Note: this story takes place out of X-World X-Factor continuity and stems from normal continuity after X-Factor moves in to the CIA building and takes place asumming a week or so has gone by. Dragon, Cryz, Phase, Seraph, Myriad, Rhythm, Talon, Click, Eve are used without their creator’s permission. Shadowcat, Polaris, X-Factor are the property of Marvel Inc. and are used without permission. Every attempt to portray the aforementioned characters with accuracy has been made.
Gage, Abrahm Lidler in non-codename speak, wakens from a nightmare, the sun shining through his apartment window like a magnifying glass. Sweaty, he sits up and heaves a deep sigh. Nightmare’s have become a common occurrence with the twenty-seven year old mutant. One would think that the rigors of dealing day to day with the evil of the world might cause you to have nightmares, but not for Gage. No, his nightmare’s go deeper than that.
But he won’t tell anyone about it. He won’t consult a psychiatrist. He’ll deal with it like he always does. He walks to the bathroom, splashes his face with cold water, and looks at his visage in the mirrored glass in front of him.
“They’ve gotten worse,” he says. Gotta do something, he thinks, gotta get this off of my chest. He walks back into his bedroom and looks around for a moment. Then he sees it. The computer. Normally, Abe Lidler doesn’t like computers, but circumstances of his occupation have forced him into a tolerable coexistence with the infernal white-boxes.
“Computer.” The screen blinks on. “Dictate a letter.”
And so, on a bright Saturday morning, Gage begins his day.
Abe here. I’m not quite sure when you’ll receive this letter ‘cause as of right now you believe I’m dead. Let me tell you, I am not. Your one an only son is alive and well, living in Boston, Massachusetts and working as a Central Intelligence Agency operative. Confused? Me too.
Let me start where I last left you… I believe it was after the I’m a Clone but Not a Clone thing, right? Well, a lot has happened since then. I can’t tell you everything, classified and all, but rest assured its been a harrowing trip. Remember the young girl with the cybernetic armor, Eve? The one with the misguided crush on me…. Anyways, on a recent mission, she was killed. I took it hard. I’m taking it hard. I realized after she died that her “crush” was somewhat based in the fact that I was the only paternal figure in her life…and then I realized that as that figure, I had let her down. She was killed on a mission I was leading.
I know what you’d say. It wasn’t my fault, that these things happen in my line of work… well, you’re right, they do. But I had forgotten that these people, this X-Factor, had put trust in me, relying on my leadership to accomplish missions and bring them home safe. I let them down…these people… you don’t know them, and god-willing you’ll meet them someday, but for now, let me take you through my day to day encounters with these assorted characters in my life.
Every morning, I wake up at 6 in the morning and head up a few floors to the cafeteria for breakfast. There, I encounter Randall Vincent, or Phase as he’s referred to in the field due to his ability to (let me see if I can get the correct scientific terms) shift his atoms out of sync with this dimension, granting him the ability to walk through solid objects while still keeping his perceptions within this universe. In other words, he can walk through stuff. Usually, he’s cleaning one of his guns in preparation for the day’s work.
“Heya, Boss,” he says with a glance. He then returns to cleaning his guns, but continues speaking as Gage pours himself a cup of coffee. “Did you hear about the rabbi?”
“Yeah, I heard that one. Him an a priest walk into a bar…”
“No, really. A rabbi. Down in the lobby.”
As Gage nearly chokes on his sip of coffee he manages to get out the words, “Say again?”
“There’s some rabbi guy down in the lobby. He tried to get on an elevator to come up here, but security grabbed him and is detaining him until Skyler gets back.”
“You’re kidding. Where’s Skyler?”
“I dunno. His assistant said he’s off on some meeting with government types. I zoned out half-way through the conversation. It was 5:30 in the morning.”
“Right.” Gage walks out of the cafeteria with his cup of coffee and into the lounge area.”
After I get my cup of coffee, I usually head to the lounge where I can read the morning reports and meet with my boss about “business” for the day. Today, though, he’s off doing whatever regular CIA department heads do, so I get to just relax for once. Or so I think...
“I was not spying on you, Ms.Wellington!” Gage hears as the elevator doors open. “I was simply out for a morning flight and their were several birds congregating by a window-“
“My window!” Myriad shouts at the top of her lungs.
Gideon Miranda and Fiona Wellington. Seraph, with big bird wings on his back, and Myriad, with the power to influence a person’s emotions. Still young, still a lot to learn, but good kids (gosh, that makes me sound old…no offense, Dad). I’m not surprised Seraph is up this early, but Myriad usually sleeps in until the last minute, but like I said, today isn’t progressing like any normal day.
“Yes, your window, Ms.Wellington, but-”
“Stop calling me that! Call me Myriad, or Fiona even, but not Ms.Wellington!”
