Chapter 9: Eye of the Storm
The flight to Muir Island was quiet for the most part. The team that included the Jubilee, Sam, Tabitha, Amara, Ray, Roberto, Jamie, Rahne, Irene, Exodus, Sage, Kurt, and Emma didn’t have much to say now that the fate of the future was in the hands of their friends. They could take comfort that they had changed the future before when they fought against Selene. They could only hope that they could do the same against Donald Pierce and Mastermold.
As they neared their destination, baby Jack was fussy. Emma struggled to console him, holding him close and whispering softly in his ear that everything was going to be okay. Even though he was just an infant, she could tell he missed his daddy. She did too, but had faith that he would come back to them.
“Shh…it’ll be okay, sweetie,” said Emma, “Mommy’s here.”
“Will you keep that kid quiet for crying out loud?” shouted Exodus from the back, “He’s giving me a headache!”
“If you don’t like it you can swim the rest of the way,” spat Emma.
“Yeah, we’ll all cheer you on,” said Jubilee, “Not!”
The other New Mutants laughed and gathered around Emma to help calm down Jack. Exodus grunted to himself. He still couldn’t believe Magneto had him staying behind. He understood the importance of watching over his kids, but he was no babysitter. He joined Magneto because he believed he would lead mutants to salvation. This diversion with the future and the Hellfire Club seemed a total deviation of what they were fighting for.
Exodus turned his attention back to Wanda and Pietro. Kurt was still with him, gently holding Wanda’s hand and standing protectively over her. Exodus was not the most pleasant person to be around, but for Wanda he endured it. But that didn’t stop Exodus from making comments.
“It’s undignified, you know,” he said, “The children of Magneto should be by his side in his fight to liberate our kind.”
“Obviously you don’t know vhat kind of a father Magneto is,” said Kurt bitterly, remembering all the painful stories Wanda told him about her early life.
“Maybe I don’t, but he’s still their father,” said Exodus strongly, “At least he’s willing to reach out to them. It’s their fault for not accepting it.”
“You mean like zhe time you guys showed up at the mansion and tried to force Vanda to come back vith you?” said Kurt defensively, “He vasn’t reaching out to zhem! He was forcing zhem! I may not be a parent, but I know zhat’s not how you show love for your children. Even if Magneto does want to reconcile, he has a long vay to go.”
“And so does your girlfriend,” said Exodus, “If she wasn’t so blinded by anger, she would see that her father loves her enough to fight for a world where our kind aren’t subjugated. Mistakes or not, he does what he does for them. At least Pietro gave him a chance.”
Exodus wasn’t going to be convinced. Kurt quickly realized that. He was so blindly loyal to Magneto that he couldn’t see what a dark and bitter man he was. While the Professor always defended him as a friend, that still wasn’t an excuse to abandon his own children. Kurt saw how much that hurt Wanda and stood by her when the pain was too great.
Yet while he held her hand, he didn’t sense that Wanda was partially conscious. She heard much of their exchange and if she had the strength, she would have smiled at Kurt’s devotion. But at the same time, Exodus may have had a point. Magneto may have had a very dark side to him, but there was also a side that loved her and Pietro. While that didn’t stop him from throwing her away into an insane asylum, that didn’t mean it wasn’t there. Wanda just wasn’t willing to embrace it yet.
Back up front, the rest of the team helped calm Jack down. Emma was grateful, glad to have the support of the younger mutants even though they didn’t know much about parenting. It helped take their minds off the fight the others were caught up in.
“He’s so cute,” cooed Jubilee, “He’s even cuter when he’s not whining.”
“I’ll say,” said Roberto, “I thought he’d never stop.”
“Is that all you guys see with babies?” said Amara, rolling her eyes, “Just the crying and nothing else?”
“Of course not,” said Sam, “But most of the time babies either cry or sleep. Ah just hope he can stay that way through the descent.”
“He will,” said Emma, smiling at the sleeping form of their son, “Jack’s a pretty heavy sleeper.”
“Well he has to be with the house we live in,” said Ray.
