Chapter 7: Ironic Salvation
Outside the X-jet
Nimrod was about to fire. The X-men were out of time and could not get out of range from the powerful weapon. Cable, the mutant from the future who came to the past to stop this monster, feared the worst. Was this how it was going to end? Was Mastermold going to win?
But while he and the others braced themselves for impact, Ororo was shaking off the remnants of a nasty blow she endured from Nimrod earlier. Her body was still aching and she was just at the door of the X-jet. She too saw that Nimrod was about to fire. Nobody else was able to hit it because of how high it was in the sky. But one thing it probably didn’t anticipate was that there were clouds above it and Ororo took notice.
“Not…today!” said the former weather goddess in a determined tone.
Her eyes turned completely white as she concentrated all her power into one desperate bid. The cloud above Nimrod flickered. The winds and moisture of nature were moving to Ororo’s will. Then in a bright flash, a bolt of lightning shot out from the cloud and connected with Nimrod directly.
“Danger. System overload.”
Millions of volts surged through Nimrod’s systems and just as the charged proton blast was about to unload, it exploded prematurely in a blinding ball of fire. It was so bright it eclipsed the sun momentarily, shattering the high tech killer into many small pieces and scattering them out in all directions.
“Crikey…” said Pyro.
“Damn,” said Logan, who couldn’t stop himself from grinning at her action.
“Nice shot, Storm,” said Cable, letting out a sigh of relief, “That should give us some time. Now let’s get the hell out of here!”
“Wait…” said Magneto coldly, “I’m not leaving without making sure that thing pays for what it did.”
“Damn it, Magneto, now’s not the time to play the old vengeance bit!” shot Cable.
“Watch me,” said Magneto, shoving him aside.
“Hey!” yelled Scott, insulted that he would shove his future son aside like that.
But Magneto didn’t wait for their approval. He took to the sky, gathering the four metal orbs he used to transport Lance, Pyro, Exodus, and himself to this area with his magnetism powers. The smoke hadn’t even cleared from the fireball that engulfed Nimrod, but pieces of the advanced sentinel were already falling to the ground and Magneto had no intention of making the same mistake as last time.
With a few gestures, he changed the shapes of the orbs into giant scoops and guided them throughout the area in a whirlwind-like motion so it could gather every scrap of debris. No piece was too small. He could leave nothing to chance. The metal containers were soon filled with the still flaming pieces of Nimrod. Once they were collected Magneto clasped his hands together, causing all four orbs to merge into one large metal container which he made thick enough to keep anything confined.
“Avalanche, I need your help burying this monstrosity!” he called out.
“No problem,” said Lance.
Stepping out of the X-jet, Lance rolled his eyes back and summoned a focused tremor that opened a large crack in the ground. Magneto used his powers to guide the orb into the crack, shoving it as deep as he could so Nimrod had no chance of getting out.
“Now close it,” ordered Magneto.
Lance shifted his power, sending more seismic waves through the ground to collapse the crack in the ground and seal the orb under a thick layer of Earth. When all was said and done there was nothing left but rock-filled hole, leaving Magneto and his teammates confident that they had succeeded. Cable, however, wasn’t so confident.
“Let’s see you get out of that,” said Lance in triumph.
“It’ll get out,” said Cable.
“Ha! Yeah right!” scoffed Pyro, “It’s gotta be a hundred feet underground!”
“And there’s no way it can get out of that metal shell,” said Exodus.
“It’ll find a way,” said Cable strongly, “It always finds a way. Let’s get out of here before it does.”
Magneto’s team rolled their eyes. They couldn’t believe the gall of this man. He actually thought that Nimrod thing could get out of that metal/rock coffin. He had to have a screw loose or something.
The only one who took him seriously was Magneto, who arrived back at the X-jet with a great deal of frustration. He didn’t like to be kept out of the loop. Both his children were badly hurt by something he didn’t fully understand. But Xavier and this strange man with cybernetic limbs seemed to know what was going on. And he was going to get answers no matter what.
“Let’s go,” said Magneto, “I have questions.”
“And we’ll be sure to answer them, Erik,” said the Professor, “But I must warn you, you may not like what you’ll hear.”
“I don’t care,” he said strongly, “It’s already put my children in harm’s way. I will not just let it go.”
