"Titan, please share with us the information that you acquired, where you got it from and why you are here," Cyclops said.
"I can't tell you..."
"As you can see...I'm not having the best of days today," Cyclops looked through his visor at Titan, "I need to know who it came from for the simple question as to whether or not it's reliable."
Titan thought for a minute. Mystique had given him instructions not to mention her name, but Garrett had made no such request. Clearly, they both had a bad history with the X-Men but it seemed they would be slightly more inclined to forgive Hybrid than Mystique.
"He is known to mutants as Hyrid," Titan decided it was time to put all of the cards on the table. He was not very good at playing the deception game anyway.
"Hybrid! You know that he's the one who broke in here and busted Mindflare out, right? We're supposed to take his word for it?" the X-Man they called Gambit suddenly piped up, his Cajun accent hung heavily in his speech.
"You can take my word for it or not. I was told that you were the people who could get something done about this. On the island of Genosha, beneath the surface there is a factory making Sentinels. You said youselves that you have already had a few run-ins with Sentinels. They are resurfacing. Trask has upgraded them, making them quite a bit more powerful than the last batch. He's making them smaller and easier to manufacture.
"I have all the information that you could possibly want, satellite photos, inside information. I'm telling you that this is happening and the launch date is not so far away. Are you gonna help me do something or not?" Titan demanded.
There was a pause. The X-Men looked back and forth at each other. How could they sit and do nothing? They were the most powerful mutant faction in the United States, and were the only ones capable of stopping the Sentinels, especially a whole factory of them. Titan was losing his patience. He gave each of them a cold, hard stare with a look that dared them to do something.
"He's right, Cyke, we gotta do something," Rogue admitted.
"We'll do more than that; we're going to stop them," he announced. Titan felt a wave of relief wash over him. He could not do it alone, but with the X-Men they had a fighting chance.
"We're all here save for Storm, Jean and Beast, and we have a friend coming with us. Titan, for those of you who aren't aware brings more than valuable information to the table. He has combat training and experience, his mutation is increased strength and speed, along with a healing factor," Cyclops explained. All eyes were on Titan now.
Cyclops, please skip the formalities and let's get to it, he found himself eager to get on with planning the mission.
"We will need to go in without notice, that much is for sure. They're not going to let us into the factory by just taking a sub and coming right through the front door," Cyclops explained.
"Why don't we land on the surface, find an old mining shaft and go through that way? I'll phase us through any hard-to-get-to places...or you can blast your way through?" a slender, pretty brunette offered an idea. Titan was still doing his best to remember names.
"That's one idea, anyone else?"
"Do we have a sub? I mean, how are we gonna get it all the way to Genosha even if we do?"
"We would have to fly and dive, an idea I'm not to fond of," Cyclops admitted, "I have to say, stealth-landing on the surface and finding a way underground is the best strategy we have thus far."
"What if they have set up perimeters? Other defenses?" Jubliee asked.
"We'll just have to do what we do best, Cherie," said the man with a Cajun accent. He was sitting across from Titan with his feet propped up on the table, fiddling with some playing cards.
Jubilee summoned a colorful display of energy in her hands, stood and faced the Cajun.
"Call me Cherie one more time, Gambit! One more time!" she looked menacing but Titan seriously doubted if she would really attack him. Gambit did not seem the least bit intimidated either.
"Let's stay on point, please. Anyone have any objection or reason why we shouldn't head out for Genosha right now?" Cyclops was getting a little impatient. There was only silence and so he continued, "as you can see on the schematics in front of you, we need to find a way to get straight to the assembly line and destroy the Mastermold. Before we can do that, we could very well have an small army of Trask's men waiting for us. If we set of any alarm, which I am sure that we will, we will need to gain access to the Central Control Room in order to get to the Mastermold. We're not going to split for this one, staying together is the best way to ensure our survival in combat. We're going to be compact in the hallways but we have enough resource and firepower between us all to do this.
"Nightcrawler and Shadowcat will be able to get past any doors or walls in our way, Iceman can create barricades behind us so that we're not easily followed, the chances of coming up against Sentinels is very likely, Titan is going to give us a briefing as to the best way to destroy them," Cyclops turned the attention over to Titan.
