Chapter 10: Ambush
Muir Island – Wanda and Pietro
Now in hospital beds, Wanda and Pietro were resting comfortably. Kurt remained by Wanda’s side as Moria delivered pain-killers and disinfectants to assure they would properly heal. To his relief Wanda’s groaning stopped and she was now sleeping comfortably. There would be a pretty nasty mark on her head for a while and she’d have some bruises here and there, but it was nothing she couldn’t heal from.
Pietro was doing better as well. Now that the bleeding had stopped, his hyperactive healing kicked in and he was set to start running at superhuman speed in a few days. He would have to wear some bandages for a while, but it was better than what could have been had they not stopped the bleeding.
Now Kurt could breathe a sigh of relief. It looked as though Wanda would be okay. He thanked God for her well-being. Had Nimrod’s aim been a little bit better she could be much worse. But he tried not to think about that. She was safe and that was all that mattered. However, it wasn’t lost upon him that they were in this position in part because she ran off when she saw her father.
“Looks like they’ll be just fine,” said Moria after doing a final checkup, “A little rest with some medication here and there and they’ll be back on their feet in a few days.”
“Danke, Dr. MacTaggart,” said Kurt graciously, “I can’t tell you how much zhis means to me.”
“Think nothing of it, Kurt. I owe Charles a lot. This is just one way of returning the favor.”
Kurt smiled, not surprised that the Professor could have such an effect on someone. Moria smiled back and prepared to make her leave. And judging by the way Kurt was holding that girl’s hand, he had no intention of leaving.
“You don’t mind if I stay vith her, ja?” he said.
“Of course not,” said Moria, “Just let me know if anything comes up. And if you need pillows or a blanket, there’s some in the closet down the hall.”
Kurt nodded and turned his attention back to Wanda. Moria then made her leave. With Rahne here, she had a chance to spend some quality time with her daughter. At the same time, it was a good opportunity to meet that boyfriend of hers as well. And as any good parent, she had every intention of having a good long talk with him.
With the room now quiet, Kurt let his thoughts wander. Ever since he and Wanda became an item, the one issue they always avoided was her family. She was more willing to talk about her time at the asylum more than she was about her father. Every time she heard his name she was consumed by a great anger. And with her powers that was a dangerous thing.
But since they were so close now, there was no getting around her family issues. If he was to be part of her life, Magneto and Pietro would be as well. It was the same deal when Mystique came back into his life. Only in this instance, Wanda was sure to be much more stubborn about it.
“You scared me, Vanda,” he said to her unconscious form, “I thought I lost you. Vhen I saw zhat cave come down I thought…”
But he stopped himself there, cringing at the possibilities of what could have been.
“You’re zhe best zhing zhat ever happened to me, liebe,” Kurt went on to say, “I vant to be vith you through zhe in good times and bad. But I know zhere are some zhings you don’t want me to be involved in. And I’ve respected zhat, but zhey almost got you killed this time! How do you expect me to deal vith zhat?”
Kurt got choked up as squeezed her hand tighter. Even though Wanda was unconscious, he had to get this off his chest. It wasn’t easy, but then again few things in their lives were.
“I love you, Vanda. I love you vith all my heart,” he said through his sorrow, “I know you try to hide your pain from me. But I don’t want you to just pretend everything is okay vhen ve both know it isn’t. I just…I vish you vould let me help you.”
The young mutant let out a deep sigh. As nice as it felt to get this out, it was hallow in a sense because Wanda wasn’t awake to react. Perhaps it was for the better because she always got so emotional when he tried to get her to open up. But there were times he saw her with pain in her eyes and she wouldn’t talk about it. Sometimes it was after she had a nightmare or was frustrated, but she would always conceal it. He wondered if she would ever be willing to confront this with him.
Suddenly, he heard a voice from the other bed.
“That was pathetic.”
Kurt was jolted from his daze as he looked over to see Pietro with his eyes open looking somewhat woozy from the medications, but alert none-the-less.
“Pietro?” said Kurt in a surprised tone.
“Seriously fuzz butt, what tear-jerking chick flick did you get that from? I thought I was gonna gag.”
It was definitely Pietro alright. Only he could be that arrogant at a time like this. Kurt groaned to himself, wishing that Moria had used stronger drugs. Too bad none of them could change that charming personality of his.
“Vhat are you doing awake?” said Kurt, getting up from Wanda’s beside, “I thought Moria knocked you out?”
