Chapter 6: The Enemy of My Enemy
Outside the X-jet
Mystique and Logan arrived back at the caves without incident. They brought with them some water, snacks, and first aid just in case. Incidentally, they went to the same convenience store they went the first time they had to stay out here and the same guy was behind the counter. Luckily, Mystique shape shifted into an attractive blonde and kept his attention diverted so he wouldn’t recognize him. It was crude, but it worked.
The team crowded around them as Logan put the bike back in the jet while Mystique passed out some much needed food and water. Nobody expected to have to stay in this place again so they skipped lunch. And there was no telling how much longer they would have to be here.
While the others ate, Logan parked the bike and Ororo flew down from her scouting duties to meet him.
“Did you run into any trouble?” she asked him.
“None we couldn’t handle,” he told his girlfriend, “Chuck and the others still workin’ with Cable?”
“Near as I can tell, they are.”
Logan looked back at the jet with a mixed expression. Cable wasn’t like normal newcomers who he didn’t trust and kept an eye on. He was Scott and Jeannie’s future son. Something about him smelled familiar from the beginning and so far he hadn’t pulled any tricks. There was still plenty about him he didn’t quite like, but that was a given with someone jaded by endless battle. It was a feeling he knew all too well.
“What do you think about him?” asked Ororo, sensing his conflicted state.
“Who Cable? Hell, I don’t know what to think. If all the shit he said about the future is true, who knows how messed up he is,” said Logan.
“I’ll take your word for it. You know more about it than I do. But there was something else I noticed and I was wondering if you picked up on it as well.”
“What’s that, darlin’?”
“He’s kind of like you,” she said, smiling somewhat, “He’s tough, determined, and loyal to his family. It’s not unlike how you’ve trained the New Mutants.”
Logan found himself smiling as well. Cable was a strange guy, but there was no doubting that he bore some of the traits of an X-man trained by him.
“Well he did mention I was his Uncle,” he said, “Guess that makes you his Aunt.”
“I guess so,” said Ororo, “It sure makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Even with all the horrors Cable described, we may very well have a family in the future as well.”
Ororo moved in closer to her lover. He didn’t resist and slipped an arm around her waist. Even though they technically had a family with each other and Laura, Logan never gave too much thought as to how it would grow in the future. Before he and Ororo got together, he doubted if he was even capable of having one. But after hearing Cable’s story, it sounded more plausible.
“Father, do you want some beef jerky?” Laura called out, “They’re going fast.”
“Nah, I’m fine, kid. Go ahead and pig out,” he told her.
Looking back at Laura, Logan couldn’t help but smile. He looked towards Ororo who was smiling as well. He was still learning how to be in a family, but this ordeal was making him realize just how important it was to him.
Logan and Ororo stayed back while the others ate. There was no telling how long it would take for them to go through all the information Cable had. Hopefully they would be able to use it to formulate a plan. Anything was worth trying if it prevented the future he told them about.
Most of the team was still eating when suddenly the door to the X-jet opened and Xavier came rushing out with Hank.
“Logan, get the team ready,” he said urgently, “We’re about to have company.”
“Let me guess…Nimrod?” grunted Logan, drawing his claws.
“No, someone else,” said Xavier, “It’s Magneto. He’s on his way here.”
“What?!” exclaimed Wanda, her ears perking the second she heard that name.
The Professor hoped she wouldn’t hear that. There was no love lost on Magneto after his last visit to the X-men shortly after Emma and Vincent’s wedding. And the timing couldn’t have been worse.
“Take it easy, Wanda,” coaxed Hank.
“I’ll take it easy when you tell me it isn’t true!” she yelled back, “You can’t be serious, can you? Magneto’s on his way?”
Her loud voice drew the attention of the rest of the team. Some even choked on their food. Kurt quickly ran up to his girlfriend in an effort to calm her down, but they were already on edge and a visit from her father sure wouldn’t help.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” said Mystique bitterly.
“It’s no joke, I assure you,” said Professor Xavier, “I just got a telepathic call from him. He and his team were just attacked at his base. I suspect Nimrod was the culprit.”
“Nimrod attacked Magneto?” said Piotr, “But why? I thought we were his targets.”
