Echoes of Future Past

June 07, 2018:

The Brotherhood seeks to meet with Cable concerning Trask and the collars, but finds themselves ambushed. GMed by Faora.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The world ticks on and the threat of Trask's technology still hangs over everyone's head. As much progress as everyone has made in scrutinizing the devices, crowd-sourcing the solution created a new problem: Now they have to work together on next steps. That means meeting some place out of sight. Maybe it was a member of the Brotherhood who suggested the place, or someone Cable overheard at the X-Mansion, talking about a great place to hide away when they didn't want to be found.

Once upon a time this place was called Medley Centre, a bustling hive of activity that drew weekend crowds for shopping opportunities of all sorts. Teenagers used to line the upper level of this mall, crowd the food court and overwhelm two different arcades and a small movie theater. Now, like so many things of a bygone analog age, it has slipped into the grave.

Not far from Rochester, New York, in the suburb of Irondequoit, it stands as a skeletal remain of it's former self, the walls stripped bare inside and all identity of the shops that used to inhabit it are gone. Only the old food court, surrounded in dingy, dirty glass on all sides and overhead has anything resembling a table or two where those meeting in this place might sit.

But what it lacks in decor or any life at all, they gain in privacy. Even in the early afternoon with traffic thriving just a few miles away, this place is an island of tranquil silence. With more than a mile of parking lot in every direction and plenty of visibility to see if anyone is coming, it is a place they can secure against intrusion with only a cursory use of their abilities.

His appearance in the food court is tantamount to sending up an electromagnetic flare. The invisible teleportation beam of energy assembles him atom-for-atom in defiance of Heisenberg. If there is any artificial illumination of flickers off and on. Families of roosting birds scatter madly into the air.

Cable. Seemingly the technological fusion of a man and a cybernetic-weapons platform. Dressed first in combat fatigues and then overtop them he wears a chest piece that appears to be a naval warship's plate belt-armor that has been shaped to fit his torso and a similarly styled gorget has been affixed atop that to protect his neck and throat. Upon the left pauldron there is a squarish rocket-pod which looks to house at least a dozen futuristic missiles but otherwise his entire body bristles with pouches and bandoliers that appear to have a mix of back-up firearms, reserve ammunition, 24th century grenades, and anti-personnel mines.

He currently wields a large weapon that measures approximately one meter in length. Its single barrel is long cylinder beginning at approximately nine inches in diameter and tapering downward to approximately six inches over the span of a half-meter. The last four inches widen to nine inches again and are comprised of three rotating parts.

If one were to examine him closely they would see a pair mutant inhibitor collars affixed to the bandolier near his right shoulder.

It takes Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch only moments to arrive. Not via his speed, for once, as Frenzy is accompanying them, but via a twisting portal.

They are early. They are always early, because Pietro cannot abide waiting even a few seconds longer than he absolutely has to in order to get something done. Especially not something of this import. He has waited what seems years for progress on the matter of the collars, progress he cannot make by himself. Wanda can attest how restive he has been.

They are already present, accordingly, at the dilapidated food court when Cable makes his suitably futuristic appearance. Pietro's eyes turn instantly to the other man, assessing him in a glance.

"I see you've made them multiply," Pietro observes dryly. "Or else you've gone on a field trip of your own."

Early suits Frenzy just fine. It allows her to case and stalk around the food court to properly vet the area. It's only as the meeting time approaches that woman relocates herself back near the Twins.

Their safety will always be her first priority, so when Cable appears Frenzy is once more back at their sides. Well, to be honest, a few steps in front of them acting very much like a barrier against any unwanted attention.

With the appearance of the futuristic man, Jo Cargill shifts her attention away from the dirty glass and straight to the weapon-toting man. While her mouth crimps at all those weapons being brought closer to her charges, the Strong Arm of the Brotherhood doesn't say anything. Instead she shifts her weight slightly as her arms drop from their crossed position.

Upon arrival, the first thing the Scarlet Witch feels is that distant ring of human life. While now it stands a husk, empty and long abandoned, it steeps in remnant memory.

Long enough that it always takes her, cursed with her extra sight, a few moments to get her bearing.

In those few minutes of privacy, Wanda lingers free from Pietro's side — not without a drawing touch down his arm, a silent signal she will not go far — to walk those empty tables, drawing a fingertip along their dusty surfaces, and gleaning stolen moments of countless lives. She vets the wide, dark, sprawling food court with her own vetting, searching for more recent drips of life —

When reality flickers, and she turns her blue eyes on that assembly of matter: to Wanda, it looks like a star collapsing, the world singing notes of pain as discord ripples out through quantum space, suffering out the tear in spacetime like a torture.

Dressed in red, wearing her beaded headdress, and her small hands folded together, the witch similarly watches Cable's arrival. Pietro's mention turns her eyes on the collars.

Wanda frowns at them. "Were there others?" she asks, in a rare moment of bluntness, even her own niceties forgotten. "Did you destroy them?"