“She did,” he said, his words somewhat slurred, “Just not enough I guess. When you’ve got a hyperactive metabolism like me, it takes more of anything to have an effect. You should see how much beer it takes me to get drunk.”
Kurt rolled his eyes. It sounded like the pain killers were having an effect on his speech, but not his attitude. He was lucid enough to make lewd comment, but that was beyond the point. This was still his girlfriend’s brother he was talking to.
“You seem awfully chipper for someone who took a round of shrapnel,” commented Kurt.
“Thank the morphine for that,” said Pietro, “And don’t try to change the subject. I’m not done ridiculing you.”
“If you voke up just to do zhat, I’m going to get Moria to give you more sedatives,” said Kurt, turning away and threatening to leave, “I’m here for Vanda and I don’t need to hear your obnoxious comments.”
“Hey, take it easy. I didn’t mean ‘that’ kind of ridicule,” said Pietro with a woozy laugh, “She’s my sister in case you’ve forgotten and you’re her boyfriend. Aren’t I entitled to some offhand remarks?”
“Not vhen she’s lying in a hospital bed,” said Kurt in a more serious tone.
As drugged up as Pietro was, that still struck a chord with him. Kurt wasn’t his favorite person in the world and not exactly his first choice for Wanda’s love interest. But it was something he would have to deal with.
“Fine, fine…let’s talk seriously then,” he said grudgingly, “Beyond the sappiness you really love my sister, right?”
“Of course I do,” said Kurt, “I’m willing to do anything to be vith her.”
“Even if that means dealing with our oh-so-loving father?” warned Pietro.
“Like I said…anything,” said Kurt firmly, “Vhy? Are you going to give me a hard time too?”
“Oh please, just because I have my dad’s hair it doesn’t mean I’m like him,” scoffed Pietro, “Heck, I’m glad she found someone who loves her…even if he is an X-man.”
“Right,” said Kurt skeptically, “If zhat’s zhe case, zhen vhy did you try and get her to go back vith you and Magneto?”
Despite the affects of morphine, Pietro wasn’t immune from feeling a twinge of guilt. He remembered that day well. He tried to convince Wanda to come back with him. Needless to say it didn’t go over well. But he had since had time to think about it.
“She’s my sister,” he said, “Is it so hard to believe that I wanted her back?”
“No, but you could have done it better,” said Kurt in a sarcastic tone.
“Point taken,” muttered Pietro, “But to be fair, that visit wasn’t my idea. It was all my father.”
“And you went along with it?”
“My father’s Magneto in case you’ve forgotten. It’s not easy to say no to him.”
Kurt believed that. But he wasn’t totally convinced. Pietro was doing what he did best and casting blame on someone other than himself. Even with Magneto was his father, that didn’t mean he couldn’t show some backbone.
“That doesn’t mean you had the right to say she didn’t belong vith us,” said Kurt.
“Well what do you expect me to do?” he shot with slurred words, “I know damn well that we can’t give her half of what you X-men can. All your rules and understanding are so anti-Magneto how could she not love the place?”
“You think zhat’s the only reason she joined?” replied Kurt.
“Of course not,” he said, “I know there are probably tons of reasons. The only thing I can say to her is I want us to be a family again. And she says no. How do you think that makes me feel?!”
There was clear hurt in Pietro’s tone. And with the pain killers he was on, that was saying something. Kurt didn’t know how to respond to that. In a ways he could see why he would be upset. It would be like him and Rogue living on opposing sides and him using their family title to get her back. Arrogant as he was, Pietro did love his sister even if he wasn’t good at expressing it.
“Look Pietro, I’m not out to take your sister from you,” said Kurt in a sincere tone, “She made her own choice.”
“I know,” he said solemnly, “She’s told me that a million times.”
“What do you mean?”
Pietro rubbed his sore head. He couldn’t believe he was opening up this much to the guy who was dating his sister. But at least this way he could learn how sincere he was. Wanda deserved as such.
“Don’t tell my father this, but I’ve been sneaking away recently,” he said, “I’ve been coming around town and passing notes to Wanda whenever I could. Ask her when she wakes she’ll tell you.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” said Kurt, “But why?”
“Why?” he scoffed, “We’re family. No matter how much she hates me she’s still my sister. That’s why I’m trying to do it without his interference. Of course, she was a little reluctant at first. But we’re trying. And the more I try the more I realize how happy she is with the X-men…and with you for that matter.”