“Not to mention the parents he has,” grinned Tabitha.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” said Emma suspiciously.
“Oh you know…” she said with a playful look, “Don’t you need a baby that sleeps if you and your hubby are to keep things passionate?”
That earned her a scorn from Emma and a round of laughs from the others. Even during times of crisis, they couldn’t help but make sex jokes. Some things never changed.
While things with Jack settled, Rahne and Jamie remained in their seats gazing out the window. Rahne was genuinely excited to see her mother. Even if it was under dreary circumstances, it had been a while and she looked forward to catching up with her. Jamie, on the other hand, was a little nervous. Meeting his girlfriend’s mother was a big deal. It didn’t help that he remembered how bad it went when Vince met Emma’s parents. And he and Rahne hadn’t been together long. It just felt like it was happening so soon.
“Feeling any better, Jamie?” asked Rahne.
“A little,” he replied, “I just wish I had more time to prepare for this. Usually meeting your girlfriend’s mother involves more planning.”
“Will ye relax, already?” groaned the Scottish girl, “Ye got no reason to be worried. It’s not like mae mother is Mystique or something.”
“True, but she’s still your mother,” said Jamie, “Have you told her about us?”
“Aye, and she’s talked about meeting you many a times,” smiled Rahne, “Just be yourself and she’ll accept ye.”
“But what if something goes wrong?”
“We’ll get through it together,” she said, reaching over and taking his hand, “You’re not alone, remember? I’ll be with ye every step of the way.”
Jamie smiled at her warm gestures and squeezed her hand. He felt a little better now. As long as Rahne kept everything in check, there shouldn’t be too much trouble. He was still nervous, but it might be better to get this out of the way now. That way he and Rahne could focus on more important things like building their blossoming relationship.
Outside a slight storm picked up as the Velocity descended through the clouds. Muir Island was getting close and the rest of the team strapped themselves in for the bumpy ride. Now that they were in range, they could notify Moria that they were coming in.
“Moria, this is Sage from the Velocity. Do you read?” said Sage into the radio.
“I read ye,” said Moira on the other line, “You’re just in time for the storm. I’ll be turning on the landing lights on the main pad. Be careful now, it’s starting to rain.”
“Copy that,” said Sage, “And I don’t know if the Professor told you, but we’ve got a couple of wounded coming in with us.”
“Aye, Charles told me and I’ve already prepared a couple of beds. Just get them here and I’ll take care of the rest.”
Sage locked in on the radar beacon and began maneuvering the aircraft to the heliport. She saw the lights come on to help guide her in. After a smooth landing, Sage powered down the engines and everybody filed out. She stayed behind to help Irene while Kurt and Exodus got help from Roberto and Ray getting Wanda and Pietro out.
Outside, the rain was picking up and thunder sounded in the distance. Most rushed to the safety of the overhang just outside the door. There Moria MacTaggart was waiting and the moment Rahne saw her she ran up and gave her a hug.
“There’s my girl!” said the Scottish woman with a wide smile, “It’s go good to see ye, Rahne.”
“Me too, mom,” said Rahne, embracing her mother firmly, “Boy have we got some stories to tell ye.”
“I bet ye do,” said Moria, “But first things first.”
Moria parted from her adopted daughter and walked over to Wanda and Pietro. Charles told her that both were in need of medical attention and she could see why. The bandages Hank wrapped Pietro’s body in were already soaked with blood and needed to be replaced. Wanda was also groaning, no doubt as a result from the pounding headache that came along with having a concussion. Luckily, Muir Island had some of the best equipment available for mutants. She was confident they would get better here.
“Oh my, ye poor children,” she said as she took in the injuries, “Come, I’ll show ye to the sick bay.”
“Danke, Dr. MacTaggart,” said Kurt gratefully, “I vas starting to really vorry.”
“Please, call me Moria,” smiled the Scottish woman, “And you can rest now, lad. Ye friends be in good hands.”
“That remains to be seen,” said Exodus, ever the skeptic.