Something will tug at the extra-reality senses of the Scarlet Witch. A shadow, moving in the distance, but elusive, ever changing, a building threat that is punctuated by what at first is a mild disturbance. They have barely begun to discuss the matter of the collars, to even begin to speak at all when the building gives a subtle shake. For one present, time passes differently, and the tell-tale sign of a pressure wave generated by an aircraft breaking the sound barrier proves to be the source, washing over the building's structure as something passes over head.

At nearly the same time as the boom, somewhere inside the building the structure is bisected by energy that forms from pitons dropped outside, a shimmering purple barrier not big enough to encase the whole mall, but easily big enough to circle the food court and beyond. It is the herald of something else, some shape incoming from above. It almost appears to be a bomb or a torpedo, and with the energy barrier seeking to keep them all in, it could very well be the last such munition they all see.

Passing through barrier, through the glass above them with a great crash, it slams into the table that they might have used to hold a discussion, utterly destroying that part of the floor as it makes landfall.

There in the sudden explosion of plaster and cement, it rises.

What first seemed to be a spiked column quickly steps forward, legs forming, then arms, as fifteen feet of metal man the likes of which they will never have seen before takes form. Dull black scales cover it from head to foot, and burning amber eyes peer out at them all with an emotionless glare, it's almost lanky form carving close to the uncanny valley, as it appears to be almost alive. But it does not sound alive

"Mutants detected. NIMROD protocols engaged."

When the Brotherhood arrives, Cable shifts the weapon to the crook of his cybernetic forearm. The Askani'son's left eye kindles to a dull orange glow which glares unblinkingly at the assembly, "I promised that I would share my progress with you," his speaks in his gravelly baritone and his right eye squints a bit as if the living tissue were unable to maintain their glare without additional moisture, "so," the bicep of his metal arm flexes as he reaches around the barrel and unsnaps both collars.

He pitches them towards the brotherhood the awkwardness of his arm's position overcome by the sheer strength of his cybernetic appendages.

He addresses Wanda directly, "Copies. I have the means to duplicate the technology," Cable states cutting directly to the heart of the conversation by anticipating their questions, "We have too many resources working independently on this project. It's time to pool our resources to work in pahrahl.." the human side of his mouth continues to try to enunciate while his cybernetics spring ahead. The tell-tale signs of an oncoming attack somehow registering on his advanced sensory suite.

The transmission of signals across his brain are rerouted. The neurotransmission of information across fluid and receptor was an evolutionary innovation billions of years ago. The techno-organic plague has reworked a significant portion of his nervous system. As senses detect a disconcerting environmental change adrenaline is released which signals advanced cybernetics kick-in. For a moment he functions purely as an android for his advanced cybernetics - the mixture of man and machine - sprint to catch up.

When he turns its like the victim of a stroke wheeling around one side more gainly than the other but sped a thousand times normal. The barrel extension on the firearm begin to move in three pieces. The first clockwise and the second counter to them. As Cable depresses the trigger a shard of depleted anti-mater is expelled into the chamber of his weapon which fuels a matter/anti-matter reaction.


Entropy; the conflict of matter and anti-matter chambered and then expelled through a series of quantum gates. The weapon expels a blast of jade fire tightened into a twisting typhoon nine inches in circumference. The heightened state of the projectile stream when combined with advanced physics attempting to re-write molecular bond of their target while simultaneously breaking twisting them to ash.

Cable begins a forward assault. Footfalls rolling like the treads of an armored vehicle as the rocket-pod upon his shoulder rises three centi-meters as if suddenly alive.

Wanda reassures Pietro she will not go far, but his eyes still follow her as she wanders the empty tables. Once Cable arrives, and his sister addresses him, Pietro shifts subtly in position so he can watch both.

For once, Wanda is as blunt as her brother, and something flickers in Pietro's blue eyes to see her this way. But he does not interrupt as Cable begins his reply, reminding of his promise to share his progress, and his opinion that they should begin to pool their resources instead of working in many disparate units. Pietro is about to agree, but then Cable seems to… malfunction? Uncomprehending, Pietro watches as if in slow motion as the man and machine halves of Nathan Summers seem to split onto different rails.

His first reaction is defensive, the speedster in front of Wanda in a heartbeat. But it's not Cable that is the threat. The threat comes crashing down beneath the aegis of an enclosing barrier around them all, something liquid and alien and sleek assembling before them — but speaking familiar words.

Mutants detected.

There will be time for suspicion later. For now, there is one thought in Pietro's mind: his sister is hemmed in, and they're going to burn her again. "Frenzy!" Pietro yells, a single name that combines several different orders which the Acolyte would understand without the need for additional verbosity. He himself is turning, kicking a shattered piece of one of the tables into the barrier to test any debilitating response it might have to being touched.

Wanda, I need it, now! She'll know what it is.

Life has taught Frenzy to always be aware, so while she may not have heightened senses, or technological means that alert her to the incoming trouble, what she does have is experience and instinct. And from the subtle clues that present themselves the woman's expression goes from stoic to something closer to a frown. That frown continues to deepen further when Cable's odd reaction is seen.

