Mutants on the Run

They had been running for a long time.

It felt like they had been running their whole young lives.

But they kept running.

Because that is what kept them alive.

They are being hunted. By giant, purple robots that're called Sentinels, who hunt and destroy mutants.

And so they run.

Jamie Madrox opened the back door of the abandoned theatre and looked out into the alley.

"All clear," he whispered, and beckoned for the rest of his "team" to follow.

"Are you sure she went this way?" Cecilia Reyes asked stepping into the alley. She stared at the graffiti on the brick walls.

"Yes, I'm positive," Madrox answered, holding the door open to the other member, "we've got to find her, and fast."

"Don't worry Madrox," Jubilation Lee complained, "we'll find her. You worry too much."

"Yeah," Madrox responded, "worrying is what saved you little girl." He closed the door behind the final member of their group of refugees.

They were alone in the alley, constantly looking over their shoulders for Sentinels.

In times of great desperation, safety in numbers is always the best way to go. Sentinels discovered Jamie while walking through town. He had known of his ability to replicate himself with impact for about a week before they found him. And ever since then he had been on the run. Always keep moving, never stop for more than a couple of minutes.

He had found Cecilia at ESU, studying to become a doctor. She was "outed" by the Sentinels, and by sheer luck he had saved her. Cecilia has a personal force field that protects her from physical harm. Now, together, they were on the run.

They found Jubilation Lee, Jubilee, at the mall. Another mutant being hunted by the Sentinels. Jubilee could release "fireworks" from her fingertips. Right now, she was the only one among them who could actually "fight" a Sentinel. She had sort of an offensive power. Cecilia was definitely defensive. And Madrox's power was really neither.

At least now they were together. And together they could run.

They had met others along the way. Each with their own plan of escape. A mutant street urchin named Remy, a beastial mutant named Henry McCoy, Tabitha Smith, Calvin Rankin. All mutants, all on the run from Sentinels. Each one had their own plans, none of them wished to join Madrox and his friends. The majority of them were headed to the same place. One mutant, named Magneto, had set up a secret island or something for mutants. Most were going there, that would be mutant paradise.

The consensus had been reached that Madrox, Cecilia, and Jubilee would also try to find this Savage Land, but not before trying to rescue more mutants.

Now they were on the trail of another mutant.

A young girl, even younger than Jubilee, who apparently had bones growing out of her skin. It was weird, but she was one of them, and therefore she needed to be rescued.

"So what are the chances we find this bone chick?" Jubilee asked for the hundredth time as Madrox checked a fire escape to see how sturdy it would be. The girl had taken to the rooftops, so they would too.

"Quiet Jubilee," Cecilia scolded, "you talk too much."

"Hah!" Madrox burst lowering the ladder, just what he needed. A release of pent-up emotion.

"Shut up Madrox," Jubilee huffed climbing the first steps of the ladder.

"He he," Madrox chuckled under his breath as he helped Cecilia up the ladder.

They climbed in silence, until they reached the roof. It was evening, and getting darker. They wouldn't be able to see in a few short hours. The problem was, Sentinels rarely sleep. They reached the roof, and took a quick look around. The building they were on wasn't the tallest around, but it rose higher than most. In fact, they could see the majority of the roofs around them.

Madrox scanned the area, and off to his right he saw something that made his blood run cold. Lights, distant lights, blazing through the sky like lightning bugs. Lights that indicated the rockets that propelled the Sentinels.

"There they are," Jubilee awed looking at the Sentinels, which were a couple miles away. Far enough not to find the little team.

"They don't seem so evil from this distance," Cecilia said quietly, wrapping her arms around her chest. She wore a light leather jacket over a white tee shirt and jeans. It was cold. "From this distance," Madrox commented, "you can actually admire their construction. You know, they are giant, flying robots. That's pretty amazing."

"Hey," Jubilee spoke up, "don't compliment the bad guys that are trying to kill you."

"Yeah, yeah," Madrox said looking at the ground and adjusting his baseball cap, New York Mets, "now where is that girl?"

"There," Cecilia whispered pointing behind them.

Madrox and Jubilee turned to where Cecilia was pointing, and they saw the girl they were after.

She was perched on the stairwell on a building top that wasn't too far away. She wore tight spandex in green and blue. She had startling red hair and pink skin. But the most interesting thing about her was the bone sticking out from everywhere, especially her back. That was obviously her mutant power. She was more a freak than the others; she wouldn't be able to walk around normally like the three of them could.

The girl was young, younger than Jubilee, and she was also probably scared. At least that's what Madrox thought, and therefore he would try to help her. It was just the thing to do.

