Extirpation

April 03, 2018:

The Brotherhood attacks a Trask Industries facility, with intent to steal some of the X-Gene Inhibitor Collars in development.

Camden, Maine

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

One of the biggest names in anti-mutant technologies, Trask Industries is public enough that it's not terribly difficult to locate its facilities. It's simply a matter of going through its records, which are easily enough obtained if you have the right skills — or powers. In this day and age, it's much harder to maintain complexes of any note completely off the grid.

Separating out which facilities were normal — for given definitions of the word — and which were most likely to produce and house collars was a little harder to verify, due to the many ways in which activities can be masked in the modern age, but with a little application of common sense… a few locations could be narrowed down.

For example, it is almost assured that Sentinels would be guarding any locations with collars, but much as the average 'flatscan' might appreciate the idea of mutant-hunters, gigantic killer robots still carry that NIMBY flavor. This narrowed the candidates down to locations in more remote areas. The Brotherhood has checked a few locations already — a plant in the scrubby expanses of north Texas, a complex hidden amidst the foothills of the Rockies in Montana, a nondescript factory in the desolate wastes of New Jersey — but turned up nothing, each time.

Today, they find themselves on an outcropping of rock on the coast of Maine. Across a narrow stretch of water, a barrier island broods in the sea beneath a slate-grey sky. Impending storm. From here, it is just barely possible to see the unnatural straight lines that indicate human construction on the island.

"None of the other locations had Sentinels on-site," Pietro is saying, squinting at the sky as if trying to judge how soon the rain might start. "If we make an approach on this one and start hearing 'mutant signature detected,' that will probably be an indication we're on the right track."


Where Faora-Ul hangs in the sky, it feels as if the storm is already here. Wind wracks her cape, whipping it in an erratic patterns that trail her in her slow drift high above the island and ocean alike. From here, she should be able to see everything. But even this, a mission that should be easily completed by some of the world's most powerful, teaches her something new. Diving through brush and rock and metal that she can see through easily enough, she finds -

"Lead. The facility is lined with larges amounts of lead. Hardened against attack by Earth's most powerful weapons."

Accented English cuts across the comm, and her gaze turns to the rest of the island.

"Weapons emplacements, at the four corners of the facility. Large bay doors, also lined with lead. Silos, much like Earth's military uses. Large enough to hold these great metal men who's mettle we shall soon know."

Fists curl at her sides, and her every instinct is to show the humans of this world that cowering behind technology will not save them, but she cannot lead this charge. In this, The Brotherhood must be the tip of the spear.

"There are no aircraft in the vicinity. Your approach is clear. I stand ready to assist, Pietro."


Frenzy, for her part, has mostly been quiet and watchful. She goes where the Twins go, observant, protective, and here in Maine it's no different.

The Brotherhood's more human sized Sentinel stands, her arms folded across her chest as she looks from Twins to island across the way. It's only at the mention of the Sentinels on site that the woman says, "I go in first." She states, her eyes cutting away from the island and moving to the Twins, "They won't be able to hurt me." She theorizes confidently, "And when I have them riled up and focused on the 'apparent threat' you can come in. There's less of a chance of injury to you both."

And here Frenzy falls silent, waiting to see whether the Twins agree with what she said.

Slowly, it seems, the Bruiser of the Brotherhood is offering more of her opinions on important matters. She's by no means a chatty Cathy, but neither is she the same reserved woman from when she first arrived.

Faora's comments over their communication gear earn a head-tilt from the Strong Arm of the Brotherhood, as she automatically looks upward.


Storms always look different to the Scarlet Witch.

Neither are they ever the heavy, pregnant hang of cloud or the churning of gunmetal skies, but to her witch's sight, the convection churning of a life. They feel so much like souls to her, a life of the earth rather than the body, nursed by the skies and borrowing strength from the heat of the air churning with the cold of the sea. It stretches endlessly long in an earthern ceiling, energy coiling down its long limbs folded in so many ways; the storm is asleep for now, but it will awaken.

Wanda takes her eyes down from the sky, and takes in the island far away. At her brother's side, is a little sliver dressed in black, the only pinpricks of scarlet her headpiece's beads at her temples and the stinging red in her eyes. They unfocus as she lets her attention drift off, far, far away.

Lead stops Faora's sight short, but not that of the witch.

"I sense life," speaks Wanda over the comms. "Nearly two dozen. Beneath the earth. Little tension among their thoughts. Production quotas and martial routines." She mentally braids that information into what Faora provides from her eagle-eye view. "Thank you, my friend," she answers the Kryptonian warrior, her voice gentle, gracious.

