X-Men + Guardians vs Starburn Six

June 13, 2018:

Dire Portents of the Future. An X-Men BBQ. Istraiel's first modern-day appearance. Space Bounty Hunters. Party Crashing Guardians. Cameo by Atli.

X-Mansion

Characters

NPCs: Starburn Six, NIMROD

Mentions: Cyclops, Atli

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

[PRESENT TIME]
The smell of charcoal and meat permeates the summer air. The pool is open. Tiki torches and lanterns have been placed about the patio. A long table has been covered with a red and white checkered plastic tablecloth. Expensive wicker patio furniture and wood pool chairs can host dozens.

In the background a playlist entitled ‘Nathan’s Summer(s) Jam’ makes for a leisurely evening of fellowship. The Askani’son attends to the grill wielding a metal spatula. Metal and flame. The smell of burning flesh.

Those who made their attendance known in advance were provided with a sign-up sheet for items they could bring to help make “Mission BBQ” successful.

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 backup firearms, reserve ammunition, 30th century grenades, and anti-personnel mines. Across all of this a novelty grilling apron that reads ‘Savior of Meatkind’.

“We should celebrate life while we can,” he had said uncharacteristically pulling together this BBQ for all regardless of who trained with him earlier…

[SIX HOURS AGO]
[THE DANGER ROOM]
A number of the X-Men have mustered in the /Danger Room/.

“Every day that passes we lose ground,” Nathan Summers’ gravelly voice intones, “The biological evolution of mutant kind will ultimately fail against the advancement of human technology.” Cable stares into the distance his left eye a slow burning crimson, “By 2029, the sky will be scorched black by nearly a decade of escalating war. The new models of sentinels have become more and more effective against the remains of free mutant kind. It will take six years for the humans to deliver their master stroke; a machine that can do in moments what it would take life dozens of generations of forced breeding achieve: Evolution.”

“In 2035 the new machines, dubbed NIMROD, hunt humankind to the brink of extinction. Not simply mutants – its AI having designated any creature which might possess the potential for a latent X-Gene a target. Humanity’s failsafes against the machines have backfired for they will not stop until they has achieved the mission man gave to them. For the first time in history humans and mutants stand momentarily united against the machines — but it’s too late. Billions of people are reduced to only a few hundred thousand. Those humans who remain fight back - to great success. NIMROD is a tool for the extinction of mutants and so the pockets of remaining humans - possessing no genetic precursor for mutancy - simply switch them off. At long last the AI will allow itself to be deactivated; it’s mission accomplished at the cost of nearly every man, woman, and child upon the planet.”

“I thought that we had a decade to prepare, but I was wrong,” he speaks the words as a personal failure and looks at the assembled, “Just as we have come back to re-forge our destiny so too have the machines followed us. It is 2018 and mankind has already begun piecing together the NIMROD protocols. One week ago I fought alongside our enemies against a terror come twenty years early - we fought for our lives and very narrowly escaped with them..”

“These collars,” he taps an anti-mutant collar upon his bandolier, “are now the least of our concerns. We must learn to kill nature itself; to overcome evolution itself,” He inhales slowly, “Computer, begin program NIMROD-2035.”

The photonic projectors flux spinning reality not to the far future but to a present day. A world virtually untouched by coming war of humans and mutants where civilian casualties are an almost certainty. Standing at the center of a populated playground in some small park in midwestern America is a metal humanoid the likes of which they have never seen. Dull black scales cover it from head to foot and its burning amber eyes glare without emotion, “Mutants detected,” it intones, “NIMROD protocols engaged.”

And so they fight. The team of them killed within the first minutes of conflict. And then they fight again for forty-five minutes; victorious this time - though more than half of them are dead. Cable is dissatisfied, “Too easy; Inaccurate, increase the difficulty.” And runs them through it again.

Again. And Again. And Again. Stretching the technology of the Shi’ar and of his future to its limits. Each death a learning experience. Each victory ‘inadequate’. Over six hours they run the simulation 9 times winning only 2; 7 total party kills – against but one machine.

[PRESENT TIME]
Cable lifts his spatula to those assembling for the BBQ, “Hot dogs are ready!”

*

It's a familiar pattern. Train. Train. Eat. Train. Train. Train. Get ruthlessly critiqued. Train. Train. Eat.

But it's the setting that is completely alien to one Hope Summers.

She's a familiar oddity in Xavier Institute, for certain definitions of the term: the red hair, the green eyes, the general look of her — even her height all screams of some variety of Grey. But she's never been here in this mansion before, never been seen here before. And yet, here she is, unceremoniously unexplained at the side of one Nathan Summers during training day like some sort of teacher's assistant, if the teacher's assistant was looking at almost literally everything with a sense of wide-eyed wonder. She's never seen a Xavier Institute that wasn't a destroyed, burnt-out husk of broken dreams before. She's never seen a Danger Room that wasn't gutted (or trying to kill her (without being told to)). This is all so very, insanely new to her, that she can barely wrap her mind around it.

It makes the sight of NIMRODs, harrowing though they may be, a gracious anchor point for Hope Summers, who spends the rest of the day enthusiastically pouring herself into her training. Thank goodness for the comfort of familiarity.

Even when it's terrible.

Which might explain why Hope Summers has been spending the better part of the cookout just sort of squinting at Cable's apron with pursed lips and an incredulous stare. At one point, she raises a finger as if to say something, only to slowly lower it and look away. And then she's back to staring again. As if she's never seen him wear an apron before. As if she's never seen him working a barbecue before. As if she's never seen a barbecue before.

All of these things are true.

And so Hope Summers, strange redheaded visitor to the X-Mansion, just slowly chews on a hamburger, quietly marveling at how GOOD meat-on-bread-with-actual-real-ass-condiments tastes as she squints at her foster-father with puffed up cheeks. Slowly, she swallows. Slowly, her lips part.

"That's terrible, Nathan," she declares, flatly, before he makes his announcement. She blinks. Looks at the meat he's preparing.

"-Wait," she starts, faintly flabbergasted. "That's a hotdog??" She looks at her hamburger. Her head tilts. "Then what is this??"

She has a lot to learn about the meat meals of non-dystopia.

*

Lorna had been hesitant to join in any Danger Room activities. She'd outright avoided it as much as possible in the last few months since she'd returned from Genosha and having been possessed by Malice. So when they'd fought against a simulation of some new Sentinel that would wipe out the future? She'd handed Aurora off to a baby sitter, with oaths that if Aurora got upset, Lorna would be told immediately.

It was a hard lecture to swallow, and panic lanced through her at the news.

Perhaps her father was right after all then.

The training was grueling, but at least the green haired mutant didn't give up. Stubborn determination had her throwing herself at every obstacle repeatedly, trying harder and harder as frustration grew. It was exhausting, and Lorna would've continued to train until she dropped, but Aurora needed a diaper change and that came first above all else.

The cook out was a break after a short nap, Lorna was back outside with a happy, gurgling blue haired baby on her hip. Green eyes flickered over Cable at the grill with a raised brow, and she snorted. "You know, your father typically does the grilling, right?" She drawled, her voice dry and filled with a trace of humor as she hefted Aurora higher in her arms to pluck up a hot dog for herself. Her gaze flickering toward Hope with a raiesd eyebrow.

*

It was Nate's kind of Danger Room setup.

But he missed it.

In his defense there was a 'missing' mutant kid in the Suicide Slum and he managed to find him before the DEO grabbed him for one of the 'orphanages'. It might have given him the 'demerits' to definitely put him in in the agency kill list. But that one had been long coming.