"I'm gonna go get her," Madrox said. He punched himself in the arm, and an exact duplicate of himself appeared beside him. That was how Madrox's power worked.

"Aww," Jubilee whined, "I wanted to do that."

"We're not your punching bag," the two Jamie Madroxes said together.

"Just go," Cecilia said rather coldly, she was getting tired of running.

"Yeah, yeah," the duplicate Madrox said, "I'm going." He ran to the edge of the building they were on, and lowered himself onto the next roof. The buildings were pretty much connected from where they were to the girl. Buildings built next to each other to save room. All the duplicate had to do was either lower himself a level, or climb up one. So he moved quietly and slowly towards the girl.

"What is she doing?" Jubilee asked watching the girl.

"Wha...?" Madrox mumbled; she had torn him away from watching the Sentinels.

"The girl, she's watching something," Jubilee said, pointing towards the bone chick.

"Yeah, it's on the ground, on the road," Cecilia commented on what she was watching.

"Maybe she sees a cool car," Madrox said checking on his duplicate. The duplicate was almost there.

"I don't know," Jubilee pondered.

"I don't like the feeling of this," Cecilia complained quietly.

"Hold on you two," Madrox broke in, "he's almost there."

The three of them quieted down, as the duplicate lifted himself up onto the building the girl was perched on. She was on the little shack that housed the stairway leading down to the rest of the building. She was also watching something on the road in front of her.

"Excuse me," the duplicate spoke up softly. He moved closer to her.

She didn't respond.

"Um...excuse me, miss?" the duplicate said, he moved even closer.

The girl turned her head to a profile view, but her eyes stayed on the road. She brought on finger up to her mouth, shushing the duplicate. Then she turned back to whatever it was she was watching.

The duplicate turned back to Madrox, Cecilia, and Jubilee, and he shrugged. Jubilee and Madrox shrugged back. Cecilia just watched. She still had a bad feeling about this girl.

The duplicate walked up slowly, and reached the shack she was perched on. He grabbed the top of it with his hand, and looked at the girl, trying to see her eyes.

"Excuse me miss," he spoke up, "my name is Jamie, and I'm here to help you. What is your name?"

She turned to him, and she smiled, a devilish little smile. The duplicate was confused, but he started to understand when he heard the thumping noises.

"You've got to run," she whispered at the duplicate. The thumping got louder, and the building began to shake a little. The duplicate got even more nervous. He knew what was coming. He turned towards the three of them, and he mouthed one word.

"Run!" he spoke without speaking, moving his mouth without a sound.

Madrox and Jubilee stood up, startled, and looked at each other. Cecilia looked at them, but she didn't act surprised. She knew what was coming.

"MUTANT BIO-SIGNATURE FOUND."

The Sentinel's massive head rose from the other side of the building in front of the bone girl and the duplicate. The girl had been watching him walking down the road, keying in on her mutant genes.

"Oh crap," Madrox whispered, five buildings away from the Sentinel.

The Sentinels eyes started glowing, in a second, lasers launched from its eyes and eradicated the duplicate. The bone girl had leaped away at the last second, but the duplicate was gone.

Madrox reeled backwards from the pain of losing a duplicate. It wasn't the first he had lost. Sentinels had claimed a couple before this, but that didn't mean it hurt any less. He fell back onto his butt. He was in pain.

"MUTANT BIO-SIGNATURE GONE. CONTINUING SEARCH FOR OTHERS."

The Sentinel turned its head in the direction that the born girl had leaped. The rockets on his feet ignited more, and he lifted off and into the air. He completely cleared the building and looked around, searching for the bone girl's "mutant bio-signature".

Jubilee ran over to Madrox and helped him to his feet.

"C'mon Madrox," she whispered, "we've gotta go."

"What about the girl?" he asked through the pain, which was diminishing.

"Forget her," Jubilee squealed, "we've gotta go or you're gonna end up like your dupe!"

The Sentinel flew slowly through the air, only to stop three buildings from the three.

"What's it doing?" Cecilia asked in a whisper.

"Uh oh!" Jubilee whispered in fear.

The Sentinel turned its head left, then right, then finally resting on the three of them.

"MUTANT BIO-SIGNATURE FOUND."

"Crap," Madrox whispered quietly.

The had been found.

"Go, go, go!" Jubilee shouted now, no longer trying to remain quiet. She ran full out towards the fire ladder they'd used to get up on the roof in the first place.

"Jamie?" Cecilia asked, "Are you okay?" The doctor in her.

"Yeah," he responded with a smirk, "now let's go." They followed Jubilee to the ladder.

But the Sentinel was approaching fast, too fast.

Jubilee was already running down the ladder, shouting, "Go, Go, Go!" all the way down.

"Let's go," Cecilia said to Madrox, "you first."