Her sight breaks away to Frenzy's assertion to go first. Wanda folds her hands, sharing a glance with her twin brother.

"Even so, Frenzy, you must be careful. They may use their own collars as weapons, and none of us can afford one around our throats. It could be death." Wanda half-lids her eyes, face pensive. "It is always safer to attempt this quiet, but time will not be on our side. Time enough for them to practice their methods to collar us quickly. This is our one attempt to retrieve, because after tonight, they will adapt to us — escalate worse against further tries. Quicksilver?"


In silence, Quicksilver absorbs the information given by Faora and by his sister. The Kryptonian speaks of the facility's construction, of its static defenses and of the likelihood of Sentinels stationed in the heavy silos at each corner of the facility. Wanda speaks of the life within it: two dozen strong, whether workers or guards. A mix of both, judging by what Wanda reports.

"Skeleton crew," Pietro assesses, crouching briefly to lean out over the sheer drop from the rocks, judging the distance down. "I suppose it makes sense. You don't want too many eyes on your biggest secret… and surround it with too much activity, people get curious. Mere humans are a poor defense against mutants, anyway. The true defense is the Sentinels… and you don't need too many people to run a few of those."

It is left to Wanda to make the gracious remarks, the niceties… her remark seems to bring him back to earth, the young man straightening up to touch his communicator. "I echo the thanks. Your assistance here will be invaluable." His stare remains fixed on their objective, however… only turning from its pinpoint focus on the distant island when Frenzy declares her intent to go first. He studies her, not looking likely to deny her.

Quicksilver? his sister asks, deferring as always.

"Being quiet and weak-handed and slow is how we got into this trouble to begin with," he decides. "These people weren't stopped from walking out of Genosha and spreading their abominable technology with nearly enough prejudice. The longer we leave them to it, the more they'll be able to refine the technology until there's nothing we can do to stop it. As my sister said — this is our most likely prospect, while they do not yet expect such force. We need to hit fast."

He considers, before he glances up. There's something almost impish in his tone when he asks, "How hard can you throw? I'll wager Frenzy's resilience against the back wall of this installation any day."


Could Wanda's assertion be truth? Wonder clouds Faora's mind for a moment, drawn from her purpose, perhaps not distracted, but thoughtful now in a way she had not been. Since coming to this world, embracing it's sky, it's sun, and the people meant to inherit it, it pricked at her soul. Cold and hard and meant to never feel again in mourning to her world, she found purpose. She found Godhood. A Kryptonian God is beholden to those it is meant to protect, bent to the will of the people, in service.

But Wanda called her friend.

As the witch speaks of caution for the acolyte at her side, her focus returns to those words. Seeing Pietro and Wanda up close had given her hope for the first time in a long time. Frenzy forced a smile from her, when they first met. Like the Man of Steel, a burden yet remains: She will never be one of them.

But perhaps, she need not be apart from them forever.

In all of her machinations, in all of her plans for this world, her goal was survival. Perhaps prosperity. But these, Brother and Sister and Warrior, are suddenly something to fight for. Frenzy's tenacity as a protector pushes her to the forefront, and as Wanda advises caution she waits for Pietro's instruction.

The tactic he suggests tilts her head. Lightning strikes far away, but moments after the flash she is there, hovering closer in the remaining light yet consumed by the coming storm. Now that she is close, she has no need for comms.

"Hard enough."

Frenzy will not have long to prepare herself. It is brilliant, to place Frenzy at the heart of their facility, to turn their gaze inward as the rest attack from without. Pietro will see it in the slide of her gaze, approval and the upturn of her mouth at the corners. There is a whisper to Frenzy, comical, even, in the way Faora must rise up on her toes to deliver it - something just for her.

Then they will know Kryptonian strength, hooking the back of Frenzy's uniform with one hand, her arm with another, she cracks the stone beneath her feet with the power she exerts, turning once before launching Frenzy as little more than a destructive, indestructible ball of mutant destruction that breaks the sound barrier - twice - sound that will only hit them after Frenzy has hit the first wall.


Careful. Quiet. Sneaky.

All of what Wanda says is completely understood by Frenzy, but that doesn't stop her from bowing her head in both acknowledgement and from the yolk of constraint. "If they use the collars against them then I shall kill them." Promises Frenzy, her eyes raising upward to look at the Twins, the truth of her statement shading both her voice and her expression. "They will not live long to regret that decision."

Along with that fervor is something like gratitude tucked away, behind her more insistent tone; gratitude for Wanda caring about her safety.

