proud of who you have become, and I want
to respect the man you will grow into."

Chuck stood, shaking his father's hand, and said,
"Thanks. I ... if you ever need me ..."

Magnus stood and smiled, replying, "I know where to

Chuck hugged him, holding on for a long moment.


"Eat your vegetables," Rogue ordered, ruffling
Chuck's hair.

"I will, Mom," Chuck said, trying not to blush at the
other boys' laughter. "I'll miss you ..."

"It'll only be low Earth orbit, sugah," Rogue
laughed, hugging her son. "As f'r the rest o' y'all,
don't give mah boy a hard time, understand ?"

"We won't, Aunt Rogue," Sarah McCoy said. "Be well."

"Always, child," Magnus said. He gathered Rogue's
bags in a magnetic force bubble, his magnetic field
merging with hers, and they began to lift off from the
mansion's front lawn as the New Mutants watched them

"I can't hide in shadows in THIS !" Soraya groaned,
examining her red and yellow training costume. "For
this, I let Magnus yank me out of India ?"

The kids started to head inside, while Chuck smiled
at Soraya and said, "You had to make a choice, didn't
you ?"

TBC in Starting Block Chapter 6 ...