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As Fate Would Have It

Posted on Tue May 28th, 2024 @ 11:24pm by Connor Bruin & Bobby Drake & Iris Walker & Bliss Hawkins & Jason (Jace) Adams & Ethan Hale & Aurora Summers & Kennedy Kelly

Mission: Episode 4: The Savage ConneXion
Location: Savage Land
Timeline: September 7th, 1990

Thanks to an unexpected turn, the battle through the night at the Altar of Death ended in a surprising rout of the Swamp Men. Zaladane had an Achilles' heel. It wasn't well known or even understood but it was there. That would be enough. Her iron grip of terror through which she held the Savage Land in thrall would weaken by that rumor alone. Perhaps it would even be enough to turn the tide.

For now, though, there were wounded who needed care. Several of the souls rescued from sacrifice had run for their lives, deciding to take their chances among the elements in the wild. The rescue team who had come for Bliss, who had managed to acquit herself rather well in captivity, were bringing wounded friends new and old to an allied encampment said to be nearby. Ka-Zar was not doing well and couldn't even walk. Alate with her broken wings was earthbound. But they were alive. That counted for a lot. For Connor who had not left Bliss's side or let her hand slip from his all night long, it counted for everything.

Kennedy had been the first to arrive at the Aerian Tribe’s encampment yesterday. Delivering their lost Princess, the bird people had been welcoming and hospitable. While still hating the Savage Land, last night had not been terrible. Kennedy had slept well on the down-filled bed that was provided and the hearty vegetarian meal they had been given her hadn’t made her gag from the smell alone. So far, this location proved to be the best.

Aurora was grateful for the rest and the food, it seemed whatever extra oomph the savage land had given her abilities had now gone not that she was complaining. Right now she was tucking into her second plate of food, her body needing the extra intake to feed the growing child within.


"Yes..." said Ka-Zar with pain in his voice. "Not since Cyclops have I seen such fear in her eyes."

Ethan, for his part, had not yet returned to normal. If anything he felt worse. Not worse perhaps just more different, altered It was as if he had been injected with more DNA, unknown DNA. He slipped away from the others. He wanted to be alone.

Before Ka-Zar could continue his story of how the First Class had dealt with Zaladane a commotion outside the tent was heard.

Guards were suddenly on edge as a moment of dread and panic filled the encampment. Shouts of outsiders spotted in the forest brought everyone on edge for fear that the Swamp Men and Zaladane had returned.

But then the thunderous roar of a Smileadon rumbled through the air and a wide grin appeared on Ka-Zar’s face.

The scavenger party from Skull Mountain consisted of Shanna, Zabu, Bobby, Iris, and Jace. Magneto was still incapacitated from his exhaustion the day before and needed tending from Jade while Levi had remained behind as well to help fend off any more warriors who came looking for trouble.

"So what's this herb or whatever?" Bobby asked Shanna as she led them through bog and fen beneath the rainforest canopy.

“The plant we are looking for is about three meters tall. The branches are curved and its leaves are thin, opaque, oval, and taper at the end. It will have small red berries all over it.” Shanna explained to Bobby as they made their way through the thick vegetation.

“When you chew them…” Shanna trailed off as her attention turned to Zabu whose ears were pinned to the sides of his head as he looked to the west. The Lady of the Savage Land stiffened and her attention shifted to what the massive cat was looking at.

“The Aerian Tribe, the bird people. They are camping not far from here.” She looked up at the sky for a moment. “Ka-Zar has tried to reason with them, to get them to join our forces but they are resistant to go to war. Their home is in the Shaking Peaks and no one else dares travel there, the altitude and the wind make it hard for anyone to attack. So they isolate themselves, it is rare to see them here. They are not foes but they are not friends. Just be mindful of them while we gather.”

Iris followed Shanna’s gaze. This situation reminded her of a Girl Scout camping trip when they had come across a bear in the woods, about a hundred yards or so away from their location. The leader had told them to just ignore the bear and she would ignore them in return. To everyone’s surprise, it had actually worked. “Stay away from them and they’ll stay away from us?” she guessed.