“He must be a target as well,” surmised Xavier, “He managed to hold Nimrod back, but Pietro was injured in the process and is in desperate need of help.”
Wanda’s face contorted with bitterness. First she learned that the future was all doom and gloom and now her estranged father was coming into the picture. This definitely qualified as things going from bad to worse.
“So let them get it somewhere else,” she said, folding her arms bitterly.
“Wanda, this is serious,” said the Professor, “Pietro’s life may very well be at stake.”
“I don’t care!” she yelled, “I don’t want to see them! He can die for all I care!”
“Liebe…” said Kurt, placing a hand on her shoulder, “You don’t mean zhat.”
Wanda suppressed a sob and turned to Kurt with a look of anguish on her face.
“Well what if I do? You remembered what happened last time, Kurt! They made me suffer enough! So what if they get a little taste as well?”
Kurt was at a loss. He saw tears forming in her eyes. There was so much anger and sorrow in her words. The thought of being close to Magneto again was enough to bring back old feelings of hate. But it didn’t look like she had a choice.
From above the caves, Warren flew down from his observation duties with an important message.
“Guys, he’s here,” he said.
Everybody looked up to see the several shining metal orbs descending from the sky towards their encampment. Wanda scolded such a sight. It was one she hoped she wouldn’t have to see again. Before they landed, she stormed off into the caves. Kurt quickly followed her. Others were tempted to follow as well, but given Wanda’s history with her family that was a job best left to Kurt.
When the metal spheres landed, the X-men stayed back in combat ready positions. They never knew what to expect from Magneto. For all they knew this was another one of his traps.
“Get ready everybody,” said Bobby, “I got a bad feeling about this.”
“Join the club,” said Tabitha, already making some cherry bombs just in case.
But when the first sphere opened, they were met with an unexpected sight. Magneto hadn’t been lying. Pietro really was hurt. He was pale, sick, and covered in blood. And Magneto didn’t bear his usual stern expression. Instead, he bore the look of a desperate father.
“Charles!” he said upon stepping out of his sphere, “Hurry up and help me! He just passed out!”
“Hold up, bub! Just what are you up to?” said Logan, always suspicious when it came to Magneto.
But Xavier wouldn’t have it. Someone’s life was at stake here.
“Stand down, Wolverine!” ordered Xavier, “That goes for the rest of you X-men!”
“But Professor…” said Alex, having had bad experiences with Magneto himself.
“We don’t have time for this!” exclaimed Magneto, “Pietro needs help!”
“I understand, Erik,” said Xavier in a calmer tone, “Here, lay him out. Betsy, get the medical kit from the jet. Hank, help me with this.”
“Already on it, Charles,” said Hank.
The air was still tense, but the Professor seemed adamant. This was serious. Pietro really was hurt. Enemy or not, the X-men didn’t turn people away who needed help. But it sure was strange having Magneto in the mix.
“This day just keeps getting weirder and weirder,” mused Amara.
“Tell me about it,” muttered Rogue.
While Hank went to work dressing Pietro’s wounds, the other spheres opened up and Lance, Pyro, and Exodus stepped out. Exodus went straight to Magneto’s side where he could help his lord in his time of need. Pyro didn’t seem to care as much, but Lance was a bit more apprehensive. The first thing he saw when he stepped out was a surprised Kitty Pryde. She didn’t look too happy to see him, but then again the last time they saw each other was when they broke up. It didn’t exactly make for a pleasant reunion.
“Hey Kitty,” he said flatly.
“Lance,” she said flatly, moving closer towards Piotr.
Lance got the message. It was Kitty’s way of letting him know that she moved on and didn’t have feelings for him anymore. It was somewhat cold, but he could hardly blame her. They didn’t break up on good terms. And it didn’t help that he still wasn’t over her.
“Looks like she missed you,” teased Pyro.
“Shut up, flame brain,” muttered Lance.
Lance turned his attention to helping Hank with Pietro. He would rather help his friend then open old wounds with his ex.
“Are you going to be okay, Katya?” asked Piotr in a concerned tone.
“I’ll be fine,” said Kitty.
