Categories > Cartoons > X-Men: Evolution > Days of Future Hellfire

Confronting the Future

by slickboy444 0 reviews

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Published: 2008-03-21 - Updated: 2008-03-22 - 5924 words - Complete

Days of Future Hellfire
Chapter 11: Confronting the Future


Muir Island - Lounge

A dreary rain settled over the island as the X-men restlessly waited. Not being part of this battle was sheer torture even if leaving them behind was a necessary move. There was no telling what their friends were facing. For all they knew some of them wouldn’t come back. They were quick to dispense such thoughts, but then again one of their friends died to stop the Hellfire Club on their last fight. It seemed no victory against those monsters came without a price.

All they could do at this point was wait and hope. Moria set them up in the main lounge of her research facility. There she had a TV, some movies, and some bedrooms in case they had to stay the night. But sleep was the last thing on everybody’s mind.

“This sucks,” grumbled Ray.

“Will you quit saying that already?” groaned Jubilee as she mindlessly flipped through the channels on TV, “We heard you the first three times.”

“Well it does,” he said, “We’re here when we should be helping the others. If we can go up against Selene’s demon army we sure as hell can manage a bunch of overrated robots.”

“Ray, did you see what that Nimrod thing could do back there?” said Sam, “I sure as hell wouldn’t call that overrated.”

“Me neither,” said Amara, “And remember that future Cable told us about? I wouldn’t want to make it any worse.”

“As if it could be any worse,” said Roberto, “But seriously, I agree. I don’t like being sidelined. We’re not the New Mutants anymore. Hell, I don’t know why they still call us that.”

“Because you’re still learning,” said Sage as she entered through the back with some snacks in hand, “You all may think you’re ready for the big leagues, but need I remind you of some of our classes? Namely those that erupt in dodge ball fights and name-calling? Maybe if you took your training a bit more seriously, the Professor would consider changing your status as reserves.”

The New Mutants fell silent. Sage had a point. They did tend to goof off more than the regulars. Sage had witnessed it first hand. They couldn’t do anything about their youth, but they could do something about their maturity.

“Well if we’re so immature, why is Bobby with the regulars now?” asked Ray.

“For two reasons,” said Sage as she set down the tray of snacks, “First, he’s shown some decent skill with his powers. Second, he’s shown a willingness to work with the main team to become a part of them.”

“And yet he’s still a jokester,” muttered Jubilee.

“That’s just who he is,” shrugged Sage, “But he’s serious when he has to be.”

The others still didn’t get it. But she was right on one thing. Bobby showed much more desire to be on the main team than the rest of them. That desire must have been enough to get him to take it seriously in a way they hadn’t. Maybe when all this was over they could show the same determination. If for anything, to make it so Bobby wouldn’t have as much to brag about. But that all depended on how this mission went.

The team settled as they lounged on the couches and tried to find something good on TV. Meanwhile, Sage went over to Emma to give her a sandwich. She was sitting by the window looking out at the rain, holding baby Jack in her arms. By now he had stopped fussing and was sleeping peacefully, but it didn’t stop Emma from worrying.

“Hey, I brought you a snack,” said Sage.

“I’m not hungry,” said Emma flatly.

“I’ll leave it anyways.”

Sage was silent for a moment. She and Emma were not the best of friends because of their history at the Hellfire Club. They had done a lot to patching things up since they joined the X-men, but there was still plenty of room for improvement.

“I’m sure they’ll be okay,” said Sage in a reassuring tone, “I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you. But remember, my lover is out there too.”

“I know. But you’re not holding his baby,” said Emma, looking down at Jack.

“Maybe so, but I would hope that you of all people would be tough in this situation. Because if memory serves me right, that’s how Vincent was for you when the going got tough.”

Emma shot Sage a look, but the older psychic was unaffected. She was just as good as her when it came to shielding emotional responses. And she had a point. Vincent had been strong for her during times not unlike this one. There was when they were prisoners at Hellfire and then there was when Sinister captured them. It didn’t seem right that she wouldn’t do the same for him. They did, after all, exchange vows.

