Author's Note: So let me just say, right off the back, that Exiles is by far the best comic currently in print. I've been wanting to right an Exiles fanfic for sometime and finally came up with one that I just had to do. I hope everyone likes it, this opening chapter alone nearly wrote itself in a dozen different ways. Write a review and get a response and by all means, enjoy.
Morph felt the familiar sensation of interdimensional travel, the unique sensation of being between time and space, existing for one brief, non-existent unit of time, nowhere. It was a sensation that he had long since given up trying to put into words.
And then something happened.
Morph didn't know what it was, or for that matter, how he knew it was happening since he didn't even exist in space or time as it was happening, but it was something. As if he was caught drifting helplessly with the tide down a river and suddenly that river had been diverted.
It was then that Morph came into existence. He was deposited, rather roughly in fact, face first on to a cold, metallic surface.
"Well that was fun." He noted aloud to himself and his teammates as he took in his surroundings. He remembered from the mission briefing that Heather had given the team that they were supposed to be heading towards dimension 616. Apparently, Captain America had just been killed and the entire world was going to hell. Heather had selected a spot out at Westchester, atop a hill overlooking the X Mansion as the location for the team to arrive.
Instead, Morph found himself to be inside some kind of large room, with a large dome ceiling over a circular shaped room with thick metal walls. Outside the transparent dome, nothing but the void of space, causing Morph, with his unparalleled powers of deduction, to conclude that they were in some kind of space ship, though Morph didn't recognize the interior design as Kree, Skrull or even Shi'ar.
"Uhh, Houston," Morph formed an astronaut's helmet over his head as he spoke in a thick Texan accent. "We have a problem."
"You know Morph; I don't think I'll ever get your sense of humor."
"That sir, is because you… you… You." Morph had turned about to respond to the critique before even bothering to identify the voice it had originated from. Had he, he might have only been slightly less shocked than he was as he saw an unmistakable orange and red containment suit floating precious inches above the ground, complete with a young face decorated by red hair with a white streak down the front. "Magnus."
"Are you ok Morph? You look like you've seen a ghost." The son of Magneto and Rogue and former Exile looked down at his teammate with mild concern, offering his very real, very warm, covered hand to help Morph to his feet.
"Well, that's very astute of me then" Morph spoke, as was his habit in life, without any forethought for what he was actually saying. "Because you're… you're…"
"…dead." Blink gasped. Morph hadn't even been aware that she had apparently been standing right behind him, and was relieved to be able to turn to her for support. Unfortunately, her attention it seemed was diverted elsewhere. Morph quickly forgot about his dead teammate hovering in front of him as he tracked Blink's gaze to a sight that, quite literally, caused his eyes to bulge out of their sockets.
"Uh, guys. Why are you looking at me like that?" Calvin Rankin, also known as Mimic, former X-man leader and founding Exile looked to his friends hesitantly. The reaction he was eliciting from Morph was strange enough, but the way Blink looked at him… he would have sworn she was going to pass out.
He was right.
As the pink skinned young woman collapsed, her knees no longer even able to sustain the weight of an insect, Mimic was at her side in a flash of super speed, catching her in his caring arms and lifting her up within his grip.
"Blink!" The voice of concern crying out was not Calvin Rankin's, though it beat his by only a hair of a second. Instead its owner, a familiar blue skinned young woman with lush dark hair and a faint devil's tail coming out of her back side bounded over right next to both Mimic and Blink.
"TJ." Mimic couldn't believe his eyes as he saw the friendly face looking down on his girlfriend before turning to him. "What are you doing here?"
"Obviously, I'm just standing around, looking confused like everyone else." Nocturne let out with forced casualness. "Which of course begs the question of where is 'here'?"
At this, Morph, having been watching all of this, finally took in a wider gaze of his surroundings. It was then that he saw the most unbelievable sight of his long career as an Exile.
Gathered within this large, apparently floating room or ship or whatever in space were his teammates, the Exiles. All of them.
Members dead, left behind or even sent home, now stood side by side in confusion as they took in their surroundings. Magnus, Thunderbird, Namora, Beak, Magik, he remembered every one of their names in an instant. They stood, alive and well, every last one of them, as clearly as if they had just beamed in with him from a previous mission.