That earned him another scold from Kurt and the others, but he could care less. Luckily, Moria didn’t take it personally. Charles warned her they would have an enemy along with them. Hopefully he didn’t cause too much trouble. It sounded like Xavier and his X-men had enough to worry about as it was.
The X-jet cruised swiftly to the coordinates Magneto recovered from his database using the on board computers. There was silence for the most part. Cable discussed some tactics with the team. Having fought sentinels for most of his life, his experience would be vital. By now the sun had set and the team could see the Aurora Borealis outside. It was strangely beautiful, but the mission left little time to enjoy the sights. The fate of the future was riding on their shoulders.
Logan and Xavier were in the cockpit and Magneto was with them. While he didn’t have exact coordinates from memory, they were located on a secure batch of files they were able to access via the internet. Mastermind had given him a file while he was spying on the Hellfire Club that had a small map of northern Canada with a certain area not far from the Hudson Bay marked. Magneto double checked it and found out there was something there, but he never though it would be something like this.
“You sure this is the place, Mags?” said Logan, ever suspicious of Magneto’s intentions.
“Positive,” said Magneto, “I had Exodus double check all the information Mastermind gave me. The Hellfire Club has a knack for deceit so I had to be sure.”
“And I’m glad you did, old friend,” said Professor Xavier, “According to all available maps, there’s nothing out here except mountains, tundra, and a few mines.”
“In other words, a perfect hiding place,” grunted the feral mutant, “It’s places like this where Weapon X did their dirty work.”
“And this is no exception,” said Magneto, “Further research indicates that the facility Mastermind discovered was once a Weapon X lab.”
Logan’s grip on the pilot wheel tightened as a familiar anger came over him.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me!”
“It’s no joke, I assure you,” said Magneto, “Can you think of a better place to construct such a monstrosity?”
“Figures…” growled Wolverine, “Now we gotta blow this place up.”
“One step at a time, Wolverine,” said Xavier, “I’m sure Pierce and Trask aren’t going to make it easy for us.”
“Good, I like a challenge. Should be all the more worth it at the end.”
Logan kicked in some afterburner. Anything even remotely connected to Weapon X was enough to make his blood boil. Now he couldn’t wait to get his hands on Pierce. This madman was definitely going to pay.
Logan wasn’t the only one with anger. The closer they got to the destination, the more unsettled Magneto grew. He had been angry before, but never like this. Pierce dared to come after his children and he was going to pay the price. It was enough to make him set aside his differences with the X-men and that was saying something given their history. But this was a case of the enemy of his enemy being his friend. The only one that didn’t sit well with was Charles Xavier.
“We’re getting close,” said Magneto with intent in his tone, “Another fifteen minutes and we’ll be right over the area. Then Hellfire will know my wrath.”
“Careful, Magnus. Now is not the time to be brash,” said he Professor.
“Charles, if ever there was a time for true action, it is now! I don’t care how much a pacifist you are, but I am a man of action! It wasn’t your children this monstrosity attacked!”
“It has nothing to do with me being a pacifist. It has everything to do with not making the same mistakes!” said Xavier firmly, “That’s always been your problem, Erik. From day one, you let emotions get the better of you and mistakes are made because of it.”
“Don’t talk to me about emotion, Charles!” shot the old holocaust survivor, “If anyone is deluded by emotion, it’s you. You’re the one blinded by compassion and naivety. Had you seen things my way, maybe your students never would have been victims of the Hellfire Club. Maybe we wouldn’t have to go on this mission to change the future in the first place.”
“I don’t believe that. Not for a second,” said Xavier strongly, “That compassion is what brought my students together to help save our friends and stop Hellfire numerous times. That compassion gives us the resolve to do it again this time to stop this future from happening. And while I would like to believe otherwise, I can’t help but think you wouldn’t even bother with this mission if it were not to punish the man who hurt Wanda and Pietro.”
“Sounds kind of selfish if you ask me,” commented Logan.
Magneto cast his old friend a threatening leer. Even though he could easily inflict great pain on him, it wouldn’t make what he said any less valid. Charles was the one person he couldn’t do that too. Sometimes he cursed him for being an old friend.
