|Dates run:||October 24-31, 2007|
|Read the logs:||Thirteen Days|
Are you about to tell us that Magneto is currently in orbit?
A very ordinary October afternoon at the mansion is abruptly broken when a Presidential helicopter carrying Val Cooper lands on the lawn. Meeting with the Professor, Scott, and Ororo, she reveals that something very alarming has happened in Russia. A week ago, Magneto was lured to a prison in Siberia, where a large number of mutant prisoners were due to be executed - but it was a trap, a deliberate set-up to get him to that exact geographical spot so that he could be killed by a new weapons system, comprised of satellite-based lasers. But Magneto survived the laser strike, and with the Brotherhood and some of the now-freed mutant prisoners, tracked down the control center for this weapons system and destroyed it.
Unfortunately, it also served as a space launch facility, serving an unregistered Russian space station. Interrogating some of the surviving personnel, Magneto discovered that the secondary controls for the satellite lasers were aboard the space station. He commandeered a supply flight about to launch, and reached orbit, essentially hijacking the station and taking control of the satellites. He issued a long list of demands to the American and Russian government, launching a laser strike against the Baikonur launch facility when the Russians attempted to launch another spacecraft to the station. Further angered by this, Magneto issued a deadline of a week for the first of his demands. If all mutant prisoners held by both countries were not released, he would destroy Moscow and Washington.
The Russians agreed to allow the American government to enlist the X-Men's help, but made it clear that before the week is up, they would launch nukes against the station before they allowed Magneto to carry out his threat. With the possible risk to the mansion, the decision was made to evacuate the students - many to Muir Island, others to the homes of parents in the area. Bart Jones, Juanita Espinosa, and Gail Collins helped supervise the displaced children for the duration. The X-Men not directly involved in the space mission, along with the trainees, left for the brownstone, where they could keep tabs on the situation with the help of members of X-Force, and stay ready in case they were needed.
At the mansion, Forge worked to create an EM-transparent glider that would allow the X-Men to approach the station undetected. This also involved retrofitting the Blackbird to both carry the glider and allow it to reach an altitude where the glider could be released. Forge also created protective gear for the team, customizing to their respective needs due to the nature of their powers. While all of this was being done, the X-Men plunged into an extensive training program. The Blackbird was used to give them brief experience in zero-g, while the Danger Room was transformed into a giant multi-axis trainer. Various members of the team wrestled with the need to carefully restrain their powers in an orbital environment, as well as the need to alter their traditional rules of engagement - any opponent needed to be put down hard and fast, to prevent extensive fighting that might rupture the hull of the station.
In Washington for a conference, Wanda recieved a mysterious message urging her to leave the city as soon as possible. After being picked up by Emma Frost's plane and returned to New York, she discovered that none of her coworkers had sent that message. At the mansion, Haller found himself in the unusual position of having to offer advice to Charles, who was struggling with his reaction to the situation with Magneto.
The mission launched, the Blackbird successfully reaching an altitude where it could release the glider. Scott piloted the glider to the station, where Cain, with an assist from Clarice's teleportation, went EVA to reach the station with an anchor, so that he could 'reel in' the glider. The X-Men forced their way through the airlock, and the situation descended immediately into chaos. They found themselves fighting not only the Brotherhood, but several of the former prisoners who had thrown in with Magneto. In the end, it was Scott who managed to blast the control console, accomplishing the primary mission objective and taking control of the satellites away from Magneto.
The station itself, however, was not long for this world. Cain's fight with one of the ex-prisoners outside ruptured the hull, while EM blasts inside damaged systems and a crazed Nimrod created more hull breaches. Scott called for a retreat, but the X-Men were not all able to make it back to their glider. Nathan and Clarice did, with the intention of telepathically-spotting and teleporting their teammates in to safety, but one of the ex-prisoners, Senyaka, who had taken refuge in the glider, attacked Nathan, and as the station broke up, the glider was thrown away from the airlock. Clarice did manage to teleport Angelo, who had been sucked out through one of the hull breaches, to safety, but the glider started to fall into the atmosphere and she and Nathan were forced to cooperate to get them safely back to solid ground. Terry and Jean found themselves trapped along with Mystique and two of the ex-prisoners, Kamal and Katu, in one of the station modules, which sealed itself off to preserve atmosphere as the station broke up. Jean was forced to telekinetically return the module to Earth, a considerable strain on even her powers. Scott made it to one of the escape pods with two of the surviving cosmonauts and, unfortunately, Nimrod and another one of the ex-prisoners, Krug. Marie and Garrison found themselves trapped in the main module with Magneto, who made use of his powers to preserve hull integrity and slow their momentum during reentry. Cain, still outside the station, went through reentry, alone and with no protection apart from what his powers gave him.
On the ground, the back-up team swung into action, returning to the mansion and making preparations to retrieve their lost teammates as Charles returned to Cerebro to try and track them down. The American government offered discreet assistance, which was useful given that the crash landings had happened in some of the most remote areas of the world and communications had been lost after the team's coms were fried by an EM pulse in orbit. Ororo reluctantly decided that it was necessary to make use of the trainees in the rescues, as well.