“I’m sorry, but as I was saying, as I have influence over birds, and I moved nearer to the window in order to get them to join me, and well…”
“*Ahem!*” Gage interrupts as he stands and walks over to the duo when they enter the lounge area. “Can we keep it down, please? I think there’s a woman in Los Angeles you haven’t woken up yet.”
“He was spying on me!” Myriad points with an outstretched arm and an accusing finger at Seraph.
“I wasn’t! I merely saw her sleeping!”
“So, what’s the big deal then?” Gage asks with a questioning look at the shouting woman.
Seraph suddenly turns a bright shade of red and Myriad mumbles something through her grinding teeth.
“What did you say?” Gage asks, and again he receives a mumble. “Huh?”
“I was sleeping naked!” Myriad bursts out, glaring at Seraph, who is, by this time, nearly maroon.
And then, of course…
“Did I hear someone say they sleep naked?” the trio hears from the cafeteria. Phase dashes into the lounge. “Talk about your Penthouse letters… Dear Penthouse, my name is Myriad. I’m an ‘emotional’ woman who loves to sleep in the buff. One day, a little birdie flew to my windowsill and-” The jovial mockery is interrupted by a punch in the arm from Myriad.
“Not funny!” and she punches Phase in the shoulder, looks at Gage, pauses for a moment and punches him as well.
“Hey! What was that for?” Gage says, withholding a laugh.
“I’m an empath! You think I can’t tell how funny you find all this?!” the empathic woman grumbles as she stalks off into the kitchen.
I know you’d be shaking your head right now, Dad, but if you knew her, you’d be smirking too. After reminding Seraph to breathe, he slowly returns to a normal shade of pink and I head back to my room to change into my uniform in preparation for the day’s training exercises.
Cryz, Mark Pendragon, a metamorph who can change his body into living crystal, passes me in the apartment level hallways as he heads down to breakfast. He’s married to Dragon (her real name is unknown, crazy huh?) and they have been having troubles ever since the mission Eve was killed on. I don’t think it was Eve’s death, though, that put all the strain on their relationship. On the mission, a... shall we say…special agent we acquired on this mission kept making advances toward Cryz, to Dragon’s anger. All this and the big change up in careers and everyone thinking we’re dead (have I told you how that is partly my fault too?) hasn’t been conducive to their marriage.
…and that’s about all the interaction we’ll have until later when we argue over the correct role of our team and I blow up in his face. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but that has happened a lot recently and I guess I can’t blame him. Yes, we’re in this situation because of circumstances, but also do to my bull-headed leadership. Anyways, I digress…
Next, I reach into my pocket and realize I forgot the keycard to my room downstairs and am forced to catch up with Cryz and ride the elevator up to the cafeteria and lounge floor with him.
Gage catches up to Cryz just as the elevator doors are about to shut and slides into the lift. The doors open again as Gage slides through them and Cryz muffles a sigh.
“Sorry,” Gage says with a glance. Then the awkward silence begins. The doors close. Silence. The elevator begins moving. Silence. 74th Floor. Silence. Finally Gage breaks the silent tone of the elevator ride, “Did you hear about the rabbi?”
“…and the midget who walk into the bar and-”
“No. An actual rabbi is being detained by security for trying to come up to our floor. Why? I don’t know,” he says with a befuddled shrug. “I should prolly check on that.”
Maybe the situations between the two of us isn’t as bad I think... I retrieve me key and head back up to my room, and on the way I encounter Dragon as she exits Cryz and her’s apartment. I nod and say…
I receive a glance and what I think is nod. She’s been extremely quiet as of late. In the past months she’s had a traumatic existence. The Legacy Virus. Test tube daughters aged to maturity and pitted against her. The constant back-stabbing by our government sponsors. …and the crumbling relationship with her husband. She’s slowly cutting herself off from the entire group. But for some reason, there’s nobody I trust more on this team than her. She’s so young, but there are lines on her face that say she’s experienced a lifetime… and I feel like I’ve made life worse for her… for all of them.
Back in my room I shower and put on my uniform.
Gage taps his com, “All X-Factor personnel, please meet in the jet hangar. We will be leaving for training exercises within a half-hour. Gage out.”
A female voice chimes in on Gage’s com unit. “Do you know what time it is?”
Shadowcat. One of the more recent additions to our rag tag group of government lackeys. Basically she can do the same things as Phase, except Phase doesn’t quite have her looks.
“Yes, Shadowcat, but it’s Saturday. Aren’t you accustomed to waking up early on Saturdays for temple?”
In an alert voice, “Awww, shoot. Temple!” Rustling noises, and then, “Shadowcat out.”
“Rabbi in the lobby. Makes sense now,” he says with a shrug.
The com suddenly beeps again, this time Agent Micheal Skyler’s voice, “Attention. Gage, Cryz, Dragon, Myriad, Click…please report to the briefing room immediately. Skyler out.”
…and so my day was about to get exciting…as usual.
End Part One.