“Still not over the ex, huh?” teased Bobby.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Bobby. Of course I’m over him. It just hasn’t been long enough since we last saw each other.”
“Ah’ll bet,” said Rogue, who knew all too well the issues Kitty had with Lance.
Kitty turned away, keeping her distance from Lance and his team. The others stood down as well, but didn’t shy away from the situation at hand. Pietro really was hurt. He looked even paler than usual. Shards of rock, glass, and metal were lodged in his flesh. He was out cold, but he was still breathing. But every sign of life sounded labored. It was truly a ghastly sight.
“Wow, he looks pretty bad,” said Jamie, his stomach churning at the sight.
“Yeah, what happened to him?” asked Betsy, “Was he in an explosion or something?”
“I was hoping you could shed some light on that,” said Magneto strongly, “But first and foremost, is Pietro going to be alright?”
Hank looked over the wounds and cleared away some of the blood with a sterile wipe. He had seem some pretty bad injuries before and this was right up there. There were a lot of wounds and he suspected some internal bleeding. But with the right tools in hand it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be treated.
“These wounds are pretty extensive, I agree. But they seem purely superficial,” said Beast, “With the supplies we have, we should be able to stop the bleeding and clean the wounds. After that he should heal on his own.”
“So he’ll live?” said Exodus
“I believe so,” said Hank confidently.
Magneto let out a sigh of relief. For all the loss he had endured, it was a good to know he wouldn’t have to endure any more. He had a hard enough time with Wanda walking away from him. He didn’t see her around so he assumed she was avoiding him. It was hardly surprising, but still disheartening in many ways.
Suddenly, Cable came storming out of the X-jet. Sage hadn’t even been finished downloading the data from his arm, but as soon as he saw Magneto and his team present he drew his gun and took an alert poise.
“So it is true. It really is Magneto,” said Cable sternly.
“And who might you be?” asked Magneto suspiciously.
“I’ll ask the questions,” he said, approaching the master of magnetism apprehensively, “The Professor says you were attacked. You have any idea who or what it was?”
“No, but I’d appreciate it if you put the gun away,” said Magneto sternly, “My son was nearly killed and I don’t take kindly to disrespect.”
“It’s alright, Erik,” said Xavier calmly, “Cable here is a friend. He’s been helping us.”
“Helping you with what, exactly?” said Exodus sternly.
Suddenly, a familiar energy blast from struck the ground in front of them. The blast was strong and surprising enough to knock Exodus off his feet. Cable instinctively pointed his gun skywards and when the dust from the blast he saw the culprit. It was Nimrod and it was flying in fast.
“From that,” answered Cable, “Everybody fall back!”
“Here we go again,” groaned Alex as he took cover with some of the New Mutants.
Cable started firing rapidly into the sky, but Nimrod was more elusive this time. It was learning from his earlier tactics and it wasn’t taking any chances this time. If it was to destroy its targets it would have to neutralize Cable.
“Targets gathered. Engage attack strategy alpha.”
Nimrod picked up speed and flew in faster, its sights set on Cable. The future X-leader started stepping back while still firing his weapon, but he couldn’t hit it this time. And before he could take cover, Nimrod swooped down in a parabolic arc and knocked Cable back. He tried to telekinetically divert the blow, but it came in too fast. He impacted a nearby tree and was now in a world of hurt.
“Cable!” exclaimed Scott as he and Jean ran out of the X-jet to see what the commotion was.
“What is that thing?!” exclaimed Magneto, standing close watch over his son.
“That would be Nimrod,” said Professor Xavier.
“Nimrod?” said Pyro, “What in the bloody hell kind of name is that?”
“The last name you’ll ever hear if you don’t get back!” bellowed Logan, “And I think you guys led it here.”
“Uh…oops?” said Pyro innocently.
Logan grunted and pushed Pyro to the ground to avoid another swoop from Nimrod. Everyone was scrambling towards the cave where they hoped thick layers of Earth would protect them. In addition, they couldn’t afford to have the X-jet or Velocity destroyed. It may be their only way out so they had to draw Nimrod’s fire. But it didn’t go after them. It just kept harassing the X-men from the air and forced them to take cover as well. Everything so far was going according to its carefully calculated strategy.