"As you know, there was a detail of about thirty Sentinels that showed up on your front door not too long ago. I had the privilege of taking care of them with the help of some of the other X-Men. If Beast were here he could explain the technology a little better than I could, but in short, these Sentinels have an extremely smart CPU in them that allows them to repair themselves using any materials at their exposure, more specifically the pieces of other Sentinels. Unless they are completely obliterated or their CPU is destroyed, they will continue to repair themselves.
"Clearly that creates a problem. The good news is, because of the intel that we've recieved, we know where the CPU is located and how to destroy it. As if it were their brains or something, its located inside of their heads. Now, their faces are enforced and armored, almost impossible to penetrate, but Mr. Trask, in his infinite wisdom created these machines with a weak spot. If you can get to the back of their heads, the metal there is not armored and can be penetrated easily. That is the best way to deal with these machines," he explained, he nodded to Cyclops that he was done.
"These Sentinels are much smaller than the ones that we've dealt with in the past, seven feet tall, I believe, so they will be able to get inside of the corridors with us. Best case scenario with all of this, is that there is some sort of self-destruct sequence that we can access from the Central Control Room to destroy the base in one shot. If not, there might be an EMP emitter that is set to shut down the Sentinels in case of an emergency. If we're not lucky enough to have even that, then we'll have to do things the old fashioned way," Cyclops smiled.
"I like that way," Rogue said, punching her fist into her hand, "bust em up real good!" Titan looked at Rogue and frowned. She was very pregnant and he could not imagine that she would be going on the mission. He was forward and bold enough to just ask her.
"Excuse me, Rogue?"
"You're not going on the mission are you? I mean, you're pregnant and everything," he felt dumb stating the obvious.
"Shucks, no I ain't goin? Are you crazy or somethin!" she asked playfully.
"Rogue will stay here in the War Room and she will be contacting us through our communicators, eyeing the schematics in case we take a wrong turn or something of that sort," Cyclops explained.
"Good to know," Titan noted aloud.
"As Titan explained, there is no time to waste, please get suited up, we leave in one hour," Cyclops ordered, "you're dismissed."
Titan started to stand up and go but Cyclops stopped him.
"Not you, Titan. I need to speak with you in private," Cyclops beckoned for him to move to the seat closest to him. He shrugged and took his seat. They waited until the War Room cleared out.
"I need to know where you got this information, Titan," Cyclops lowered his voice and his gaze to Titan.
"Sorry, I can't tell you that."
"I have my reasons."
"I can only assume that the reason you don't want to tell me is because it came from someone who doesn't have good standing with us. There are only two groups capable of coming across this information that I know of, both of them call themselves The Brotherhood. That leads to believe that this information must have come from Mindflare or Mystique. Since Mindflare tried to kill you I am going to assume that Mystique gave you this information," Cyclops searched Titan for any clue that he was on the money.
Titan remained silent. He only returned Cyclops' cold hard stare.
"I know that Mystique wants to keep that all under wraps considering we're not exactly friends, but I know that she is resourceful. The only thing that I don't trust is the fact that she is also deceptive. I am trying to understand why she has not tried to take care of this herself. I know that she has friends in high places...low places too, who could do this efficiently enough.
"I am not sure how well you know her but let me tell you that you can't trust her. There is always more to the story with Mystique. If I find out that you are working with her to lead us into a trap, I am letting you know now that I will deal with you personally and quite harshly," Cyclops warned.
Titan felt anger swelling in him. He had done nothing but try to help them since he had showed up on their door and all he had really been faced with was distrust and disbelief. Sure, the information had come from Mystiqe and it did not take knowing her for years to know that she was scandalous. The thought suddenly crossed his mind that Mystique could be leading them into a trap, all of them. It did not seem likely. He was there when she told Hybrid about the plans, he was there and saw the look of genuine concern in her eyes as she spoke of what needed to be done.
Titan supressed his anger and let his reason take over. Cyclops was being a good leader. He was protecting those he led. Titan would be asking the same questions were the shoe on the other foot. He remembered some of the psychology of being a mercenary that Deadpool had taught him.
"Never say more than what needs to be, if that," he always said, "information is the most powerful weapon you can have over an enemy."
The X-Men are not my enemies, Nathan thought to himself, far from it.
He decided that his loyalties were with himself. He would stand by his own personal convictions and would answer to God...no one else.