Kurt smiled at that. It was good to know that he ranked so highly on Wanda’s happiness. But for Pietro it was serious. He had yet to deal with the issue of Wanda’s love life. While it was true Kurt made her happy, that didn’t mean it sat well with him. But if the way Kurt watched over her was any indication, he was very dedicated to her.
“Call it sappy all you want, I meant vhat I said,” said Kurt, “I really do love Vanda and threats from Magneto can’t change that.”
“Yeah, you’ve made that abundantly clear,” the speedster chuckled, “But let’s just get one thing straight, fuzzy. She’s my sister and I love her too. And I know she’ll never accept it, but dad loves her too.”
“I believe you,” said Kurt, “Remember, Mystique is my mother. I know all about difficult parents.”
“Then if you want my blessing just try and remind her every once and a while that she’s still got a family out there. Even if she doesn’t belong on our team, she’s still family. And if you can look over her, make her happy, and what not…I guess that’s okay. And that’s not just the drugs talking.”
His words were still slurred and he could barely hold himself up, but Kurt sensed Pietro’s sincerity. He truly did care for his sister. Having dealt with his own family issues before, he could see where Pietro was coming from. And if that’s what he had to do to gain the approval of her family, so be it.
“Thanks Pietro. I’ll do vhat I can,” smiled Kurt.
“You do that,” said Pietro as he lay back down, “And while you’re at it, ask that doctor chick if she’s got more morphine. I think I’m due for a refill.”
Kurt rolled his eyes. Even when he tried to be sincere, Pietro still had the charming personality that made him so many enemies. But he was glad he got a chance to talk with him. Maybe now he could help Wanda with these issues. They were definitely going to be a challenge, but he was an X-man. Challenges were what they did best. He just hoped the others were doing okay.
Alarms blared as the SR-77 Blackbird carrying the X-men and Magneto’s allies plunged through the cloudy skies and towards the rugged terrain below. The lights kept flickering and the advanced avionics were repeatedly shorting out. The turbulence was intense and the ground was getting a lot closer outside. It was definitely not the way they wanted to start a mission.
“I…hate…this…jet!” groaned Lance, his lunch primed to make a comeback.
“Shut up, Lance! She’ll pull through! She always does!” said Scott through the G-forces.
But it didn’t look like the X-jet was getting any better. The kept falling faster and tumbled harder. Logan kept trying to get the avionics back online, but none of the electronics were working right. It was as if something shorted them out.
“Logan! Can you guide us down any smoother?” said Xavier over the alarms.
“Sorry Chuck, every system’s failing on me here!” grunted Logan, “Looks like we’re in for a rough landing!”
“Not if I have anything to say about it!” proclaimed Magneto.
Despite the turbulence and G-forces, Magneto closed his eyes and focused his power on the outside of the aircraft. It took a moment to orient himself properly, but once he had a magnetic hold on the X-jet he began stabilizing its descent. They were still carrying a good deal of velocity, but at least the tumbling had stopped.
“Oh man, I just lost all appreciation for roller coasters,” said Bobby.
“Suck it up, Iceman,” said Betsy, “It’s better than crashing.”
“Yeah, and we have Magneto to thank of all people,” groaned Alex.
“Will you give it a rest already?” said Rogue, rolling her eyes.
The ride towards the ground was still bumpy, but much smoother than it could have been. Magneto carefully guided the X-jet to a clearing in a forest of pine trees. While the avionics were down, the landing gear still worked and they were able to land in a patch of rugged terrain. Once they were down they could all breathe a sigh of relief.
“I suppose that’s two we owe you, Erik,” said Xavier to his old friend.
“Don’t thank me yet, Charles,” said the Master of Magnetism, “We’re still a long ways from victory.”
“And I’ll be the first to say we’re not exactly off to a good start,” commented Warren, “What happened anyways?”
“You’re guess is as good as mine, Wings,” said Logan, “One minute everything’s running smoothly, the next every piece of electronics goes cold.”
“I know why,” said Magneto, clutching his head, “There’s some sort of electromagnetic field around the area. I felt it with my power and I believe it may have alerted Pierce to our presence.”
“So much for the element of surprise,” groaned August.
“We’ll have to make due,” said Cable as he shook off the lingering shock and got out of his seat, “Get out, everyone. We better get moving before Pierce finds us.”