Magneto stayed close to his son, turning the metal transports that brought them here into metal shields. Vince and Emma also emerged and tried to get to the cave, guarding their son every step of the way. Exodus also took to the air to cover his master. Rogue, Angel, Jean, and Ororo followed suit, looking to take the fight to Nimrod or at least slow it down.
“It’s coming around again!” yelled Jean, eyeing the incoming humanoid.
“I see it,” said Storm, “We’ll have to hit it together.”
“Right,” said Jean, “Warren, you, Rogue, and Exodus help the others get into the cave. We have to get out of the open!”
“On it!” affirmed Warren.
“Don’t need to tell meh twice,” said Rogue.
“Very well,” said Exodus grudgingly, not happy that he was taking orders from the X-men.
The three flying mutants helped guide the team into the cave. The New Mutants were the first inside. There they came across Kurt and Wanda. Wanda was sitting on a rock with Kurt next to her, consoling her for what happened earlier. They didn’t know what was going on and were noticeably confused when they saw the crowd rushing inside.
“We don’t mean to interrupt you two, but we’ve got a situation,” said Betsy.
“Huh? Vhat’s going on?” said Kurt, helping Wanda up.
“What do you think?” said Laura grimly, “Nimrod’s here and we need to get out of its sights!”
Wanda then saw Magneto coming in with Xavier. He was still carrying Pietro and Pryo was covering him. When he saw Wanda he saw her face shift. Even in the heat of such a situation, her anger towards him got the better of her.
“No way! He can’t come in here! I don’t want him near me!” yelled Wanda.
“Now is not the time, Wanda!” said Magneto, who was helping Irene, “Just set it aside for now and help us!”
Wanda still didn’t like it, but given the situation was so messed up right now she didn’t have a choice. None-the-less, she still refused to get too close to her father. She let the others handle it and stayed close to Kurt, who took her in his arms for what was sure to be tough battle.
“It’ll be okay, Vanda,” said Kurt, “Let’s just get through zhis.”
Wanda shot her father one last harsh look, letting him know she still didn’t trust him. But he let it go for the time being. They had other concerns at the moment.
Outside, Nimrod was closing fast. It had both Jean and Storm in its sights. Both were high level targets and it could have focused its efforts towards neutralizing them. However, within its same line of sight it saw Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr trying to take cover. And in terms of priority, those two ranked higher.
Ororo summoned a thick layer of fog and wind, which momentarily blinded its sensors. Nimrod was able to quickly switch to infrared and went into rapid-fire mode, firing shots of deadly laser energy towards the two women. But Jean was already preparing an attack of her own by levitating a few nearby boulders and flinging them at the incoming Nimrod. One of them hit right in the face and stopped its laser fire briefly. But it still kept coming and swooped at the two women head on, forcing them to take cover. They didn’t suffer a direct hit, the speed at which Nimrod passed them kicked up a wind shear that blew them to the ground.
“Jean!” exclaimed Scott.
“Storm!” yelled Logan, stopping at the entrance.
This drew Nimrod’s attention. It noticed that Xavier and Magneto were now within the cave. Only Scott, Logan, Emma, and Vincent were outside now. It was the perfect opportunity to take down multiple targets. Everything was falling into place.
“They’ll be okay! Let’s go already!” exclaimed Emma.
“No wait…” said Vincent, “Something’s wrong here.”
“Kid, now ain’t the time to get curious!” said Logan.
“No he’s right,” said Scott, “Look…it’s not attacking.”
The four X-men stopped and took note of the situation. Nimrod was no longer doing flyby attacks. Now it was just hovering in mid air, looking down at the cave where both teams had taken cover. It had them right in its sights. It could have easily taken them down. But it didn’t. It was waiting for something.
Then to their shock, they saw Nimrod form an ominous looking weapon in its chest. It was a small circular opening with wire-like veins running into it and through these veins a red hot glowing energy started to charge the weapon. Soon, a bright reddish yellow ball formed in its chest. It was bright and ominous, indicating it was packing a lot of energy. And it was pointed right at the cave.