When Pietro's speaks Frenzy's attention automatically shifts to him and with his words Joanna's expression transforms. It goes from sober to elated. "Throw?" Says the woman, her voice now holding such a note of energy to it, "Hell, drop me from the highest atmosphere and I'll survive - but those monsters will not." And that is a promise. When Faora arrives and offers those words of hard enough, Frenzy's lips curl upward in something some might call a grin, ferocious as it is, "Good."

Those whispered words from the Kryptonian prompts a simple response, "Always and never." There's not much more she can say as Faora grips her shirt and arm and literally flings her away like a shot put ball. And while the air and gravity drag at her form it's barely felt thanks to the strength of Faora's throw. Joanna's flight is fast and furious and as she careens downward, deadly.

The sonic booms can be heard, yes, but soon the sound of the woman hitting the building and grounds of the facility might likewise be heard echoing across the distance. It's a deep *BOOM* much like the sound a missile makes when it hits a target. Dirt and dust rise up in a small almost-mushroom cloud, as the Strong Arm of the Brotherhood plows through one wall and then another, and only then does she finally lose her momentum.

From the broken bricks, the crumbled concrete, the debris and chunks of broken drywall, Joanna Cargill, Frenzy, rises upward. "Your time has come monsters." She shouts, "Perpare yourselves."

And somewhere alarms begin to sound.


The plan is set. Quick. Lethal. Devastating.

A wicked light fans across Wanda's eyes, twitching between both woman — and the intention of destruction that occurs the moment Faora lays hands on Frenzy. Two apocalyptic beings, and now in brief, close contact.

There is really one thing left for the witch to do.

Curiousity breaks out across her face, bringing light and life to her features, but still she knows better — has some caution to slowly, sagely back-step and take sanctuary behind Pietro's shoulder. His body can withstand all the rigours of the world — speed, force, radiation —

— and Wanda, much more breakable, covers her ears to that shockwave.

It blows back her dark hair. Whips the hem of her dress. It kills the excited half-laugh that would have otherwise escaped her mouth, as her wind-stung eyes, helplessly bright, look on as Frenzy disappears into the stormy night, bulletted far, far away —

Into distant, shocked alarms. The loud sound breaches all corners of the island.

The base responds to the explosive arrival the only way one could: a guard crew sharing the same, incredulous look, before training overrides even that. Men and women — a handful on this ground floor — shoulder on their automatic arms, barrels pointed on Frenzy.

They do not question here. Only seek to ventilate her a thousand times over.

Gunfire echoes across the water.

With an amused glance to Faora, Wanda slips her hand into Pietro's, that of a lady seeking noble escort. "Shall we?"


Wanda steps up, slipping her hand into his. Amused, he lifts it to kiss its back, even as Faora and Frenzy team into one single massively-destructive force. "Ladies first," he quips, his eyes turning to Frenzy. And indeed, the lady goes first.

Frenzy SMASHES through the back wall of the facility, sending people scattering and alarms screaming. The workers flee, the guards stand their ground and begin to open fire…

And from the four corners of the installation, the deep grind of bay doors all beginning to grind open sounds. The groan of metal joints heralds the emergence of the Sentinels, as their searchlight eyes flare to malignant life.

MULTIPLE MUTANT SIGNATURES DETECTED…

Now, it is certainly a gamble to place Frenzy at the heart of the facility, given all that… but between the three mutants, she certainly has the best chance of tanking the initial response of hailing gunfire. Besides — she will not be there alone for long. Not with how fast Quicksilver is. She only has time to finish her first shouted challenge before there's the distant crack of the sound barrier breaking… and he is behind her a moment later, bearing Wanda in his arms.

"Draw their attention, Frenzy," he says, and then he is in motion again, flickering between the automatic weapons fire.

"I want the collars," he declares lowly, over the comms. "I want all the information we can prise out of their systems. And then I want this place razed to its foundations."

Pietro follows the fleeing scientists — most likely to hold the secrets they want — deeper into the facility. To Faora: "You are not a mutant. You might confuse the Sentinels, for a time. My sister and I shall find these collars." If they have to rip apart every mind in the facility.


Chaos reigns as Frenzy sets the tone of the engagement, a challenge issued and responded to in kind. The rattle of gunfire, bullets that impact more than once as skin made to withstand far more sends lead ricocheting in a cacophonous roar. Men and women die before Frenzy throws her first punch, and someone launches a grenade in her direction.

The explosion rocks one corner of the facility, showering Frenzy in fire and smoke and debris, all the more to light her in a terrifying backdrop as they realize, one by one, that these weapons will not do.

