Into the Heart of Darkness
(Year: 195 Location: Former New York city)
Quatre's safehouses were not ordinary safehouses. Oh no. They were stately, old-Victorian style mansions masquerading as safehouses.
Duo grinned widely as he stuck his head out the window of the vehicle like some braided sheepdog as Heero carefully manouvered the huge transport truck up the long winding driveway, trademark to nearly all the Winner residences. Prior experiences, including multiple trees, gates, and busted fire hydrants had taught Heero the value of NOT letting Duo drive.
Ahead, they could already see several members of the Winner family mini-army; two members of the Maganac Corps were flagging him down, indicating that Heero should follow a ramp they had uncovered, that led to an underground hangar.
" Over there Heero!" Duo excitedly pointed out two large spaces that had obviously been cleared away for them. Trowa's Heavyarms, Quatre's Sandrock, and Wufei's Shenlong were already in their resting places; silent metal sentries standing guard. More Maganacs scurried about the complex, doing repairs, shouting out orders and seeming to have a wonderful time while doing so. Raucus laughter rang throughout the underground base.
Backing up slowly, warning beeps and all, Heero stopped the rig at the base of a slightly raised platform and cut the engines. Duo cackled and bounded out of the truck's cab, rubbing his hands together. He flipped a switch on the side of the truck and watched as the metal clamps unlocked. Taking hold of the huge canvas, he cackled again, tugging it off in a grand gesture. Well, that was his intention. Two Maganacs on either side had to help him fling the heavy covering off.
" Shinigami LIVES!"
Glinting in the harsh lights of the compound, Deathscythe Hell and Wing Zero lay in all their Gundanium splendour. Scrambling up to the hatch on Deathscythe's chest, Duo punched in a pre-programmed code and then jumped to the ground, grinning.
" I LOVE this part!"
The Maganacs burst into laughter as Deathscythe Hell rose to it's feet and stalked over to its new resting place next to Shenlong, it's braided pilot waving his arms around like some demented scientist crying, " It's ALIVE! It's ALIVE!"
Heero shook his head in wry amusement as he activated his own Gundam to set down beside Deathscythe. After making sure both Gundams were secured, he turned back around in time to see Duo launch himself off the platform and into a small, blond-haired man.
" Quatre!!" Duo yelped as he glomped the Arabian pilot, who staggered back under the American's assult, giggling the whole time.
" Hello Duo!" Quatre hugged the American back, and then pulled away slightly so he could see Heero. " And to you too, Heero!"
Heero nodded, watching with faint jealousy as Duo hugged Quatre one more time before letting him go. " Quatre."
Duo was already prowling around the blond like a nervous cat, looking all over the place. Finally he gave up and pointed at Quatre.
" So where is he?"
" Where's who?"
" The Unibanger!" Duo grinned. " Where is he? You keepin' him locked in your closet Quat-man?"
" Actually, I keep him locked in mine," came a dry voice from behind him. Duo spun around.
Trowa stoically endured one of Duo's patented spine-crushing hugs, but the sparkle in his eye totally belied his bland expression. Duo pulled away and grinned.
" I better stop before I make Quatre jealous, neh?" he teased. Quatre flamed red to the roots of his blond hair.
" Kidding! Kidding!" Duo yelped as Heero's hand snaked behind him and delivered a sharp tug to his braid.
" ITAI! Yeesh, always with the hair!" Duo scowled and backed out of range, petting the brown tail with an injured air. Heero ignored him as he delivered his own greeting to Trowa.
" Where's Wufei?" he asked casually.
" I am here. " Wufei appeared in the doorway, absently smoothing a non-existant wrinkle in his immaculate white pants. He eyed them all. " Greetings."
" Wu-chan!" Duo crowed. Wufei's eyebrows twitched involuntarily, and he automatically reached for his sword. It wasn't in it's usual place of honour at his hip. _Damn_. Duo approached him at warp speed, barelling into the chinese pilot. " Wu-chan!"
" Get OFF of me Maxwell!" Wufei growled out between gritted teeth. Duo squeezed him once more before climbing off. Wufei got to his feet and deliberated whether or not he wanted to smack the braided baka upside the head. Looking at the American's obvious delight in seeing him however, momentarily derailed his anger and he sighed once. " Hello Maxwell. Heero."
Heero grunted, hand half raised in greeting. Duo bounded back to his side and Heero felt a small surge of....happiness?...at the pilot's apparently automatic gesture. Then he shook his head. There would be time enough later on to sit down and analyze his feelings. He looked at Quatre who was safely esconced once again in Trowa's arms and felt another pang of jealousy. He scowled blackly at his traitorous hormones. _ I said, LATER_!