“You and I may not agree on much, Erik, but for once I ask that you look beyond your pain. I know you regret what happened with Wanda. I know you harbor deep resentment for humanity. But even if humanity is wiped out and you stamp out every emotion, that pain is still going to be there. The past can be a harsh burden, but the future is yours to mold.”
Magneto’s expression didn’t change. He still scolded Charles for trying to lecture him on his beliefs. But it was clear that he was not going to budge in his mindset. That much he expected. At the same time, however, there was some truth to his words. He had indeed tried before to numb his pain with his mutant advancement machine. But no matter how deeply he suppressed it, the pain was still there.
There was no getting around it. He had done a lot of bad things in his life. He threw his own daughter in an insane asylum. He abandoned his son to pursue his own selfish agenda. He always justified it by the belief that he was making a better future for them. But in the process he was only causing them the same kind of pain while putting himself through even more torment.
All this pain left him cold and bitter. And rather then argue with his old friend, he stormed off angrily so he could be alone.
“I don’t know why you keep trying with that guy,” said Logan.
“Friends don’t give up on each other, Logan,” said the Professor, “Disagreements or not, Erik is still a friend. If I don’t have faith in him who will?”
Logan shook his head. Xavier’s faith in hopeless causes never ceased to amaze him. Even if Cable said they would work together in the future, he didn’t see Magneto not being Magneto. Maybe one day he would change, but that seemed a long ways off.
In the passenger area, much of the team was listening to Cable finish his talk on defeating sentinels. They had no idea what kind of firepower Pierce was going to throw at them so they had to be ready. Most listened intently while some faced distractions.
Kitty kept close to Piotr, trying to keep her eyes on Cable so she wouldn’t be tempted to stare Lance’s way. He could still feel her eyes on her. The bitterness was still there and there were a lot of things they never said to each other the day they parted ways. It was starting to worry Piotr. He was no expert on dealing with ex-lovers, but something had to be done.
“Are you going to talk to him?” he whispered into her ear.
“Talk to who?” said Kitty obliviously.
“You know who,” said the Russian mutant.
Kitty was silent, hoping her soft-spoken boyfriend would just drop the issue. She was being unusually stubborn this time and it was starting to wear on Piotr.
“You want me to break his bones?” he offered her.
Her expression shifted as she turned to face him. It was here she saw the worried look in his eye. She knew Piotr well enough to know that he wasn’t going to drop it as long as it was affecting her like this. There seemed no other way around it.
“Fine…I give,” she sighed, “You just had to give me that look.”
“What look?” said Piotr with an innocent smile.
Kitty swatted his broad shoulders and slipped away. It was ironic in some ways. Normally she was the expert on giving the puppy-dog look. It’s how she appealed to him when she wanted something and it also worked wonders on Logan over the years. Maybe he picked it up from her or something. If he had she would have to find a way to un-teach him because she swore to herself she would never have anything to do with Lance Alvers again.
Lance’s indifferent look never faltered even as he saw her coming towards him. She didn’t look too happy and he could care less if she was. When she reached him he shifted his gaze away from her. He refused to get caught in this girl’s spell again.
“What do you want?” he said bitterly.
“We need to talk,” said Kitty, “Can we step aside for a minute?”
“I’m comfortable here, thank you.”
“Do you want to be stubborn again or do you want to talk? I’m sure you remember how stubborn I can be.”
Lance groaned to himself. Of all the ex-girlfriend’s in the world, why did he have to have one that could still make him do these things? He was supposed to be over her. She was clearly over him since she was with that Russian muscle-head now. But for the sake of not making a scene, he agreed and walked with her to the back of the plane.
“So what changed your mind?” he asked her, “I thought you never wanted to make eye contact with me again? If memory serves me right, those were your exact words the day we broke up.”
“I remember,” said Kitty, hugging her shoulders and looking away, “We said a lot of things to each other that day…some I’m sure we both regret.”
“It sure doesn’t look like you regret it,” said Lance bitterly, “You sure seem happy with old Ruskie.”