Surprisingly he arrived in time for the BBQ. Or maybe not surprising because there is food involved. His finely honed post-apocalypse survival instincts always make Nate arrive on time when food is involved. He has rarely been truly hungry in the last six years, but some things are never forgotten. "Hey folks," he greets. He is wearing his usual paramilitary x-outfit instead of swimwear, but man, priorities. Hotdogs before swimming pools. Yes, nothing will stop him from raiding old Nate's foodstuffs, not even his 'Savior of Meatkind' outfit.

But then he spots Hope and freezes, almost stumbling down.

*

Drake Riley has been privy to none of this. The aimless stray taken into the mansion some week-or-so ago has been on 'awkward tourist' mode since his arrival, looking for some measure of direction or purpose. It's easy to lose oneself in a place so big and busy. Everyone seems to know what they're up to and have places to be.

Still rocking loaner threads, the teen's wearing a pair of beat-up sneakers, gray sweatpants, and an off-white clingy tanktop. But these folks, they all know each other. Drake isn't often the wallflower type, but for now, that's his position. His eyes dart here and there, landing briefly on the various people - and their various unique styles - in silence. No hotdogs or burgers yet. He hasn't worked up the will to encroach. Rather, he lingers back, standing beneath one of the hanging lanterns.

*

Nathan Summers hums along with Luke Bryan’s ‘Way Way Back’ as he dishes wieners onto a platter. As the meat is served one thing becomes clear – Cable may truly be the ‘Savior of Meatkind’; what he has prepared is over cooked. Not inedible but certainly not in keeping with succulent tradition.

Dropping the last dog onto the tray he waves the spatula at hope, “Hamburger,” Cable replies, “and get this,” Nathan says as if about to reveal some big secret, “It’s not even ham.” He puts the spatula aside the charcoal grill and begins walking towards the table he sets the tray amongst the condiment, “And a hot dog,” he adds white brow lifting for emphasis, “It’s /not even dog/. It’s pork, mostly.”

Inhaling then he seems to consider how to explain, “Remember when we would find the carcasses all smooshed up and couldn’t tell what they were? Well, that’s a hot dog,” he says gruff persona momentarily lowered for the good company, “Remember,” and then he begins to recite what seems to be a common expression, “just cook it until its black and it doesn’t matter /what/ it is.” He winks his left eye and gives a chuckle at their inside-future-humor. Also, this seems to explain the condition of the meat.

“Ahh,” he sighs wistfully reflecting upon his past and after a pause looks to Lorna, “Oh yeah? I told him I wasn’t going to use the infrared grill. Flesh and flame. Good enough for the cavemen both past and future. Good enough for us.” Then he looks at Aurora and with a bit of baby talk he says, “And how are /we/ today?” Finger tips grabbing for her hands which he then causes to shadow box at his face.

“There he is!” Old Nate says as Young Nate arrives, “Did you bring the beer?” His pleasant personal ebbs a bit, “Someone brought beer, right?”

Cable points directly at Drake drawing all of the attention to him, “Were you bringing the beer?”

“Well shi—“, askew glance to Aurora, “-shoot.”

Those looking at him closely would see his cybernetic twitch. For a beat it's like his brain locked up. Back and forth as is it were reading lines on a page.

SUDDENLY, his cybernetic arm goes to the collar of his apron and he RIPS it off wguke drawing a futuristic-SMG from its place across his abdomen with his other hand.

“Get down!” He commands the weapon’s laser sight drawing a thin shaft of red light towards the pool.

*

Whatever dire fortune awaits the X-Men and the students of this school, this gathering was meant to be a release valve from the weight of a history that has yet to unfold. The promise of food, good company, and perhaps a dip in the pool means they can forget about Cable's warning, maybe just for a little while, even if the Danger Room bruises might take a little while longer to push from the mind. Even the sun and the sky cooperate, cloudless and clear and shining bright, a perfect backdrop to a perfect gathering.

Until finally a shadow comes.

It is an odd thing, a scillanting, scattering effect, like light passing through water and casting haphazard shadows in a shallow pool. Looking up, the disturbance is at least as big as the swimming pool, and perhaps fifty feet above them. Only when something small by comparison drops out of it does it's form shimmer with a hexagonal brilliance, light beaming in all the colors of the rainbow from behind, as a single individual falls.

Dressed in red and black, streaming hair that is long and white, the slender form splashes down into the swimming pool with an audible SMACK as water does not displace nearly fast enough to fully cushion the blow. Water rebounds high into the air to send mist every which way, an ill-fated canonball if ever there was one.

It is only the opening salvo of what quickly becomes a war.

A craft emerges, pointy-nosed and big enough to seat one rider, but trailing several tethers. There in the cockpit sits INDRIA KADO, the Kree leader of the Starburn Six, bounty hunters of the Nine Realms and beyond. "Deploy! Citizens of this Ugly Planet! Do not interfere with our hunt!" She yells, in a mechanized voice, as through the jumpgate comes five others.

LUMINOUS JON, a being made of bright yellow light and impeccable taste. One can make out only the barest of details against his his impossible shine, though it's clear he has a top hat, a longcoat, and a cane. Upon his arrival, he lets half a dozen globes of light fly into the air, bursting with blinding intensity to try to distract any and all who might interfere with their pursuit. Like the others, he rides a hover-disc of sorts, weaving it too and fro while taking a high position over the field of battle. "My word," he intones, arms spread wide. "Is this Midgard? Indria, darling, I seem to remember a bylaw or something, are you sure were no-"

"Shut yer drap, Jon, just get the Elf!" This, from SKOL, SCION OF JAU-SUM. The immense form of a twelve foot tall Shark-Man leaps from his disk, a great, giant battleaxe of some technological make pulled high over his head as he too follows the Elf towards the pool, intent on making this job the quickest the Purple-skinned behemoth had ever been on. As deep and horrible as the growl of his words might have been, the screaming roar of his shark-battle cry is even worse as it echoes over the grounds.

Then the final three. Each appear to be…bugs. Upright bugs. Maybe grubs of some sort? It's hard to say with all that mechanical junk hanging off of them. One is a bit bigger, a beetle-like creature encased in an armored suit that makes it seem almost human sized, but there the beedy bug eyes of THE IRON INSECT do peer out, Iro, to those who know him well. To his left, the smallest of the bunch, SMOLFURY who is only a foot tall has spindly, long grasshopper legs that titter across the top of his platform, but each appears to also be a weapon of sorts, two rearing up as they prepare for action. Finally there is SPINDEL, who seems much like a great, big, five foot across metal spider with biological bits at it's center, leaping from the platform to tumble through the air, a streamer of energy web flailing behind them. "Oh gosh. OH GOSH," intones THE IRON INSECT, bristling with excitement. "Is it really? DO YOU THINK WE HAVE TIME TO STOP AND MEET TONY STARK, SUN GOD OF TAMOANCHAN?!" Both SMOLFURY and SPINDEL groan at such interplanetary fanboying on IRO's part, and then unleash Hel.

The triplets open up with stun-cannon emplacements, electro-web netting, and sonic disruption beams, meaning to incapacitate this ritual burning of animal flesh these Midgardians are so intent on.

It is about that time that ISTRIEL MILKMANE, ELF IN EXILE, sucks in a breath as she breaches the water, only to see two tons of shark bearing down on her from above. Her arms cross. The air swims with a burning, dripping light of neon blue-white, and she summons a shield in anticipation of a blow she may not be able to stop.

*

MEANWHILE!!!