“Can’t we wait a minute or two while my heart slows down?” complained Bobby.
“No!” shot Cable.
Bobby groaned and so did Lance. This guy was definitely the son of Scott Summers. Only a Summers could still be that uptight after a ride like that.
The team quickly filed out. They entered an environment that was definitely a far cry from the balmy climate they came from. Northern Canada had a knack for always being cold and windy and it didn’t help that the skies were really cloudy. The air was very tense and an ominous feeling pervaded. If Pierce knew they were here then there was no doubt he’d make a move on them soon.
“Maybe you should stay here, Professor,” suggested Jean, “It might be safer.”
“I agree, seeing as how I’m hardly equipped for combat.”
“Hate to break it to you, Professor, but that’s not an option,” said Cable sternly, “Nimrod is still out there and if it flies in it’ll go after you first.”
“Yeah right!” scoffed Pyro, “That thing is probably still buried and we don’t need some cripple slowing us down.”
“Hey, you want to shut up, flame brain!” shot August, who was growing to dislike this man with every word he said.
“I could. But then how would we get more ‘acquainted’ with each other?” he said with a flirtatious leer.
“Ugh…I just had to ask,” she groaned.
August and Pyro’s exchange earned a few laughs from the others, but they still had a serious issue to deal with. The Professor was an important part of this fight. If he went down then they failed either way.
“Are you sure, Cable? I’m not so naïve to think that someone of my condition would be of much help.”
“We don’t have a choice,” said Cable, “Remember, it will go after the main targets before it goes after anybody else. That means where you go, we go.”
“Maybe one of us should stay behind?” suggested Vince.
“No, Cable’s right,” said Scott, “We have to stick together. We’re going to need to throw everything we can at Hellfire.”
“He’s just saying that because that’s what his baby boy says,” snickered Bobby.
“You want to take this a little more seriously, Drake?” said Warren.
“Sorry, old habits,” shrugged the Iceman.
It wasn’t the best tactic for a fight. Being in a wheelchair, the Professor was at a great disadvantage. But they didn’t have time to argue. Pierce’s counterstrike was probably on its way. So they would have to settle with Magneto and Jean levitating Xavier’s chair over the debris. It was times like this the Professor wished he worked harder on that hover chair he had been building.
Magneto didn’t like the decision any more than the rest of the team. He, more than anybody, was suspicious of the man calling himself Cable. He had all this knowledge of the future and some of his claims seemed outright foolish. He actually believed that he and Xavier would one day set aside their difference and fight together. Given their history he didn’t see that as a possibility. He would definitely keep an eye on this man. Future or not, he was an X-man and he didn’t trust X-men.
With Cable in front, the X-men and Mutant Liberation Front began their trek into the rugged pine forest. The air grew colder and the winds picked up. The ground was muddy and slushy, hinting it had rained or snowed recently. This ambience was definitely indicative of a sinister lair. It seemed everywhere people like the Hellfire Club dwelled had the same ominous feeling.
“Dang, we ain’t been here more than five minutes and Ah already hate this place,” said Rogue, hugging her shoulders from the cold.
“I’m with ya, cherè,” said Remy, “A little sun couldn’t hurt this place. Any chance you can help us out Stormy?”
“You know how I feel about altering nature like that,” said Ororo, “And besides, don’t you think Pierce would find that a little telling?”
“What difference does it make? Guy probably knows we’re here,” argued Remy.
“Quiet Remy! He may have bugged these woods as well,” said Mystique in a muted tone, “Even if he knows, we can’t clue him in on our location.”
Remy fell silent as they entered another clearing. Cable had his gun drawn and his artificial eye on infrared to see ahead of the trees. Everyone on the team kept a close eye on their surroundings, ready to pounce on anything that attacked them. Some were a bit more laid back. Pyro and Lance still weren’t taking it seriously. Moreover, they still weren’t too fond of following the X-men.
It also didn’t help that Pyro was distracted. Lance saw him eye August’s butt the whole way. It was so typical that someone as crazy as him would still be more focused on some girl rather than fighting for the future. Maybe it was because she too had fire powers and Pyro was attracted to that.
One way or another he didn’t watch where he was going and stepped on a stick, causing a loud snapping sound to echo through the woods. That’s when Cable stopped.
“What is it, Cable?” asked Xavier anxiously.