" Is there a place where we can talk privately Quatre?" he asked, picking up his duffel bag. Quatre nodded and then swatted Heero's hands off the bag.
" The main drawing room," Quatre nodded. " And leave your bags alone - Rashid will get them. You know the rules!"
Duo chuckled. " You'd think we'd have learned our lessons last time." Memories of Rashid looming over them threateningly made him giggle out loud.
Heero allowed a faint smirk on his face as he dug through the bag, pulling out his laptop. Rashid then scooped up his and Duo's bag and preceeded them into the house.
Quatre led the way into the drawing room as a servant darted forwards to open the large bay windows. A light breeze off the nearby ocean swept into the room, bringing with it the faint salty sea spray and ruffling the hair of everyone in the room.
Duo flopped down on a large, wood-framed fouton with a thick white mattress, sinking into it's depths with a sigh.
" Ummm..." he murmered, stretching his legs out and lacing his fingers behind his head. " This is the life."
Heero snorted as he sat next to the American. Duo inwardly cheered with glee when the Perfect Soldier joined him. _Maybe, just maybe_, he thought wistfully. Quatre cleared his throat.
" Well, we all know why we're here, right?" he asked, not really expecting anyone to reply in the negative.
" The base is approximately fifty miles from here," Heero stated from his seated position. " We can be there in under twenty minutes."
" What kind of defences are we talking about? Trowa spoke up from where he stood next to the window.
" The Maganacs reported mostly Leos and Aries. A few new test Scorpios, but pretty much the norm," Quatre said. Wufei crossed his arms and nodded.
" What about data retrieval?"
Heero looked at Wufei. " Duo is the best at infiltration, and I can crack any Oz security code they have. The two of us will go in and retrieve the data."
Duo grinned at the compliment and didn't deny it. " Piece of cake, dude!" he said in a thick surfer's accent, throwing them a thumb's up. Quatre laughed and then quickly sobered.
" Does anyone else get the feeling something isn't quite right though?" he asked unexpectedly.
Duo looked at the blond as though he'd grown a second head. " Since when has anything we've done, ever been considered normal?"
" I know what you mean, " Heero interjected quietly. " I read the data Dr. J sent - why would Oz be constructing black holes?"
" To quote you: 'That's what we're supposed to find out, baka!'" Duo snickered at his partner.
" Whatever they're doing, my space heart is telling me something...dangerous, is coming. " Quatre rubbed his chest absently. Trowa looked at him in concern.
" Then we shall just take more care then usual," Wufei shrugged. He looked at Duo. " Or in some cases, take care for the first time in their life?"
Duo stuck his tongue out. " Love ya too, Wu-chan!"
" Baka," Wufei muttered.
" I suggest we get some rest," Quatre said, clapping his hands together briskly. As though it were an unspoken command, servants appeared and scurried into the room, tyding it up and closing the windows. Rashid stood patiently by the door to escort the young men to their respective rooms. Quatre took one last look at the sky before the curtains were completely closed.
_Something dangerous is coming_, he thought again as Trowa took his arm and led him out of the room. _But what_?
(Year: 2000 Location: Westchester, New York)
A somewhat feral looking man sat cross-legged in the middle of the huge lawn in front of what appeared to be a large school. Somewhat shaded by the branches of a large sycamore tree, the man sat, seemingly oblivious to the sounds of nature and the world around him. The wind rustled once, warningly. An ear twitched. Heightened senses caught the near inaudible sonic whine of a Shi'ar engine. Getting to his feet in one smooth motion, the man known to his friends as Logan, loped into the large mansion.
Through the decorative hallway, past the old paintings and marble busts on their pedastals, towards the large room that served as the office of Professor Xavier. Without bothering to knock, Logan pushed the door open.
" Cajun's back," he said simply in a low gutteral voice; then turned around and headed for the elevator.
" Thank you Logan."
Professor Xavier's golden hoverchair, yet another gift of the technologically advanced Shi'ar race, moved smoothly around the desk and he joined Logan in the hallway. A faint 'whoosh indicated the arrival of the elevator car and the metal doors slid open, allowing the two men to enter.
" Sub-Basement," Xavier spoke clearly. Logan merely sniffed and reached into the pocket of the tattered, red flannel shirt he wore. Taking out a cigar, he bit off the end, took out a light and proceeded to blow smoke rings into the small room. The professor sighed as he activated the ventilation system.
" You do that deliberately."
" Yup." Teeth gleamed in a snarling smile that would have sent most men running for the hills. Professor X merely returned the smile, albeit somewhat ruefully.