Sage left Emma to her musings. She had enough worrying on her own to do. The weather outside didn’t get any better. It seemed to reflect the overall mood of the team and Emma was no exception. She could still feel her link with Vincent through the distance, but it was inactive for the most part. Right now he was focused on the task at hand, yet maintained a close connection to let her know he was keeping his promise to her.

‘Be careful, my darling. I’ll be strong for you until I can be in your arms again.’

Pierce’s Lab

Donald Pierce watched every second of the video feed as the first four sentinels he sent out to stop the X-men were destroyed. It was too be expected. These meddlesome mutants were no pushovers and would not let just one attack slow them down. But he also noticed a few things that were off.

For one, Magneto was with them this time. He heard of him while he was at the Hellfire Club. For a while they considered recruiting him for his power and leadership, but everyone agreed that he was too blinded by his crusade for mutant liberation to follow the Hellfire cause. They still kept an eye on him in case he became a threat, but all his intelligence suggested he and the X-men were bitter enemies. So why were they fighting together?

Another curiosity was this strange looking man who seemed to lead them towards his complex. He wasn’t any X-man or follower of Magneto he ever heard of. The video feed from the sentinels did a scan and sent his information over a wire. Nothing turned up. Either he was very good at covering his tracks or he was something else entirely. Either way, Pierce had to be smart about how he would handle this. He didn’t want to make the same mistakes Selene and Shaw made.

He had to proceed carefully. He had sunk every last cent into this project. He didn’t even have enough money to break out the surviving Reavers, who were still in Fury’s custody. He tried contacting Deathstrike, but she had disappeared since their last fight and he doubted she would help him with a plan like this anyhow. He hoped to break out the rest of the Reavers just as Mastermold was completed. That way he would have a force to protect him and his master plan. But at this stage, he would have to improvise.

“Damn X-men,” he cursed, “How dare you interrupt my plans at this vital stage!”

Then Trask came rushing in again. He still looked anxious, but then again he was only human.

“Mr. Pierce, I just saw what those monsters did to the sentinels,” he said grimly, “How are we going to stop them?”

“Relax, Bolivar. I’ll take care of this,” said Pierce, “Why don’t you go up to the mainframe room and seclude yourself? If you hear the alarm, go ahead and evacuate. Leave these pests to me.”

“Of…of course,” said Trask anxiously, “I’ll make sure Mastermold stays intact.”

“You do that,” said Pierce, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some guests to greet.”

Trask nodded and ran up towards the upper levels where layers of security would separate him from those mutant freaks. As annoying as he could be at times, Trask was still an important part of his plan. He needed to stay alive and monitor the sentinels to ensure their progress. In the meantime, Pierce prepared to test one of his many side projects.

With the touch of a button on his arm, a series of heavy sliding doors opened and out stepped a legion of human-sized mini-sentinels. They were meant to be his foot soldiers to operate alongside the sentinels. They lacked the firepower of their larger cousins, but they made up for that in terms of numbers and coordination. He had dozens on standby throughout the facility for just such an occasion. He didn’t plan on using them this soon, but destroying the X-men should prove to be a good test drive.

Outside the Sentinel Facility

Cable led the X-men and Mutant Liberation Front up to the gates of the facility. Inside, Pierce’s madness would take form and shape. The complex was deceptively small, but it was connected right to a nearby mountain so it was a safe assumption that there was a lot more to it. Cable described Mastermold as being as big as a small building and a mountain seemed like the perfect place to hide it. At least it would have nowhere to run.

They stayed alert the entire way up. No more sentinels tried to engage them, but they did encounter a few traps along the way. They crossed several trees that were hallowed out and filled with laser cannons as well as some holograms concealing holes in the ground leading to a pit of large metal spikes. But thanks to Logan’s senses and Cable’s artificial eye, they saw each trap quick enough to respond.

Magneto did most of the defending, using his powers in a more destructive manner than usual. If Pierce knew they were coming he wanted him to see the wrath he would face when they met.

“Whoa, easy on the gizmos, boss,” said Pyro, “Save some strength for inside.”