“Something’s not right here,” he said ominously.
“I hear ya, bub,” said Logan, “I can smell it.”
“Oh please,” groaned Lance, “If it makes you guys that uncomfortable why don’t we keep moving?”
Suddenly, a pair of red eyes appeared in the trees in front of them. Then another pair appeared behind them and two more on each side of them. Lance quickly dispensed with the comments as the team backed into the clearing.
Then out of the darkness, the figures of several sentinels took shape. The robot humanoids that were poised to cause so much damage in the future had them surrounded and were moving in fast.
“That answer your question?” said Cable, taking a defensive stand.
“Sorry I asked,” groaned Lance.
“X-men, split up!” ordered Scott, “Split them up and take them down!”
“Finally, the fun begins!” growled Logan.
Each sentinel raised their arms and aimed their arm cannons towards the center of the clearing. Just as they let out the first shot, the whole team scrambled. And just as Cable predicted, the sentinels split up with them.
Logan, Laura, Ororo, Bobby, and Vincent went in one direction with Vince taking to the air and flying at high speeds towards the first sentinel and knocking it back. Lance, Pyro, August, Kitty, and Piotr went in another direction with Piotr leading the charge in his metal form, ramming the giant humanoid back into the woods. Rogue, Remy, Betsy, Warren, and Mystique headed in the direction behind them with Rogue following Vincent’s lead and delivering a hard punch to the sentinel’s core to knock it off balance. Cable, Scott, Jean, Magneto, and Beast stayed in the clearing with the Professor, making sure he was safe from the onslaught of the metal behemoth.
“Bring it on you bucket of bolts!” grunted Cable, “I’ve been slaying your kind since I was seven!”
“I can’t imagine where he got that resolve from,” commented Jean, who couldn’t help but feel pride in the heat of battle with her future son.
Over with Logan, Laura, Ororo, and Vincent the sentinel had recovered from Vincent’s initial blow and began to counter their moves. Two mini-guns appeared rose up on its shoulders and started firing pulse waves. They had a wider range, making them harder to dodge. Vince found that out first hand when one of them hit him point blank.
“Augh! I don’t remember that from the Danger Room,” he groaned.
“Me neither!” said Laura as she dodged another shot from the sentinel’s arm cannon, “These must be upgrades.”
“Great,” groaned Bobby, “So what’s that make this? Sentinel 2.0?”
“Good, I like challenge,” growled Logan, “They’re still machines. They probably have the same weaknesses. Ya follow me, Storm?”
“On it, darling,” said the former weather goddess.
Ororo’s eyes turned white as she summoned the winds around her and took the air. The sentinel tried to hit her with the pulse cannons like it did Vincent, but this time she avoided it. And once she rose high enough over the tree line, she used her control over nature to summon a barrage of lightning from the clouds above.
“Face nature’s wrath you metal monstrosity!” she proclaimed.
Two powerful bolts shot out from the clouds and connected with the head of the sentinel. A massive surge of electricity followed, causing sparks to erupt everywhere within the robot humanoid. It started twitching erratically, but it still kept trying to fire its weapons. These things were built a lot tougher than the old models.
“Ready to send this thing to the scrap heap, kid?” said Logan as he and Laura prepared their assault.
“Iceman, we need a path,” ordered Logan.
“You got one!” said Bobby as he cracked his knuckles with intent.
With its weapons not working, the sentinel made a swipe at them. Logan and Laura avoided this move and kept its focus on them so Bobby could do his thing. With his ice powers, he created a ramp to the sentinels head. The robot humanoid saw this and attempted to stop it, but all the sparks had slowed it down and it was too late.
Running up the ice ramp, Logan and Laura drew their adamantium claws and plunged them into the head of the giant robot and attacked its brain. Metal scraps flew as the sentinel tried to brush them off, but it was too late. Vincent flew in at high speeds and delivered the final blow to the chest, sending it tumbling backwards.
“That’s one down,” said Vincent, “God only knows how many we’ve got left.”
Over with Lance, Pyro, August, Kitty, and Piotr the fight was a little more chaotic. The sentinel tried blasting the five targets at first, but Kitty used her phasing powers to protect them. Then it tried to stomp on them and Piotr got up under it and tried to force the robot back. It turned into a tug of war between the Colossus and the sentinel. August tried to help out with some fire blasts and hoped to get a boost from Pyro, but he seemed less interested in fighting and more interested in August.