"Subdual gun! Subdual gun! Someone signal HQ! Get a message to Trask!"

Outside, they rise in the wake of that terrible grind of metal.

Red eyes search in the haze of a wind-filled rain, oppressive and uncaring, they are not terrifying for what they can do, but what they represent. Older models of Sentinels had been clumsy things, overpowering mutants by sheer, brute strength and overwelming firepower. But these are the future. Half the size of their predecessors, they are still fifteen feet tall, massive creatures that leap forth from their silos to land with an unsettling graze. They resemble the Sentinels of old, more or less, but somehow sleeker. Somehow colder. These were not designed to detain or capture or suppress. These were designed to kill.

'MULTIPLE MUTANT SIGNATURES DETECTED'

Lines of red race the ground, beams of energy showing pathways for weapons fire, littering the very path that Pietro and Wanda need to take.

Projectiles launch.

Then she is there. To see Faora-Ul throw Frenzy showed them her might in a feat of strength, but now she moves like Pietro, in another timeframe, plucking munitions from their path and tossing them skyward where they light the whole island in electro-static explosions. Robotic eyes try to keep pace with twin blurs, black and silver and red, and the first of them has no time to react when the Kryptonian makes fistfall on it's torso.

Shockwaves extend outward, blasting loose rock away and rocking the whole of the island as the Sentinel folds inwards and shatters outward, driven bodily into the ground in an immense explosion that scatters fire and debris in a rolling mess towards the next silo.

It garners attention, red eyes turn, munitions fire into the blaze, intent on catching this unknown threat.

Inside, a man in a suit and tie cowers in the chaos, shaking hands dialing a very specific number.

Loyalty, in the face of disaster.


For all her abilities this, right now, where she stands against bullets and grenades, and the general melee of the fight, is her favorite. Where her mutant powers allow her to withstand the barrage of fire and explosions. What would kill another barely phases her.

Those bullets hit her, bounce off of her, to careen back into the crowd of (mostly) unprotected guards. Those nearest her are reached for, grabbed, before she smashes them into walls, the ground, or literally themselves. As each man and woman fall, Frenzy tosses them aside, plowing further inward.

The sonic boom of Pietro's speed is heard and understood, but it isn't something that necessarily makes her pause. Instead, she continues to fight against this (token in her eyes) resistance. It's only as Pietro appears behind her and speaks, that Frenzy pauses. She listens to what he says and with a short nod, she says, "Understood." Then her attention swings back to the guards, "Fools!" She shouts, allowing her words and actions to be the diversion required for this evening. "Your pitiful weapons won't harm me." And with a laugh, Joanna Cargill wades back into the tide of humanity.

And for all her amusement her eyes hold a calculation to them, as she listens to the comm, and the commotion outside.

Slowly, Frenzy makes her way back towards the openings she created into the Facility proper. She heard the grind of those metallic bay doors and she knows what that noise heralds. Sentinels, for Frenzy, hold a special place for her. A special place that shouts for her to destroy them, even as Faora does exactly that to the first.

A handful of guards are literally tossed through those openings she created and back outside - looking very much like the trash they are. A half a dozen more are similarly thrown through the holes until finally Frenzy's silhouette is seen. Her gaze lands upon these new Sentinels, these killing machines, and with a suppressed snarl Frenzy charges the nearest Sentinel. The third one. Her fists slam into the metallic skin of its leg and with that grip established Frenzy *heaves* upward. The robot teeters dangerously.


Within a heartbeat, Pietro's speed bears both Maximoffs straight into the fray.

Not that Wanda truly has time to see it, hear it, smell the ignition of gunpowder on the air — the scene reveals itself to her in snapshocks, frames of light too quick for sound to reach her, where human guards hold themselves in frozen poses of surprise, fear, and rage, as Frenzy of the Brotherhood bears down upon them.

With her twin's speed tunnelling spacetime around her, Wanda can glimpse the shapes of bullets, simple and deadly, gliding patiently past her at a snail's pace through the air.

The time Pietro takes long enough to stop, Wanda glances beyond his shoulder — drawn to the tinny, mechanical burn of the Sentinels' voices.

Not that her brother allows them to tarry long. The world blurs past as he moves them deeper in and deeper down into the facility, winking past endless halls and stairwells — mapping it as he goes, with that fantastic speed. Wanda acts as navigator, letting her eyes shut and her senses stretch out — following the path where she can taste the shape of life and the dance of synthesis: production of dead, metal things.

The speedster will have to hijack his way down a stalled elevator — trapped as the building goes under alarm — and transverse his way down the empty shaft. And to a subterranean level.