“Leave Peter out of this, Lance,” she said strongly, “This is about you and me.”
“I thought there was no more you and me.”
“There isn’t. We didn’t work out so we broke up. Can we at least agree on that?”
“I guess,” shrugged Lance, “So why are we talking now?”
Kitty let out a frustrated sigh. As if she didn’t have enough to deal with today, her ex-boyfriend was back in her life. It wasn’t like she could completely forget about him. He was the first guy she had strong feelings for. Even if they were mismatched, it was still very real for her. And it was time they laid those feelings to rest.
“Lance, if there was nothing more between us we wouldn’t be so uptight about being within a mile of each other. You can’t hide it any better than me. I know we never finished our last argument. So for the sake of closure, could you just tell me what you want to say?”
“You really want to hear?” said Lance skeptically.
“Yes, don’t you want to get it out?”
Lance hesitated for a moment. In all the time he and Kitty had been together she never gave him complete permission like this to say what he wanted to say. So often throughout their time together he worried about saying the wrong things. Since he didn’t have to worry about it this time, he just let out what he never got a chance to say.
“I liked you, Kitty. I really did,” he told her honestly, “You were the first girl I ever met who made me want to take a second look at my lot in life. But you just wanted too much from me. I’m not some piece of clay you can mold into the perfect boyfriend.”
“But I never tried to mold you,” argued Kitty.
“Yes you did,” said Lance with a serious look, “Remember all those times we tried to hook up, go out, and what not? Every time it was you who set the agenda. It was you who led the way. And I went along with it because I had never been in a relationship before. I jumped through so many hoops for you and you only jumped through so many hoops for me. How was I supposed to feel about that?”
Kitty looked away. Thinking back to the time they had been together, Lance had a point. She did tend to set the tone for what they did and how they did it. She couldn’t remember asking Lance for his input. It did seem kind of controlling on her part.
“I just couldn’t be the guy you wanted me to be, Kitty,” he went on, “And that day the Brotherhood disbanded and you tried to get me to join the institute was just the last straw of many. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was tired of being your pet project.”
“Is that why you got so angry?” asked Kitty, still not looking him in the eye.
“It was a big part of it,” admitted Lance, “But more than that, you acted as though you knew what was best for me and yelled at me when I didn’t agree. That more than anything made me the angry.”
Lance had clearly had a long time to sit on this. It sure would have been useful that day they broke up. That way it wouldn’t have been so ugly. For Kitty, it was a bitter pill to swallow. In some ways he was right. She had been a little controlling and she really believed she had his interests in mind when she asked him to join the institute that day. But that wasn’t the full story. Now it was her turn.
“Lance…I’m sorry if I was overbearing,” she said with sincerity in her eyes, “But don’t forget, you were the same way.”
“What are you talking about?” said Lance skeptically.
“I’m talking about all those times you made me choose between you and my friends. It was always one or the other…you or them. The only way to work it out sometimes was to be overbearing. And I tried to accommodate that. I really did.”
“Guess it didn’t work then,” grumbled Lance.
“It had to work in some ways for us to last as long as we did. I cared for you, Lance. I make no secret of that.”
“I know. Guess it wasn’t enough,” he said, showing a little sincerity.
“It’s not about it being enough,” said Kitty, “We just couldn’t work. We sure as hell tried to at times, but I’ve since learned you can’t force feelings like that. It’s either meant to be or it’s not.”
The ex-couple fell silent. It was surreal in a ways. The last time they tried to talk this out they got into a huge fight. They never got a chance to let each other know how much they struggled during those hard times. Now they knew and they felt better having gotten it out.
“Look, I’m sorry Lance,” said Kitty with a kind gesture, “I’m sorry things ended the way they did.”
“Me too,” sighed Lance, “But it looks like you managed.”
“It wasn’t easy. Don’t think for a second that it was,” said Kitty strongly, “But can’t we just agree to let go as much as we can?”