"Rocket are you /sure/ the sensors are calibrated right? I mean come on. Interplanetary gates don't just pop up in peoples back yards. That would be like a one in a billion chance. It would be like…Kreetech, and what would they want here anyway!"

Peter Quill calls down to his partner in crime as the Milano cuts across the sky, banking in the direction of the Mansion. I mean just because it /shouldn't/ happen doesn't mean it /can't/ happen and not only is there a pool party his muttergirlfriendmutter is there. Not that he knows about the pool party, but the Guardians are Professional Party Crashers.

And before anyone asks he did bring the beer.

Of course this means that he is just cutting towards the mansion when all hell breaks loose.

First that is a Gate. And Quill just stares for a moment. "I retract my question." He adds towards Rocket as the woman tumbles out of it.

…but then the rest of the group comes. And Peter just stares. "Seriously?! And SHIELD calls us dangerous!" He shouts as he pulls at the controls over the Milano to send it in an arc. The autopilot can land it. "Rocket! Tell me you have an anti-shark gun somewhere!"

I mean he has anti-just-about-everything guns. So it does stand to reason.

*

Sitting in the seat parallel to Peter, Rocket flashes the half-Terran the smuggest of smuggiest smirks. "Told ya so," he says, retracted question or not. He spends more time in the guts of this ship than Peter does in his own bed.

"And oh look, that says Kree all over it short of spray-painting the hull." He pulls himself closer to the controls in front of him, flicking switches almost in afterthought. "That thing's ugly, but it'll have some nice stuff for salvaging."

Unstrapping himself from his seat, the raccoonoid hops down and starts for the back of the ship, snorting at Peter. "What kinda dumb question is that? I have an anti-everything gun," he says, as if the guy's asked him the dumbest question ever. This said as he's pulling open a compartment to haul out a heavy gun that looks more like a compact gatling gun. He grins maliciously, giving it a pat.

"Been waitin' to try this baby out."

*

Behind the pilot seats Rocket and Quill occupy, Groot is there. Oblivious to the things being said, the small tree-like person sits underneath the overly-larg safety belt stuffing his face with candy. Where he found the candy is a question no one wants the answer to, but he's perfectly content with eating it all.

Unfortunately, the next few rounded, yet slightly discolored candies go flying out of his grasp just as the ship gets hit with a bit of turbulance. Good thing he's belted in or else he would have gone flying across the cabin! Instead, he bounces against the seat like a paddleball, minor irritation fluctuating across his bark-covered features.

"I am GROOT!" comes a tiny yell from the back as more candies fly out from nowhere toward the front. Makin' it rain old Skittles.

*

"So… the hamburger's not made out of ham, but the hot dog is? Does that mean…?" Red brows hitch upward as if a realization is dawning upon her, staring at her half-finished burger. No, Hope, it doesn't mean the hamburger is made of dogs.

… But her thinking that also isn't stopping her from devouring it, either. It's a future thing.

It's either a tribute to Nathan Summers' skills as a cook (probably not at all that) or maybe just the sheer culture shock that is a Real Damn Hamburger (extremely more likely that) that has Hope Summers rather ungracefully wolfing down the remains of her meal in record time. Thumbing stray bits of ketchup from the corner of her mouth, the redhead heaves a satisfied sigh and casts a small smile Cable's way to share in that brief bit of humor. Or, humor, if it wasn't really extremely true. "Hamburger, hotdog, whatever. For a smooshed up carcass, this is really good!" No it isn't, Hope. "What's the red stuff? Catsup, right? It really cuts down on the burnt taste."

She's about to continue, until Nate makes his nigh-stumbling entrance; it's enough to draw green-eyed attention on him, as Hope stares with upraised brows at the silently-stunned young man. "Um," she begins, eloquently. Something about him seems extremely familiar in a way that she's having a very hard time placing. "Hi? Don't tell me there's more catsup on my face —"

And that's when everything goes to hell. The second Cable starts to react to something, sight unseen, Hope follows like in a kneejerk response. Training takes over; within moments, Hope is flipping across the grill and taking cover behind it, a 30th century sidearm produced and pointed at that incoming, crashing… thing… with a winding hum that really only sounds ominous.

Though maybe less so, in the face of a big-ass spaceship.

"What the fuuuuuuuuu" long stare towards the Wee Baby Aurora goes here "uuudge?!"

See. This? This is all way more familiar. Which is probably why she doesn't even wait for the alien banter to finish before she takes aim and tries to gun down what looks like some sort of freakish were-shark from the streets, because he is the biggest target and thus the easiest to get a clean shot at. Also, a shark, on land? That just isn't right. She doesn't quite notice the other shit and other oddities on the approach yet. She's a bit too focused on the immediate, weirdo threat.

"Nathan, is this part of the training?" Given their history, she thinks it's a valid question.

*

Cable dropped Pose Order: Cable, Istriel, Peter Quill, Rocket, Groot, Hope, Lorna, Nate, Jean.

*

Lorna smiled at Cable, bouncing her daughter lightly as Aurora gurgled and wiggled in delight as Cable turned his attention from the grill to the infant. Wide brown eyes stared up at him and a cry of laughter followed as Cable continued to entertain the mutant baby. Lorna couldn't help but be amused, not thinking that the rather gruff man from the future would be quite so good with infants.. She put him down as another possible baby sitter mentally, and shrugged at the question of beer.

"This is a school you know, Scott frowns on drinking—" She broke off at the strange twitch, and he shouts the command to get down. She dropped, wrapping her frame around her daughter protectively, magnetic fields buzzing wildly as she yanked all the metal in the immediate area around her. A protective shell that tightly wound around her and Aurora. Just as light flashed and chaos erupted in the back yard.

*

"Hope… you are back…" or maybe here for the first time. Nate has not seen Hope (some Hope?) in three years. Time travelling makes familiar relationships weird. Almost all Grey-Summers family stuff gets weird quickly.

This is *more* important than burgers.

Which means getting interrupted by wandering aliens makes Nate very annoyed very quickly (which in truth is an extremely easy thing to achieve). "For fucks sake," he growls, turning towards the pool. "You idiots couldn't have picked a worse place to be…" he yells to the bunch of weirdos coming through the rainbow gate, his left eye glowing brightly as he surrounds himself with psychokinetic energies.

The globes of light give him pause, however, as they dazzle and distract him, forcing him to switch to telepathic sensing to pin the aliens. The sonic blast he takes on the chest, however, only irritates him further.

Also, his left eye recovers much faster from the blindness than the right one, which probably means the god-tech technovirus has finally devoured and replaced the optic nerve. Another problem he will have to address later. Right now it means he can charge Luminous Jon and try to pummel him down from his high perch. He wears a top hat, so he (it?) probably deserves a beating.

Wait, is that an incoming spaceship? This is going to be one of those funny days.

*

Jean was not among those who was in the Danger Room earlier, having had some last minute work to finish, but the broad strokes of what transpired there did not escape her. Her consciousness is a constant net over the Mansion, a mother's watchful eye that monitors the state of the many minds and souls of those who live, work, and learn within the Institute's halls.

Nothing intrusive, of course. But a telepath like Jean always simply knows the directions of the mental tides around her. She felt Nathan's resolute urgency, and she felt the training group's determined fight. She felt the shock and horror as Cable introduced 2018 to the scourge that stalked his dark future: NIMROD.

The team needed a pick-me-up after that.

Thus it is that the Summer(s) BBQ came to be. Still, Jean didn't join the party. All work and no play, Jean Grey can sometimes be.