“I’ve plenty of strength to spare, Pyro,” said Magneto coldly, “Rest assured, I’ll have more than enough for Pierce.”

“Don’t underestimate this guy, Mags,” warned Logan, “You don’t know the kind of people they are.”

“You worry about your own well-being. I can take care of myself.”

Xavier cast a worried look to his old friend. Magneto was so angered by what happened to his children he wasn’t taking Pierce seriously. He hadn’t faced the Hellfire Club before. He didn’t know how cunning they could be. Even with the kind of power he wielded, there was no telling what kind of tricks they were going to pull.

Another series cannons shot up from the ground and tried to shoot them. Cable, Scott, Bobby, and August each took them down, clearing the way to the front gate. Along the way Pyro kept leering at August. If the situation wasn’t so serious, she would have slapped him for his behavior.

“Nice shot,” grinned Pyro.

“Will you stop already? I’m already seeing someone,” groaned August.

“I don’t mind sharing.”

“You little…”

“Whoa, easy there, girl,” said Kitty, stopping her with Rogue’s help, “Save it for Hellfire.”

August let out a disgruntled sigh. Pyro still wouldn’t stop smiling, even when Magneto shot him a menacing look. Even a dark and bleak future wasn’t enough to keep him from pursing a hot girl.

“He likes you,” grinned Bobby.

“He likes parts of me,” muttered August, “And if you tell Amara…”

“Will you knock it off already?!” exclaimed Cable, “I’m starting to think you guys are too immature to be the saviors of the future!”

That helped silence the raucous. And they were just in time too. They had finally reached the entrance.

As with every Hellfire entry, this one was heavily armored. The door was large, metallic, and ominous. It seemed bent on warning all would-be intruders that this facility didn’t take kindly to visitors. It was also large enough for loading large parts, which was a given if this was where Mastermold was being constructed.

“So where’s the doorbell?” asked Remy.

“Who says we need one?” said Rogue, cracking her knuckles in preparation, “Stand back, Ah’ll get us in.”

“I’ll help,” said August.

“Hold it,” said Cable, “It might be booby trapped.”

“It appears so,” said Hank, taking a closer look, “From what I can see this door is very thick, three feet of reinforced titanium if I’m not mistaken, and equipped with a biometric scanner and magnetic seal.”

“It’s still metal,” said Magneto, “I can tear it to shreds.”

“You could,” said Mystique, “Or you could step aside and let me do it the easy way.”

Mystique shoved Cable and Magneto away, walking up to the biometric scanner and putting her eye in front of a laser. Then with her shape shifting abilities, she altered the complexion of her eye until a little red light on the side turned green and the locks disengaged. The door then slowly opened, revealing the interior of the facility to them.

“Now wasn’t that easier?” said the shape shifter with a snide grin.

“Where’s the fun in that?” muttered Lance, earning him a scold from Kitty.

“Shut up and follow me,” said Cable, “We have to find Pierce and Mastermold.”

“Are you sure they’re here?” asked Jean, “I’m not sensing any minds.”

“Neither am I,” said Xavier, who wheeled alongside Magneto, “The whole facility must be shielded.”

“Which is why we never found the place in my time,” said Cable, “We only found out when Mastermold was at full power. By then it was too late.”

“Well not this time,” said Scott in a determined tone, “It won’t get to that point. We’ll stop it.”

The two teams walked boldly into the facility, following a large central corridor lined with fluorescent lights into the depths of the complex. It was pretty wide, hinting trucks and crates probably came through this area. A big sentinel required big parts and knowing Hellfire it would come together in a truly horrific way.

Bobby was the last one to enter. When he did, the heavy door suddenly slammed shut and sealed them in. It startled everybody, but hardly surprised them.

“Wow…” said Bobby, his heart jumping for a moment, “Guess he does know where here. And I’m thinking this is his way of saying he doesn’t want us to leave.”

“Fine by me,” said Mystique, “I didn’t plan on leaving until I beat him to a pulp anyways.”

“Wish I had your confidence,” said Warren, “I don’t like that he knows we’re here. Am I the only one who feels vulnerable?”

