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An energy blast, randomly aimed, went just over the heads of the crowd, and struck one of the unused rostrums. It shattered.

" Get down on your knees, hands over your head. Do it! And nobody gets hurt; resist..." The same man who had fired the previous shot tightened his finger, and another blast was delivered, this time to the opposite wall.

No one argued with him.

People got down to their knees, and put their hands over their heads, cowering under the weapons of the terrorists.

Cooper hurriedly headed for the backstage door.

" Where do you think you're going, Ms Cooper?"

A man moved into her field of vision, pointing a gun at her. She froze.

" Kindly go back to where you came from, and get down."

She had little choice but to follow orders. It is quite difficult to argue with the barrel of a gun. Especially when it is pointed at yourself.

She got down on her knees, and placed her hands on her head. It was a humiliation, to have to assume this posture. She hoped that nobody had been stupid enough to resist... and get themselves hurt.

She remembered something. Charles...!

She had to get to him... no telling what they'll do to a guy who's crippled...

She looked up.

Xavier was wheeling himself away from a group of terrorists. They approached him rather menacingly.

What could they want with him?

* Val! You must contact the X-men if I cannot. It is of the utmost importance...* there was a slight pause; silence, then: * My God! They're...*

The contact broke, with a flash of blinding light. And it did more than just blind, so it seemed. Cooper shielded her eyes just in time. She was spared the fate that met some. Those who had been either too slow, or too foolish, were thrown into the black oblivion of unconsciousness.

But they were only unfortunate victims. They were not the targets.

" Professor!"

Cooper tried to get to her feet. I have to help him...The terrorists - not terrorists... kidnappers - were taking him away.

He was slung over one man's shoulder, much like a sack of flour, limp and lifeless...

I have to get to him...

" Not so fast, Ms Cooper..."

The barrel of the gun was pressed into her back. Again, she had to stop moving.

" I suggest you stay where you are... if you value your life."

The voice behind her was dangerously soft, and meant to be taken seriously. It was no empty threat. Once again, she had no choice, but to remain still.

Clenching her fists, she knelt helplessly, watching as the men clambered up the ropes, bearing the unconscious form of Charles Xavier along with them. The aircraft rose, and flew away into the distance.

Unsure murmuring rose from the crowd, not certain of whether the danger was over. Realising that the kidnappers were gone, people got to their feet. Shouts and screams were heard, when some saw the unconscious lying next to them.

Chaos ensued.

Meanwhile, Cooper got to her feet as well. She looked up past the skylight, glaring at the ever-diminishing silhouette of the aircraft in the distance. Her fists hung at her sides, though she had the urge to punch someone... something... anything...

In a time of crisis, she had been so useless...

She clenched her fists tighter. They had taken Xavier. But for what purpose? For what purpose? They had to know.

But before that, there was still much to be done. Crowd control, tending to the injured, hospitalising the severely wounded, press statements... and much more. It would be a while before she could contact the X-men, and tell them of their mentor's abduction.

Of all the duties she now had to fulfill, that was the one job she was going to hate the most...


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