“When I get through telling you the story, you may want to,” warned Cable.
Magneto shot Cable a cold glare, but it didn’t bother him. He had stared down way worse people than this. Plus, he had to respect this man despite his less-then-charming personality. After all, he did play a significant role in the future.
“Dude, what’s with that guy?” said Lance, feeling somewhat anxious about Cable, “He’s a real ass.”
“Can it, Lance,” said Scott bitterly, “Don’t insult my future son.”
Lance looked at Scott in bewilderment. He wasn’t sure if he was messing with him or telling the truth. But judging by the looks he was getting, it was probably serious.
“Uh…future son?” he said warily.
“You’re a long way from home, Alvers,” said Kitty, who was enjoying the position Lance.
Lance didn’t like the sound of that. As if being on the same plane as his ex-girlfriend could get any worse. But for the sake of putting some distance between them and Nimrod, both the X-jet and the Velocity took off.
The teams were now divided to make room on each aircraft. Professor Xavier gathered Scott, Jean, Alex, Kitty, Piotr, Wolverine, Ororo, Beast, Sage, Vincent, Kurt, and Emma on the X-jet along with Magneto, his team, and his wounded children. Rogue, Remy, Warren, Betsy, Mystique, and Irene took charge of the Velocity with the rest of the New Mutants and followed closes behind the X-jet as they flew off over the horizon.
Hopefully, they would have more time to formulate a plan. The X-men had already seen Nimrod’s tenacity and had little doubt that it would be back. And it was sure to be a lot more complicated now that Magneto was involved.
Hours Later – On Board the X-jet
The X-jet and the Velocity flew full throttle until it was a good hundred miles to the north in the vast Canadian wilderness. Along the way, Beast and Sage tended to Wanda and Pietro’s injuries. Magneto stood closely by both of them, watching silently as they lay still on a medical cot in the back of the plane. For the most part they were out of danger. Hank managed to stop the internal bleeding in Pietro and Wanda looked to have nothing more than a concussion and some nasty scrapes and bruises.
Kurt was also there with them, not only to be close to Wanda but to keep an eye on Magneto. Cable was there too, but for reasons he did not make clear. For some reason, Wanda’s injury affected him on a personal level. Scott and Jean inquired about it, but he wasn’t willing to say why just yet. But that didn’t matter to Kurt at the moment. He just wanted his girlfriend to be okay.
While Sage was wrapping a bandage around her head, he heard Wanda groan. She was obviously in a great deal of distress, but she was still able to feel Kurt’s hand on hers.
“It’s okay, liebe,” he said softly, “I’m here.”
His voice helped sooth her. She even managed to give his hand a light squeeze, which brought a slight tear to Kurt’s eye.
Magneto saw this and remained silent. While he had mixed feelings about his daughter’s personal life, he was happy to see that she had someone so dedicated to her. While still holding her hand he turned towards him and saw the master of magnetism give him a look of approval. It wasn’t much, but it said more than the stoic old man could articulate.
“How is she?” asked Magneto in a low tone.
“She’s getting there,” said Sage, “She took a pretty nasty blow to the head so she’ll probably be out of it for a while. But she’ll be okay. It could have been a lot worse.”
“Indeed,” said Magneto as he turned towards Beast, who was treating his son, “What about Pietro?”
“I believe he’ll be okay too,” said Beast in an optimistic tone, “I patched up his wounds and him something to null the pain and stop the bleeding. But I wouldn’t have him run any marathons for a while.”
“I’ll remember that,” he said, not cracking a smile at his joke, “I need to talk to Charles now. Let me know if anything changes.”
“Of course,” said Sage, sounding somewhat put off by this man’s cold demeanor.
He was about to step out, but then he stopped himself at the door and took a deep breath before turning back.
“Oh…and thank you.”
That actually came as a surprise. Magneto rarely showed emotion, let alone gratitude. Beast and Sage exchanged smiles. Even Kurt took notice, but maintained his focus on Wanda. He remembered how sensitive an issue Magneto was to Wanda and would leave such judgments for later. For now, she and Pietro needed rest.