“Angel’s right,” said Cable, “We can just walk into this mess. That’s just what Pierce wants.”

“So what do you suggest?” asked Vincent, “Should we split up or something?”

“No, he’ll just divide and conquer us then,” said Cable, “Hellfire likes to be sneaky. We need to be sneaky too.”

Cable had a point. Looking down the long hallway, the team could sense Pierce’s intentions. He was ready for them and probably seething with anticipation. They couldn’t give him the pleasure of doing exactly as he wanted. They needed a surprise of their own.

“Sneaky huh?” said Scott with a touch of intrigue, “I think I have an idea that might do the trick.”

“Oh boy, I can’t wait to hear this,” muttered Lance, earning him a punch in the arm from Alex.

“Quiet,” shot Cable, “What is it, Dad?”

Scott held back a smile. That was the first time Cable called him dad. He wasn’t sure if it was intentional or not, but there was no time to savor it. They had a future to save.

“It goes like this…”

Moira and Rahne

While the others secluded themselves in the lounge, Rahne took the time to catch up with her mother over some tea in the dining room. They had a lot to talk about with weddings, training, and school staring up soon. Jamie was with them and kept to himself for the most part. He just stared down at his cup of tea. He had never been too big a fan of the stuff, but he took a few sips to help calm his nerves.

While Moria seemed like a nice woman she was still his girlfriend’s mother. Jamie didn’t know how much Rahne had told her about their relationship. He didn’t even know where to start. It would have been nice if he could have talked to guys like Scott, Warren, and Remy who had experience in this matter. But the circumstances worked against him this time.

“So you still plan on making the wedding after this is over?” asked Rahne as she finished her tea.

“Of course, lass. I wouldn’t miss it,” said Moria, “Besides, I owe Charles for not making the last one.”

“Well don’t feel too bad about it. With all the drama in the mansion, there will be plenty more weddings. That I’m sure of.”

Rahne shared a good laugh with her mother. It seemed like it had been so long since they sat down like this. Times like this reminded her of how lucky she was to have Moria in her life. If it hadn’t been for her there was no telling how dark her life would have been.

“Speaking of which, you’ve been awfully quiet, Jamie. Are ye okay?” asked Moria.

“I’m fine,” he said with a half smile, “Just…don’t want to interrupt, that’s all.”

“Aww, such nice manners,” said Rahne with a teasing gesture, “Isn’t he every bit as cute as I told ye?”

“Aye, and then some,” smiled Moria.

Jamie blushed, but smiled despite the awkwardness. It was good she thought he was cute. That was something to build off of.

“Well I’m gonna grab a round of snacks,” said Rahne, “You want anything, Jamie?”

“I’m fine,” he told her.

“Me too, lass,” said Moria, “Help yourself. And take your time. It’ll give me and Jamie a chance to talk.”

Jamie shifted uncomfortably while Rahne got up. She made sure to give her boyfriend a reassuring look so he didn’t get too anxious. It was painfully obvious what Moria was trying to do and Rahne agreed. They should talk one-on-one for a moment.

While Rahne made her way to the kitchen, Jamie sat in silence for a moment. He was unsure of what to say even though Moria tried to be as friendly as possible. Unfortunately, there was a limit to how comfortable a guy could be in this situation.

“Rahne has really taken a shining to ye, lad,” said Moria, breaking the silence.

“Yeah…she has,” said Jamie, his eyes still fixed on his tea, “I really like her too. She’s the first girl I’ve ever had strong feelings for.”

“I can see that,” smiled Moria, “And I can also see you make her happy, which brings me to a more serious point.”

Jamie looked up from his daze and matched eyes with the mother of his girlfriend. She seemed serious, yet sincere. It was never easy when a mother had to deal with her little girl’s first boyfriend. But Rahne was growing up. It had to come sooner or later and as a mother she had to be sure it was for the right reasons.

“Dr. MacTaggart…I love Rahne and I’ll do what I have to for her.”