“All targets have converged. Location locked. Engage proton burst.”
While it was charging, Cable came to and saw what was going on. His body was still aching, but when he saw what had happened he set the pain aside and jumped into action. It turned out Nimrod was a lot smarter than he thought it was.
“Son-of-a-bitch! It’s a tarp guys! Get out of the cave!” yelled Cable.
“Oh shit,” grunted Scott, “This is NOT good!”
It looked like it was about to fire. Cable ran with all his might, passing Jean as she and Storm were picking themselves up from the blow they suffered earlier. He helped them both up up, for he was going to need Jean’s to stop this. Nimrod was too far away to hit it with his gun so that left only one option. They had to block the blast.
“Jean, help me make a deflecting shield! We need the most powerful one you can muster!” he told her urgently.
“Right!” said Jean, trusting her future son’s word.
Just as Nimrod fired the small ball of energy, Jean and Cable summoned all their telekinetic power and put up an invisible wall of psychic energy between Nimrod and the cave. The shot it fired was intense. It hit the shield with a force unlike anything they had ever felt before. The pain that surged through their minds was blinding, but their combined power was enough to deflect the blast enough so that it missed the cave entirely and impacted an area to the far right into a thick brush of forest. And when it hit, the X-men were awed by its power.
A bright flash erupted from the impact, triggering what looked like a miniature nuclear explosion. A dome of red hot energy rose up, forcing everybody to cover their eyes. From inside the cave it looked as though everything outside had been set ablaze. Had that blast hit the cave they would be done for.
“Mien Gott…” gasped Kurt.
“Mon dieu,” said Remy with equal amazement.
Then the whole area was rocked by a blast wave. It shot through the cave and knocked a few people off their feet. Magneto shielded Pietro from it with his body and Emma did the same with baby Jack, who was now wailing in distress. And as if it didn’t seem bad enough, the shot damaged the integrity of the cave and it started collapsing.
“I don’t like the sound of that,” said Jamie.
“Da, I’m beginning to think this cave is not as safe as we thought,” said Piotr.
“Oh really, you think?!” exclaimed Lance.
His harsh tone towards Piotr earned him a scold from Kitty, but she didn’t have time to yell at him.
“Everybody out of the cave!” ordered Scott from outside.
“Jeez, make up your mind already, Scott!” groaned Ray.
“Yeah, we’re running around like a bunch of chickens with our heads cut off,” commented Sam, “When are we gonna fight back?”
“After what that thing just did, you want to fight it?!” exclaimed Tabitha.
When put in that context it seemed much more logical. Sam didn’t argue any further as they scrambled to get out before the whole structure collapsed. Most were out quickly, but some lingered. Mystique had to help Irene out and Magneto had to be careful with Pietro or else his wounds would tear. And since Wanda had retreated to the deeper parts of the cave, she and Kurt were the last out. But the cave was collapsing fast.
“Vanda, can you keep zhis zhing up?” asked Kurt as dust blocked their view.
“I’m…trying!” she grunted, manipulating every probability she could to keep this cave intact.
It looked like they would reach daylight, but just as they seemed home free a chunk of rocks fell from just above the entrance and tripped Wanda up. She fell to the ground, letting go her chaos powers in the process. Then the cave collapsed completely and some heavy debris fell right on top of her.
“Nooooo!” yelled Magneto upon seeing his daughter caught in the rocks.
The others turned back to their horror to see Wanda out cold covered in rocky debris. Piotr and Rogue quickly ran to her aid and so did Magneto, horrified at the thought of another wounded child of his. Kurt was already trying to free her, but she suffered a pretty nasty blow to the head.
“Vanda! Vanda, vake up!” yelled Kurt as desperately tried to push the rocks off her, “Somebody help me!”
“Step back, Kurt! We’ll get her out!” urged Rogue.
“You have to hurry! She’s out cold!”
Piotr and Rogue used their superior strength to push away some of the heavy boulders. Magneto tried to help as well, but his old body couldn’t do much so he took Wanda’s hand and tried to pull her out with Kurt’s help.