Magneto returned to his stoic poise as he made his way back out into the passenger area with his team and Xavier’s, passing Cable along the way. He just let him pass, not giving him anymore reason to distrust him. All he cared about was ensuring Wanda was okay. Watching Kurt hover over her was quite a sight. It struck him in a way he didn’t expect. Even though it had been many years since those two were a part of his life, he owed them a lot. He just wasn’t ready to give them his reasons yet and it might be best at this point to keep it that way.
“Take care of her, Kurt. You two have a big future together. I promise I’ll make it better. I owe you and your family that much.”
While Cable hovered close to Kurt and Wanda, Magneto’s presence continued to cause a stir. There was still tension. His team occupied a small corner near the front while the rest of the X-men kept to their own side. Alex continued to shoot cold glares towards the master of magnetism. Having been used by him before, he still bore a healthy grudge. But Scott held him back.
“I hate that we’re helping him,” muttered Alex.
“You’re in good company,” said Scott, “But we’re in this together whether we like it or not.”
“I know. Still sucks though,” he commented.
“Easy Alex, we’ve had enough fights for one day as it is. Let’s not add to it,” said Jean.
Alex folded his arms and turned his attention out the window. Funny how he thought visiting his brother for a week before his wedding would be exciting, but this wasn’t quite the excitement he had in mind.
However, he wasn’t the only one bearing a grudge. Kitty constantly felt Lance’s eyes on her. Like her, he was still bitter about their break-up. Even though it had been a while they never did lay it to rest. Granted, their relationship had never been too stable since Lance was in the Brotherhood and she was in the X-men. But they still had something serious for a while.
It was only when Lance announced that the Brotherhood was disbanding and Kitty tried to convince him to give the X-men a second chance when they reached the end. They had a fight that still echoed in their memories to this day. Lance got so angry he caused a slight tremor and Kitty stormed out in such a rage that she had to call Scott to come pick her up. They hadn’t spoken since.
“Katya, are you going to be alright?” asked Piotr, growing increasingly concerned about her state of mind.
“I’m fine,” she said bitterly, “Just not thrilled about being close to my ex.”
“Is there anything I can do? We have enough going on without this coming up again.”
“I don’t know. Think you could sock him a couple of times for me?”
“Katya, I’m serious.”
“So am I,” she said, still keeping her eyes off Lance, “Just keep him away from me.”
Piotr shook his head in defeat. Kitty never talked much about her past relationships. Lance was an especially sensitive topic and he always veered away from bringing him up. But with him on board it was difficult to avoid. So for now he stayed silent, keeping an eye on Lance in case he did anything to make it worse.
For Lance, it was just as bitter. He didn’t like the situation any better than her, but like it or not being in close proximity to one another brought back some old feelings. It was no secret he carried a flame for Kitty. He had been teased about it endlessly while he was with the Brotherhood. He thought he had moved past it, but seeing Kitty with another man was hard to get around.
“Looks like she found someone else, eh?” commented Pyro.
“Shut up, Pyro.”
In the other aircraft it was far less tense. Mystique and Psylocke flew the advanced helicopter close to the X-jet, keeping a close eye on them just in case Magneto and his goons pulled a fast one on them. So far they seemed sincere. With his kids hurt it was a pretty safe assumption that he wasn’t going to do anything to further endanger their lives. But that didn’t stop the suspicions of some.
Mystique was especially disturbed that they were helping Magneto. She still blamed him for not telling her about his activities with the Hellfire Club that led to so much suffering for her children. Warren was also bitter since Magneto tried to use him too, but if they were to stop Nimrod they were going to need all the help they could get.
“Man, first Nimrod and now Magneto, what else could go wrong today?” groaned Warren.
“Hell, at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if aliens showed up,” commented Bobby.
“Oh please,” scoffed Tabitha, “Aliens at this point would be child’s play. I’d be more surprised if zombies showed up.”
“Shh! Don’t jinx it, guys!” said Ray, “You never know during a time like this.”
“Yeah, we’ve already faced 5,000-year-old mutants, power hungry cults, evil sorceresses, mad scientists, and met a guy who died and came back to life and died again. Let’s not add too much to that list,” said Sam.
“Eh, I wouldn’t worry,” said Jubilee, “If we’ve beaten all those things before why can’t we beat this?”