Wanda brings power to her hands to punch through solid steel containment doors — as the cement foundation shakes and rattles with the explosive fights that happen above. Inside, it reveals, is a locked-under-glass array of inhibitor collars.

They shine against the emergency lighting, glinting cold and sterile metal — like thick manacles that would lock invisibly over the throat and enslave the body forever. There are not many that appear in a finished state — perhaps their greater numbers are not held here after production. Perhaps they are still too expensive to be mass-produced. Perhaps they are still in calibration.

Wanda glances over at Pietro, unspoken horror in her eyes. Is this our future?


The path in, through the hole Frenzy made, is riddled with tracer beams guiding the path of weapons fire. Computer-guided, the projectiles need only a moment to orient along those lines before they are in flight. For anyone normal, that moment would be far too short a time for them to react, despite the tracer providing a small false hope that one could dodge the impending strike.

Quicksilver flickers between the lattice of red lines before even those can fully settle in place.

A blue-white streak, shot through with scarlet where he carries his sister, is all that is visible of him as he whips about Frenzy — pauses long enough for his commands — and moves on. Few register that he was even there, assuming the wind of his passage to be a gust blowing in through the broken wall.

Besides, the defenders' attention is wrapped up completely on Joanna Cargill, powerhousing her way through their ranks. Useless semi-automatics are dropped as men scramble insteaad for bigger guns, for the rocket launchers. She latches the 'shin' of one of the Sentinels, heaving it off balance, and the thing swivels around to fire a white-hot beam of pure energy at her almost point-blank. In the background, one of the men shouts into a comm for someone to bring up one of the damned collars, isn't this what they're making them for, bring up a collar so they can suppress this crazy animal —

Pietro hears, just before he leaves the room. "They've got some here," he murmurs to his sister.

She shows him the way. At his speed, searching through the entire facility is trivial, and the empty elevator shaft presents little difficulty. As lightly as he skims across water, he sprints along the shaft's side wall, gliding like a soundless bolt of silver down to the very bottom level of the building. So far that the sounds of battle overhead go muffled. So far that when Wanda folds the solid steel doors into so much origami, they pull free out of deep rock damp with the near presence of the sea.

Past the doors is what appears to be a lab, and within: three collars. Even down here, with no one in attendance, past so many layers of security, they are still sealed in lockboxes. What appears to be glass soon proves a material much stronger; Pietro could smash through, but the force involved would doubtless damage or destroy the precious contents.

Pietro exchanges a glance with Wanda. Where there is horror in her eyes, in his there's only a rage so fierce it smokes. He puts her down, and turns to her. Give it to me.


The silos that remain open reveal the sentinels were stacked three high. More begin crawling to the surface, five of the robotic creatures pile towards Faora, energy beams leading the way for heavy fists. Two more begin moving towards Frenzy, as the last of the security team marshals at the edge of the opening Frenzy made, raising experimental weapons meant to answer that call for someone to subdue her: Collar Guns.

There is a great explosion of air as Faora thrashes, sending Sentinels skyward, a single glance through the compromised upper level of the facility lets her see the security team and their new weapons, and even as the Sentinels re-engage, seeking to tackle her from the very air, her eyes burn with the fury of Krypton's red son.

A wide beam of heat sears through steel and lead alike, the very air seeming to catch fire for a brief moment as the screams of that security team cries out. One of the guns discharge, the collar bouncing ineffectively off of the Sentinel that Frenzy is fighting, and then, quite simply, those men die. Turned to charred ash in the brief exposure, the walls of the upper levels melt and twist, and those few who survive scramble, crawl, covered in horrible burns and tumbling onto the rained soaked rock of the island.

A metal fist hits the side of Faora's face. Another slams into her back. Heat vision removes the head from one of the creatures, another takes a punch that might have destroyed it if not for it's protocols, adjusting it's behavior to yield to such damage, for metal to shift and it's body to fold inward, so that it might survive the blow, and power beams of energy directly into the Kryptonian's face.

Somewhere, on the rocks, a man looks to the cellphone now melted into his hand, pain etched on his face. He tried to warn HQ. He will never know if he succeeded or not. But he does know all he has left is a single chance for revenge. He stumbles, crawls, and reaches for the collar fired from that gun, the one that bounced off the Sentinel, and it snaps open as he waits for the great metal beast's assault to falter, just long enough to make a diving leap for Frenzy's neck.