Right, Madrox thought. He picked her up in his arms and moved closer to the edge.

"What are you doing?" Cecilia shrieked a little.

"Getting you down faster!" Madrox shouted, "power up your force field!"

"What?" Cecilia screamed as Madrox dropped her off the side of the building. She landed in a dumpster, and her force field protected her from harm.

"Dammit Madrox!" she shouted at the bottom, a little weak, "don't ever do that again!"

"Quiet girl," Jubilee whispered pulling Cecilia out of the dumpster, "he's still up there."

"What?" Cecilia shouted, "Madrox!"

Jubilee cupped her hand over Cecilia mouth.

"Quiet!" she said pulling Cecilia towards the abandoned theatre.

Madrox was still on the building top; he wanted to make sure Cecilia had gotten down. She was getting tired of running and trying to save other mutants. She just wanted to be safe, and he promised her she would be someday. That secret mutant island that Magneto had set up sounded like a good idea, and he had promised himself a long time ago that he would make sure Cecilia would get there and be safe.

Now, if he sacrificed himself, she would not want to keep fighting, she would run to this mutant paradise and be safe.

But then again, he didn't plan on sacrificing himself.

"C'mon sucker," he whispered at the Sentinel, "you've wanted me for a while, but you've yet to catch me. You gonna give it a try?"

The Sentinel moved closer, and landed on the building that Madrox was on. It lifted up its leg, preparing to step on Madrox the Multiple Man.

The Sentinel lowered his foot, but Madrox had run underneath him, and was now behind the Sentinel. Also, there were now eight Madroxes.

"Bring it on you stupid robot!" eight voices shouted in unison.

"MUTANT BIO-SIGNATURE HAS MULTIPLIED. READING EIGHT SIMILAR BIO- SIGNATURES."

The Sentinel's eyes began to light up again, preparing another laser blast. The Madroxes scattered, each going in a different direction. The original Jamie Madrox ran for cover, his duplicates were going to stay near the Sentinel, protect the original. Their deaths would be bad, but he would live. And maybe he could get far enough away to draw them back into himself before the Sentinel killed them all. He was hoping for the latter.

Jamie Madrox sat with his knees to his chest behind a chimney that came off the top of the building. He had lowered himself onto the next building, and was taking a quick rest. He needed it. He wasn't too athletically fit, but he was okay. He'd be moving again in a second. On the first building, the Sentinel was being swarmed with Madrox duplicates. Every time the Sentinel physically struck one, another would appear. In fact, there were duplicates climbing on the Sentinel.

The original Madrox stood up, but was instantly smashed to the ground by the pain of a duplicate's death. He stood again, ignoring the pain, and ran to the next building. He had to jump a little to reach the edge, and then he pulled himself up. He paused for one second, taking in the night, and then he started running again. He had almost made it to the next building, before the pain of another duplicate's death knocked him to the floor. He fell hard, and hit his head. He wasn't going to be getting up anytime soon.

Madrox moved slowly, racked with more pain, and moved himself onto his back. He rested on his elbows, and took a look at the first building, and the Sentinel. There were a few duplicates left, but they were running away. Quickly and silently, Madrox reabsorbed them from the distance, freeing himself from any more pain.

He hoped that Cecilia and Jubilee had gotten away. He hoped that he had done something to save them. He watched reluctantly as the Sentinel turned its head looking for more mutants. He sighed to himself when he saw the head turn to himself. And he watched slowly as the Sentinel flew up, and landed in front of him.

"PRIMARY MUTANT BIO-SIGNATURE FOUND," the chilling, mechanical voice stated.

The eyes on the Sentinel focused onto Madrox, and they began to glow preparing for another blast.

But it wouldn't get the chance.

Two daggers lanced out and struck directly at the eyes of the Sentinel. Two bone daggers pierced the eyes, and prevented the Sentinel from killing Madrox.

"Wha...?" Madrox asked lifting himself higher on his elbows. A shadow fell over him, one of a little girl.

"Get up mutant!" the bone girl ordered pulling Madrox to his feet, "Sara would never let robot get this close to killing!" Her voice was harsh and somewhat ragged.

"VISUAL SENSORS DESTROYED," the Sentinel bellowed mechanically. Madrox wondered what else it had to see with.

"We've got to get out of here!" Madrox shouted at this Sara. They were on their feet, Madrox was ready to run.

"Sara does not run from robot," Sara said defiantly, turning towards the Sentinel. She tore more bones off her body, making daggers.

"Are you insane!" Madrox ran over to Sara, "we've got to run! That Sentinel is going to kill you, it kills mutants!"