"What the hell is going on here?" The rough Sabertooth asked loudly, attempting to draw attention to himself and assemble some kind of order among the crowd.
"I… I…" for the first time in his life, Morph was at a loss for words or witty remarks. "It looks like an Exiles reunion."
"Morph," a soft voice called from behind, almost tenderly placing its gentle grip over his shoulders to attract his attention. Morph quickly turned to see the newest addition to the Exiles team, Psylocke, looking to him for answers. "Who are these people?"
Another familiar voice rushed Morph's response. "We're the Exiles. At least some of us here are."
Morph's eyes simply refused to bulge any further as the half a ton teammate known as John Proudstar, known to others in his world as Thunderbird, walked up, towering over Psylocke with a suspicious gaze.
"Check that John, make it all of us." Morph stepped in in Psylocke's defense. "Every last one of us here either is, or was an Exile." Morph could scarcely believe his own declaration as he explained.
"JOHN!" Thunderbird turned about in surprise, even as a lithe, blue figure jumped in his grasp, its legs and arms wrapping itself onto him for dear life.
Nocturne's lips latched onto Thunderbird's for dear life. Tears streamed out of her eyes as she kissed him with a passion and fury that Galactus himself could not have held at bay. For a moment, John Proudstar's eyes shot wide open in surprise, but that moment quickly passed as he returned the kiss with all the same passion and love that was put into it.
"Wow." Mimic was the first to break the awkward silence, as he tried to distract the attention in the room away from the couple's embrace and towards more important matters. "So, if we're all Exiles, how did we all get here? For that matter, who could have revived some of us and brought others…"
" Cal." The soft voice from within Mimic's grasp silenced him as he looked down into the longing eyes of his teammate and girlfriend in hand.
Blink didn't bother to finish the thought that was on the tip of her tongue. At least not aloud. Instead, she wrapped her arms around Calvin's neck as she pulled him in for a kiss that matched the intensity of Nocturne and Thunderbird.
Standing only a few feet away, the former Exile known as Barnell Bohusk, better known to his friends simply as 'Beak' tried to avert his gaze away from the two reunited couples. As he strained his neck and eyes away and upwards, he unwittingly caught the glance of another blue skinned female Exile, this one with long flowing blue hair, hovering a few feet above the metallic floor looking back down on him, the awkwardness of the moment clearly not lost upon either of them.
"Do not even think of it." Namora instructed plainly as her stern gaze never once left Beak's nervous face.
"Don't worry, you're not my type." Beak insisted. "Your wings are on your feet."
"Uhh, guys." Several of the Exiles, whose lips were not locked with their teammates that is, looked up. Hanging from the ceiling courtesy of a handy web line, the Spider-Man of the year 2099 pointed outward, indicating to something outside the dome. "I think we might have company."
"I'm telling you, someone's gotta be in there." Spider indicated as he hung from his symbiote generated web line, as he looked down upon his former Weapon X members.
"Vision?" Gambit asked of the, apparently, miraculously resurrected android and former Weapon X team member.
"I am detecting seventeen life signs aboard." Vision stated certainly as he rose in the air, hovering next to where Spider hung. "My readings indicate life signs consistent with those of the team designate Exiles."
"The Exiles!" Deadpool drew his weapon, cocking it and checking the ammo indicator. "Well hell, screw this. Let's go over there and beat the crap out of them. It's better than sitting in this ship or whatever the hell this is, trying to figure out who spilled for the Weapon X family reunion going on." Deadpool indicated to the large, relatively featureless room he was in, and the assortion of former Weapon X team members, most of whom had died in action, now apparently assembled together. "Besides, I bet this is all their fault anyway."
"Unlikely." Vision interjected. "Their ship's design seems identical to our own and they appear to be assembled in a large room, much as we are. The probability is low that they are responsible."
"Then what the hell are we doing here?" Gambit interjected, as he tried to make sure no one noticed the nervous sweat he was forced to wipe from his forehead. Weapon X was a team composed mostly of ruthless killers, most of whom had died either as a direct or indirect result of another team member's actions. It was a certainty that before too long, blood would be spilled.