“It’s not that easy, lad,” said Moria in a serious tone, “Rahne’s had some difficulties in the past trusting people. I’m sure she told you about her biological parents. And I’m sure you understand why she would have abandonment issues. When I took her in she was a scared, solemn little girl. But she’s grown so much and I’m very proud of her for it.”

Dr. MacTaggart’s voice grew somewhat strained. Talking about this only made her realize how fast the years had gone by. It seemed like only yesterday she took Rahne in. Now here she was talking to her first boyfriend.

“I still worry for her,” she went on, “I worry something else will happen that will bring back those old feelings of abandonment that hurt her so in the past. But I understand it’s getting to a point where I don’t have the power to control that anymore. And all I would ask ye is to love her so she never knows that feeling again. Can ye do that, Jamie?”

“Of course,” he said strongly, “I’d never want her to feel that pain either.”

“Then can ye promise me you’ll do what I can’t anymore and be there for her?”

“Yes…I promise.”

“Then ye have my blessing.”

Moria reached across the table and held the young man’s hand. She smiled approvingly at his dedication. She couldn’t have hoped for a better boy to date his daughter. He really did love her. And with her blessing, Jamie smiled back.

A wave of relief came over him, feeling as though a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Moria was every bit as nice as Rahne made her out to be. Hopefully this was something they could build off of. Having met her mother, it showed how serious a couple they were. And they were still learning just like everybody else.

Sentinel Facility – Tunnel

After Scott laid out his plan, the X-men and Mutant Liberation Front put it into action. There was some initial debate at first, mostly from Logan, but it quickly subsided. They didn’t have the luxury of planning something elaborate so they had to make due. It did carry risks, but at this point they were worth taking. The only thing they could take comfort in was the safe assumption that Pierce was overconfident. But chances are he wasn’t going to make the same mistakes as his Hellfire brethren.

The plan involved Mystique and using her deceptive skills to get a step on Pierce. It also involved some of the mystical expertise of August. Despite the many pains that came along with being the daughter of Selene, there were some benefits to being trained by her and Dr. Strange. They would need to work together and make a window for themselves in which Pierce would be off guard. It wouldn’t be much, but hopefully it would be enough to make a move.

Once they were organized, they began the long trek down the corridor. Cable led the way, keeping his gun at the ready every step of the way. Unlike the outside, there weren’t any traps or alarms. But that didn’t take away from the overall ominous feel of the facility. It was already getting to a few people.

“Man, why do all the megalomaniacs have to set up shop in these dark, creepy places?” commented Bobby.

“You know, I once asked Dr. Strange that same thing and you know what he said? Don’t ask,” replied August.

“Quiet you two!” growled Logan, “This place is bad enough without your yammering!”

“Jeez, take it easy, Wolverine. We’re just making observation,” said Bobby.

“Do us a favor,” said Laura, “Keep them to yourself.”

Bobby and August shrugged. Logan and Laura seemed more tense than usual. Being in a former Weapon X facility must have that affect on them. It reminded Logan of what he endured and what took so much from him all those years ago and it reminded Laura of the horrors of Hydra.

“You okay, X?” asked Alex, picking up on her distress.

“No. I hate this place,” said Laura anxiously, “It smells so…”

“I know,” said Wolverine with a grunt, “Guess Pierce didn’t wash away that Weapon X stench. Just being here makes my blood boil.”

“You’re not the only one,” said Ororo, who was hugging her shoulders and breathing deeply.

Jean and Betsy turned to the older woman and sensed her distress. Being in this narrow tunnel in such a confined area was causing her claustrophobia to kick in. Small places always had this affect on her. And now was definitely not a good time for it to flare up.

“Are you going to be okay, luv?” asked Betsy.

“I’m fine,” said Ororo, trying to maintain steady breathing, “Let’s just get this over with.”

“I’m with you,” said Jean, “The sooner we beat this guy, the sooner we can get back to the wedding.”

With all the drama concerning Nimrod, the Hellfire Club, and the future it was easy to forget that they had been planning a wedding before all this went down. Scott and Jean had every intention of making it to the altar together. There just seemed to be no end to the obstacles they had go to through.