The module piloted by Magneto crashed in a northern, mountainous region of Japan. With Marie having been knocked out of the module during the descent, Garrison found himself with an opportunity to attempt to arrest Magneto - who used his collar pins to rip out the X-Man's throat in an instinctive defensive act. Catching back up with them, Marie faced the choice of saving Garrison or pursuing Magneto (which was, of course, no choice at all.) Jean's module landed intact in Siberia, although Jean passed out from the strain. Terry grabbed her unconscious teammate and made use of a rarely-practiced powers-trick to get out of range of Mystique and the others. The glider nearly landed intact, but broke up in the mountains of southern Tibet, injuring Clarice and Angelo and killing the two cosmonauts who had taken refuge in the glider at the start of the fight on the station. Nathan collected his two injured teammates and found shelter, all too aware that neither Toad nor Senyaka, who had also been in the glider, was anywhere to be found. Scott blasted Nimrod out of the escape capsule during the last moments of reentry, but knew that it was unlikely to slow him down for long. He took the two cosmonauts, leaving an unconscious Krug behind in the capsule, and went on the run through the Australian swamp where they'd landed. Cain landed - somewhere, and was in no condition to notice where.
Able to get Garrison a hospital, Marie was the first (and only) one able to call in. The Blackbird headed to Japan first, Forge and Tabitha proceeding to the hospital to retrieve their teammates. They got there just in time to discover the 'dead' cosmonaut who had landed with Magneto's module rampaging through the hospital. It became clear he was possessed by a gaseous mutant, one of the ex-prisoners who had accompanied Magneto into space. Tabitha managed to protect some of the hospital staff, but the mutant fled elsewhere in the building, looking for Magneto and possessing a number of civilians in turn. Forge lured him into a radiotherapy room, threatening to fry him with radiation unless he vacated his current host and entered a canister with a one-way valve. After a tense confrontation, the mutant surrendered.
The next rescues happened the following day. Driven from their shelter by Mystique and her companions, Terry and a burnt-out Jean fled across the harsh Siberian landscape, trying to stay ahead of their pursuers while Logan and Janet tried to catch up with them. Jan confronted Kamal, rendering him unconscious in a creative use of her shocks and ability to shrink, while Logan reached the rest of the group. The result was a bloody confrontation that left Katu seriously injured, forcing Laurie to work with Jean to try and save his life on the flight home.
Meanwhile, because Nathan's group had crashed in Chinese-held Tibet, the US government offered the help of a Special Forces team, led by Colonel Caetano, the commander of the taskforce troops at Youra. Accompanied by Kyle and Shiro, they made a fast entry into Tibet from a frigate in the Bay of Bengal. They arrived in time to find out that Toad and Senyaka had regrouped and attacked the injured X-Men. Shiro rescued Nathan (who had tried to fight them off even in his burnt-out state) from Senyaka, while Kyle got a long-awaited rematch with Toad - one he won, thanks to some clever tactics. The injured X-Men were collected, and Toad was taken into custody, as Caetano's team rushed to vacate the area. They were chased by Chinese helicopters on their way out, forcing Shiro to leave the helicopter and stage a distraction.
The following day, the Blackbird headed to Australia to find Scott, who had managed to stay ahead of Nimrod and Krug for two days, despite his injuries. Marius and Jennie served as eyes on the ground for Ororo, in the Blackbird, and found themselves in the postion to intervene when Nimrod and Krug finally caught up with their prey. Marius fought Krug to keep him from finishing off the cosmonauts, using his powers to mimick the other man's mutation. Jennie followed the sound of optic blasts and found Nimrod in the process of finishing off Scott. She intervened, and managed to hold him off for quite some time with her luck-altering powers, although she took more than her share of hits and was unable to find a way to take him down - until the Blackbird appeared, and Jennie's last-ditch effort resulted in Nimrod being run over by a very large black plane. With the fight finished, Jennie and Marius were forced to use CPR on Scott, who wasn't breathing. With his vitals stabilized, they brought him aboard the Blackbird and headed back.
With one last X-Man unaccounted for, Wanda, Doug, and Amanda followed a lead about a 'man who fell to earth' in Sri Lanka and discovered Cain asleep and snoring at the bottom of a very large crater. Awakened, he seemed more or less intact, and rather surprised that three days had gone by (and that the locals were under the impression that he was a god).
The X-Men returned home to rest and recover, the students returning not long afterwards as what passed for normality returned to the mansion. Shortly afterwards, Charles was summoned to Washington to meet with President McKenna, who told him what had been discovered about the origin of the trap-gone-wrong; a rogue group within the Russian military had been responsible, much like Stryker's group in the US. The US had been able to demand various concessions from Russia, including monitoring of the trials of the conspirators, all Russian space launches, and the dismantling of the satellite system under their supervison. All parties involved were left with a determination to avoid any more near misses.
Trivia and Meta
Due to the events of this plot, Kurt made the decision to return from Germany.
Amelia would later propose that any injured X-Man on heavy painkillers be relieved of their laptop/cellphone, to avoid mass posting of half-coherent posts on the journal system.
Inspired by the Asteroid M storyline from X-Men vol. 2 #1-3, down to the EM-transparent glider.
The timing and title of the plot were a reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis, which also took place in late October, and was the subject of a book called 'Thirteen Days', written by Robert Kennedy. The first and last logs of the plot used titles ('There Can Be No Deals' and 'The Sun Came Up Today') from the score of the movie by the same name.