The elevator slid to a halt and the computerized voice confirmed that they were now indeed at the sub-basement level. The doors opened up to reveal a brightly lit hallway, completely encased in metal. Logan's steel-toed cowboy boots struck the floor with a metallic ring that nearly blocked out the soft humming of the hoverchair. Various doorways branched off from the main corridor but the two men continued in silence until they reached the far end. Another set of doors opened at their approach, leading into an extremely large, underground hangar.
Taking up the most space was a large black jet that gleamed. Sleek and powerful, it stood there silently, waiting for it's next mission. To the one side of it, a smaller, one-man jet that could have passed for the twin of Remy's plane, had its side panels open, in the midst of an apparent upgrade. Half a torso hung out of the guts of the plane. Logan snorted.
" Incoming, Cyke."
The torso revealed that it did have an upper half as a head popped up over the panel.
" Who else?" The sarcasm was not lost on anyone.
Scott Summers, aka Cyclops,  stepped away from the small jet and grabbed a rag from the toolkit on the ground next to him. He nodded a greeting to the Professor and Logan.
" Where's Jean?" the professor asked curiously. Scott smiled - the question was a mere formality. If he so chose, Professor Xavier could have told Scott the exact location of anyone in the X-mansion. One of the perks of being the most powerful telepath on the planet.
But as he had learned from his experience with Onslaught, with great power came great responsibility. Never one to indulge in psychic frivolity before, the Professor now worked harder then ever to avoid intruding on other's thoughts without their permission.
" She's in the war room," Scott answered. A powerfully built young man, he had short brown hair but the color of his eyes were not immediately apparent. Cyclops wore a red, ruby-quartz visor that turned everything he saw into shades of red. the man who's looks could literally kill, Scott Summers head housed powerful optic beams of monumetally destrcutive force. The visor kept this power in check.
A warning alarm went off and across the vast room, a ramp opened up in the wall, revealing its holographically hidden location in the mountain-side adjacent to the Westchester school. Logan moved to one side and watched, cigar dangling between his teeth loosely as the whines he heard from the engine before, came back in full force.
The mini-jets engines all but purred as it glided down the runway, hovering a few feet above the ground. Touching down softly, the hatch opened and Remy Lebeau hopped out of the cockpit in one fluid motion. Remy flicked his sunglasses off his nose to hang against his chest as he sauntered over to the three men.
" A welcoming party for Remy?" he asked with a sly grin. " Ya shouldn't have."
" S'why we didn't," grunted Logan. " Rogue fill ya in?"
" Somewhat," Remy shrugged. Anything else he would have said was cut off as another side door opened and a young woman, clad neck to toe in tight green material came through.
Rogue flew through the air and crashed into the Cajun, hugging him tightly. Remy returned the embrace.
" So you DID miss me, huh Chere?"
" Idiot," she muttered grinning. Placing her gloved hand over his mouth, she kissed the back of it. Unable to touch anyone, skin to skin, she had to improvise until she learned to control her power. And Remy didn't mind at all. He winked at her and wrapped one arm securely around her waist.
Cyclops cleared his throat.
" You know who stole the space generator?"
Remy's eyes suddenly lost the joyed look and became hooded. " Yah. Sinister." He spat out the word as though it tasted foul in his mouth. " Everyone okay?"
" Fine," the Professor nodded. " I myself was out talking with various mutant rights groups. Most of the others were out relaxing - Mr. Sinister had been waiting for just such an opportunity."
" Yeah, he does that, doesn't he?" Remy mused darkly. " Defense no good?"
Wolverine snorted. " When it comes to Sinister and defences, nothing works except the X-men themselves. Even the deadly stuff don't bother him - just throws one his little cronies into the line of fire, knowing if it kills them, he can always clone a new batch in the morning."
Rogue shook her head. " Dirty little rat," she growled. " And with the stuff he stole...heck, Ah'm not sure Ah wanna know what he's up to."
" Got no choice, Chere - was in de job description when yah join de team."
Scott suddenly tilted his head to one side, seemingly listening intently. Then he nodded and looked at the others.
" Jean's got a weak fix on where Sinister is."
" What?" Remy looked disbelivingly at his leader. " We could never find him before - why now?"
" Combo tracking device and something about mutant residue," Logan said, sucking in the evil-smelling smoke emanating from his cigar. He shook his head. " Makes me think of something ya'd scrape off yer shoe or something."
" Residual energy left over from the tests we did on the machine using Franklin's energy signature," the Professor elaborated. " The machine itself tends to store up energy - not a good thing over a long period of time. Build up of temporal energy - the kind Franklin's powers produced as a side effect - tends to be extremely unstable, and registers quite high on normal energy meters. Jean was using cerebro to track down the temporal energy leftover from what we were experimenting with - and it sounds like she was successful."