Up until the Starburn Six make their appearance, of course, in pursuit of a certain Elf. The tranquil of the Institute grounds erupts, quite suddenly, into extraplanetary violence. Bounty hunters attempt to capture ISTRIEL MILKMANE, someone with… well, a bounty on her head, for whatever reason which is irrelevant right now, because —

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?

And that is when a telekinetic shield tries to slap down right around the Insect Triplets to contain their fire, directed by the splayed right hand of Jean Grey, who is emerging from the mansion in Maximum Rage Mode, judging by the red aura of psychic energy steaming off her skin. Her question is not shouted aloud — rather broadcast telepathically, with an intensity that seems to leave behind burns on the landscape of the mind.

There are CHILDREN here!

*

As the body breaks the event horizon Nathan Summers the shaft of his laser-sight tracking the hapless form all the way to the pool. Then, as the craft appears, it vanishes completely. The first moments of the battle are the most critical. The surprise attack by an assembled force would tilts the odds in their favor – but this isn’t exactly as surprise attack, is it? They’re not after the X-Men. The course of their hunt has blundered them into the back yard of one of this planet’s premier fighting forces.

Nathan’s fists pump as he closes the distance from picnic table to pool with remarkable speak. Left. Right. Left. Right – cybernetic leg hits the ground and flexes. He leaps from the Earth. Left – his next stride landing him atop a piece of metal that Lorna pulls through the air and he pushes again. He dives into the air – not at the pool but over it.

His mortal hand reaches outward sending his mind beneath the waters to grab at the hunter’s prey and pull her with him. His cybernetic hand unsnaps something from his bandolier. A single device which hits the pool as SKOL-SCION OF JAU-SUM dives in for the elf. The red LED upon it flashes twice.

«FWOOOOOM-SH» it explodes, a futuristic depth charge in the small body of water. A blast of liquid heaving upward.

*

The Bug Trio almost splat, as if hitting a windshield, one made of the Power of Jean Grey as she screams in the minds of the SIX and send them each into a distracted spiral that saps strength from SKOL, concentration from INDRIA, resolve from JON, and of course, the bugs are already contained, and now their minds hurt. Hitting the ground in various stages of slump, the bugs jump back up and scream back in their own language - which is also the language of the mind. 'SKREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE' they yell in unison, shouting at Jean in an every escalating tide of mental torment the likes of only which bounty hunter bugs and Jim Carrey can provide.

The interruption, combined with Hope's sudden assault with high calibur plasma arounds sends that axe of SKOL's in at an awkward angle. It catches on a hardlight shield none the less, digging in, but not through. Cracks form. The shark-man shakes his head and brings a meaty hand to his snooty face, and then Istriel is flying.

Her pale blue eyes go wide as Cable makes his leap and pulls her into the air, at first thinking him one of the bounty hunters, but that changes when she catches sight of the item he drops, her hands cross and twist, working and twisting hardlight into a cover for the dome that's only just big enough to contain the shark.

It, of course, contains the explosion too, as SKOL has a very, very bad day, sent exploding backward and upward only to smash into something like glass made of steel, rocking in the contained kinetic energy and falling back into the tumultuous water as the hardlight fails.

INDRIA growls through the pain in her mind, and turns her ship to face the incoming one, laserfire lancing from her small craft towards the Milano with rapidfire bursts.

JON sees Nate coming, and though it's hard to tell, his eyes do go wide, especially when his lightblast does little to slow the man in his tackle. "I do say good man, this is only business, this is only business! We're not here for yo-!" Nate will succeed in tackling from his perch, though holding on to Jon is like holding onto the sun, and on the way down more of his blasts randomly litter the field of battle. One strikes out to hit the spot where Lorna is protecting her baby, the metal curled around her taking several such hits from various weapons, but the only one noticeable is from JON, who's accidental attack begins to heat that metal red-hot.

*

Moonstar arrives from Westchester County.

*

Cable dropped Pose Order: Cable, Istriel, Peter Quill, Rocket, Groot, Hope, Lorna, Nate, Jean, Dani.

*

The Milano slews around in the air as the other little ship angles towards Peter's first love. Burning energy stitches across one wing and Peter grits his teeth as he saws on the controls. "Rocket! Groot! Get down there and help!" He calls back as he slows the Milano just enough to open the back door. "I have no idea what is going on but that really isn't that much different from normal." He adds as he activates the weapon systems on the Milano.

Guns deploy as par of the body of the ship shifts slightly, three barreled canons appearing to begin to spin.

"And save me a burger!" He shouts towards the pair of them as he triggers the guns, the deep /thooom/ of the guns firing.

He at least angles it away from the house and the bystanders.

…and…he totally noticed the grill. And the pool. Man why didn't Kitty invite him! This looks like a fun party!

Quill has odd ideas of fun. Which seems about par for the course for him.

*

There's a moment when Rocket shoots Peter a look, then waves a hand and goes to scoop up Groot. Sometimes he has to wonder if the guy's forgotten that their usual muscle is only about a foot tall at the moment.

As the ship jerks beneath his feet, Rocket grabs at a handle to keep from tumbling. "Hang on, Groot!" he says as he shoves the little tree tyke onto his shoulder so he can slap on his aero-rig. Squinting against the gust of wind he's met with as the rear hatch opens, he starts to dash for the opening once the Milano's leveled out again. The moment his feet leave metal, he activates he aero-rig, zooming towards the heat of the battle below.

"Now this is a party!"

Leaving Groot to hang on, Rocket expands the massive gun over his shoulder and after a quick scan of the chaos, he opens fire at the group of insects since they're closest together, spattering small but rapid rounds of violet energy. He'll feel a little sheepish if they don't get through Jean's shield, but he just really needed to shoot something. As his feet touch ground, he jerks his head at Groot, provided the little guy's still latched on. "You stay outta trouble while I kill things, okay?" Aaand then he's turning to find something else to target.

*

The remaining Skittles are liberally sprinkled within the last descent, falling through the air like tiny hailstones. Taste the rainbow. "I am Groot!" Groot shouts, barely heard over the sound of the engine and the mechanisms of the Milano door opening.

What did Quill say? Something about getting help? On the other hand, he's very sure he heard 'Save me a burger!' Either way, if the Star Lord said anything important, Groot is already out of the safety belt, ready to run down to the lower level.

Except that dream falls short when Rocket scoops him up at the right moment. The sapling clings onto the Raccoonoid Guardian's shoulder something fierce as his friend prepares for the jump, feeling the wind licking at his face as they take the leap.

A new sensation comes into play: exhileration.

"I AM GROOOOOOOOOOT~!!" Their flight down goes as smoothly as an aero-rig can go, hanging in there until there's solid ground beneath his feet.

"You stay outta trouble while I kill things, okay?" Groot smiles, half-saluting, half-waving as Rocket goes to destroy. As soon as he turns away, the little thing is on his own mission: to find some burgers. "I am Groot."

*

Everything's going to hell. The sky is raining colorful… shells? What even are those things?? So. Not training. Still… it's close enough.

And right when she was going to get the chance to enjoy her very first hot dog, too. (No one should tell her this is for the best).

This already puts Hope Summers in a bad mood as she squints past the dazzling, debilitating shudder of lights that emanate from the dapper star-man. She squeezes off plasma rounds one after the other in rapid succession, burstfire kept in as precise of patterns as she can from her distracted vantage point. It helps, at least. Veers the shark-man's axe off target. Splits his focus. Gives some precious time —

For Cable to finish the job.