"Be aware, but leave the isolationists alone," said Jace. "I think I can handle that while picking berries. So, can Zabu's cat eyes see anything that ours can't that'd tell us what they're up to down here? I mean, I plan to leave them alone, but I'd like to be ready in case they're carrying weapons."

Bobby clicked his tongue. "I don't think we met them last time. Wonder what brings them all the way down here?”

“I am not sure. It is unusual.” Shanna examined the encampment for a moment longer. The winds shifted while she observed them, causing them to be downwind of the Aerian Tribe.

Zabu perked up a little as the wind shifted in their favor. His predatory instinct to watch and observe whenever possible, Zabu took several sniffs off the breeze as it sent the smells of the encampment towards them.

Zabu’s whole body went stiff as he sniffed again and Shanna immediately tensed along with him. “Imataq mana allinchu?”

Zabu suddenly let out a high-pitched squeak, a sweet and almost kittenish sound that lightened Shanna’s mood. A large grin took over her face and her tone was filled with joy. “Payman riy, reyniykuman pusawayku!” Still grinning, Shanna looked back at the rest of them. “Ka-Zar is in the camp, along with the rest of your team. Let us go to them.”

Shanna bounded off with a graceful speed that they had only managed to glimpse at during their travels with her. Her personal elation over reuniting with Ka-Zar seemed to motivate her to move quickly.

A few guards began to panic at the sight of Shanna and Zabu running towards the camp. The great cat roared in response to their concern, his cry known to all of the Savage Land.

The small Aerian princess gathered and greeted the now reunited X-Men. Her people had seen to her broken wings and she had been bathed and dressed in gossamer robes with a diadem on her brow, her green and purple feathers shown in the sunlight and she looked like the royalty that she was.

“I am Princess Alate of the Aerian Tribe.” She gestured to the other bird-like people who gathered around them. “I am here to welcome the X-Men to our camp and to offer our assistance in the war against Zaladane.”

The Aerian soldiers of the camp hooted in agreement with her words, all call to arms by their Princess.

“You are welcome to stay at our encampment and together we will form a plan to take back the Citadel.”

Jace had watched and listened intently. "This is absolutely not what I expected. It's nice to have a refresher between battles, though." There may have been a hint of sarcasm in that last statement that Jace was unable to hide. "But what about the others at Skull Mountain? We still have berries to find for Magneto. Who might be helpful in retaking his Citadel."

"We literally can't do it without him," Bobby said. "That Citadel is impossible to open without... without him." Somehow Zaladane had opened it up. Bobby's money was on Lorna. He cast a glance at the Citadel and the electromagnetic field emanating from it. Something was going on in there. It had be Lorna. Bobby was convinced of it. "So... what now?"


“Our spies have already identified Magnus’ bunker on the side of Skull Mountain,” Alate admitted to the group. “My brother, Prince Archaeo, is in command of our military forces. He can offer you safe passage to and from Skull Mountain as needed.”

Princess Alate gestured to an oversized Aerian standing towards the back of the crowd. His mottled feathers and orange eyes lent themselves to that of an eagle as opposed to Alate’s jeweled tones. But Prince Archaeo’s focus was on the brooding and wandering Ethan rather than the meeting. Alate cleared her throat in such a way that brought his attention back to the conversation.

“Yes, we already have air and land patrols walking the area between here and Skull Mountain.” Archaeo squared his shoulders and folded his arms across his chest, only faintly embarrassed by his momentary distraction. “We are happy to bring anyone to and from the Mountain as needed.”

“And as I mentioned before,” Alate continued, “you’re welcome to stay at our encampment as well. There is much to discuss and there is additional spy reports that need to be collected. Ka-Zar and my father have already started moving their men to strategic locations in hopes of rallying others to join the resistance as we have. There will be only one chance at this and we will all need to do our part in order to be successful. So we plan and we prepare.”

Bobby pumped his fist into the air. "Finally! About time we started doing what we came here to do. Let's get that magic leaf for Magneto and get the hell out of here!"

With that unlikely covenant made, the Aerians ferried their newfound allies back to Skull Mountain. Ka-Zar would join Magneto in recovery in the coming days, yet the makings of a new war council were at hand. The battle for the Savage Land only beginning.


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