"Where I got my information is my own business. As to whether or not you can trust me, I can only ask that you give me the opportunity to prove myself. I give you my word, for what it is worth, that I am here only to help you destroy this factory. I don't want Sentinels running around killing mutants anymore than you do," Titan explained.
"Fair enough. In the meantime, you have given me no reason to distrust you, and Nightmare and Hypno have both vouched for your character, so you get the benefit of the doubt," Cyclops stood and extended his hand. Titan stood and shook it.
"I'd better get ready," Titan turned to get his equipment.
Now that Cyclops had his trust, or something like it, his mind was free to wander. He decided that he would hop over to the other War Room to see what the status of the mission was. He walked to the room that was across the hall and to the left. When he was given a tour he remembered seeing the other War Room. The door allowed him access and opened automatically when he was within proximity of it.
He walked in and saw that it was empty. Surely they had not planned their entire mission already! He decided to go to the room where they kept their gear. Maybe they were already suiting up. He walked in and saw only the older X-Men getting their gear.
"Have you seen Lindsey...Nightmare?" he asked Jubilee. She shook her head and shrugged.
"Did you check the other War Room?"
"Yeah, they weren't there. I figured I would check here. Where else would they be?"
"They could be in the hangar? Do you know where that is? I can show you," she offered, putting down a handful of communicators.
"No, thanks. I know where it is. I'll just see if they're there," he turned and ran to the hangar. He was starting to get nervous. There was no way that Markas had found where The Brotherhood was keeping Caleb, and come up with some hare-brained plan to save him already. He walked in the hangar to find that no one was there.
Where could they be?
He pulled out his cell phone and dialed Lindsey's number. After five rings all he got was a voicemail. Their goodbye was not exactly good enough for him. He was hoping to talk to her a little more about her decision. He did not think it was wise that she go running off an another mission in the state that she was in. She had to be led around by the arm for crying out loud. She had not been able to use her power since she had been injured.
He knew her heart. Even though she loved him and wanted to be with him, she loved and cared for Caleb too. If she did stay here in the safety of the mansion with Rogue, sure nothing could happen to her, but it would never really sit right with her, especially if Caleb were killed or hurt. In Lindsey's case, sometimes she was too good for her own good, if that made any sense at all. Titan would have been willing to help in the mission to save Caleb, even after all he had done. Titan understood Cyclops' view of protocol and rules but if it had Titan's loved ones in jeopardy he knew that he would have done the same thing: do anything that you can to save them with any and all disregard to the rules as necssary. The problem with that was that he had to be on the Sentinel mission. No one had studied the layout of the base more than him and none of them had fought the Sentinels with him and the younger X-Men.
He stood and gazed into space, thinking if there were any other way of reaching her. He ran back to the room and looked over the communicators.
"Do you know what frequency that they would be using?" he asked Jubilee.
"They usually use 141.25," she replied. He looked down at the small, hand-held communicator and began to turn the dial to change the frequency. He hit the transmit button and gave her a hail.
"Lindsey, this is Nathan. Can you hear me?" There was nothing. He took a deep breath and tried his hardest not to get upset. He tried to put himself in the mentality that she would be find, but the logic in him said that she was in danger. She was going, with her powers not working, on a mission against one of the most dangerous mutant factions in the world led by a murderous sociopath. Needless to say, he was worried.
Keep her safe...he silently prayed. He found himself left to gather his gear with no choice but to move foward with his own mission.
The onslaught against The Remnant was presently focused on the east side of the rocks. This allowed the X-Men a small window to go out the south side entrance undetected by the Israeli army. Typo was covered in gear, weapons and ammunition. He was carrying a .45 caliber side arm, some grenades and various explosives, but his prize was the PSG1 sniper rifle. Since he had been training with Forge, he had discovered that he was a natural sniper. He was quiet, patient and knew when to take the perfect shot. He was not sure he would be doing too much with it in this particular battle but he still liked the comfort of having the rifle and being able to retaliate from long-range.
In light of the prophesy about his death there was not a whole lot that was cheering his spirits. The biggest problem with it was that he believed it. Though he had never looked over Prophet's file and had not seen any scientific or mathematical explanation of his mutation, he doubted that he could have come to any kind of authority in The Remnant if his predicitons did not come true.
Then again, he said something about having the reputation as a fraud. The only reason for that would be either that he had given a prediction that did not come true or he had lied about it. Try as he might, Typo could not think of a reason that would benefit his cause to lie and be seen as a fraud. He had to know. He had to know if there was a chance that he could be wrong.