Lance finally looked her in the eye. It wasn’t easy because they were the same eyes that once entranced him so much. A part of him still carried a flame for her. Even though he knew they weren’t right for each other that didn’t make what they shared any less significant. But she was right. They had to get on with their lives. Being mutants in this world was hard enough without the emotional baggage anyways.
“Okay,” he said, “I’ll try if you will.”
“That’s all I ask,” said Kitty with a smile.
Lance only returned the gesture partially before turning away. It wasn’t much, but it was more than enough for Kitty. She understood Lance was not the overly emotional type. But he didn’t have to be for them to move on from this. And with everything they were already dealing with, it was nice not carrying this burden into battle.
Kitty and Lance rejoined the group just as Cable was finishing up. Rogue noticed the look on her face and having roomed with her long enough, she sensed her distress.
“You gonna be okay, Kit?” she asked.
“I am now,” smiled Kitty.
Pyro was about to make a comment to Lance, but one threatening look helped shut him up. Besides, he’d had plenty of time to tease him once the mission was over.
The team was set now. Cable was the guide for Scott, Jean, Alex, Logan, Ororo, Rogue, Remy, Mystique, Kitty, Piotr, Vincent, August, Beast, Lance, Pyro, and Magneto. It was not unlike the team he gathered for the final assault on Mastermold that brought him to this time in the first place. Only this time, the end would be in the present and not the past. There was no hiding this time.
“Alright…” said Cable assertively, “So are we clear with the plan?”
“It sounds workable,” said Hank, who was perched atop one of the seats, “Although gaining access to the mainframe won’t be easy. I may need some time.”
“We’ll buy as much as we can,” said Cable, “We can’t just destroy Mastermold. We have to erase every scrap of data on it.”
“And what makes you so sure Pierce has it all in one place?” asked Piotr.
“Who said I was sure?” replied Cable, “But given how advanced Hellfire’s systems are, it should be possible to use it as a root to seek out and find any trace of Mastermold in every network and delete it.”
“Great, then it’s just a matter of getting around the usual Hellfire maelstrom,” said Betsy with a touch of sarcasm.
“Sounds simple enough,” shrugged Pyro, “We go in, kill Pierce, blow up the big bad sentinel, end of story.”
“It’s not that easy,” said Cable firmly, “Pierce will have any number of tricks to throw at us. And these are the kind of tricks that aren’t afraid to kill.”
“So what else is new?” sighed Warren.
“Yeah, you’d think we’d be used to that sort of thing by now,” said Bobby.
“Quiet, you guys!” shot Vincent, “This is serious.”
The two boys fell silent. They could tell Vince was a little tense. They could hardly blame him with his wife and son so far away. But the warrior within him stayed strong. He was determined to protect his family.
“He’s right,” said Cable, “Our best strategy is to stick together and combine our firepower. These sentinels aren’t as advanced as the ones I’ve faced, but they’re still plenty deadly.”
“What about Pierce himself?” asked Ororo, “You mentioned something about him going though more cybernetic enhancements.”
“I’m afraid I can’t help you there,” said Cable, “Most of our emphasis was on Mastermold, not Pierce. Pierce only created and merged with it. There’s no telling what he did to himself in between.”
“Well whatever he did, I look forward to rippin’ every one of his limbs off again,” said Rogue intently, “That little rat ain’t gonna escape this time!”
“Careful cherè,” said Remy, “Y’all never know what these guys are gonna throw at us.”
Just as Remy uttered those words, the lights throughout the X-jet flickered and the engines began to stall. Then the whole aircraft was jolted by a round of turbulence, knocking many off their feet.
“You just had to say it, didn’t you?!” exclaimed Mystique.
“Hey, what are you blamin’ Remy for?” said Remy as he held onto the wall.
“How about not keeping your mouth shut?!” yelled Laura.
Then Logan yelled out from the cockpit.
“Everybody strap yourselves in! Looks like we’re goin’ down!”
“You gotta be kidding me,” groaned Alex.
“Hey, I thought you liked thrill rides,” said Scott as everybody scrambled to find a seat.
“This isn’t a thrill ride, bro! This is freakin’ insanity!”