Up in the sky Nimrod watched as the targets scrambled back towards the two aircrafts. That last shot should have destroyed them all, but it miscalculated the psychic veracity of target Jean Grey and Cable. They managed to deflect the shot, but it also sensed it drained them. They needed help from target Scott Summers and Wolverine to get back to the jet. It didn’t look like they would be able to deflect another.
“Recharging proton burst.”
Down below the others noticed that Nimrod was at it again. With Magneto, Rogue, Piotr, and Kurt still trying to help Wanda and both teams not on the aircraft yet it didn’t look like they were going to have time to get away.
“That damn thing is going to fire again!” exclaimed Emma.
“Den we’ll just have to fire back,” said Gambit, taking out a deck of cards, “Keep goin’ everybody! We’ll cover you!”
“Finally, a chance to shoot this thing!” said Jubilee.
“Yeah, I’ve been waiting for a shot,” said August as she and Amara stood side-by-side, ready to fight.
“Don’t get cocky. It’s not like you’re going to destroy it,” said Ray.
“We’re not trying to,” said Amara, “We just have to slow it down!”
Gambit, Jubilee, Amara, August, and Ray each took aim at the hovering robot humanoid and unleashed a barrage of fire blasts, fireworks, electric bolts, and charged cards. Nimrod was still pretty high up so it was hard to hit, but the combined onslaught forced it to move around. It slowed the charge of the proton burst, but it should still be sufficient to destroy the targets.
While the others were holding off Nimrod, Rogue and Piotr managed to get the last few rocks off of Wanda. Kurt and Magneto finally managed to pull her free and lay her out on the ground. She wasn’t conscious and there was a slight gash in her forehead that was bleeding badly.
“Is she okay?” asked Piotr anxiously.
“She’s alive. She’s still breathing,” said Kurt, wiping some of the blood off her face.
“Aw dang, looks like she broke her arm,” said Rogue, “We better get her to Beast and Sage.”
“Agreed,” said Magneto, “I’ll carry her.”
“No…I’ll do it,” said Kurt sternly.
Magneto shot the young mutant a cold stare. Both his children were hurt and he had no patience for disrespect.
“Young man, she’s my daughter! It’s my job to protect her!”
“She wouldn’t trust you to protect her and you know it!” spat Kurt angrily, “Now step aside or fight me!”
Rogue and Piotr were surprised at Kurt’s tone. They had never seen him this angry. But they could hardly blame him. The woman he loved was hurt and the man who caused her so much pain was right in front of him. Magneto still looked plenty angry, but for the sake of one less fight he conceded. Kurt was probably right about her not trusting him and if he loved his daughter as he claimed he did she would be in good hands.
“Fine,” he said coldly, “Let’s go.”
Without another word, Kurt took Wanda in his arms and made a break for the X-jet. Rogue and Piotr followed behind, keeping a close eye on Magneto in case he tried anything. But from the looks of it, he was in just as much a part of this as they were.
As the team piled onto the jet, Cable fought off metal fatigue to get back out and fight Nimrod. He looked over at Jean, who was almost passed out in one of the passenger seats and saw Scott leading everybody in. Gritting his teeth in determination, he rushed back outside with his gun drawn only to see that Nimrod was about to fire the second shot.
“Cable, get back in the jet!” urged Scott.
“No, we’ve got to take that thing down!” said Cable, taking aim with his gun, “If Nimrod fires another shot we’re done for!”
Turning up the power of his gun, Cable shot multiple rounds up at Nimrod. His shots along with the efforts of Gambit, Ray, Amara, August, and Jubilee were forcing it to avoid the incoming attacks. It was becoming a nuisance to the robot humanoid, so it rose higher into the air and outside their range.
“Dang, I can’t hit it when it’s that high!” said Remy in frustration.
“Me neither,” said Ray, “So what do we do now?”
They all turned to Cable, whose eyes were locked on the seemingly unstoppable killing machine. He kept firing, knowing full well he couldn’t hit it. He sensed Nimrod was close. Once that blast went off, they would all be vaporized and Nimrod’s mission will have succeeded. And there was nothing he could do to stop it.
“Honestly guys…I have no idea.”
Up next: The X-men and Magneto try to work together to fight off Nimrod’s onslaught.