After a long, careful walk through the corridor the team arrived at what appeared to be the end of the line. All other paths leading to various parts of the facility were closed off. It was as if Pierce was purposefully leading them into the heart of his domain and given his disposition that was probably the case. Yet the X-men continued onward, hoping their plan would help turn the tide when Pierce made his move.

When they stepped out of the tunnel, they entered a large, darkened area. It was airy and spacious, hinting they were inside the mountain. Ororo’s claustrophobia subsided, so it must have been a pretty large area. They couldn’t see much due to the darkness, but they had to be close.

“It’s here,” said Cable ominously, “I can feel it.”

“Me too,” said Xavier, “I can’t sense Pierce, but I know he’s close.”

“Good,” said Magneto, “I’m tired of waiting. Come on out, Pierce! Show yourself!”

“Damn it, Magneto, what are you…” began Cable, but he was quickly cut off.

Suddenly a voice echoed from above.

“Such impatience,” said Pierce as he looked down at his adversaries, “I suppose I should be surprised. But then again you X-men have done enough to make me expect as such.”

Everybody started scanning frantically for Pierce. Xavier, Betsy, and Jean couldn’t pick up his thoughts and it was still too dark to see anything. The only one who didn’t have to look was Cable. His artificial eye revealed everything he needed. And Pierce made sure the rest of the team knew as he turned on a light, illuminating his position in the rafters above them.

“Donald Pierce,” said Vincent, his voice brimming with hatred for Hellfire.

“So you remember,” he said, “I suppose I should be honored.”

“Enough of this!” yelled Magneto, “You’re going to pay for what you’ve done!”

“I have no idea what you’re referring to, but I’ll assume I don’t care.”

Magneto’s face contorted with anger and he took to the air, flying towards Pierce with every intention of tearing him apart.

“Magnus! No!” yelled the Professor.

“Oh no you don’t,” grinned Pierce.

Pulling out a remote from his coat pocket, Pierce hit a button and a large pylon shot out from the floor. And before the X-men could react, a strange pulse of intense energy surged through the room. When it hit, everybody fell to the floor as a strange sense of weakness and fatigue came over them. Magneto fell especially hard, his levitation powers abruptly fading as he fell to the floor with a hard thud.

“Augh!” he grunted, his old body suffering a hard blow, “My…my powers! They’re gone!”

Everybody quickly tried to use theirs and soon discovered the same.

“Damn it! Mine too!” said Alex.

“That thing must be some sort of power dampener,” surmised Hank.

“Thanks for stating the obvious, fur ball!” exclaimed Lance.

In addition, everybody began feeling very weak. It was as if something was sapping their energy.

“Ugh…Remy feels like he just ran a marathon,” groaned Gambit.

“I feel like I just ate Kitty’s cooking,” groaned Bobby.

“I’d slap you for that, Iceman. But I can hardly lift my arms,” groaned Kitty.

Everybody was getting weaker. But despite this move, some could still make a move. Warren was one of them.

“I still have my wings!” he said as he took to the sky.

“Oh no you don’t,” said Pierce with a snide grin.

With his other hand, Pierce revealed that his left arm had been turned into a weapon. His hand retracted, revealing an energy cannon he installed shortly after his defeat from the X-men. It was only fitting the first shot he fired hit one of them. In a small burst of concentrated energy, Warren was hit on the wing and fell to the ground.

“Ahhhhhh!” he wailed, his wing now stinging with agony.

“Warren!” yelled Betsy, fighting the fatigue and crawling towards her lover.

“You freaks are so predicable,” sighed Pierce, “Haven’t you learned by now that you can’t stop Hellfire? But I guess I can hardly blame you. You’re only flesh and blood.”

As the strange device kept pulsing, the X-men and Mutant Liberation Front grew weaker and weaker. This thing didn’t just sap their powers, it sapped their energy too. They couldn’t even stand they were so weak. Even Cable, who was part machine, was unable to raise his gun enough to shoot this madman who was responsible for so much of his suffering.

“You son-of-a-bitch!” yelled the mutant from the future, “I swear on the graves of my family I’ll blow you away!”