"Ugh," grimaces Hope, as she shields her eyes against the muted flash of that contained explosion decimates the pool and inflicts its wrath on the SKOL-SCION OF JAU-SUM, "land sharks."

Just the worst.

Swiftly, as the light dims, Hope begins to assess the situation. Cable, that means telekinetics and telepathy. The other, familiar one, who… is seeming more and more like Nathan at the moment, just who IS he-? The sudden appearance of some crazy redhead completely throws things in disarray for Hope, who only has time to make a 'huh??' face before YET MORE SPACESHIPS show up.

Maybe she should try to crash the bounty hunter's ship. No, wait. Property damage is a thing here. She remembers that much. So she looks back, and sees Lorna. Lorna, protecting her child. Lorna, manipulating metal. And she gets an idea. The nature of her x-gene shifts and changes and replicates as she reaches out —

— and attempts to take hold onto anything metal and magnetic aboard that enemy Kree ship. It's a bit fumbling at first, like an infant learning how to grasp at a finger… but eventually that magnetic grip will solidify like a vice to just -hold- it in place and make it that much easier for anyone else to do what they need to do. The other ship seems like it's firing on the bounty hunters.

At the very least, they can probably just save blowing them up for later if necessary.

"How — nngh — how are the hot dogs?!"

*

Lorna was holding onto a live wire of her daughter, as Aurora screamed and cried in distress at the chaos that exploded all around them. Lights, flashes, energy beams, loud noises and chaos all drove the blue haired baby to distress. Electrical sparks flew around her as she clutched the infant to her breast. The electrical shocks from her daughter boosted her own magnetism, thickening the magnetic barrier that swirled around them in protection.

She could sense the ships, could hear the blasts.. and Jean's arrival. But her one, singular goal was protecting her daughter. Even as the metal super heated and started to melt. Lorna gritted her teeth, peering through globs of red hot metal to see the chaos around them. She gritted her teeth, feeling panic swell in her chest as she knelt, arms wrapped tightly around Aurora.

Torn between fight or flight, it was clear that carrying a baby into battle was not a good idea. So Lorna did the sensible thing for once. She turned and bolted back toward the mansion, aided by magnetic flight as she took off to invoke the schools' security alarms. And hopefully keep all the kids inside safe.

*

"You made it personal when you came guns blazing into a school," replies Nate to JON's explanation. He is forced to release the glowing bounty hunter. Too hot to handle. He does grab the top hat before he lets go, though.

'Lets go' a relative term. Physically JOM might be like the sun, but Nate's telekinetics do not burn him. So he shoves the light-making alien down with his power. Into the pool.

They also ruined the pool, the bastards.

Technically maybe it was Cable with his explosives, but the aliens get the blame anyway. Nate liked that pool; it was quickly becoming his second favorite place in the mansion.

The Milano firing on the invaders surprises him, too. « Too many sides in this fight » he transmits telepathically to the other X-Folks. « Mindlink, anyone? » Lorna's retreat is noticed and he flies to put himself between the aliens and the green-haired woman with the baby.

*

The Bug Trio, not very happy about being put under the telekinetic equivalent of an upside-down cup, start to express their displeasure with Jean in the same way they received it. She buckles momentarily in surprise as they start to SKREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE back at her, her hands clutching into her red hair as she fights to regain her concentration.

Unfortunately for the bugs, while this does interrupt the integrity of Jean's shield around them, that means Rocket has a clear shot through the thinning barrier when he opens fire!

They'll soon have another problem after that, as Jean regains enough control to push out a hand in a telekinetic thrust, sending an invisible wall of psychic energy barreling towards them like an unseen fly swatter.

Distantly, she hears someone complaining about how this is 'only business.'

"Take your business ELSEWHERE," Jean demands, this time aloud, still trying to shake off the effect of the telepathic screeching in her over-receptive mind. She's still clearly pissed, and in no small part due to two of her actual (for given values of 'actual') children being present, as well as all the children of the Institute itself. "And watch where you're all shooting! This is a school!"

Nate's telepathic call turns her head. «Mind-link,» she agrees, reaching out to forge the first link.

*

The most important question from earlier is about to be answered -

- Who go the beer? Why Dani did of course!

She got the beer and now she returns with the alcoholic beverages in hand, or rather arms. She bought enough for everyone to have a couple if they so wanted.

Of course, when the Cheyenne steps through the backdoor and back to the backyard proper, she can't quite stop the chaos of the present situation from figuratively slapping her upside the head. "Got the be..er." It's enough that the woman just stands there dumbstruck for a heartbeat or two, just staring -

Then the reality of the situation sinks in and the beer is set (somewhat delicately) aside. "Guys -" She calls out, eyes narrowing against the shine, and explosions, and the movement of the people all around, "I was gone /twenty/ minutes. TWENTY minutes. How the hell did World War Three start in such a short time?"

While she doesn't have her typical weaponry upon her that doesn't stop the Cheyenne from joining the battle. As Lorna rushes past with Aurora in her arms, Dani steps forward and in front of the retreating figure, even as a bow of magenta energy coalesces in her left hand and a similarly colored arrow appears in her right hand.

When the telepathic call is felt Dani automatically drops the shields that typically surrounds her own mind and joins the link, « Tell me who needs to be shot first. »

*

Cable’s telekinetic grasp of Istradel slacks as gravity takes hold and pulls him downwards the Earth.

Tucking his head he impacts the ground with his shoulder the pauldron of thick plate absorbing the impact of almost five hundred pounds of man and gear as he rolls loudly across the manicured lawn and is then on his feet again squatting near-to Istradel as he pulls what appears to be a futuristic version of a NERF MODULUS MEDIATOR from its holster overtop the plate at the small of his back. He opens his human eye then having closed it when the strobes went off as he went over the pool; cybernetic brain shifts to compensate for the increased depth perception.

Two hands go to the weapon. Right to the grip as the left pulls out the retractable stock which he presses against his shoulder. A space ship buzzes by then its space-gatlings shredding wicker furniture and cushions.

Lips press and he looks to Istradel then and there is a brief exchange of information between his brain, Graymalkin, and Cerebro. “Heh,” he says with a grim chuckle, “Welcome to the Institute,” and then looks towards the fracas again.

And as the spaceship stalls, “HOPE,” he roars what might sound like some sort-of inspirational cry across the field of battle except it’s followed by, “GREAT JOB SWEETHEART.”

Then ripping the magazine from his weapon and inserting another from the pouch fastened to his right bicep, «The bugs. The sun. The shark. All foes.», and then he asks, «What about the dog and the stick? Is that other ship with us?»

“Hey,” Cable says to Istriel, still watching the fight as he cycles the first round from the new magazine into the weapon, “Space ship that had the furry guy on it? Friend or Foe?”

He presses the trigger, CHNK CHNK CHNK, and weapon begins burst-firing rounds of liquid helium towards JON. Into the water that remains in the pool. The air they pass through crystalizing in long intricate crystals patterns which dissolve immediately.

*

It happens almost in slow motion. The Milano begins to fire on the alien craft, and INDRIA thinks to use her ship's evasive abilities to make short work of this Ravager-trash in front of her. Instead, it all stops. And just as it does, just as Hope finds metal in the ship to hold it still, one of the Milano's rounds ricochet off of the Kree hull and power in Hope's general direction. But not at her. No, Peter Quill does not accidentally murder Hope Summers.

But the grill? The grill is toast.

Hotdogs burnt black scatter to the winds, and as they do, a hand slams to the edge of the ruined, cracked pool. It curls, pulverizing concrete, and a great shark head rises to turn inky black eyes on Hope Summers. It's roar is the death of a thousand solar systems, echoing and billowing with eardrum-killing intent.