Already, Jo begins to pivot upon a foot, intending to turn to Pietro and Wanda with that motion of hers.

Then Hell literally opens up and engulfs their room as the ceiling shatters and plaster, cement and glass rains downward.

Pietro calling her name is heard and it immediately causes the woman to utter words she would /never/ in her right mind do, "Both of you out. Now." She shouts to Pietro and Wanda, and then the Bruiser of the Brotherhood turns her back upon the Twins to face the unfolding monster that's before them all.

Like Cable, Frenzy's footsteps are heavy as she runs at the Sentinel. Then she leaps at the thing, specifically for its chest, intending to slam a double-fisted punch at it, with all seventy-tons of her strength behind that hit of hers.

The Scarlet Witch's sharp-eyed, locked-up expression mollifies slightly under Cable's explanation. Tension exorcises from her — barely — like an unwanted ghost.

She does not want to conceive of those collars already going into mass-production. It would kill many of their plans on the spot, and force a war of what they are ill-prepared. The Brotherhood exists on the determination that war is both necessary and inevitable, and by their blood will be waged true — but now is too soon.

Pooling resources. It draws her attention, and Wanda glances silently to Pietro. He answers for both, as he normally does —

— as, swiftly as that, Wanda looks away. The witch does this often, her eyes and attention drawn constantly by the noise of a moving universe, and the particular way its reality whispers to her. She cants her head. Her eyes unfocus.

Something goes wrong with Nathan Summers. Wanda does not notice. Her gaze lifts to the sky, or something beyond it, silent as she listens. Pietro, with his speed, blurs closer, and his sister does not move. She only has time to murmur, with foreboding in her voice, "Pietro —"

The ceiling comes down in an explosion of glass.

Everyone reacts. Cable and Frenzy both into the fray, taking aim and interception against that thing what towers above them all, black and empty and cold and dead. Inside and out. No soul to feed the voice that issues, in two words, conviction and execution. Even Pietro reacts, standing in front of her, his voice making orders in her head.

Wanda doesn't react, not like the rest, too busy staring. She holds for a beat, fear in her face, before her eyes turn a beat late up on her brother.

"Yes," she says, voice strangled, her eyes shifting red. Scarlet comes to her hands, though the urgency in her gesture curses her ability with a couple false starts, red hissing and churning and refusing to sphere. She bites down and forces it, spinning reality through her fingers — until its schism opens, and out draws the handle of a sword. Burning red, red as her gift, forged of her — a hexed blade that can cut through anything.

The response from the Man Out of Time lights the air with entropic green, lancing towards the looming form of that menacing, metallic might as it sets into motion. The sound of matter and anti-matter interacting with it's frame is unearthly, something no person was ever meant to hear, scales caving inward and raw explosive fire billowing outward from the creature in a display that may very well mean this battle is over before it's begun.

It's entire form seems to billow, to expand, backlit by internal destruction. It is ozone, not smoke that wafts from all around it, as it staggers and shakes and stumbles, dropping to a knee, one hand planting, so much like an injured person that under any other circumstance it might almost almost tug at someone's humanity.

Instead, it's other hand swings forward, a shimmering energy washing over it as the next railing blast from Cable's weapon impacts, spreading over the energy field to disperse most of the impact.

No energy field created by technology should be able to withstand such an assault. No energy field created by technology from this time.

Before them all, the liquified parts of it seem to suck inward, forming again as scales, and even from across the room where they'd been dislodged and sent flying, they rocket back to it's immense frame, regenerating into it just before it's energy barrier seems to flicker. Overloaded, it begins to fail.

With terrifying speed it is upon Cable, grabbing him wholly by the head to give a shake that might break a normal spine, whipped left and then right again, it will send him spiraling towards what used to be a Sbarro's Pizza storefront.

That table Pietro kicks whirls across the room to tumble into the barrier. It breaks. But not in some uniform way. It turns in on itself, twisting, malforming, as if subjected to some improbability field that spits it back out, smoking and seething and unrecognizable as what it once was.

Frenzy unleashes her fury, slamming into metal that seems to give under her blow, rocked backwards, sidelong, nearly falling over as Jo's double fisted attack sends scales flying and sends both her and the metal monster into the storefront of what used to be a Subway.

Something wraps around her wrists, it's body shifting and moving to turn that punch into a grapple, arms shrinking in and then reforming with her wrists already in it's hold, and more, it's body begins to reform ever so slightly, scales shifting shape into an interlocking form instead of a layered one, adapting to the powerful woman's physicality. In the end, it seems to have bought times for her wards, but little more. One hand releases her, but only to draw back and give a savage strike that rockets in at mock five and delivers hundreds of tons of force to the Guardian's chest.

Then again. And again. Several punishing blows that will end with a sweeping toss. Live, die, stand, fall, it cares little for where Joanna ends up, it's amber-red gaze seemingly fixed, as it has been this entire time, on the form of Wanda Maximoff.

It comes for them.