“Welcome to the X-men, Alex,” said Jean as she and everybody held on tight.
Every major system was going dead. Logan struggled to stay in control of the avionics. The radar was all static, the computer screens were shorting out, and the engines were stalling. Everything that could go wrong was happening all at once. It was a bad sign of things to come.
Donald Pierce was just putting the finishing touches on his grandest program. With it, he could finally say that Mastermold was nearing completion. It would take some time for the algorithms to become sufficiently advanced, but they had plenty of time. Soon it would be active and start churning out an army of robot warriors that would prowl the skies. And the best part was they would all be under his control and nobody would know it.
The AI that would run Mastermold was only a precursor. Eventually it would grow at a geometric rate and if Pierce’s calculations were correct, it would eventually realize the true destiny of all mankind. The era of flesh was in its twilight hour. The dawn of cybers was at hand. Soon flesh and machine would be one. Petty human limitations would be extinguished and chaos would give way to order.
It was the culmination of everything Pierce had worked for. He once thought the Hellfire Club would lead the world to salvation. His defeat by the X-men showed just how flawed human flesh, mutated or otherwise, were. And Mastermold would usher in a new era for this dying planet.
“At last…the end of humanity’s reign and the rise of the cybers can begin,” he said as he held up the disk containing the program.
His hands shook with anticipation as he loaded the disk into the mainframe. It wouldn’t be long now. He could feel the new era coming.
Suddenly, an alarm went off. Pierce was quickly brought out of his daze as several computer screens became active and revealed exactly what he didn’t want to see at this point.
“No! Not now!” he exclaimed.
“Pierce! Mr. Pierce!” exclaimed Trask as he entered the room.
“Get back to work, Bolivar. This is nothing you need to be concerned about.”
“Somehow I doubt that,” said Trask skeptically, “What’s going on?”
Pierce brought up a screen revealing a small radar blip entering their airspace. It didn’t look like much, but at the rate it was going it had to be something. This airspace was rarely used. It was one of the reasons why he chose this facility in the first place. Only so man people could have known about his operations and none of them were friendly.
“It appears an intruder has breached my defense system,” said Pierce, “The electromagnetic scrambler has already been activated and it would seem they’re going down.”
“Who are they?” asked Trask anxiously, “Could it be SHIELD?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. If it was SHIELD my moles would have alerted me,” scoffed Pierce, “No, this is someone else. And I have no intention of giving them a tour to our operations.”
Pierce typed in a few commands on the control console. In several areas throughout the facility, dormant sentinels became active. They received their commands from Pierce and were to engage the intruders and neutralize them. With their plane coming down they should be easy targets, but Pierce wasn’t so naïve that he didn’t have a backup.
“There…that should keep them busy,” grinned Pierce.
“And if it doesn’t?” said Trask.
“Oh don’t you worry. Should our guests be stubborn, I have a few surprises for them. Right now, all you need to concern yourself with is the final protocol for Mastermold’s robotics. Trust me.”
Trask was inclined to scoff, but he was in no position to argue. He left the dirty work to this man. He had a ruthlessness he couldn’t match. And he was okay with that as long as he was able to finish his work.
“Very well,” said Trask, “But if something goes wrong…”
“Nothing will go wrong, Bolivar,” said Pierce, “I assure you, everything is going exactly as planned.”
Trask had no choice, but to take him at his word. He left Pierce to the job and ran off to finish up on his end. He hoped Pierce was as efficient as he was overconfident. They couldn’t afford a slip-up at this critical stage.
Once Trask was gone, Pierce grinned to himself. This unexpected intrusion would force him to step up his time table. Right now, Mastermold was his biggest priority. So before entering any other commands, he went back to the main console and started loading the program. Once it was active it would be too late. No matter what these intruders did, their fate was sealed.
“Time to make some ‘accommodations’ to my new guests,” he said ominously, “If they think they can stop me now, they are sadly mistaken. Nothing can stop the rise of the sentinels! Nothing!”
Up next: Pierce welcomes the X-men in a way only Hellfire can.