“Because in our line of work it only takes one slip-up,” said August, knowing the importance of a level head from her old line of work, “It’s often best to forget all your previous victories and take challenges like this as your first.”
“Doesn’t sound too optimistic if you ask me,” said Roberto.
“As we used to say in Hydra, optimism is a revolutionary idea,” said Laura stoically.
The team continued to speculate. Nothing was certain other than what would happen if they failed. And if it was half as bad as Cable described, then this was one fight they couldn’t afford to lose.
For Rogue, however, she had more personal reasons to dread this fight. The Hellfire Club already put her through her own personal hell and finding out that the one guy they didn’t kill the first time around was hard to digest. It only took one of these monsters to create such a bleak future for the whole world.
She decided to turn her concerns to Irene, who had always been a good listener. She saw how she was staring off into space, most likely pondering the visions that still plagued her mind. Getting up from her seat next to Remy, she walked over towards the woman who helped raise her.
“Irene?” asked Rogue as she sat down next to her.
“Yes Rogue?” said the blind woman.
“This future…is it really as bad as Cable says it is?”
Irene hung her head low and sighed. She never liked this part of her powers, but with all the dark visions she had she was used to it.
“From what I’ve seen it’s worse,” she said, “A lot of hardship awaits the X-men and the world for that matter. And with Nimrod’s arrival it has the potential to be even worse.”
“But there’s still a chance we can change it, right?” said Rogue intently, “We did it before with the Gates of Hell.”
“True, but remember Rogue, such great changes often come at a high price. And this time is no different.”
“You mean…we could lose someone else?” said Rogue anxiously.
“If the visions are true, then yes,” said Irene solemnly, “But that all depends on our willingness to confront this evil.”
A shiver ran down Rogue’s spine as she considered the possibilities. The team suffered a hard enough blow when Jack died. Her mother still hadn’t quite gotten over it. Now they had a crisis of the same magnitude. And as she looked around, Rogue couldn’t help but wonder. They wanted to change the future, but how high a price were they willing to pay to do so?
Once they landed, a small group stepped out so Cable could tell the same story to Magneto that he told the X-men. Xavier, Mystique, Scott, Jean, and Logan were there as well to fill in the blanks and support Cable. His story was hard to believe and Magneto was naturally suspicious of him. Cable spared no detail as he described the future that lay ahead of them and the threat Nimrod posed.
Through his story the master of magnetism seethed with anger. These were events that hadn’t even transpired and it already hurt him on many levels. For all his power Magneto couldn’t protect his children from Nimrod. It was a harsh blow in a series of many, but he was determined to make it right.
“So this Nimrod is out to kill me and Charles so we can never organize the resistance that will eventually defeat Mastermold,” summarized Magneto, “And you’re the future leader of the X-men who followed it back to this time to stop it?”
“I think that pretty much sums it up,” said Cable.
“And you’re also Scott and Jean’s future son?” said Lance, still finding that pretty shocking.
“Yes! How many times do I have to tell you that?” groaned Cable, getting increasingly annoyed by Lance’s lack of professionalism.
“Sorry, but this is just too much!” exclaimed Lance.
“Watch it, Alvers!” scolded Scott, who was held back by Jean.
“Enough you two!” bellowed Magneto, “This is serious. While I’m hardly surprised that humanity turns on our kind, I am troubled that it was all orchestrated by some madman who has a grudge against all things flesh based.”
“Big deal. You already said we’ll come out on top,” scoffed Pyro, who was the only one not taking this seriously, “So what’s the problem?”
“The problem is that Nimrod is trying very hard to change that,” said Cable strongly, “And as long as it exists, it’ll seek you out and kill you.”
“Bah, that tin can is no match for us,” boasted Exodus, “Even if it does escape, we’ll just destroy it again and bury it deeper.”
“You really don’t get it do you?” said Cable, “It doesn’t matter how many times you destroy it or how deep you bury it. Nimrod will always find a way because that’s what it’s programmed to do. Each time it’ll adapt and learn, becoming harder and harder to defeat until it eventually succeeds. And if Nimrod wins, everybody loses.”
They were ominous words, but he meant every one of them. Pyro, Lance, and Exodus may not have taken them seriously, but Magneto did. Nimrod was ruthless enough to hurt his son and injure his daughter. Already, it was affecting the present. There was no telling how much damage it could do to the future.