Leaping through the air one of it's arms flicks outward to form into a cutting blade, and as it lands it lunges in a lurching, seemingly off-balance strike aimed right for it's priority target, metal diving inward towards flesh as her hex blade springs to light, illuminating the entirety of it's form and the room at large in a hellish crimson glow.

Human and robot merge again into a single consciousness. Cable's cerebellum reroutes voluntary muscles through a hyper conductive super-highway of techno-organic design. The actions of his body are a tightly controlled symphony of stimulus, response, and reflex. The concordance drives his combat and feeds his mind specific impulse designed to goad his human genes.

The cybernetic components are hapless against his mutant power but they have learned to interpret its sensations. His mind radiates in fantastic telepathy assessing what his physical senses cannot but finding only the brotherhood and then a void where he has determined his true foe to be; where Nimrod stands.

His weapon selection was purposed. A science designed to unmake reality. Render alien invaders and brotherhood power houses to ash. Nathan Summers is not often exposed without a plan to kill everyone in the room. The Askani'son could not predict the inclusion of NIMROD for the foes which had attacked the Institute lacked any sort of futuristic sophistication; at least as he would define it.

The creature moves faster than he can comprehend. The gorget of metal, designed to counter the very collars he carried here, perhaps all that spares his spine as he is shaken log a dog toy and then hurled into the remains of a pizza stand.

Perhaps one would expect a man without invulnerability to be dazed. Not Cable. Immediately the rubble shifts as if pushed by some invisible force as he comes to stand within the wrecked Sbarro.

. . o o O O (Professor. Evac-protocol times four. Location 06-03.)

[*tst*Acknow*tst*ged Natha*tst*… Un*tst*le t*tst*blish *tst*lock.]

Cable glowers perturbed not only by the emergence of NIMROD but also by the barrier around them. He needs to be able to get clear a signal into the combat zone. From across the room the warp-fire cannon into his grasp. Stepping out of the Sbarro he begins firing intermitted at the creatures back while making steady progress to his right - chairs and tables scooting out of the way as if compelled by some invisible force while moving towards the barrier's edge.

Pietro follows the progress of his projectile with his eyes, his sped-up perception absorbing every nuance of the way it reacts with the barrier. He has seen enough probability fields in his time, courtesy of his sister, to recognize matter being warped in ways it should not go before the remnants of the table are finally spit out. Good thing he didn't opt to touch it barehanded, he thinks… but this is a problem. A significant one. Even more problematic? It seems to shrug off even Cable's futuristic armaments.

Not that this is a concern because Pietro cares about Cable. More because he is a force multiplier in this situation. Much as the other man arrived primed to kill them all if necessary, Pietro is fine with leaving the X-Man if it would provide the highest chance of sparing his own people.

And if Pietro is affronted by Frenzy trying to order them out, he does not express it. It's not the time, and what kind of guardian would she be anyway if she did not take initiative in moments like this? "We have to find a way through the barrier," is his response, even as Frenzy moves to hold the thing off. There's a flicker of worry as the thing lunges at her, but he has little choice but to trust in her resilience and skill.

Especially when Wanda's fear spikes, across their link, snapping his attention in her direction. She has always been afraid, all of their lives, so it is no new sensation… but the fact it isn't new, that she has to be afraid over and over as humans try to BURN her for what she is —

In her brother, Wanda can feel burning the mirror and answer to her everpresent fear. His respective neverending emotion is anger, and it leaps high into pure fury as she shudders in the crosshairs of the thing that has come to kill them all. Well — most specifically — the Scarlet Witch.

It lunges towards her, that arm-blade swinging in a punishing arc. And within the space of a second, something silver blurs in front of Wanda with the corresponding snap of a sonic boom, the streak of white shooting through with an arc of red at the last moment. If one were to record and slow down that moment, it would yield this: Pietro leaping directly between his sister and the Sentinel, snatching the hexed blade from her spinning deck of probabilities, and swinging it in a crimson-limned arc to parry the descending strike. If he takes off the arm with the parry, even better.

The Subway storefront will never be the same again and while the destruction is nearly absolute that doesn't slow Frenzy down. Not with the lives of the Twins in eminent danger. That thought alone is what pushes Frenzy onward.

She rises to her feet, dust, glass and plaster shaken from her form. Her fists rise upward again, preparing another onslaught, before any such punches can be lashed out the Sentinel strikes back. Jo finds its adaptive arms locking around her wrists and that causes the woman to snarl. Then the Sentinel and herself are face to face and the blows fall downward.

Frenzy has a second to realize what's happening and it's enough to bring her freed arm upward, to ward away the blow, but even Frenzy in all her toughened glory can't quite block the Sentinel's strikes. As such, the woman grunts, the air forced from her lungs, her body contorting from the force and the pain of the strikes.

Then Jo finds herself airborne again with the last glimpse of the battle showing the Sentinel lunging for the Twins.