Right until one of those charred hotdogs land in his mouth.

There is a gurgle. A cough. The raised axe comes down so the shark-man can use it to lean on, heaving and choking on burnt beef, smacking his chest and wavering a bit before he looks to Hope with a terrible plea and the classic choking gesture, apparently pleading for help.

"A school! We did no-UGH!!" JON has little to defend himself with once Nate pushes him down with that telekinesis, slamming him into the near-empty pool and leaving a glowing explosion of light behind SKOL He tries to get up, but the moment he does, he finds himself very, very cold. "I just.. I..INDRI-EK!" The light fades around him as he freezes solid, revealing a man in his late forties, grey haired and properly dressed, if you were in London at the turn of the century. All save for a top hat, which Nate now has, the thing old and worn and musty, now that it's not glowing and on fire.

There is a trio of cheers. That's right. The bug-people all cheer! It happens when Jean loses her concentration. IRO and SPINDLE high-five each other. Just in time for IRO to take multiple hits from Rockets blaster, barreling his metal-covered form end over and until he's on the ground somewhere between Groot and Nate. "TONY STARK GIVE ME STRENGTH!!!". THE IRON INSECT RISES. Weapons bristle from his suit. He turns to return fire at rocket, his little body wiggling in it's grub-like state inside his power armor as green fire KA-CHOOMS over and over again in Rocket's direction.

SPINDLE tries to turn around and fling an energy web from his hind end and towards Jean, but her wave of power washes it back over the spider-like creature, who shrieks as he's thrown into what's left of the pool to land on JON in a heap.

But that's only two. SMOLFURY leaps clear of that energy, and right towards Jean, his battlecry echoing in her mind as well as the air. "SCHOOL IS FOR LOSERS, SUGARTITS!" This bug sounds like he's from the Bronx, and latches on to Jean's ankle with a skittering slide. Here he begins headbutting at her leg.

Which does almost nothing, because he's very very small.

BASHBASHBASH.

Istriel looks to Cable at his mention of the other ship, and just about then, Quill's gunfire on the now stationary craft completely shreds through it, but not before INDRIA leaps from the craft, lands near Cable and the Elf and charges them both. An energy spear deploys, a shield too, and the woman's archaic kree armor shimmers with arcane power.

"It would seem the craft is on our side, though how or why I would not know, such fickle accidents of fate surely do no-LOOK OUT!"

INDRIA aims a jump-kick at Cable after throwing her spear towards Istriel, who deflects it with a barely-summoned-in-time energy knife.

*

"HA! Damn shoddy Kreetech!" Crows Peter as the Milano tears apart the small craft as it…for some strange reason…hovers in the air just like a sitting duck waiting to get swatted. I mean he has no idea why it did that, but he's totally taking advantage of it.

He doesn't notice the damage to the grill yet. He'll feel back for that later.

Then someone is shouting at him from the ground and he flips on the externals.

"My girlfriend lives here! Of course I'm a friend!"

Then he's spinning the Milano in a circle, finding a clear patch to set it down so he can actually go help Rocket. "And make sure no one steps on Groot!" A pause. "He's the twig!"

Rocket he knows can take care of himself. Likely many of himselves as he pops the buckles and starts to head for the exit and towards the general melee.

*

"-this is a school?" Rocket actually pauses at that to look around. He immediately gets sidetracked as he sees Dani step outside. "Oh, heya Dani!" he greets, as though this is totally a normal thing. Then again being in the middle of an attack and shooting things is fairly normal for the Guardians. At least they can't claim to have started this.

Oh right, the fight thing.

Looking around, Rocket tries to work out who all's hitting who. He'd kinda feel bad if he ended up shooting the wrong guys. Kind of. Who're these people, even? Aside from acquaintances of Dani. Ears perk as Peter yells over the comms of the Milano. "Oh," he says. Place Kitty stays at when she's not on the Milano? Figures.

Fire explodes as the grill takes one for the team, and small Guardian ducks the shower of well-done hotdogs. "So much for stayin' for dinner," he mutters. He turns about, leveling his weapon towards the bug guys. "-aw hell."

As the so-called Iron Insect fires at him, Rocket dives and rolls, grunting at the heavy impact. He smacks his aero-rig on again, flying up as he yanks a lever on his gun, the spinning barrel shifting and swapping with a thinner one that might have earlier been mistaken as a sighting scope- but who puts one of those on a gatling gun? Bracing the weapon against his shoulder, Rocket aims and fires, a beam of concentrated purple bursting towards the insect thing.

*

Despite the chaos, life is good. Groot spots what looks like a grill amongst the craziness, recognizing the shape from some of those cooking shows he and Rocket took to watching when things got slow. Getting the burgers and whatever else he can grab will be easy-peasy!

Suddenly THE GRILL, EXPLODING INTO NOTHING.

Groot screams.

And then IRON INSECT CRASHING DOWN TO EARTH. Groot screams again. Too close. TOO CLOSE. The tree tyke could have lost his face if he didn't stagger back from the inevitable ground-shaking. One would normally be worried about their own health at this time, but this is Groot. The Twig. The tiny Groot twing who can hold a grudge with his toddler-like mentality. The Stark Fanboy is in the way! Of! Everything!

So the obvious thing to do is A) extend his plant arms and B) attempt to snarl Iro in a growing rage while he's busy shooting off rounds from multiple weapons. "I! AM!! GROOT!!!" is the vengeful shriek that follows, his arms pulling taut, aiming to lift, swing wildly, and bodily throw the bug elsewhere because he has no real direction for all of these feelings.

*

One hand extended, gripping fiercely upon the Kree ship, Hope has a stoic soldier's glare even as that bullet ricochets off the powerful hull of her imprisoned starship. She is all business, coolly looking forward and barely even flinching as that bullet EXPLODES with a shockwave of kinetic force behind her (she hasn't seen just what Peter has so callously murdered yet). Red hair whips around her, tattered cloak fluttering in the wild winds, all clenched fist and neutral expression as she watches the Milano shred the other ship to pieces. And then:

GREAT JOB SWEETHEART.

"DID YOU SEE THAT EXPLOSION? I DID THAT!" It's all shattered with a beaming smile full of enthusiastic pride and a thumbs up. Okay, so she didn't /technically/ do it. But she facilitated! And that's good enough!

But as the ship is torn to pieces, Hope pits her focus on guiding the ruin down to crash somewhere more or less harmless away from the grounds. She considered the pool for a second but, well — there's still people there. Some frozen people, but still. So, she crashes it on the lawn somewhere, hopefully away from any cars or anything else people might not want to have destroyed by a collision with an angry totaled starship, concentration pit on her work…

… which is precisely when SKOL the were-shark shark-man whatever BURSTS from whatever remains of the pool waters like he was coming straight out of a Spielberg movie. Hope, so concentrated on her attack, is left completely open. Green eyes widen. She snaps her sidearm around, knowing she's not going to have the time to get off a shot —

— when a lone, blackened object flings through the air, and straight down SKOL's gullet.

Hope Summers blinks. She squints, as she feels that mindlink forge between her and the rest. Her lips purse. « I don't think the shark's neutralized, » she mentions, off-handedly, debating whether it'd be worthwhile to just let him choke and die, or…

"Ugh," she mumbles, beneath her breath, before bogarting the powers of one of the, like, half-a-dozen telekinetics at the poolside to add to her temporary repertoire to seize on to the shark-alien — and give him a telekinetic heimlich to dislodge his choking hazard. "There, you're not dying anymore, could you maybe get out n…ow……"

It's only then, as it is being removed through her wonderfully stolen psychic powers, that she notices what he was choking on: a charred hot dog. Green eyes squeeze into a blink. She looks behind her. Towards the ruins of the grill, and all those hot dogs she never got the chance to try.