"Terra," he said on their way out. She stopped and looked at him.
"I need to ask Prohpet something. What is his frequency?"
"Channel seventeen," she replied with a troubled look on her face, "what's wrong?"
"Go on without me. I'll catch up. It will only take a second," he smiled, hoping he could coax her into giving him a moment alone.
"Okay," she said with an unsure look upon her face. As she turned to walk away, Typo dialed into the radio signal.
"Prophet come in," Typo spoke aloud, technopathically transmitting his voice.
"This is Prophet, over."
"This is Typo, over."
"Go ahead Typo, over."
"Have you ever been wrong?"
"Have any of your prophesies ever been wrong...ever?"
"No, the events surrounding the peron I have a vision about have always happened...but..."
"I've only ever told one other person about events that would occur in their life. Because they knew ahead of time, they had the ability to make a choice, and they chose to change it," he explained sadly.
"So I can change it?"
"Yes, in a matter of speaking, you can. As I told you, you are the only one here who can stop the Mastermold, and if you leave The Remnant will perish."
"I'm not leaving. I've made my decision to stay. But since I know what is going to happen, I can change it?"
"In so many words, yes," he replied sounding unsure.
"What do I have to do to get a straight answer out of you?"
"If you know what happens in your future, you can avoid it and change it entirely. This is why I am known as a fraud. I warn people of when and how they are going to die and they avoid it completely. The fate of The Remnant and perhaps mutantkind depend on your sacrifice for our survival. You may be the most important person, the key player in this war," he said at last.
"Why me? I'm not strong, I am not powerful, I've got a little bit of money, nothing to make a difference! Why me? Why am I so important?"
"You said that you don't believe in fate so I'll do my best to put it in terms that you can accept. Through a series of events out of your control you are here in this place and this time. You are the only one who can do what needs to be done in order to ensure the survival of mutantkind. I'm sorry, Typo but I don't see coincidence, I see providence. You were chosen for this very purpose! It is your destiny!"
At this, Typo turned the radio off and huffed of to catch up with the others. He had more important things to worry about than crazy Prophet and his predictions of death, despair and destiny. He looked out on the horizon and saw the battle, and his soul was prepared.
"How long before the machine is finished?" Mindflare asked, trying to sound suave and mask the impatience in his voice. He was not having the best couple of days. Nearly a week ago he had lost Grendel, a ferocious part of his team and just yesterday his prisoner had killed Zeus without even having the use of his power. He was not emotionally attached to either one. For a while, everyone thought that Grendel was his son. That was because Mindflare had altered the boy's mind to believe that. They were not even slightly related. When Mindflare picked him up he was yearning for a positive male role-model in his life, because of the sorry excuse his real father had been. Mindflare had nurtured him and given him what he wanted.
"It shouldn't be long now," replied the tall, broad-shouldered man.
"Can you be a little more specific?"
"It could be as early as a few hours and as late as tomorrow afternoon. Is that specific enough for you?" the broad-shouldered man was cocky and out of line. He was, however serving Mindflare's purposes at the moment.
"Excellent. You are sure that it will work?"
"Yes. It works right now," the broad-shouldered man replied.
"Then what are we waiting for?"
"It's not stable right now, if you hook the kid up to the machine and use it, you could create a black hole within our atmosphere," he explained with a grave expression on his face.
"A black hole? Really? You'll have to forgive me, but I am somewhat of a lay man when it comes to physics and black holes and such, could you elaborate in terms that I'll understand?"
"His power, as I told you, deals with anti-matter. I'm not sure why the X-Men didn't figure this out, maybe the did and they didn't want to tell the kid how dangerous he really was. The way his power works is like this: He is forcing matter between him, point A and you, point B, in a matter of nanoseconds, instantaneous to someone who would not know otherwise. That kind of mass and acceleration creates a pretty awesome energy, as you can imagine."
"How could this cause a black hole?"
"Well, black holes, in theory anyway, are anti-matter. Most experts agree that a black hole is, or at least can be cause by, a large amount of matter condensed upon itself," he paused to see if Mindflare was following. Mindflare had already tapped into his mind's eye so that he could see what the man was seeing in his imagination.
"Ah, and that is exactly how the boy's power works," Mindflare nodded.