She has enough for a strangled shout of, "NO!" Before Frenzy crashes into another eatery nearby. There she lays, silent and still within the wreckage, tossed aside like so much garbage. A fire burns within her as broken bones flare wildly within her chest. Some would use that pain to refocus, but for Frenzy she instead uses the last image she was able to clearly see from the battle. Of that thing going for the Twins. That's what allows her to bring her arm beneath herself and push up. It's what causes her to rise up to her feet and stagger forward even as she ignores the blood that spatters from her nose. The pain from the rattle of shift of broken bones is likewise pushed aside, as the behemoth of the Brotherhood reappears.

At this point Frenzy is like a crazed beast and while the logical (and sane) part of her brain understands she can't win against the Sentinel, that doesn't stop the mad rush for the mutant-killing-creature. So, along with Cable's fired shots and Pietro's sword-strike, Frenzy dives for its legs - intending to tackle and clips its legs from beneath it.

It all happens fast. Under the hand of the metal beast, both Frenzy and Cable are dispatched in either directions. Wanda chases their trajectories with her red eyes, shocked, but forced to trust that both mutants are more than durable to withstand such a blow: easily that of enough force to break the backs and limbs of a human.

Drawing back, she is forced to unfocus her eyes and concentrate on her own ability, attention severing from the here, the now — the physical — and making origami folds inwards as the scarlet wreaths like a heatless fire from her body.

Pietro pulls a hex-crafted sword from the scabbard of the Scarlet Witch's very soul, a piece of her power slivered off and given to him to take. The twitching and curling of her fingers spin its reality forward in a long blade that glows as red as apocalypse skies.

Attention sieving back to this world, Wanda's glowing eyes dim back to her irises — a moment to late as she looks up and up on the behemoth whose crosshairs attention needles down on her. Distantly, she can hear Frenzy's shout. Hear Cable's fired shots, the sound thunderous inside their closed quarters.

There's little Wanda can do in this moment, still recovering from her summoning, desperately using her little moments to breathe the whirling, churning scarlet back to her hands. But the shadow is already on her —

— as a thunderclap punches her eardrums, and a burst of speed blows her hair aside in a dark wing. She can hear, through the whistle of tinnitis, the shattering of glass. White and red blur by and steals in between her and the Sentinel.

Wanda knows exactly what — who — it is.

Forced back in that shockwave, brought down to one knee, but into relative safety, the red funnels up her arms until it hollows out her eyes in pouring light. So this is a hit — a hit on them. On the Brotherhood.

"Did we make you afraid, Trask?!" the Witch yells, her own fear mutating into something hotter, something fiercer — fury that wells up, compels her hands to curl her fingers and lash out with a hex. As the others make far more physical attacks, hers is peripheral: trying to see down into its moving joints, and whisper the world to attempt to fuse, lock, rust them up.

More green fire spills forth from Cable, blast after blast slamming home in a body reformed to absorb such terrible destruction. It washes over the creature in waves instead of punching through, and every step leaves a burning annihilation as it channels the energy into the floor, and the arm continues forward as time seems to slow and the image of the arm-turned-spike reflects in Wanda's eyes.

Red flashes across it's body in strikes it could not hope to categorize with vision alone, the swirling, carving motion of the sword shifting that arm-weapon to the side so that scaled metal passes through wisps of Wanda's hair, but no more.

Great wounds open across it's body where Pietro struck, and scaled bits of it tumble to the floor, but none of them impact, each and every one slowing to a stop, just as the blade is slowed to a stop, and Pietro will feel it too, dragging on every inch of him, but not like some reverse time field or like when he moves oh so fast. But it is familiar. This is the work of a hex, but it is not wholly Wanda's anymore.

Red energy races along metal scales as the creature's adaptation protocols are faced with a power unlike any other, it's seething energy trying to rust and decay it's form, while it tries to adapt and consume that power for it's own. Mutant in origin, but stretching beyond the physical, it begs question if it can take hold of such power at all as it distorts and shifts, it's face, amber eyes glowering just in front of Wanda's, twisting and malforming, as if her hex were eating it a live. Bits of energy stream outward to them in a sudden explosion, and the moment they come in contact with those wisps of red, they can hear it scream.

It screams to the future. The year is 2029, and the sky has been burned black by a war without end. But the humans seek to kill their mutant enemies once and for all. Desperate, foolish, they activate a new AI with abilities they do not fully understand. By 2035, NIMROD hunts the last of humanity to the brink of extinction. Not just mutants, but anyone with even a hint of the X-Gene. Humanity must be protected. Billions are reduced to hundreds of thousands. Sentinels rule over the smoldering ashes of a humanity that no longer has choices, but for a brave few survivors.

A time slip is detected. The last of the resistance escapes towards the past. NIMROD, Mark XVI follows.

The year is 2016, and Boliver Trask looks upon the datacore of a machine, broken, battered, twisted, found in Sudan. From it he learns of technology to finally quell the mutant threat. Sonic weapons. New sentinel protocols. Collars. This piece of NIMROD fuels his mission. The war that has not started grows embers from it's ultimate end.

Reality snaps back, and a proto-Nimrod sentinel reforms itself with new realization of what it was, and what it is, hex-flame running across it's body in shifting probability and possibility.