Hands grip the leg of the Sentinel tight as Frenzy strives to pitch the monstrosity of metal away from her. However, before she can do just that, the Sentinel turns and focuses the laser embedded within its palm upon her. The heat, the pain, it's felt, but does it kill? No. Does it damage? Not yet. Frenzy, for all her might and strength, is even more physically durable. She could stand within the heart of the sun, within the freezing depths of a space, and survive. It's what allows her to survive this particular attack and while she shouts with the pain that sizzles along her skin, she doesn't collapse or stagger away. Instead she grits her teeth and pushes even more -

And like some petrified tree the Sentinel tips and begins to fall, the crash thunderous, though likely not incapacitating.

No, the blows that would have incapacitated the Sentinel never fall, not when suddenly the woman finds a figure leaping for her. His attack brings forth an almost startled, "What -" But that's it, as Frenzy of the Brotherhood sees the collar that's coming for her neck and instincts takeover.

Her reactionary time serves her well again and while slow compared to others here, it's faster than the human baseline; and it's what saves her from being de-powered.

One hand reaches for the man even as her other comes up to block the embrace of that collar. That hand of hers is what stops the collar from snapping closed, from activating, whereas her other hand ironically closes around the man's neck. Seething with rage, the woman says, "You think to collar me?" And here her hand squeezes though not hard enough to actually break the man's neck, merely choke off his air, "YOUR BETTER."

It's going to be that downed Sentinel that's possibly going to save the man dangling from Frenzy's hand, as the undamaged leg moves to punt the woman away.


Cull the unborn. Chain the living, speaks Wanda through Pietro's mind. Revulsion and a quiet heartbreak reflect against her red eyes. The X-Men and their fairytales of peace: we look down and see how peace looks.

She swallows. The next come as words from her, low and wan, whispered from her lips, "I had thought the fires they made to burn me would be their worst. They've made a pyre that does not burn. Pietro."

Sister looks to brother, and she sees his rage. His command ripples through her mind.

Set to her feet, the Scarlet Witch obeys, bringing together both hands, and shutting her eyes as unfurling red light illuminates her face. It radiates free from a sculpting sphere that churns between her palms, the very stuff of reality whispered down to a spinning roulette of probability. Endless permutations shift, living and dying, within that ball of light.

Hands over her heart, she concentrates on one thing only — and out from that amorphous red, extrudes the pommel of a sword, ornate and elaborate: silvery and spinning with incandescent scarlet light. A proffered weapon for Pietro to unsheath.

Meanwhile, far up and above, a voice answers on that dreaded telephone call: "Are the Sentinels performing to standard?"

The man, half-crouched under his desk, can only answer with a sharp-barked scream, as a plume of heat tears down the hall past his office, melting cement, twisting steel, and cooking his colleagues' screams within. "I don't know! It's not stopping them! It's an army! They're —"

The voice on the line is placid: "Inject yourself and arm the neural net."

The man tries to argue, but twitches at something said over the phone. He opens a panic room and keys into a device — first pressing an injector to the back of his neck near the brainstem. It nearly makes him throw up. Still, his hands move over panels, and button on the controls of some device.

Warning alarms begin to sound all over the island — long, upraised pillars unfolding out of the guard towers and turning into toward the raised facility and aiming down. They arm — and activate.

There's no light, no sound — save for a low-frequency hum that begins to tunnel through the mind. It hurts. Hurts everyone with a functional brain. The agony is incomparable, and begins to drop any surviving human guard and scientist in pain too much even to scream. The neural inhibitor works hard and fast: a new technology to slow and eventually stop all synapse. Stop the mind. Rend the body to nothing.


Collar guns. Perhaps if Quicksilver had known the human security had these things, he would not have gone looking in the depths of the facility, and instead let their objective come to them. Yet it stands to reason that the most advanced prototypes of the collars, the most refined versions, would be hidden deep. And it was secrets he wanted, too… anything he could possibly rip from the servers and terminals of this place.

The three collars, sitting innocuously under their strong translucent cover, certainly look like the most refined this place will have to offer. Wanda regards them with revulsion; Pietro only regards them with rage.

Peace! he snarls in her heads. This is the only peace humans have to offer us. Dog collars to pull us down to their level, and worse.

He turns to her with a command — and a promise. "No more fires," he says. "No more chains."

He reaches into the seething probabilities of her hex, undeterred by her witch-light, and grasps the offered hilt. With a long slithering pull, he unsheathes from her a long blade hexed not to break. It will need this quality… because the next thing he does is turn into a short dash, a thousand mile-per-hour swing shearing the top of the case clean off without disturbing the items within.