There is a long, stark, deadly silence from the redheaded girl.

And that is probably when SKOL will feel the faintest tension in the metal of his axe.

"Oh you people are just THE WORST —"

And that is the story of how Hope tried to magnetically propel a space-shark halfway across Westchester.

*

So many things going on. Battles are chaotic, evil things. Super-powered battles doubly so. Surprise battles usually are the *absolute* worst.

It takes a seasoned warrior to find the patters, discern the order out of the chaos in the few seconds in which everything happens, all the hell and fire and the screams.

Nate Grey, ten years and a hundred battles in the 'super' war business despite his age, has more or less mastered the art of confusion and discernment on the battlefield. Although his plans still tend to suck his improvisation skills are getting pretty good.

He jumps into the mind-link, but immediately cedes all the control to Jean, who has the best telepathic skills. But he leans on his senses and tactical assessment. He is high over the mansion backyard, touching every unshielded mind in the school grounds, seeking intention and intuition. « I think the blue woman - Kree - is the leader » he offers diving down back into the fight, bolts of concentrated telekinetic energy raining down on INDRIA like high-speed shrapnel. « New spaceship tw-three minds - not hostile »

His girlfriend lives here? Whathefuck? He almost transmits that through the mind-link too!

Say girlfriend… got to be Dani. Figures. « Shot the insect people, I guess » he suggests.

*

«It started when a bunch of aliens decided to have it out in the wrong backyard,» Jean grits in response to Danielle's bewilderment. She doesn't say much more.

This is because she is busy being assaulted by a SMOLFURY.

Jean stares down in utmost disdain. She doesn't look impressed at being called SUGARTITS, nor at the declaration that SCHOOL IS FOR LOSERS. "Perhaps you should be in school as well, then, under such criteria," she frowns, before she pushes down on his mind with a powerful and precise psychic pressure, her intent to simply turn him off. Telepathic time-out for SMOLFURY. «Neutralize the Kree first, then,» she transmits across the X-Men's link, as Nate observes she is the leader. «And we will put an end to this business.»

As for the Milano?

«Friends. Theoretically,» Jean transmits, though there is a tenseness to her psychic voice that suggests disapproval. Psychic energy licks off her skin like coruscating flame, as she lifts into the air to survey the situation. Her gaze rests in particular on her children — and then zeroes in on the redhead beside Nathan, as Hope makes a flashy show of her powers — and leeches some of Jean's own.

Hope might feel the psychic equivalent of eyes staring hard at her back, except in her skull. A moment passes, and then it recedes. Later, Jean decides. «Kitty likes to adopt strays,» she continues instead. «They're hers.» A pause. «I haven't yet had a chance to talk to her about her decisions.»

Peter, though? Peter is right here. Peter Quill, her voice rings in his head, direly unimpressed. We are going to have a conversation about you flying your ship to the school…

*

The bugs, the sun, just about everything other than the X-Mansion people and the arrival of the Guardians is a potential target. That's enough to cause Moonstar to frown, even as she begins to line up a shot.

Only there's the slightest of wavers when Rocket so matter-of-factly greets her. That causes the glowing arrow to dip slightly as Dani cranes her neck around to look at Rocket. "Rocket!" She replies back, "Funny seeing you -" Here, but that last word is never said, not when things (tm) explode again.

"What the hell!" Snaps Dani, but eventually (like all things) the explosions lessen some and the bow and arrow snap upward again. With so many people pointing out the bugs, it doesn't take long for Dani to laser focus on them. Specifically the one that's attacking Rocket - because, well, Rocket!

The psychic arrow is loosed in the general direction of the Iron Insect. In fact, whichever bug mentioned Tony Stark by name earns a startled response via the mind-link, « Tony Stark? Did that creature actually say Tony Stark? Are we in some alternate timeline? Or shared hallucination again? »

Along with that surprise there might be the vague sense of a thank you from Dani, when Jean explains the situation more clearly, but then when the elder red-head speaks of the leader, Dani switches her attention away from the bug. A second arrow shimmers to life within her bow and as soon as she finds even a glimpse of Indria that arrow is set free to fly at the Kree leader.

There's not even enough time to respond to the intact ship megaphone blaring their right to be here either; even if Jean validates Peter Quill's credentials.

*

Cable fires until the weapons is empty is empty. It’s action locks back expelling sub-zero gas and he rakes his free hand beneath the receiver to knock the magazine clear. With smooth motion he reaches to his bandolier –

‘My girlfriend lives here!’ Distraction.

‘LOOK OUT’ he whirls raises the SMG defensively, *WHUMP*

The force of the blow knocks him backward and partially through the exterior wall of the mansion. The lines of his face darken as features twist in anger for having let the woman slip into his guard. He blames himself but he’s sure to take out some measure of this on Quill – whatever’s left when Jean finishes.

Coming out of the wall he drops the shards of metal which had been his weapon. The armor has buckled from the force of the impact a vaguely boot-shaped impression overtop his heart – certainly a lethal blow if not for his own armor.

Left hand to the blade-hilt above his abdomen. A practiced movement unsheathes the blade. It thrums with a low buzz and vibrates as bluish-energy runs down its length causing the blade’s edge to shimmer with technological shearing power. His empty mechanical hand goes upward slightly and he begins to maneuver, so that she’ll have to guard both he and Istrael, prepared to put knife against both shield and spear.

Eye swells with power. His halves begin to function in cybernetic symphony. The machine working his body. The man working his mind. Reading action upon the surface of her mind and transmitting that as reaction to his body. He doesn’t wait.

Feinting to put her weak side to Istrael he dives forward a thrust of telekinetic power tugging at her elbow. Blade hums. Stabs. Hums. Slices. Moving in and out within close proximity to weaken the advantage of her spear. A dervish blade and telekinesis. To force the shield on him as well.

In the space between seconds he can feel young Nate closing the distance. Their shared heritage and ability creating a synergistic response as their intents bind together almost subconsciously into a force that will someday save the future. Sense Dani’s lethal intent as she looses an enchanted arrow. The sensations of his allies feds to his body which feints, and then feints again.

*

As Dani lets loose an arrow, SPINDLE leaps! In slow motion, the word "NOOOOOOOOOOO" screams in overly dramatic fashion as the mecha-spider-bug takes the arrow to the center mass. All of it's little eyes roll back in it's head, and it tumbles end over end to land in a twitching heap. This does not, unfortunately, help THE IRON INSECT very much.

The beam of concentrated purple lances out from Rocket's gun and impacts THE IRON INSECT, a blackened scorch mark all that's left of the paintjob that made his armor so very StarkTech on the outside, tumbling end over end until he's all caught up in Little Groot's tendrils.

"What the f-" SMASH. SMASH. SMASH. There is a dizzying display of hulk-like strength from the little tree-creature and THE IRON INSECT sees nothing but stars. A deep, mournful groan emitted as he lays very very still at the one of those smashing Groot-attacks.