It has adapted.

It's about then that Frenzy's dive through the air completes, and she will feel her body rebound off of it's new, reinforced form, until she tumbles past and lands near Wanda's feet.

Here there is a new intelligence, an awareness, and those eyes meet with Wanda's as if to answer her question.

"You made him certain."

It whips around. Suddenly, it seems not to care at all about Wanda or Frenzy, or even Pietro and the blade he carries that shares so very much with it's new, simmering skin. No, it wants someone else now, for all that he knows and all that he has to offer The Mission.

The creature comes for Cable, a hand lifting to send a wave of reality altering energy at him that will seek to sap his artificial mechanisms of power, while his other arm blossoms into an enlarged claw, held at the ready as it stalks along the barrier that traps them all and towards the Man out of Time.

The Askani'son moves. Long strides propel towards the edge of the barrier. Yet despite his current objective being the barrier he clutches the entropic cannon such that it is balanced at the elbow of his living arm its angle of fire growing more and more acute as he progresses away from the center of the conflict.

Three steps from the barrier he reaches to the third pouch left-of-center from his belt buckle and wraps a metallic fist around an advanced probe which he then wields. Arriving at the barrier he pivots, facing the melee, and swinging his metal arm downward so that the tip of the probe connects behind him and upon the forcefield which flickers angrily upon contact.

Left-eye is stoked to a brilliant orange ember. It flickers right-to-left as if reading something unseen.

Concurrently. His metallic hand drops the probe whose tip has been twisted by probability into a pretzel. His human hand discards the meter-long cannon and then reaches for the rocket-pod upon his shoulder. «CLICK». He pulls one of the tiny rockets from its station and tosses it into the space two feet before his face. Fleshy hand tenses, finger curling, and it hovers in place.

Metallic hand then begins moving autonomously to his pouches. Belt. Bandolier. Thigh. It tosses grenades, sensors, and communicators into the telekinetic cloud before him. The objects begin to rapidly disassemble themselves. The focus of Nathan's mind a futuristic omni-tool twisting screws outward. Unmending precise seams. Tiny transistors are re-arranged. Parts rain downward about his feet. While others twist in complex assembly before him.

Cable projects no thought at first. Wary that this monstrosity can receive a telepathic signal that amounts to direct communication. Yet each of those fighting possesses human empathy. Cable has hope.

The speed of it demonstrates a facet of his full power. A dozen pieces of technology disassembled and then compiled together again. The pieces of it whirl together to into a rocket that looks dissimilar to its initial design. The shell of it knitting together as molecules are fused into a quick telekinetic solder?

..not fast enough.

The orange glimmer of his eye rapidly dims as if the battery connected to it were losing power. His left arm suddenly feels heavy. Leg, going limp. He drops to a kneeling position. His reflexes slack as sections of his brain begin powering down. His head drops.

The single perfect missile falls to the ground amidst the other parts and sort-of rolls away in a languid manner.

NIMROD is upon him. The advantage of his future-self removed. Flashing claws move for his neck. A clean death..

..except something catches them. Millimeters from contact. It strains. Hand vibrating against unseen force. Cable's head snaps upward his right eye now glowing. A brilliant white. Pure power. Searing reality itself. The robot's scales dissolving and reforming simultaneously. It has nullified the technological reality of his future. His advanced armory is nullified. His robotic limbs are vestigial. His mind no longer focuses upon fighting a war it has momentarily won.

THRUM. Nimrod is propelled away to the center of the room. Nathan's human fist slowly clenching. The Sentinel bending upon itself. His robotic hand points towards the ceiling. Every inanimate object that is not bolted down begins to float as if the laws of physics that dictated the existence of gravity had been cancelled by force of will.

"WANDA," the theoretical structures that comprise reality quiver with the mental impression of Nathan's voice, "UP HIGH," stirring primal feelings of omniscience. As if primitive man were witnessing god manifest.

At the peak of the dome a force seems to be trying to pry it ajar. The field roaring in protest as unseen force tries to pry it open.

. . o o O O (Professor. Evac-protocol times four. Location 06-03.)

The realization comes to Pietro at about the same time it comes to Wanda. This is a hit on them, a targeted strike by Trask against the Brotherhood and its leaders, who have dealt him many hurts and rallied so much sentiment against him in recent months. Contrary to the fear or apprehension one might expect, the knowledge almost seems to invigorate him, and even as Wanda erupts in scarlet fury behind him… his own features curl into something feral, arrogant, violent.

His head lifts, and he grates the edge of his blade into the creature's arm where it's struck and lodged. He grinds it deeper into the wound, even as his twin's hex starts to chew away at the Sentinel's structural integrity… his jaw gritting as he feels something start to drag at his limbs, slowing his existence…

The Sentinel adapts. Pietro jerks back, reclaiming his weapon free of the hex-infused monstrosity as it snaps back to the present, and stepping into a high roof guard before Wanda's physically-fragile form. The creature's answer to Wanda narrows his eyes. You made him certain…

"Good," hisses Quicksilver. "He can die for something he truly believes, then."