Gambit looked up, outside the dome over head, and found himself wishing that he might escape over to the Exiles before blood was spilt over here.
"This is absurd!" A cold voice, cruel as death and far more malevolent cried out in outrage. Holocaust roared in anger, swatting aside a nearby and bewildered Sasquatch as he stomped on the ground to announce his displeasure. "I am Holocaust, son of Apocalypse. I will not be abducted yet again and placed with these gene traitors. I will have answers."
"Ah hell." Sabertooth cursed even as he smelled the tensing of the other Exiles around him. "I guess whoever threw this together remembered to invite Holocaust as well."
"Creed!" The yellow armored horseman of Apocalypse hissed the words as his glowing skull within the armor bore down Sabertooth. "Give me the answers I seek and perhaps I will not take so long in flaying the flesh from your bones."
"Well there's a tempting offer." Sabertooth's gaze never once cracked in the slightest, but he did allow a small smile to break. "Would anyone here like to give my rebuttal?"
It was Power Princess who delivered the response as her fist slammed into Holocaust's back side, cracking his armor however slightly and knocking him clear into the metallic bulkhead of the large compartment that they were in.
"Exiles Assemble!" Even as Morph made the cry, his attire that of Captain America revealing pale white skin with a phony shield in his hand to match, the other Exiles immediately jumped into action. Whatever initial confusion may have stayed them was now gone and they moved as one, charging into battle.
Using half the speed of Northstar, Mimic was the first to reach Holocaust's prone form, only to be blasted back by his left arm cannon. Mimic's armored form, copied from the X-man Colossus, saved his life, but could not stop him from flying backwards across the room and past his teammates.
" Cal!" Blink's cry of concern did not go unheeded, as Mimic suddenly felt himself slow down as if his very skin had been grabbed by an unseen power.
"Calvin." Magnus smiled as he hovered over him. "I know this isn't really the time, but I liked your wings."
Mimic gave a wide smile to his fallen teammate before the two turned back to the problem at hand.
Sasquatch had quickly recovered and was the next Exile to reach Holocaust with Nocturne and Spider-Man close behind her. However, before she could react, Holocaust's wrist lashed out, grabbing her by the throat, and holding her up close to his armor for inspection.
"Ah yes, I remember you. 'The Great Canadian Beast.'" Holocaust casually lifted Sasquatch off the ground, hurling her body into Nocturne and Spider-Man, even in spite of the two Exiles' impressive agility. "You had the most delicious scream in my world."
"Imperious Regina!" Namora's battle cry echoed across the entire room as she ripped a section of floor out from beneath herself before giving it a large pull, ripping a sizeable chunk out from its plating and causing Holocaust to again lose his balance. "This time I shall make good on my threat to crack you like a lobster, murderer."
"You have a fire in you. I like that." Holocaust's blast hit the section of floor that Namora now held as a shield, knocking her back as she struggled to hold her ground. "I'll kill you for it, but I like it."
"That's enough." Holocaust turned about even as the voice came crashing into him, knocking him back with a shoulder deck, prone onto the ground again. Holocaust looked up to see a large bulking figure with armored plates apparently coming out of its shoulders towering over him. "I heard you mention that Apocalypse is your daddy. I'm not a friend of your dads. So please, go ahead, keep being a pain in the ass."
Holocaust eyed the Exile Thunderbird very carefully before speaking. "Yes, you definitely bear the scent of my father's touch. You should be grateful for his gifts."
John Proudstar's fist angrily slammed into the wall, impacting precious centimeters from Holocaust's face, crushing the alien metals of the hull as if they were made of the flimsiest of paper. "I can get very testy. You wouldn't like me when I'm testy. Shut up."
Holocaust's skull twisted slightly it what might have been an approximation of a smile as he remained otherwise motionless and silent.
"Well, that was exciting." Morph noted. "I wonder if they're having as much fun over on that other ship."
"Spider!" The She Hulk bellowed in rage. "You two bit, no good, red slacked punk."
"And that would be my Spider-sense. I should take this." Spider spoke to himself even as the eight foot tall emerald woman came charging at him, grabbing him by the neck and slamming him into the wall with such force as to bend and shape the metal beneath him, causing him to gasp in agony. "Oh hiya Hulkie. How are things?"