Scott nodded. Remy and Rogue exchanged a look. " Suuuuuurrrrrrre, " they chorused. Scott rolled his eyes as he led his team to the door. Logan followed behind, an amused smirk on his face.
Jean looked up from the holographic map in the center of the room as the quintet entered. Storm and Beast were already there, waiting patiently Scott went immediately to his wife and greeted her quietly. Storm smiled when she saw Remy.
" Welcome back Remy. I trust you took care of your business?"
" You betcha Stormy!"
The weather goddess's lips curled in a faint grimace. " Please do not call me that."
Beast waved at them all jovially from where he was perched upside down, feet clinging to the wide beams above his head. " Greetings and salutations all! And Gambit, our travelling compatriot, back among the fold - you're just in time for the expediat retrieval of our temporal matter converter and generator that was stolen by the villainus cur, by possible virtue of power displays and fisticuffs!"
" We're gonna get back the stuff Sinster took in a big ol' brawl," Rogue translated. She smirked at the Beast. " Ah know my share of ten dollar words too!"
" I am in utter awe, Rogue."
" Ya should be, Fuzzy!"
" If we might cease this childish behaviour," the Professor said, a teasing light in his eye. " I do believe Jean has something to share with us. If you would, Jean?"
" Thank you sir." Jean indicated the large, three-dimensional map hovering in front of them. " Using a modified version of cerebro, I managed to track down the location of Sinister's latest laboratory. It's in what appears to be an abandoned building, on the outskirts of New York City."
" Always in an abandoned building," Logan snorted. " Ya'd think these so called supervillains get all the ideas from the same comic book or something."
Remy snickered. The Professor looked at him in concern.
" I know dealing with Sinister isn't something you're looking forward to Remy."
Remy eyed the professor somewhat suspiciously. " You snoopin' 'round my mind, Prof?"
" Certainly not. But you're broadcasting - quite strongly, I might add. If this bothers you, you do not have to be a part of this. No one would blame you."
Remy weighed his words carefully, before finally settling on what to say. " I'd blame me," he sighed. " Sinister's another one o' my messes I gotta help clean up. 'Side's - you don't t'ink I'd back away from a fight, do ya?" He shook his head, not waiting for an answer. " I be honest w'it ya - de t'ought of seein' Sinster again freaks me right out. But I ain't gonna sit 'round, twiddlin' my t'umbs when I could be helpin'."
Cyclops nodded. He'd expected Gambit's answer to be along those lines. Jean sent him a small smile and Rogue tightened her grip on his hand in a silently supportive gesture. Wolverine looked bored.
" So when we leaving?" he asked casually. Cyclops straightened.
" Psylocke and Warren are unavailable right now. The team so far consists of me, Jean, Beast, Storm, Gambit, Rogue and you Wolverine." 
" Seven, huh?" Remy brushed a lock of hair from his eyes. " I'd prefer de whole team."
" So would I. But unfortunately we can't wait that long." Beast leaned forward, placing his large hands on the console. " Think about the implications of what Sinister could do with that equipment! Import soldiers, warriors, foreign deseases, high technology - anything he wants from millions of dimension. And he can do it too - he's a brilliant scientist, regardless of how twisted he is."
" Agreed. " Cyclops looked piercingly at Remy. " We leave as soon as the Blackbird is prepped. Are you in?"
Remy nodded once. His hand slipped out his pocket, holding a card. The Ace of Spades. He concentrated and it burst into pinkish flame, yet the card itself remained unburnt. He held it up and looked at it, looked at THEM. " Let's do it," he said simply and tossed the card behind his shoulder. The card exploded in a tiny puff of smoke as Gambit called the power back into him before it could do any real damage. " De sooner we go, de sooner we done."
Scott nodded. " Let's go."
" AARRGH!!!" Quatre gritted his teeth as laser fire tore into his Gundam. The thick armour wasn't pierced, but the resulting explosions rocked the Gundam, throwing Quatre around in his harness. " That was close."
" 04! Are you all right?" Trowa's anxious voice came through the communicator. Quatre chuckled grimly.
" I'm fine, 03. That Leo just took me by surprise!"
Teeth set, Quatre dove back into the fray. Bullets covered his back as Heavyarms sprayed a wide range of fire, driving back the air-born Aries that tried to attack from above. Activating his scimitars, Quatre let out a surprisingly feral yell as he sliced and diced his way through the front line. Decimated, the remaining Leos tried to retreat in order to regroup, but a burst of orange fire swept through them. Quatre wiped the sweat out of his eyes and grinned at the dragon Gundam.