Scarlet flickers across his eyes as he looks at the Sentinel — through it. Sees something, though Wanda's eyes… and grins. "You are not worthy to be like us," he answers someone who isn't here.

The creature turns suddenly on Cable, whatever revelation it reached launching Nathan Summers to a new primacy in its targeting protocols. There is a moment, as the Sentinel assaults the man from the future, nullifying all his futuristic armaments and cybernetics, where Pietro glances between Frenzy and Wanda… and considers using its distraction to drag them both to safety.

Yet he hesitates, for whatever reason. And the hesitation is enough for Cable to unleash.

The Askani'son has a very specific injunction for Wanda, a command that reverberates through the very bones of reality. And it will require, no doubt, all of her power — a piece of which she's given up and given to him, streaming red light from its blade.

"Frenzy," Pietro says quietly, "Help keep that thing off us."

And he turns and puts the blade straight back into Wanda, sheathing it cleanly back through her heart up to its hilt.

Later, when Frenzy has time to consider the battle, she'll find a hatred for this Sentinel that resists her strength, but for now it's back to their current reality -

Or future reality? Something.

Once more the woman finds herself on the floor, this time near her charges, and she rises again. Her dark gaze turns to Pietro, at his quiet words, and with a soft exhalation that should be a grunt but doesn't quite reach that level, the woman says, "On it.", and to to both she adds, "When a opprotunity presents itself get out - whether I'm with you or not. Your lives are priority."

Then with that said the woman steps forward. A second step brings her crouched painfully low and her fingertips dig deep within the linoleum floor. A chunk of floor (nearly as large as Frenzy) is ripped free. She may not be able to hurt this creature that can adapt, but she can keep it busy, that's for certain.

And while objects of various size begin to float upward, that chunk of concrete and linoleum that Jo has a hold of is hurled at the Sentinel's back, with all her seventy-ton strength.

A look is spared for the Twins and when the sight of the sword being returned to Wanda is witnessed, all Frenzy can do is stare for a split-second, then her attention shifts again.

Really, that's not the worst she's seen, so everything is fine here.

Whether the chunk of floor hits or not, Frenzy follows it up with another leap - this time at the Sentinel's back. She's aiming to wrap an arm around its neck - a headlock, likely ineffective but further distraction.

Her hex comes up short; Wanda can feel it catching, like a half-turned key in a rusted lock, refusing to make a full turn. Red flickers at her fingertips, and she curls tighter her middle and ring fingers to hold twisting probability still.

Just like that, her own hex-light sheens the Sentinel scarlet. Her glowing eyes widen; her shoulders square, and the witch flinches down her back. Horror and outrage gut out her expression: how dare it! How dare it steal her light!

But it does more than that.

It answers her. Not as a machine, with a rehearsed, automated script, but with the intricacy and nuance of a man. Her eyes narrow. It adapts, and twists reality itself around them. Wanda glances up, drawing reflexively closer to Pietro, her red in his eyes: twins communicating through her soulbond, with little time to take her fears to voice.

The future dawns briefly upon them all, unfurling to the senses, to the eyes — and to the Scarlet Witch, to so much more. It is her probability, used, adapted to — but still hers, and she can see. The future whispers itself into her head. The making of this abomination opens to her sight.

By the time that temporal shifting ends, and reality writes itself back to apparent normal — Wanda's face has turned from shock to quiet decision.

"No," she says to Frenzy's order. Wanda's voice is low, flat, firm, a rarity in itself — the mercurial, confused, unstable woman who barely can hold onto a thought some days. "Our priority is destroying it! It's the only of its kind! Trask's monster — he can't have it back!"

That probably has everything to do with Quicksilver's eery, vague remark.

Red burning in her hands, Wanda widens her stance as the Sentinel turns on Cable, pain twisting her expression to witness her own hexlight turned on their fellow mutant — the last thing she'd ever care to witness, a forced audience to one of her nightmares. Her ability turned on fellow mutants. Striking them down. Hurting.

But what is becoming of him? Wanda's red eyes strain to understand, parsing with her witch's sight — Cable being stripped down, rewritten, by probability itself. Into what, she can sense, but not yet understand. Into something worse? Into something better…? Into something that —

Speaks of her almost as a deity, and Wanda lifts her head as instructed.

Pietro, she thinks, and her twin brother answers. He impales her straight through with the hexsword, and Wanda jerks against that force, her eyes glowing scarlet. That borrowed sliver of her soul comes home, joins her, and the red smokes away to reforge with her body. She lifts her hands, red threading and knotting through her fingers.

The entire dome covers in her scarlet, marble and cement and mortar, and she holds her breath as her shaking hands curl their fingers, and holding — she jerks both wrists.

The building groans and shakes, and then with a thunderous mulch, shrieks as the entire dome is ripped free. Her eyes burnning with her light, the Scarlet Witch slams both palms together, and it explodes outward and fragments into dispersing atoms.