He doesn't let Wanda touch them. He picks them up himself, stowing them carefully, and only then does he allow her to take them as he picks her up to retrace his steps back up.

"We have them, we're on the way up. Destroy everything and let's go — " And that is about when the humming starts.

It's slow, to Pietro, its oscillations molasses-thick things that his brisk efficient mind can think and perceive around. He arrows back towards where he left the other two women, locked in violent combat.


In the mind's eye, Faora-Ul sees her world. Idealistic from above, crystalline structures of every shape and hue, and long foilgrass plains that stretch on forever and ever until they reach deuterium ocean so deep and so blue it's almost black. Even in her final moments above her world, on a mission to rescue the one man who meant anything to her in the whole wide world, she could not help but marvel at it's beauty.

Marvel at it's cracks, lacing through, illuminating the bedrock from within. Beauty to horror.

She channels it, that memory of destruction, and her arms lift and body arches to send metal men flying in every which direction. The one that punted Frenzy has a short lived victory, one of it's brothers powering into it and sent end over end. The man she held? Torn from her grasp. Literally, leaving behind bits of his throat as a metal arm sweeps the rest of him away and smears him over the ground.

Three more Sentinels fall to a sweep of her heat vision, while the others are already rising, half a dozen more, two by Frenzy, four taking a bead on Faora.

Then it begins. Drilling into the mind, past hearing and vision and all comprehension.

"-Erk!"

It drops the Kryptonian to her knees, brings tears stinging to her eyes, armored gloves to her head, as if to somehow pad the sound. She might be dead if not for the solar energy coursing through every cell, mind have gone insane already, if this world had not made her a God. But even Gods can be felled low here, it seems.

Shifting her mind forward, she can see the waves cutting through the air, but her perception is to far behind. Instead, she speaks, words carrying a now dead language. "Ix fanil Noblix!"

From her armor, the tiny drone gathers itself into a diamond shape as if made from mercury. Firing off like a rocket, it hits one of the rising Sentinels in the chest, and the great metal man staggers. They will see the changes, the gunmetal lattice that forms over it's chest, and eyes that shift from red to deep purple as Noblix co-opts it's programming, raises a hand at one of the distortion towers, and fires a concussive blast.


Frenzy is punted. The collar stays held in one hand as she flies through the air while the man not so much.

No loss in her mind, but when she finally lands in a heavy tumble she'll find herself not too far away. That out of control landing is turned into something more controlled, and with a final roll and flip the durable woman finds herself back upon her feet. There's a minor stagger to her steps as she rights herself, but balance is soon found.

Once upright Frenzy's gaze scans the area around herself - to see what's going on, what's near, the threats - and finds two Sentinels nearby. The collar that's held in one hand is tucked beneath an arm and with a purposeful step to the left, Frenzy begins to move. It's only by the third step that the oscillation begins and continues, and as it peaks Frenzy can't help but offer a garbled shout, "GAH!" And her hands soon find purchase upon the sides of her head. Pressing hard into her skin, squeezing the skull beneath, as she tries to blot out the sound that causes a sympathetic vibration within her own brain.

It's enough to bring even the strongest to their knees and Frenzy drops to one knee.

If she had the ability to think she'd warn the Twins, tell them to get out, to run, but all Joanna can do is struggle against the sound even as that Sentinel is co-opted by Kryptonian tech.


Wanda similarly refuses to touch those collars. Her hands curl her fingers into her palms, and she looks on silently, red light occasionally rising like coronal flares from her limbs, or running like filaments of plasma between moving tresses of her hair.

The witch looks on, branding into her eyes one last look of those things humanity wrought —

And her hope for their kind ever accepting anything different in this world? Her hope, even despite her anger, her militant heart, that some unification could ever be achieved between the races?

Pietro picks her up. Wanda leaves that hope behind, here, left to die like an unwanted thing on cold cement.

He bears them back up through hundreds of feet of concrete, where that basement tunnels deep below the sea — blurs both of them back up the elevator shaft back into the lower corridors of the facility. More closely, there are still outside sounds of explosions. Still the violent cry of the alarm, directing mobilization of the entire island.

And on top of that — that hum.

Wanda tenses up. She has only the time to think a moment into his mind, and it labours, slurs, glues down to nothing in his mind: Pietr—

He can feel a crystallized moment of her agony, raw and pure, before their mental link breaks. Wanda goes limp, her face twisted into a last portrait of pain.


The co-opted Sentinel manages to take down one of those towers with that blast. It weakens the pulse of that neural inhibitor — perhaps enough that Faora and Frenzy could fight through it — but it does not weaken it enough for Wanda.