"Yes. It's a small wonder that he hasn't cause one yet. Lucky for us," the broad-shouldered man sighed heavily.
"What would happen if a black hole was to be created within our atmosphere?" Mindflare asked, though he could imagine the results?"
"The end of planet Earth as we know it. The black hole would slowly suck all of matter into, condensing it down to the atom and blowing out of it's other end. Some experts say that it would be at a fixed rate, others that it would begin to suck things in at a perpetually increasing rate. Either way, we won't be able to stop it once its starts."
"The only person who would have a shot is the kid himself, unless you know someone else with powers like his?" the broad-shouldered man asked.
"Unfortunately, I do not. What do you think the odds are of him causing a black hole if he is attached to the machine?"
"Considering how you plan on using the machine, slim to none. You are spreading his energy out in a semi-spherical radius so that it will act more as a bomb. The matter that is displaced has room to escape and will return, in one form or another almost as quickly," he relied, Mindflare raised an eyebrow, slightly confused.
"In other words, every time you fire this thing, it's going to be like having two bombs in one. The first one, the big one, will destroy most anything it comes in contact with, once it reaches its limit, the matter will contract and come back to where it was to begin with, an aftershock of sorts."
"How powerful will the aftershock be?"
"It will feel like a heavy gust of wind, might not someone off of their feet but unlikely to do any additional damage."
"No. Mindflare, this is all theory. If you connect the kid to the machine and Catalyst to him, there's no telling what will happen."
"Can the machine be used with him alone? Is Catalyst necessary?"
"Yes, the machine can be fired with him alone, but the strain of gathering that much anti-matter energy would likely kill him. Catalyst is there not to increase the intensity of the blast, but to make sure he has enough energy to survive the procedure."
"What's to say that it won't have a snowball effect and just make the blast big enough to destroy everything?" Mindflare asked.
"There's all kinds of protocols on here to keep him from gathering more energy than what is needed to make the blast, but anything could happen," he admitted.
"You really aren't very sure about much are you?" Mindflare smirked.
"I'm a scientist; I have to admit the possibility of anything."
"What is the probability that this machine will fail and kill us all?"
"I have faith in its design, so I'll say one in a million or more," the broad-shouldered man took his turn to smirk now.
"Well then, it's time to make our intentions known and demand our ransom," Mindflare laughed, somewhat maniacally. He could never have hoped for such a break. Soon, and very soon, he would have the power he needed to seize control of the government, force the humans to step down so that mutants could take their rightful place. He was willing to spare their lives if they ceased in their oppression and stepped down from their right to rule. He was equally willing to start destroying their capitals and military strongholds if they did not consent. Full-scale war was on and he had the most powerful weapon ever constructed.
He had, in his grasp, power that money and fame could not buy or gain. If he needed to, he would call all the mutants willing to his sanction and destroy the entire country—the entire world! They could always build a new one after the humans were gone. What a sweet day was coming, what a sweet day indeed.
"Sir?" he spun around and saw Aquas holding a cellphone in her hands.
"There's a call for you; I think that you'll want to take it personally," her expression was grim as she handed the phone to him, "it's Hybrid."
"What?!" he exclaimed. That was the worst news he could have hoped for. There was no telling what Hybrid would do if he found out they were holding his older brother. He snatched the phone.
"You bastard! I'm not even going to give you the chance to let him go, although I let you die quickly if you do. I'm coming for you and coming soon," he said coolly.
"By the time you get here, it will be too late. Certainly you see the reason in using him," he argued.
"I see your side but the fact of the matter is that he is my brother and I have no intention of allowing you to hold him against his will and use him for something he would never be a part of," he shot back.
"Very well, I'll be waiting for you, Hybrid," Mindflare replied.
"Don't worry, I won't keep you for too long," and the connection was cut.
"Aquas, get every capable mutant guarding all entrances, I want to know as soon as someone gets here. Your orders are to kill anyone who comes near the hideout from the outside, even if its me," he replied.
"Mystique can disguise herself and Hybrid is in with her! Damn it, girl just do as I say!"
"Yes sir," she looked at him with a frightened expression as she ran off to do his bidding.
What rotten luck...I finally have the means to end this conflict and I have sabotage from within my own kind, he thought to himself.
No matter. By the time Hybrid reaches me it will be too late. It is coming, the last battle, my Armageddon.