“Damn! Fire powers and a nice ass!” he grinned, “Now that’s the shelia for me!”
“You want to shut up and help?” grunted August.
“Depends…what’s in it for me?”
“PYRO!” yelled Lance.
“Fair enough,” he shrugged, “I’ll show you how we do things in the outback!”
Pyro lit his torches and summoned a massive fireball. He then used his flame manipulating powers to turn it into a mock-up of the sentinel and sent it head first into the core of the robot humanoid. The heat was so intense it shorted out some of the internal components, namely the weapons systems. The rest of the sentinel was heat resistant, but it was enough to knock it back slightly.
“Impressive, eh?” said Pyro with a cocky grin.
“Do you ever quit?” groaned August.
“Save it for later, guys,” said Lance, “I got this.”
Lance rolled his eyes into the back of his head and caused a focused tremor just beneath the feet of the sentinel. It was intense enough to knock it off balance and send it falling onto its back. From here Kitty did the rest, running up to the head and phasing through it to short out the electronics inside. It seemed to do the trick, but just to be on the save side Piotr ran over and slammed his fists against the head to smash any components that might still be working. It earned him a smile from Kitty and a look from Lance.
“Hard to compete with that, huh?” commented Pyro.
“Go to Hell, Pyro,” grunted Lance.
“Killjoy,” he sighed, “Now where were we, shelia?”
“You know, I’m starting to prefer the sentinels,” sighed August.
“Careful with those words, August,” said Kitty, “We may not have a choice.”
While the five of them rushed back towards the clearing, a firefight was going on not far from them. Rogue, Remy, Betsy, Warren, and Mystique were forced to keep their distance from a sentinel that seemed to know their tactics. It was using every weapon at its disposal to keep a steady barrage of lasers and pulse beams in the direction of the targets. Rogue couldn’t get close enough to punch it and Remy and Betsy couldn’t get a clear shot. Soon, they were pinned behind a tree.
“Bloody hell, these things are a lot easier in the Danger Room!” said Betsy.
“To be fair, Bets, this one’s a lot smarter. Damn Pierce,” grunted Rogue.
“Then we’ll have to be smarter,” said Mystique, “We have to do something to draw its fire.”
“I think I know where this is leading,” groaned Warren.
“Think you can fly fast enough, luv?” said Betsy, who was also catching on.
“He won’t have to,” said Rogue, “I got your back. The rest of y’all just try and get close enough to slow that thing down!”
“Sounds simple enough,” said Remy, “Gambit just needs one good shot.”
Taking his word for it, Rogue and Warren took to the air. As expected, the sentinel directed more of its firepower towards them. It still kept the cannon on its left arm pointed at Betsy, Mystique, and Remy. But with only one gun to avoid, they could make their move.
First they split up in opposite directions. The gun followed Mystique, who shifted into a small tiger to give her more mobility. The sentinel soon became so focused it lost track of Betsy and Gambit, who were in position to make their move.
“How’s your aim, Cajun?” asked Betsy.
“Good enough for a ninja if not better,” he replied confidently.
“Only one way to find out!”
Gambit charged several cards and Psylocke formed two psionic blades and together they unleached a barrage at the arm that was firing at Mystique. Their aim turned out to be on the same scale and their focused effort blew the arm right off the robot humanoid. It caught the sentinel off guard and it struggled to regain its balance. It turned to face the two targets responsible, but left itself too open for Rogue to fly in and deliver the final blow.
“Ah hope Pierce feels this!” yelled the southern born mutant.
With all her strength she rammed into the head, blowing it off completely in a show of unabated strength. The rest of the body fell back towards Betsy and Remy, but Warren flew in to get them out of harms way. They landed with Rogue near Mystqiue, who was now back in her regular form. Her actions earned her a look from Betsy and Remy.
“Keep that up and you’ll kill us faster than the sentinels!” shot Betsy.
“Sorry,” said Rogue sheepishly, “Guess Ah got carried away.”
“Make it up to us later, cherè,” said Gambit, “We’re gonna need dat killer instinct when we face Pierce.”
Back in the central clearing, Professor Xavier was very vulnerable to the sentinel onslaught. When it saw him it recognized his signature and focused exclusively on him. Scott and Jean stayed close, firing optic blasts and telekinetic bursts to hold it off while Beast skillfully moved him out of the way. It was up to Cable and Magneto to take it down, but that wasn’t as easy as they would have liked.