He hears her last word — his name — slur into nothing. Wanda slumps limp in his arms, and Pietro's rapidfire mind blanks out in rage.

Later, he won't even be able to tell clearly how he found the panic room — how he knew where to go. Perhaps he just homed in on that mind-destroying hum, following it back to where its waves crash the hardest against mental shores. What he does remember is slashing through the door at hypersonic speed, the hex-limned swing bisecting the heavy steel with all the force that four thousand miles per hour can put behind an enchanted blade.

What he does remember is forcing into the personal space of the man within that panic room, pushing the point of the sword straight into his right eye even as he fumbles the controls and starts to turn. It comes within a hairsbreadth of contact: and stops.

The seething red hex that suffuses the blade bridges that infinitesimal gap. Wanda's witch-light licks along the man's eyeball.

"Turn it off." Quicksilver doesn't sound amenable to asking more than once. "All of it."

Confronted with such a thing, what can a man do? Not all men are willing to die for the hatreds of Bolivar Trask. He turns off the neural inhibitor. He shuts down the Sentinels. "I did what you wanted — " he starts.

Maybe because of that, Pietro at least makes it quick.

Moments later, he is re-emerging from the building, rejoining Faora and Frenzy where they have held all this time. The men are breaking, starting to try to find some retreat as the destroyed tower crumbles its debris down from overhead. "Burn it," he seethes, "all of it." He doesn't appear to care WHO does it; all he seems to care about is Wanda, his eyes anxiously searching her face as he tries to coax her back to consciousness.


True to his calling, Pietro is there for them when they need him most, wielding infinite possibilities with righteous fury that dismantles the remainder of the island's defenses in a decisive stroke. When Faora looks to him, she sees the future. When she looks to Wanda, she sees destiny, one that must be protected. The cobwebs of that mind-numbing assault slip away, and Noblix returns to her arm. There, she presses a button.

A shimmer appears in the sky, part of a contingency Noblix activated, but now useful to them all, for Pietro's order will require evacuation. Shaped much like a beetle, the Kryptonian Patrol Craft lowers it's aft door and allows entry. Faora will offer Jo a hand, to help her to her feet, before she lifts into the sky.

"Look after them. I will make sure all of humanity knows our collective rage."

Power bristles in her eyes, a seething rage taken from her companions, these, threats against the Children of the New Dawn, against the only people who might save this world from certain destruction. If these humans were so intent on killing their future, she would help them.

Those who remain, staggering and in stumbling, blind and bleeding, know the release of Faora's gaze, cutting a wide swath through Sentinels, towers, and building alike, and she does not stop, piling on her fury, intent on melting through to the deepest bowels of the facility and slagging it into oblivion.


In the end, it is all a matter of seconds. A matter of seconds that Wanda misses — the concept of time stolen from her frozen mind — before Pietro's strike culls the last of the island's weapons.

At its wake, and with nothing more to them than basic, animal thoughts of survival, men and women disperse, guards and researchers abandoning the facility and heading to the few port exits: helicopters and boats, if any remain in the destruction, may be their only way out.

Far more advanced evacuation awaits the Brotherhood. Much like Pietro's lapse in memory, Wanda does not remember their lead up to board the ship. For him, it is the silent gift of pure, adulerated rage. For her, it is… the lessening of that hum.

It is gone, banished from her mind, though it takes long, many moments for Wanda's flagging brain to remember itself, its sparking neurons churning life at the stem to cognition at the cerebrum. For a few, cold seconds — long, many minutes to Pietro — Wanda remains still and non-responsive, until one of his coaxes flutters her eyes and brings her back. Her mind reaches back to his, and mingles their thoughts.

Silently, she touches his face, the press of her hand equal parts promise and soothe. Wanda glances back, appraising Frenzy, and feeling through her senses the distant, aerial life of Faora close-by — all to be accounted for. And Pietro at the heart of it, with their victory now in his possession.

Her hand drops to link her fingers with his. And the other outstretches, hand to the distant body of the facility, as the Scarlet Witch brings the red to her eyes and, through the ache in her head, concentrates.

"Burn by his word," whispers Wanda, as hex-light licks from her fingers. She thinks of the lowest level of the facility, deep and dark where those three collars were found — and tells reality that it is now a moving fire.

The heat caves it in, and the ocean retakes its land. The heat spreads up, unrelenting and violent, and spreads through the rest of the facility. It breaks the night with a flash of scarlet, fire ripping free of the building as the surviving run free.

Even as the storm comes with hail and rain, it takes hours for it to wash the hex-fire clean.

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