voice with an internet connection

They weren’t his memories, but he knew the feeling that had come with them - the loss, the anguish, the uncertainty found in having his skeletons ripped out of long-closed closets only to herald the systematic destruction of his life’s purpose from his very back. Piece by piece, haphazardly sewn seams brought together by Jean’s return were torn apart again, sliced through by quietus, but not in the same way that had fractured the X-Men in the first place.

X-Factor, that cobbled together wreck to reforge what had once been, had been an exercise in futility, framed by a world that had let their fears, their angers and upsets, of mutants fester with each conflict that hit the streets. It had been a covert chance to maintain the peace, protecting their own like sheep in the clothing of wolves, but it had always been said that the road to Hell - to the very Inferno that had spurred from the would-be machinations of sinister evils - was paved in good intentions, and not even mutant kind was above the fallacies of the human condition.

After all, they were human. They had just become something better - not that everyone had thought the same and one could always count on the media to amplify a situation beyond necessary measure.

A leak in information could blow the doors off everything - a leak in information did blow the doors off everything - and it was all X-Factor could do, good intention and all, to watch where the threads broke and unraveled, and the pieces fell; and Warren, the financial backer to a mutant attempt at mutant control, a liar trusted by people who had thought that these mutant hunters would do some good, seemed to take the most hits out of his own foolishness. Personal or professional - it didn’t matter when mistakes had been made on all fronts as attempts to catch falling sand only saw it slipping through his fingers.

The first had been his relationship, and though he could tell himself up and down that all he had intended to do was console Jean through what was an increasingly difficult time, Warren was far more a fool to believe it. Candy’s concern had been warranted, only ever second string to the telepath on a pedestal. She had been the woman everyone wanted, but no one could have - not just because of the power she wielded, but the man who had somehow stolen her heart despite everything that said he didn’t deserve her; and Candy - she didn’t deserve the way he had treated her, but she especially didn’t deserve her fall from grace.

Another had been the business, budgetary drops in a bucket becoming negligible to the outright hemorrhage found in legal woes that would hit the organization with full force under the claim of fraud, a crime that very few could argue when they had lied to the public, pretending to be something they weren’t and reaping the would-be benefits of government backing; but the worst - the worst sat on Joseph’s back with a deep weight no matter the levity that might have been found in no longer having to conceal his existence as he had known it.

wings - once so magnificent and lost to mutilation against sewer walls, fractured with no natural means to mend themselves, the wings had been the worst of it all. There would be women to love, more fish in the sea, and there would be money gained in the ebb and flow of financial markets and industry, but those had been special. They had been his own, his purpose found in the heights of flight, and like the Devil himself, the fall had been a cold one made in the sterility of hospital stays while everything he had come to own, come to be, had been ripped out from under him.

And just as intended in the gangrenous infection that would have taken his life without the unjust amputation of his wings, Death had come for him, welcomed - albeit not at first - for the opportunity to be even a fractured sort of whole again. Those hellish machinations of Apocalypse had been just as much blessing as they had been curse, thirsting now as if they had been brand new as Joseph listened to the digitally manipulated voice on the other end of his phone.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you...”

Broken and crackling as it was, there had been a trigger there - something which slowly edged his fingertips into a deep blue as he held it up to his ear, mind recounting the pieces that hadn’t yet fallen into place, but stood possibility to in such a widely open invitation for history to repeat itself.

“Even your own death will not protect you from us..."

The flicker of his computer screen caught his attention, urgency left unspent as a number of news articles took to the desktop as if prompted by a computer virus, an array of pop-ups that weren’t of the standard nature meant to overclock someone’s computer while personal information was stolen, but something far more pointed and specific - perhaps not to Joseph, but to the other side of the coin which felt ready to claw at his own mind for the chance to hunt down the party responsible for it.

There was just one problem, one that lied within the shifts and what happened when the lights of alternate realities shut off: The person responsible might not have even known.

“The pure human race.”