Magneto always figured a war was coming, but not a war like this. It wasn’t a war for mutants or humans. It wasn’t for justice, redemption, or dominance. It was pure madness. And strangely, it wouldn’t put mutants above humans. It would bring them together. And furthermore, it seemed he was destined to be a part of it. It was a lot for the master of magnetism to take in.
“I guess this means we were both wrong, Charles,” said Erik in a rare show of humility, “It seems neither one of our visions for the future was as destined as we thought.”
“Try not to think of it in terms of right and wrong, old friend,” said Xavier, “It is often the case the ones most sure of the future are also the most wrong.”
“That’s all well and good, Xavier, but it doesn’t help our situation,” said Mystique, “Nimrod or no Nimrod, we have to do something about this future.”
“Hate to be pessimistic here, but that may not be possible,” said Cable, “I don’t have enough information on Pierce and Mastemold from this time. The war did a way with that. And if we’re not careful, we could make things even worse.”
“I don’t care! I refuse to accept that there’s nothing we can do!” spat Mystique, “It’s time we stop running and start fighting back!”
“Mystique’s right,” said Wolverine, “We can’t just sit by and wait for this shit to unfold.”
Their determination was admirable. Even Cable wouldn’t deny that. Mystique was especially determined. The short time she spent with Slayer made her a firm believer in the power to change what seemed destined. To her it was an insult to his memory to just roll over to the forces of fate. But it wouldn’t be easy.
“Okay, so let’s break this down…” said Lance, “We know this Pierce guy is planning something bad, but we don’t know where he is or how to stop him or this Nimrod thing that’s going to keep coming after us.”
“Right so far,” said Cable.
“And we can’t go back to the mansion or Magneto’s headquarters because that’s the first place Nimrod would look,” said Jean, “So we don’t exactly have a way of getting any new information.”
“Right again,” said her future son.
“So in other words, we’re completely in the dark here,” said Exodus.
“It would appear so,” said the Professor grimly.
A heavy silence fell over the two teams. It sure wasn’t looking good for them. If they didn’t have any information they couldn’t do anything about this future. They managed to survive so far, but they couldn’t keep running. However, their situation wasn’t as grim as it seemed.
“Forgive me for being shrewd, Charles, but that’s not entirely accurate,” said Magneto.
Cable turned towards the master of magnetism with a suspicious look.
“What are you talking about?” he said sternly.
“While you may not have much information on Pierce, it’s worth reminding you that I had Mastermind positioned as a mole in the Hellfire Club for months before you even knew who they were. And I still have some information that may be of use.”
A chill ran through the X-men. Jean especially shuttered at the mention of Mastermind, who warped and twisted her perceptions in a way that made her a slave to Shaw. Mystique also cringed for that same man mentally tortured her daughter in a way that left her scarred on many levels. But Cable, for one, was very much intrigued.
“What kind of information? Why didn’t you tell us this before?!” demanded Cable.
“I didn’t think it was pertinent anymore since you X-men did such a thorough job of wiping Hellfire out,” said Magneto, “But if you would cease your hostility and listen, I may be able to provide some clues.”
Cable fell silent. He was never that fond of Magneto. Growing up, he always found him to be very dark. Even if he did change over time to embrace the human/mutant alliance, he remained a very jaded man who had no problem laying waste to anything that got in his way. But he was desperate for any useful information at this point so he listened.
For Magneto, he needed a brief moment to prepare. He hoped he had heard the last of this failed Hellfire mistake, but he would have to for the sake of the future.
“Please Erik…” said Professor Xavier, “Tell us what you know.”
“It was a complicated endeavor,” began Magneto, “I thought that the Hellfire Club could prove to be allies or at least partners in my endeavors. That’s why I sent Mastermind there to spy on them and report their dealings. I thought if I had some leverage over them I could get their attention.”
“I’m guessing that was a mistake,” said Jean sternly.
“Indeed,” conceded the master of magnetism, “But in his time at Hellfire, Mastermind provided a wealth of information about members of the inner circle. Donald Pierce was one of them.”
“What did you find out?” asked Cable intently.