Reality ripples, and the power contained in this small space begins to bend reality until reality is blinding. The red of the sentinel's hex shifts as the bright-white of Cable's hold on the creature drags it to the center and it spins probability, but not in a way that can defy all of creation. Instead, it does what it did before.

Instead, it begins to learn from Cable.

The slow reconfiguration as God-Like power takes hold and burns it from within unveils before them all, twisting in the middle of the room as Frenzy's pummeling knocks it sidelong and red fights back against burning white. It sends shards of hex at her, but Frenzy's leap is as vicious and uncaring as it's own onslaught, and it cannot stop her from slamming into it's back and weighing down it's mutating, shifting form. In this, the Guardian of the Brotherhood's most precious assets fulfills her duty, taking hold of it's flailing mass as it drips and shifts and shatters and reforms, but everywhere and no-where, there is the impossible strength of Frenzy to test it's limits.

Right up until the Sentinel tests it's own.

It flickers out of reality, this reality, and into another where Cable still has hold of it, but slips through Frenzy's fingers to let gravity take hold of her once more as it rockets skyward. But then a surge of power, of hex energy, straightens it in place. It's form shifts and shifts and becomes something more. Something else. It too, becomes a God, one that turns red eyes towards Wanda, promising that she shall become part of it's matrix too.

But then Wanda has hold of the dome, summons her power to rip it free. The hex still in the sentinel draws it suddenly, unexpectedly skyward as all of her power is called to that point, the sentinel, now a fundamental part of her hex, tries to be there to pull the dome apart too.

It's concentration falters, and Cable will feel the mechanical rejoin his body. Feel that virus re-asserting itself and demanding his concentration once more, and feel the energy barrier crackle and snap back into place as his new-found Godhood is crushed under the weight of his native reality.

Sentinel hits energy field. One probability field hits another as the top of the building showers it in hex energy.

Reality begins to twist and unwind there as the field shimmers, shudders, shakes and begins to overload. Every indication is that they will stop this monster, but at the cost of their lives.

o o O O (Evac-protocol times four. Location 06-03. Confirmed.)

The teleportation takes all four of them but moment before the abandoned mall and it's entire campus become a perfect sphere of nothing, a flash of light in the distance appearing to the residents of Irondequoit as if a definitive, war-ending nuclear weapon had gone off in their backyard.

Instead, they witness only the opening salvo of a very long war.

For a moment Nathan Summers is truly what he was made to be. An ultimate weapon. Designed to irradiacate celestials. Empowered to weave reality while standing against the heralds of the devourer. Then just as his limbs had failed him the sensation of their existence begins to return. The steel flesh seemingly melts. Streaming in liquidity as it creeps up his body in long splattering tentacles.

The debris begins to fall back to the floor. He sees them fight. He must think ahead. What next? What weapon can he bring to bear? How can he save the future..

Then a different light fills him. And he is atomized.

[EXTERIOR - Englishtown, New Jersey - Location 06 - 03]

The salvage lot just outside of Englishtown was purchased when the economy tanked. The lot has gone to seed with tall grass overtaking the rusting vehicle husks all that remains following the court ordered liquidation. The single-story structure that served as an office is in disrepair. Last year it's roof collapsed. The copper wiring has been pulled from its walls.

A patch of asphalt used to comprise a parking area. Now a steel container sits upon it. It is unlatched. The chain has been cut twice over the past years. Vandals finding only an empty container. So the owner gave up on chaining it closed.

The air above the container shimmers for a thousandth of a second in a nearly invisible force that travels downward. The container goes BANG. The door sways open from the impact permitting light within the steel box.

It's an ordinary steel container. The group has been digitized and then re-assembled within. Nathan immediately collapses. The savior of mankind seemingly to faint. His cybernetics reboot. Brain scrambles to find all of the techno-organic cells floating through his body.

The glow of his left eye slowly returning, "..need to pool our resources," says reaffirming the earlier sentiment in a coarse whisper, "may be tracking the teleporter. You should get clear," dread pause his voice hardening, "I'll be back."

His eyes roll backward and he vanishes in a shimmering display.

The blade sinks home. Pietro gives it a last push to lock it in, reintegrating Wanda's power in its fullness, and afterwards takes her about the waist to brace her as her fragile body becomes a pure conduit of scarlet light.

Between her and Cable, the immediate area around them vaporizes. Thankfully, the teleportation protocol activates before then…

…and deposits them all far away, disoriented and shaky from the atomization and reassembly. His constitution enables him to recover quickly, at least, and Pietro checks immediately on Wanda, then Frenzy.

Last, his eyes turn to Cable as the futuristic soldier reboots. Pietro is, for once, silent as Cable concludes his thought and makes his parting remarks. His shadowed blue eyes seethe with fury. Fury at the creature for daring to take his sister's power. Fury at Trask for daring to send such a thing to assassinate them both. Fury at a world which continues to turn a blind eye to such things happening…

"Yes," he concurs. One short syllable of agreement. "We'll speak again."

His attention turns back to his twin, and his Acolyte. "Let's go."

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