She Hulk snarled as her fist rose clenched at level with Spider's chalk white eyes. "You limey, lying, no good piece of crap."
"You left me to fall into the Negative Zone you stinking bastard. I told you I'd tear you limb from limb." She Hulk readied to strike, when the feel of a cold, metallic object pressed against the side of her face and the feel of a weight settling on both her shoulders stopped her in her tracks.
"Hi Hulk." Deadpool spoke as he sat atop her shoulders with a knife pointed sharply at her left eye and a gun aiming at such an angle that it would likely shot out her right one. "Look, Spidey there's my friend, sorta. Well, not really a friend so much as someone that I don't want to kill… right away. Or at least, not before I totally sue his ass for copyright infringement. So anyway, between that, and the fact that I'm still bitter about you killing me, I'm thinking you should drop him before I feed you your own eye balls."
"Try it and your toast." The flaming red head known as Firestar flew up, leveling her aim at Deadpool's face mask. "I don't know you and I don't know her, but I know Spider…"
"Oh hi Firestar." Spider spoke as if addressing an old friend.
"And that lousy piece of filth deserves it as much as anyone can. So kindly unhand the lady, cause either I burn him or I burn the both of you." Firestar continued.
"I don't need your help." She Hulk spoke at Firestar with almost the same rage as she did Spider even as she kept her gaze locked on the squirrelly red suited punk in her grasp. "So mind your own business."
"You must be a fire gall huh?" Deadpool asked, his knife hand never once flinching or wavering in its hold. "Well I hope you're tough, cause me, I got a healing factor you wouldn't believe. I take a ton of punishment and keep going. How about you?"
It was then that Firestar noticed that somehow, without her noting before, Deadpool had shifted his gun hand so that his weapon was now aimed at her face.
"Say for example, I was to put this bullet through your face." Deadpool hypothesized aloud. "You really think you'd be able to keep going? I kinda doubt it."
For a minute, the four members of Weapon X all looked at each other expectantly as pure silence filled the room; save for a small wager being placed between Angel and Iron Man over who would strike first.
"Maybe we could settle this over a game of scrabble?" Spider offered.
The thundering voice immediately drew all attention in the room toward it as huge emerald footsteps stormed in fury towards the docile, statuesque aforementioned figure.
Hyperion had been completely silent the whole time, calmly taking in his surroundings and observing the actions of those around him, as well as those in the second ship. The roar of the Hulk as he charged did not seem to phase Hyperion's concentration in the slightest.
Twin emerald fists capable of tearing steel like paper came smashing down on the last spot where Hyperion had been seen standing. But instead of Hyperion, the fists crashed unopposed into the floor beneath. The Hulk looked in confusion at the empty space in front of him before his senses caught his attention over to the side where Hyperion now stood, every bit as calm and statuesque as before.
"Wow, now that was fast." Spider noted, obviously impressed, clearly no longer concerned with the death grip that She Hulk still held over him.
"Not fast enough." Hulk snarled as he moved to charge Hyperion again. The emerald giant made it within three feet before Hyperion's voice brought him to a halt.
"Hulk, do you remember the last time we fought?" Hyperion asked in the same calm demeanor he had held the entire time. "I didn't just beat you, and I didn't kill you right away did I?"
The whole room was held in silence as Hulk froze, a slight fear working its way slowly across his features.
"If we fight now, I promise I won't kill you. I'll beat you. I'll beat you even worse than I did last time, but I won't kill you."
The Hulk's fists began to quiver as they slowly fell; all the while Hyperion continued to calmly issue his threat.
"I'll beat you, and then I'll carry you around. Everywhere I go, I'll haul your battered, worthless carcass with me. Maybe I'll pile my waste on you. Maybe I'll prop you up for display like I did last time, but I won't kill you. And if you start to heal, I'll just beat you some more to balance it out." At this, Hyperion finally turned about, his gaze locking with the terrified eyes of the Hulk as he stared down the emerald giant. "So shut up and don't move until I tell you."
The Hulk's anger having completely evaporated, crushed behind a tidal wave of fear, his massive fists came to rest calmly at his side.