“Most of my efforts were focused on Shaw and Selene since they were the leaders, but there were a few reports about Pierce that caught my attention. Mastermind said he would frequently fly out on long distance trips in between meetings. Officially they were for business, but when he looked closer he found that it was always to the same place.”
“What place? Do you remember where it was?” asked Scott anxiously.
“I did look into it. It turned out he was spending a great deal of time in a facility in Northern Canada that according to official records was decommissioned decades ago. I was tempted to look into it further, but other matters came up and when your team took the Hellfire Club down I set it aside. I didn’t think I would end up having to deal with it again.”
“You’re not the only one,” grunted Logan.
While the teams reacted, Cable took in this new information. It wasn’t much, but it was the biggest lead they had so far.
“A facility in Canada? Are you sure?” asked Cable intently.
“Positive,” said Magneto firmly, “I still have the coordinates on file.”
“Why? Do you remember this facility in the future?” asked the Professor.
“No, and that’s why it’s important,” said Cable, “The construction of Mastermold and the sentinel army was done in total secrecy to keep telepaths from picking up on it. There was never any record of where those early models were constructed because it was destroyed when the initial attacks commenced.”
“Makes sense to me,” said Scott, “That way they could cover their tracks and maintain the element of surprise.”
“Not to mention it would keep Nick Fury off their backs,” said Logan, “No way he would have let something like that go on unless it was a well-kept secret.”
“Then would it be safe to assume that Pierce and an uncompleted Mastermold would still be there?”
“I’d say it’s possible,” said Magneto, “I don’t know of anywhere else he would be.”
It was definitely a turn for the better. Cable felt it in the parts of him that were still flesh. This was the opportunity they needed. This was a chance to take the fight to Pierce and Mastermold. If Magneto was telling the truth then this facility may be their only shot at affecting the course of the future.
“That’s it then,” said Cable firmly, “That’s where we go to stop this mess of a future from happening!”
“But what good is taking the fight to this Pierce guy if Nimrod will just keep trying to kill us anyway?” shrugged Pyro.
“Try and think in four dimensions, Pyro!” replied Cable, “Nimrod was created by Mastermold. This whole plan from start to finish was orchestrated by those two. If we take them down now, the future they create will never take place.”
“And Nimrod will never have existed,” said Professor Xavier, now beginning to see it as well.
It sounded like a plan. Magneto was intent on getting back at these people who were responsible for causing him and his children so much anguish and the X-men were anxious to do whatever they could to stop this future from happening. It was a fight they couldn’t afford to avoid. All their futures depended on it.
“So what are we waiting for?” said Logan, “Let’s find this guy and carve him a new one!”
“I agree, Wolverine,” said Magneto, “If Nimrod is as resilient as you say it is we had best make our move while we still can.”
“And we will,” said Cable in a determined tone, “But if we’re going to do this we’re going to need a strategy. And moreover, we’re going to have to work together. And if the stories my parents told me about you guys is any indication that’s not going to be easy. So right here right now, you guys have to set aside your differences and work together. Can you do that?”
Magneto’s team stared down the X-men. Cable was right about their history, but they had worked together before and succeeded. It was never easy, but they would have to do it again if they were to stop the Hellfire Club and Mastermold.
Scott shot Lance an angry scold, Exodus stared down Logan, and Pyro gave Jean a menacing look. There was clearly no love lost between these teams. For Cable it was hard to believe that they would one day fight together in the resistance. Thankfully, Magneto and Xavier took it seriously. They may be adversaries, but their respect for each other was never questioned. With that in mind, Professor Xavier extended his hand to his old friend in a show of cooperation.
“I’m willing if you are, Magnus,” he said.
“As am I, Charles,” said Magneto, “It appears both our futures depend on it.”
“Oh joy,” said Lance, his words dripping with sarcasm.
“Deal with it, bub,” said Logan sternly.
“Then it’s settled,” said Cable, “We’re do this together. But first, we’re going to have to make some tough choices.”
“What do you mean?” said Jean wearily.
“In fights like this the best thing we can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” said Cable ominously, “That’s why we’re going to have take precautions in case one of us fails. And this is how we’ll do it…”
Up next: Tough choices are made as the fight against Mastermold begins.