“I think not,” said Pierce, who hardly seemed threatened, “Unlike my old Hellfire friends, I am not bound by the flaws of flesh and blood. Those fools thought true power came from mutation and evolution, but I have since realized that flesh, no matter how advanced, is flawed.”

“This guy is nuts,” said Alex, who was now on his hands and knees trying to stay awake.

“He’s Hellfire,” groaned Piotr, “What do you expect?”

But insanity aside, Pierce continued his rant.

“What takes humans millennia to evolve, machines can do in a fraction of the time. Computers sixty years ago could do only the simplest of calculations. But in the span of a few decades, they have evolved exponentially in complexity and power. Flesh can no longer keep up. It is too stuck in the cycle of life and death, the ashes of the dead fueling the living. That’s why the future belongs to the machines. And I will see to it that the cycle of life and death ends and bring order is brought to this dying world.”

“And I’ll see to it that you don’t succeed,” said Xavier, now hunched over his wheelchair.

“Oh come now, Xavier. Surely you can appreciate my aspirations for peace,” said Pierce, “Just imagine it…a world without death and sorrow, ordained by peace and order. Isn’t that a world worth living in?”

“Not if you’re running the show, bucket butt!” said Rogue defiantly.

“Yeah, I’d rather stick to the cycle than live under a world you run!” shot Vincent.

“A pity,” sighed Pierce, “You could have made such great allies. But no matter. Once my grandest creation is in place, the machines will be poised to rise up and destroy all flesh-based intelligence. I don’t know how you found out about my operations, but as long as you’re here you might as well see the future center of all authority for this planet…Mastermold!”

Pierce hit another button on his remote and one-by-one every light in the area turned on, revealing the true size of this area. It turned out to be even bigger than they thought. It was big enough to fit a small skyscraper in and was surrounded by rafters, construction equipment, and machines. Along all the walls were compartments of sentinels. Some didn’t look active, but others seemed poised for battle. There were dozens of them if not more, but that wasn’t the most ominous vision.

At the center of it all was a sentinel that dwarfed them all. It was even bigger than Cable described, about the size of building with an ominous face that seemed domineering by design. It was in a sitting position, so it was probably even bigger. There were still construction molds around it, hinting it wasn’t complete just yet. But it looked plenty menacing. And for Cable, it was a sight all too familiar.

“Mastermold…” he said, seething with hatred.

“My God…” gasped the Professor, coming face to face with humanity’s greatest foe.

“Wow…that thing is huge!” exclaimed Jean.

“Okay, this may not be as easy as I thought it was going to be,” conceded Pyro.

“Oh really, you think?!” exclaimed August.

Pierce smiled at their reactions. He had hoped it would make an impression. It was sure to be the last thing they ever saw.

“Take a good look, X-men,” he said, “This is what will end your race and the human race. And since you already know of my plans, I’ve been forced to step up my timetable. Not that it matters for you because now that you’re powerless, I thought it would be a good time to test my newest toys. Enjoy!”

All along the ground floor, sliding doors opened and out stepped Pierce’s mini-sentinels. They walked in complete unison, following one another as they surrounded the weakened team. Their numbers were staggering and in their weakened state, they wouldn’t last long against them.

Once surrounded, every mini-sentinel raised its arms and pointed their built in hand cannons at them. Pierce wasn’t taking chances this time. He wasn’t going to torture or maim as Hellfire so often liked to do. He was just going to kill them.

“Okay…dis is bad,” said Remy, struggling to stay conscious.

“I hate Hellfire. I really, truly hate them,” groaned Vincent, trying with all his might to get up.

“Pierce, you coward! Come down here and fight like a man!” yelled Magneto, still stinging from the blow he suffered earlier.

“Not this time,” said Donald Pierce with brimming confidence, “Your kind has done enough fighting. Time after time, you’ve bickered, warred, and killed one another. Well today is the beginning of the end. The era of flesh is ending. And the era of machines is just beginning!”


Up next: The stakes are high and time is running out as the fight against Mastermold and Pierce comes to ahead.
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