" Thanks 05!"
" A pleasure," came Wufei's voice. " The Aries have regrouped."
" Let's go!" Sandrock leaped into the air, twin blades flashing as he first sheared one flying mobile suit in half, and then thrust both scimitar into the guts of another. Wufei let out a battle cry.
Trowa navigated his Gundam smoothly through two Scorpios that lashed out at him with whip-like appendages of razor-sharpness. One scored a direct hit and he felt the power die in his right arm.
" 03?" Quatre's head snapped up. He saw the large red and gold Gundam fighting the Scorpios with only his arm canon. Knowing the huge Gundam would soon be out of bullets, he thumbed the communicator.
" 05! 03 needs some backup! Are you okay here?"
Wufei chuckled harshly as his dragon claw slammed into the chest plate of a mobile suit foolish enough to try and sneak up on him.
" I will be fine. Help 03."
" Thank you!" Quatre breathed, and took off across the battlefield that had sprung up out of what was once a laboratory parking lot. Wufei grunted as more firepower struck the faceplate of his Gundam, nearly toppling him. He growled, throwing a glance at the lab.
_Maxwell and Heero had better hurry_!
" Shhhhhhhh!" Heero and Duo flattened themselves against the wall as they heard the running footsteps of soldiers drawing closer. As the squadron passed them, Duo breathed a sigh of relief and motioned for Heero to follow him. Recalling the laboratory blueprints from memory, Duo made a sharp right at the first intersection in the hallway they came across and found themselves face-to-face with a solid metal door. Heero grunted and kept watch as Duo inspected the lock.
" Can you get it open?"
Duo shook his head. " Not in the amount of time we need to. Give me an hour and I'd have it - but we're gonna have to do something a little different."
Heero couldn't help but laugh at the look of pure maniacal glee on Duo's face as he held out what looked like a lump of modelling clay. Duo attached it to the wall, connecting the wires and arming the detonator. " Let's go."
The two of them sprinted down the hallway to the first doorway and leaned against the wall again. Duo held up his fingers.
A loud explosion rocked the hallway, sending bits of metal and debris flying. Duo grinned. " Oh yeah."
The two of them raced back to the door and Duo noted with satisfaction that he had guessed the correct amount of C4 needed and the exact location of the inner lock. " I am So good."
Heero couldn't help but agree. Mischievious and playful the boy may be - but he was a terrorist at heart. And no one was better then Duo when it came to blowing things up. Except when it came to self-destructing - Heero still held that record.
Once inside, Heero quickly counted only three scientists in the room. One of them reached for a gun on the counter and Heero calmly put a bullet through the man's heart. The other two froze. Duo scampered forwards and herded them together while Heero went straight to the main computer. He began searching the root directories, slipping a blank cd into the drive to save everything he found. Duo looked up from where he had tied the scientists up - and froze.
" Heero?" he asked in an odd tone. " What is THAT?"
Heero growled, annoyed at being pulled away from his computer search - until he saw what Duo was looking at.
A metal spiderweb of tubes and cross pieces stood beyond the banks of computer terminals. Interlocked pieces of metal gave it a circular framework which was brought a spiderweb to Duo's mind. The center was black. Deep black. Pulsing black - Duo stared harder. It looked like the damn thing had a heartbeat!
Heero stared and turned back to the computer quickly, determined to find out what it was. Duo decided to take the obvious approach. He waved his gun in the face of the scientists.
" What IS that?" He casually kicked the body of the dead scientist at his feet. " And don't bother acting tough, okay? Not if you want to live."
One man collapsed, and the other looked up fearfully.
" It's an experiment we're working on - one that was just recently successful! You can't kill us now - it's the discovery of a century!" The man looked about ready to cry.
Duo squatted down until he was looking directly into the man's eyes. " What experiment?"
" A black hole!"
Duo abruptly straightened and looked back at the...thing. " That's a black hole?"
" Well..." The scientist hedged.
" It's the same principle bit it's got different properties," Heero said, appearing next to Duo, holding the cd in one hand. Duo gave him a blank look. Heero motioned at the framework of metal. " Think of an energy converter - and think of the way mobile suits are able to take existing energy from space and use it to increase their speed. They're automatically converting different energy into what they need." 
Duo nodded. " Go on."
" A black hole is nothing but energy - sort of. It doesn't convert anything, it just is. At least, that's the way these guys were thinking."
" So that's a storage tank that changes energy. What's it change to?" Duo asked, brows wrinkling in confusion.
" We're not sure yet," blurted out the scientist. " You see - this is all unprecedented - we're using a piece of machinery that we found here - that is made of a material we've never seen before!"