“This monstrosity isn’t reacting to my powers!” said Magneto, “It must be made of some sort of advanced polymer!”
“Didn’t think they perfected that for another six years,” grunted Cable as he fired several shots with his gun.
“Any bright ideas?” said the master of magnetism.
“Yeah…keep him away from Xavier.”
It wasn’t the most eloquent plan, but they would have to make due. The sentinel was stepping up the assault, opening up its core to reveal a large energy cannon. It took aim right at Xavier and charged up for a deadly blast.
“Professor, look out!” exclaimed Jean.
She tried to put up a telekinetic shield, but it was too late. The sentinel got the shot off. Thankfully, Beast managed to push him out of the way. But Xavier fell out of his chair in the process. Upon seeing this, Scott ran to his side and helped him up.
“Are you okay, sir?” he said anxiously.
“I’m fine, but I don’t know how much longer we can avoid blasts like that.”
“We may not have a choice,” said Cable as he saw the sentinel charging again.
Cable turned up the energy on his gun and took aim. But this time, the sentinel didn’t take chances. It aimed its right hand at Cable and fired a quick shot. He managed to avoid it, but when the shot hit the ground the resulting force knocked him back and he dropped his gun in the process.
“Nathan!” exclaimed Jean as she ran over to the side of her future son.
“No!” yelled Scott as he sprang into action.
While the sentinel was following Jean and Cable with its gun, Scott shot a well-aimed optic blast that blew the forearm of the sentinel off. It then turned to face the angry X-leader, who was going full power for his next blast. But before he could, the sentinel raised its other arm and fired a shot that knocked him back as well.
“Cyclops!” exclaimed the Professor.
“I’m on it, Charles!” said Hank as he ran over to help his student.
The sentinel watched as much of the assault on it had ceased. Then it turned back to Xavier and charged the energy cannon in its chest. With nothing else to shield him he was a sitting duck.
Then he looked to the ground and saw Cable’s gun. It was still charged and ready to fire. And with little time to act, the crippled man crawled up to the weapon, grabbed it in both hands, took aim, and fired a lone shot. And when it hit the core of the sentinel just as it was charging, the explosion literally blew its head of.
It was quite a sight, causing a ball of fire to erupt from the clearing. Around them the three teams converged, worried that something had happened. But to their surprise they saw Professor Charles Xavier with a gun near a slain sentinel.
“Wow…” said Bobby, “Didn’t know the Professor was such a badass.”
“Desperate times make for desperate measures, I guess,” said Warren.
Now able to catch his breath, Magneto helped his old friend up and used his powers to bring his wheelchair back over. Cable and Scott had also recovered and like the rest of the team, they were impressed.
“Not bad, Professor,” said Jean, who couldn’t help but smile, “Are you okay?”
“While normally I wouldn’t resort to using firearms, for this monstrosity I’m willing to make an exception,” said the Professor with a touch of anger in his tone.
“Nice to see you’ve got some killer instinct,” said Cable, “Because you’re gonna need it for what’s next.”
“Aw man, do you always have to be this negative?” groaned Kitty.
“Look who you’re talking to, Kitty,” said Rogue.
Kitty sighed to herself. It would have been nice to have a little optimism, but Cable was too serious for that. He knew better than anybody what the stakes were and they had come too far to falter now.
“Let’s go!” he ordered, “Pierce is probably expecting us now!”
“Then let’s not disappoint,” said Scott, following his future son’s lead.
The team followed suit as well, stepping over the still smoking sentinel that the Professor had blown away. They hadn’t been here long and already they were being attacked. Pierce was definitely ready for them and there was no telling what kind of traps he had in store for them.
While they made their way towards Pierce’s complex, the smoke rising from the clearing was picked up by a figure in the skies above. After tracking the piece that got caught on Magneto, Nimrod finally reached its targets. As it flew over it noticed the X-jet landed in the clearing. A quick scan revealed that no one was inside, so logic dictated they were heading for the complex to the north. And once again, the memory banks of the advanced sentinel picked up on it. The mission suddenly took on a much more crucial role.
“Location identify. Mastermold construction complex. Mission status: critical. Emergency protocol 161. Mastermold must be protected. Donald Pierce must be protected. Objective: take down all targets and ensure future events.”
Up next: The X-men come face to face with Pierce and Mastermold.