The charred, now-slimy remains of what might be the last hot-dog on all of Earth bounces in front of Hope. There is a great wheezing, a hand lifting, a silent thank you to the girl who, just moments ago, was on SKOL's 'eat immediately' list. "H..holy Hela. Thought I was gonna actually die here. Right here. Choking on some Midgard food. Girl I don't know your name, but you just saved the Scion of JAU-SUM. By honor of the SKREET SHARKS of Ancient Jauflheim, now removed from reality for.. things we cannot speak of, you may ask any one thing of me, and I am honor-bound to gra-ohHEYWHATTH-"

VOMFFF!!

That's the sound of a shark-man flying, with metal humming all around him.

SOMEWHERE IN MANHATTAN. "Verily Toothbender, this is not a point I shall argue on! You are a goat, there is no need for you to own shoes with red heels, for I know your game and you would simply eat them! Now quiet your wailful tone an-" And then the goat's hindparts turn the color of the rainbow, and it doth heatbutt a flying sharkman from the very sky. As a crowd gathers and begins to take pictures, Atli Wodendottir places a foot on the unconscious shark man and curls an arm high, showing off a bicep. "Ah, Toothbender, I never should have doubted you. You may eat any shoes you like! Wait until the Mini-Man of Magnets and The Queen Witch of Jellyfish see this grand victory!"

BACK AT THE MANSION.

SMOLFURY headbutts Jean Grey's leg as if his cousins were broccoli people, grunting as he begins to see stars, but his powers are pretty tame, and his leg blasters are already useless from smashing against her energy field, so what's he gonna do?! "I AINT GOING NOWHERE GINGERNAUGHT! I'LL F-" And so ends the ballad of SMOLFURY, who rebounds after a final headbutt and falls right over, twitching at Jean's feet as she shuts his mind off.

Nate's aerial barrage begins, and so does INDRIA's dance. Some piece of technology kicks in, and the calculating Kree becomes a blur, her form distorting, distracting, an energy shield sizzling at Nate's attack hits her non-the-less, and the shield on her arm buckling as a light-dagger slashes in with a harrassing fury meant to drive her closer to Cable as he rejoins the fray. Blade meets blade, and Cable's telekinetic trick along with Nate's barrage, allows Cable's blade to slip in, stinging INDRIA's side and forcing her to withdrawl a step.

Istriel thinks to take that moment to strike, and an arm loops around her incoming blade, tossing her over INDRIA's shoulder -

And right into the path of Dani Moonstar's arrow.

"-erk!"

It's all the Light Elf can manage before she tumbles to the ground, a followup backhand from Cable sending INDRIA sidelong and tumbling to land right near the feet of the disembarking Peter Quill.

She looks up, shock in her eyes.
"Betrayed by Star-Prince!! I KNEW THIS WAS A SET UP."

And then she hits the back of her hand, an emergency beacon not all that different from one of Cable's own sending a signal that de-materializes the Starburn Six. Well, at least the five of them that are here. That done, the gate above them closes, leaving them to dump adrenaline and survey the damage.

*

"WOAH!" Peter Quill's eyes go wide and round. "Someone is talking in my head and she sounds like some kind of angry teacher or something. I mean. Not that I ever had a teacher in like decades. But I remember…that is totally a 'I'm really dissipointed in you young man' tone."

…at least he turned the /ships/ coms off before babbling like that. He stalks to the ramp and leaps down it as he puts out both blasters and…

…and some hot blue-skinned chick lands at his feet.

"Man. I know I'm amazing but you don't have to throw yourself at me. I'm totally in a committed relationship rig—"

Betrayed by Star-Prince!!

"—STAR-LORD! IT'S STAR-LORD! How hard is that to remember!" He shouts as he snaps his pistols towards her and…

…and the pair of lightning rounds slam into the empty ground a second after the woman disappears.

Silence.

"NOT A WORD, ROCKET!"

…ok. Near silence.

*

"…how about three?" Rocket asks, casting Peter a look. It's a quick one as he's scanning the rest of the grounds once he sets down on the ground again. "Eh, look on the bright side, at least Kitty ain't here."

Looks like it's all clear. Well. Only one thing left to do, clearly.

Shhhk-fzztsss…

That is the sound of a can of beer being popped open. The raccoonoid's wandered over to help himself to one of the beers that Dani had so thoughtfully provided them with.

You know, now that things aren't shooting at them or throwing things in their direction.

Rocket leans against his monstrosity of a gun, compacted once more so that it's merely nearly his height rather than practically as tall as. -no wait, that's the same thing. Taking another swig of beer, he looks around, perhaps eyeing Cable a little too much for the amount of metal and weaponry that seems to be built into the guy. Then he turns his head and points at Groot. "Hey! No, don't eat that, that's disgusting!"

*

Caught in the act. Across the way, Groot is seen crouched by the remains of what may have been charcoal, grill bits, and other debris. Something dark and crumbly has made it partway into his mouth after all of his earlier rage subsided, barely getting a taste of whatever barbecued goodness there was left before it's dropped back into the pile.

The walking shrub scowls at Rocket, hopping up to kick at some of the other pieces in vain. "I am Groot!" However cute that sounds, it's not as cute a translation as it could have been.

*

Hope Summers' frown is severe as she watches SKOL THE SHARK-MAN go rocketing off into the distance just as those electromagnetic powers fade from her. The redhead heaves a small sigh as the shark becomes a twinkling dot in the heavens, her gaze turning back towards the ruins of the barbecue grill.

"… My first hot dog…" At the least, maybe now she can actually have a decent one. Probably not the best time to try to console her like that, though.

It's her soldier's instincts that don't allow her to dwell for more than a second, however; there's still a situation on the ground, and there's still threats to be neutralized. And so, hands on her weapon, Hope takes stock — first pinpointing where Cable is, helping to deal with the leader. Then the unknowns, apparently on their side because — "His girlfriend-?"

Who here has a space pirate as a boyfriend? She suspiciously side-eyes Dani. Is everything here so insane —

And that's when she feels it. Like eyes boring into her, except on a psychic level she's grown so familiar with after so many years working and fighting alongside Nathan. There's a certain spark to it that feels familiar in a way that she can't place, a way that has her almost subconsciously looking up, and staring at the source like someone tugging on a thread.

That other redhead. Who is she…? Green eyes squint. A frown settles across Hope's lips. She doesn't like it, that feeling of being prodded. But she tables it, at least for now, to focus on the last remaining targets.

Targets who are all disappearing one by one.

"They're bodysliding-!" Because that's what you call it in the future.

A second passes, in the stark silence. Hope only lowers her gun once she's absolutely sure the so-called Star-Prince and his friends aren't going to start shooting at them. And then, she looks around. At all the collateral damage. And the ruined pool.

"Situation clear," she reports studiously as she holsters her weapon, "and without much mess, too."

Behind her, a piece of flaming space ship debris crashes onto a table full of chips.

*

Cable starts forward and mechanical fingers reach for the pistol drop-holstered at his thigh but stops-short when the woman taps the communicator. He glares across the down combatants his sensors detecting the teleportation signal a moment before it takes hold.

Nathan Summers sheathes the knife.

‘They’re bodysliding-!’

“Hope,” he barks reaching around his left-side and pulling off a hand-held medical scanner. He tosses it to the Savior-of-Mankind in Training, “We have wounded.” Kneeling at Istrael’s side he moves cold metal fingers around where the arrow impacted. No wound. Lips press.

He awaits Hope’s confirmation that she’s the physical trauma is minimal before hefting the intergalactic bounty. Nathan Summers give Jean Grey 'a look' gaze flickering briefly to the Guardians before going back to the headmistresses and after a long pause he says, “I’ll be back.”

Then he carries Istriel into the hole he created in the wall just minutes ago and down to the med bay so that all this can be sorted out.

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