" Where'd it come from?" Duo asked him sharply. The man shook his head.
" Not from earth. At least, THIS earth."
Duo's eyes widened - and then narrowed. " Don't tell me you're thinking what I think you're thinking."
The scientist nodded fractionally. " Teleportation. Or a version of it. But not just from one PLACE to another--"
" From one WORLD to another?" Heero's face had lost the blank neutrality Duo hated so much and now looked interested. The scientist nodded again.
" Okay, yeah. Sure - tell ya what, how 'bout I go get my comic books 'cause they'd make a whole lot more sense then you are right now!" Duo said, raking a hand through his unruly banks. The scientist glowered.
" It's true! We were about to make history - and then YOU showed up!"
" Tough. " Duo shrugged. The man leaped to his feet and slammed his fist into a console, striking a button that had been previously covered with glass. So quickly did he move, that for once, both Heero and Duo were caught off guard. Lights began to flash and alarms began going off all over the base. Heero and Duo fired catching the man in the chest and the head with pinpoint accuracy. the man was dead before his body hit the ground.
" SHIT!" Duo swore as he watched everything start exploding.
Sinister made a final modification on the black metal box, watching it pulse and hum with energy. Threnody stood behind him calmly.
" It's ready," he murmered, splaying his fingers over the top. " I'll have to remember to thank the dear Professor for doing such elegant work."
He turned away from the machine and went back to his computer. Pressing a few buttons, he watched as a black swirling appeared in the small metal gateway he'd constructed. Behind him, Threnody watched impassively.
" Threnody, my dear. We are about to make history," he chortled. " Do you know what this is?"
" No, master," Threnody answered, staring at the machine with faint interest.
" Professor Xavier, and the equally brilliant Dr. Henry McCoy were doing some fascinating experiments with this machine," he said, stroking his chin thoughtfully. " Using that child's mutanagenic signature to create a dimensional portal - I never would have thought them capable of such a feat." A faint scowl touched his face. " I'm almost ashamed of myself - I should have thought of it first." He spared a glance at the vials of test tubes that he knew were locked away in his laboratory. " Franklin Richards is one of the few mutants of whom I do NOt have a sample of DNA."
Threnody looked at him quizzically.
" I don't have much time," Sinister said as he began imputting a sequence of codes. " Over twenty-four hours have passed - I can safely assume that the Professor and his X-men--" he hissed the words. "--are searching for me as we speak. I can't even confirm this - THIS--" he waved at the machine. "--is taking up every spare bit of power I have to maintain."
He pressed another button. " Riptide. Report to me at once."
A few seconds later, a side door opened, and a whirling dirvish entered the room, a shock of wild hair and ripped clothing as the mutant cyclone known as Riptide entered the room. Of course, this was not the original Riptide - he was merely a clone, many times over, courtesy of Sinister's twisted brilliance. " Yes, Master?"
" You will be the first test subject," Sinister said, smiling evilly. The clone gulped - even if he died, he knew his brain waves were recorded and would be transferred to another clone. Still - dying hurt like hell. If it was all the same to anyone, he'd rather not. But you don't say that to Sinister. Ever.
" Yes sir."
Riptide moved closer to the metal gate as Sinister turned the power on full-blast.
Duo and Heero burst out of the laboratory at a dead run, sprinting as deadly fire blossomed and chased bafter them, nipping at their heels.
They hit the ground, rolling as the main doors exploded behind them. Duo felt the wind shear past him and he unconsciously touched his braid, making sure it was still there. " Damn that was close!"
Shenlong and Heaveyarms suddenly touched down, carrying Deathscythe and Wing Zero. Duo blinked. " huh?"
" The remaining mobile suits fled as soon as the alarms went off," said Sandrock as it appeared. " We'd better get out of here."
Duo and Heero raced up their Gundams, thanking profusely that the other three remained to shield them from the intense heat surrounding them. Suddenly Quatre's voice came over the speakers again.
" Uh...what's that?"
Duo froze in the middle of climbing into Deathscythe's cockpit. " Oh shit."
Heero, already in Zero's cockpit, watched as a final explosion brought forth a wave of what looked like black fire power towards them. He had a split second to realize it looked remarkably like the energy they had seen floating within the center. He agreed with Duo.
Black thunder washed over them, blotting out the light. Heero had the impression of falling and he heard the cries of his partners. Then there was nothing.
The Blackbird touched down at the side of the building Jean had directed them too. The ramp slid down and Scott led the way. Rogue and Storm flew overhead taking up their ariel positions while Gambit slunk into the shadows next to the abandoned warehouse. Wolverine and Beast extended their heightened senses, following behind Cyclops as he and Jean ran towards the main doors. Suddenly, they felt the ground rumble and then, the world exploded.