"Good boy." Hyperion let out a wry smile before turning back to the group. "Now as for the rest of you, settle down and let me think."
For another minute, the rest of Weapon X remained in awe of the events that had just transpired. Then, they all looked up at the light.
It was everywhere. Outside the two ships, it was as if space itself had exploded in a big bang of pure white light. The passengers of both ships braced themselves for possible shock waves, but the ships remained docile and undisturbed within space.
The light blinded both teams as a single voice called out, sounding as if it echoed from across the entire universe.
I am from beyond. Hear me. It is I that I have gathered you here. From across the multiverse, you are the Exiles and Weapon X. Fight, and to the victors, I shall allow you to return as you are to whatever dimension you choose, and grant you your heart's desires. Nothing that you can imagine is beyond me.
"Oh great." Angel mused from within the Weapon X ship. "An omnipotent jack ass who's grabbed us and decided to screw with our lives. Boy, as if this doesn't sound familiar."
"He-he's not lying." Ms. Marvel stated with absolute certainty. "I don't know how I know, but I know. He's not lying."
Within the Exiles ship, the same certainty and confusion had taken over the team as well.
"The Beyonder." Mimic let out in a low whisper. "B-but the Beyonder is just a living cosmic cube. He gathered a bunch of Earth's heroes and villains to fight in his own little secret war."
"Well don't wet yourself kid, but I think this one wants to do the same thing, only he's picked us and Weapon X for his little toy soldiers." Sabertooth grumbled bitterly at Mimic as if the young X-man were somehow responsible for this predicament.
"But how did he know about us?" Nocturne asked in the same hushed whisper as everyone else even as she felt herself move over next to Thunderbird's side. "And how did he find us all? We're… some of us were dead…" At this, TJ looked up into Thunderbird eyes, sharing a knowing, painful look "and others… were left behind in all sorts of different realities."
"He means it." Blink stated with instinctive certainty. "He really has set up all this just for us to kill each other."
"Absurd. If I didn't play this game for the Time Broker, you can rest assured that I won't comply with some living cube." Holocaust stated surely.
Aboard the Weapon X ship, Hyperion was having a similar reaction.
"NO! Absolutely not! Do you hear me Beyonder?" Hyperion cried out in utter outrage, causing his fellow teammates to look at each other in fear and uncertainty as they suddenly realized that within this confined waiting area disguised as a ship, there was absolutely nowhere to hide. "I didn't bow to the Timebreakers and I certainly won't bow to you."
Hyperion took off in flight, crashing through the dome, leaking oxygen and atmosphere behind him, forcing Spider to desperately try and seal the breach with his webbing. He didn't care. He simply flew right towards the center where the light had coalesced and seemed to fluctuate.
"Is that you, you bugs? Are you pulling our strings again?" Hyperion cried out within the depths of space. "I won't play your game. I'm done with games. Send me where I want or I'll beat you to death. No, I'll make you beg me for death."
The crews of both ships strained to make out the image of Hyperion as he flew deeper and deeper into the light, towards its oscillating center, making mad cries and threats the entire way.
That was when the light seemed to collapse back on to itself, with Hyperion at its center. Another silent explosion filled the space between the two ships as the light slowly re-expanded outward, though far less brightly than before.
Those with eyes keen enough were just barely able to make out the glowing figure of Hyperion, his body battered, as he was forcibly expelled back from the light and down towards a planet that the two ships hung in orbit over. No one on either ship let out a breath as the body fell into the planet's gravity and went crashing down into the surface.
"Vision, please tell me he's dead." Gambit turned to the android.
"Inconclusive." The android answered to the noticeable disappointment of several Weapon X members around him. "Life signs fluctuating. He is already out of range of my sensors."
"Worthless pile of rusting nails." Angel muttered under his breath before Vision sharply turned at him, his one eye glowing menacingly. "Oh crap, I forgot how good his ears are."
Suddenly, half of Weapon X jerked forward as the ship beneath them began to move.
Aboard the Exiles ship, it was the same.
"We're moving." Beak cried out more vocally than he had intended.
"We're heading down towards the planet." Mimic recalled from experience, unable to suppress the growing dread that rose within his voice. "It's started."