"Sara knows what robot does," Sara explained, "so stay out of Sara's way or Sara will have to deal with you too." Sara started running low to the ground toward the Sentinel, daggers at the ready.

"Stupid little girl," Madrox mumbled, but even as he did so, he hit himself in the shoulder and created another duplicate. The two Madroxes split up and moved slowly towards the Sentinel, coming in from opposite sides.

Sara reached the robot, and leaped onto its trunk. She started to climb nimbly up the front and side of the Sentinel using the bone daggers to poke holes in it.

Madrox moved around to the back of the Sentinel, and met with his duplicate. They created a bunch more, and prepared to combat the giant, mutant-killing robot.

Sara had reached the head of the robot, and began stabbing it with her daggers. They did not penetrate very well, and she was not making any headway. The arms of the Sentinel could not bend back enough to reach her. And when the hands got close to grabbing her, she would easily dodge out of the way.

The ten Madroxes that stood behind the Sentinel moved to the right leg. En masse, they jumped upon the leg, and pushed at it from all sides. Sara had made the Sentinel lose partial balance by weighing down the head, so they were trying to move the legs out from under it. If they could get the Sentinel to fall over, it might crash through the building and possibly be destroyed.

But the Sentinel was not without power; it kicked its right leg up, lifting the majority of the Madroxes off the ground. The original Madrox was holding on for dear life. He looked up towards the head, but he could not see Sara. But he had gotten the Sentinel in an uncompromising situation.

But the Sentinel standing on one leg was just the opportunity that Jubilee needed. She released a powerful blast of "fireworks" at the remaining leg. Just enough to topple it.

The Sentinel tipped backwards, crashing through the roof of the building they were all standing on. Madrox quickly absorbed the duplicates, and he held on tightly as the hulking body crashed into the abandoned warehouse. The entire roof collapsed, and the Sentinel crashed to the ground.

After a couple of minutes, Madrox lifted himself from the leg of the destroyed Sentinel. He looked up, and saw that the head had impacted some heavy crates that had broken the head apart. The Sentinel would not be getting up.

"Jamie!" Cecilia shouted running up and wrapping her arms around him in a joyous embrace, "I was so worried."

"Hey Cecilia," Madrox comforted her, "I'm fine. Taking out Sentinels is just another day on the job of mutant-liberator."

"Yeah," Jubilee threw in from her seat on a rusty old chair she had found, "our hero. You know it was me who toppled that Sentinel."

"Sure kid," Madrox said moving to Jubilee with Cecilia still wrapped around him, "you get to claim one Sentinel kill for yourself. I guess if I'm a mutant-liberator, then that makes you a Sentinel-killer."

"So what does that make me?" Cecilia asked playfully, the brush with adventure had warmed her up a little bit. Plus Madrox had also risked himself to make sure Jubilee and she had gotten away. That was heroic.

"You," Madrox said with a playful squeeze, "Cecilia Reyes, you are the hero-healer. I've got some cuts and bruises you should look at doc."

"Cuts and bruises huh?" Cecilia said giving Madrox a little bunch in the gut, "what about the collapsed lung you just got?"

They all had a good laugh. They were a team, and together they would make it to freedom. They had just faced a Sentinel, and won. Nothing could stop them now.

Sara watched them from the shadows. They were nice people, playful with each other, caring. Something Sara had never really known. They had fought hard, and had helped her destroy the robot.

Jubilee opened the door; it was time to move again. Jubilee held it open, taking a quick look outside to see what was there. Nothing. Cecilia let go of Madrox and walked to the door, exiting the building.

"Let's go Madrox," Jubilee called to him, he had stayed in the warehouse. Jubilee let go of the door and followed Cecilia. The door closed.

Madrox walked slowly to the door, watching the fallen Sentinel the whole time. He opened the door, and took one step outside. He stopped, turned back, and looked into the shadows of the Sentinel.

"Goodbye Sara," he said to the little girl with bones growing out of her body, "and good luck."

With that, Jamie Madrox closed the door to the abandoned warehouse and followed his friends onto the street. He was a mutant, born with the unnatural ability to duplicate himself upon physical impact. He didn't choose to be that way, but it had happened, and so he had to live with it. There were giant robots hunting him. People who would sooner kill him than look at him. And a life of constant running. He didn't like it, and he had friends to worry about as well. Jamie Madrox would find a better way of life.

He hadn't chosen to be born a mutant.

But such things are not left for mortal man to figure out.

Maybe it was destiny for Madrox to join Cecilia and Jubilee in saving others.

Maybe it was fate for Madrox to become a hero.

It's what he wanted, and so he would live it.

He was the next step in human evolution.

A mutant.

A freak.

A hero?

His life was running.

He felt like he had been running his whole life.