" Remy!" Rogue dove through the sky and scooped up the Cajun, pulling him away from a falling piece of scaffolding. Jean erected a telekinetic shield over herself, Cyclops and Beast. Storm generated a small whirlwind that succeeded in keeping the debris from touching either herself or Logan. A few minutes later, they all felt a surge of power and Jean automatically tightened her shield. then everything stopped. Storm touched down, Rogue and Gambit right behind her.
" Y'all get the impression we missed the party?" Rogue asked sarcastically. Cyclops didn't bother to answer as he began plowing through the debris. Suddenly, his optic beam was deflected off a shiny metal surface and stopped.
" What the--" Not much could reflect his optic beams - they tended to pulverize, not bounce off. " Storm?"
Storm nodded and rose into the air. " Mother Goddess of the earth, lend me your strength," she murmered. Feeling the wispy connection between herself and the planet strengthen, she smiled. Formerly blue eyes flashed silvery-white and the winds began to pick up. Jean extended her shield to cover everybody as the weather goddess raised her arms and let the winds flow.
Dirt, wooden boards, metal beams, whole walls began to fly around in a dizzying spral as Storm worked her mutant powers. Taxing as it was, Storm nonetheless revelled in the feeling of nature's fury, whipping around her.
" And that's why we call her the weather witch," Beast smiled as he watched his friend work. Finally, everything had been removed and there stood lay five large...machines.
" Sacre bleu!" Gambit breathed as he looked at the metal monsters. " Sentinals?"
" They don't look like any Sentinals  Ah've ever seen sugah," Rogue said as she scratched her head thoughtfully. Beast bounded forwards, eyes bright with unbridled excitement.
" Dear Gods....he did it!"
" Did what?" Cyclops snapped his head around to look at the bouncing scientist. " Hank?"
Wolverine was already prowling around the machine, sniffing curiously. Then he did a doubletake.
" There's something human in there!"
That snapped everyone back into place. Roge and Gambit went up to the first one, made of red and gold metal. Rogue examined it carefully.
" Where's a can opener when ya need one?" she muttered. Gambit smiled.
" I t'ink the entrance is right here, chere." He pointed at the locking mechanism on the chest plate. Rogue nodded and was about to rip the lock off when Gambit stopped her and tapped a finger to the lock. A jolt of pinkish flame and the lock died with a small explosion. Rogue pouted at the unrepentant Remy.
She pulled the hatch open and gasped. Hanging, unconscious inside a leather harness, was a young boy, slender with long brown bangs that fell over his eyes. Gambit reached past her and instantly felt the boy's neck, checking for a pulse. " He's alive!"
" So's this one," grunted Wolverine as he hoisted a small blond boy over his shoulder and climbing down off the sandy colored mecha. Storm and Beast were prying open the hatch of a white Gundam with a dragon claw on the one hand.
" I think a feat of brute strength might be more prodigeous at this juncture, rather then your usual elegance, my dear," Hank said as he grasped the hatch and pulled it open, muscles flexing. Storm smiled at him.
" I would have to agree."
Inside, Storm gasped as she saw the limp form of a young chinese boy. " Merciful Gaia," she breathed. Henry quickly examined the youth, and a relieved smile crossed his fanged mouth.
" He's alive, merely 'cold-cocked' as our comrade Wolverine might say."
" Thank heavens," Storm murmered.
Jean telekinetically manipulated the locks of the black machine. While doing so, she let her awareness brush inside the robot, searching for an active mind. Finding none, she became worried and finally used her power to rip open the hatch. Nothing. She searched the cockpit, noting the empty harness.
" There's no one here!" she called out to her teammates. Cyclops looked up from where he was blasting open another white gundam. He looked down.
" Well, there's one in here! And he's awake!" Jean flew over and helped him remove the semi-conscious boy from his confining harness. He struggled weakly in their grasp and Jean tried to sooth him.
::Relax:: she sent telepathically. The boy froze and cobalt-blue eyes pierced her own. Dazed they might be, but she could still recognize hostility when she saw it.
" We're friends, " she said. " We're not going to hurt you."
She reinforced this idea with soothing thoughts and she felt him calm down somewhat. He opened his mouth and tried to speak.
Jean searched his mind and saw the images of the other three boys they had found, as well as one they didn't find - one with a long brown braid. She looked a little deeper and connected the boy with the braid, to the empty black gundam she had searched.
" You're friends are okay," she assured him. " We're going to help you. Just calm down."
Again, the connection was made, and she bit her lip, unsure of what to tell him. The boy sensed her uncertainty and his eyes flew open. Jean read his mind again, wincing at the lack of diplomacy in regards to such use of her powers, but knew it couldn't be helped. She picked out the names.
" Quatre, Trowa and Wufei will be fine." She then hesitated. The boy's eyes pinned hers. " We can't find Duo."
Jean lifted the boy carefully with her powers. Cyclops let them go by as he began thinking of a way to transport the machines to the mansion. Jean looked down at the boy as she moved.
" I'm a telepath," she said gently. " Now go to sleep. We'll find your friend."
His eyes slid shut as Jean mentally put him to sleep. She put him on the last med-bed in the blackbird. The Beast was inspecting all of them.
" Shock, minor burns and some cuts and scrapes," he said cheerfully. " Absolutely nothing life-threatening. A good night's rest and they'll be on their feet."
" Good," Jean said with relief. Cyclops stuck his head in the door.
" I've got the first two tied to the Blackbird - she should be able to lift them." The Beast nodded.
" The Blackbird's a tough old gal," he agreed. Rogue stood next to Gambit.
" Ah can carry one," she offered. " The mansion ain't that far and Ah've carried two sentinals togther before."
Scott nodded. " Then that just leaves the last two - the Professor is sending out Blackbird 2 on autopilot. It'll be here in a minute and we can attach the other two to her."
Wolverine growled as he returned from his little search mission.
" I checked the whole area, Cyke. Sinister was here, with what smells like Riptide. but he must have transported nearly everything."
" But how?"
" He's got members of the old Brotherhood  working for him," Wolverine shrugged. " Wouldn't be surprised if he got that teleportin' freak chick Fatale to move everything. I can smell it."
" Including a boy?" Jean's voice broke in. " One of them is missing."
" How do you--never mind," Rogue grinned sheepishly. " Dumb question."
" Why would the other four be inside their machines, and the fifth one not?" Cyclops asked. Remy lit a cigarrette and taped the ash away as he joined the conversation.
" Looks like you're gonna have t' wait until dey wake up den, non?"
Sinister growled as he stalked around his laboratory. Threnody flinched each time he passed her but didn't stop from her work, organizing all the misplaced papers that had spilled during the move. Riptide was noticeably absent - destroyed by absorbing the brunt of the explosion. The beautiful asian assassin Fatale stood by the doorway.
" May I take my leave now, Mr. Sinister," she asked him. Sinister flung his arm at her and she nodded once. An implosion of air and she was gone, not to return until Sinister bade her to. Sinister growled again.
" What happened....the calculations were exact. Such an explosion must have been caused by outside forces. And instead of getting weapons or warriors..." Sinister stopped pacing and stared up at the large tank and the contents within. " I get THIS!"
" Still, it may be useful..." Sinister muttered as he replayed the scene over again, walking out of the laboratory, Threnody right behind him, slamming the door as they left.
And in the tank, a pair of violet, pain-hazed eyes opened slightly before drifting shut again, a long brown braid floating behind him.
1. I am one of the ones that believes Wufei likes Duo as a friend a lot more then he lets on. He may yell at him, but I think he truly values the American as a close pal. *smirks* And even if he doesn't....*holds up piece of paper* ...here's my creative license to do what I want! OOC be darned!
2. As you can plainly tell *grins*, this is done in a timeline where Scott Summers is still alive. Again - I'm not following the continuity of either universe to the letter!
3. I haven't completely decided on the full X-roster yet but it looks like this may be it. I may throw in Cecilia Reese later on when we need medical people....maybe Nightcrawler - I think him and Duo would get along....who wants to see Wufei have a sparring match with ninja girl Kitty Pryde?? I'm open to suggestions!
*pouts sadly* Almost nobody commented on parts 1 and 1A - is it really that bad?? Well, I'm posting part 2A, B and C all in one shot - the response will determine whether or not this continues....I value every comment I get - and I really need feedback on this 'cause I'm determined to do my best on it - but I don't know if that's any good if you don't tell me! *gets on her hands and knees* Please??
4. I don't pretend to be a scientist, but I do know black holes are aabout energy and matter. I just twisted it aorund a bit for my own dark purposes.Still, if anyone thinks this was a bit incoherent, let me know and I'll revise it.
5. Sentinals are large robots that the government built as a method of controlling mutants. They aren't used much in today's Marvel world but Rogue was referring to back when they DID battle them.
6. The Brotherhood was a gang put together by Havok (Alex Summers), brother to Scott Summers. Again - I just need Fatale to provide Sinister with an escape - he does use them afterall - and the Brotherhood will not be making an appearance.