Ultimate X-Force

Don't ask her why she was in Washington D.C.

Cecilia Reyes had no idea why.

It was her friend's idea. It was Jamie Madrox's idea to come to the nation's capital.

Cecilia wanted to go to the Savage Land. It was supposed to be a mutant paradise. Magneto was creating a wonderful world for mutants to live in peace and sanctuary from the "human" race. Cecilia thought it would be a great idea, and Jamie had agreed, but first they would go to Washington D.C. And so Cecilia agreed with him.

It had been a couple of weeks since they had narrowly escaped a Sentinel. Sentinels were hunting mutants, mutants like Cecilia and Jamie. Or at least the Sentinels used to be hunting mutants. Now the Sentinels had stopped, a direct order from the President. That might be a reason why Jamie was in Washington D.C., but he had other reasons.

They were called The X-Men. They were mutants that Jamie had heard about. They had saved the President's daughter from Magneto. Magneto had kidnapped the President's daughter and threatened action if the Sentinels weren't stopped. The X-Men had saved her and the President was so pleased he stopped the Sentinels anyway. The X-Men were mutant heroes, and would be meeting the President in Washington.

Jamie Madrox wanted to meet them, wanted to join them even. He kept talking about how great the X-Men were. Cecilia hadn't had to face off against a Sentinel since that night when they had first tried to contact Sara. And now the Sentinels would no longer try to kill them, she was free.

"Kinda makes you feel like a true American," Madrox said as he looked up at the face of the 16th. President of the United States.

"I suppose," Cecilia muttered, she had seen it before. It was the middle of the morning, and Madrox had dragged all of them to the Lincoln Memorial. He had never been to Washington before. He wanted to see everything.

"I'm impressed," Dominic Petros told Madrox. Dominic had joined them recently. He had the mutant ability to create earthquakes and shoot seismic waves from his hands. Dominic was a young man who wanted freedom as a mutant, but not Magneto's way. Dominic did not want to go to the Savage Land, but he stayed with them anyway.

"Well alright Dom," Madrox said as he threw his arm around Dominic's shoulders, "that's the spirit. Cecilia here's just sad cause there are no more Sentinels to beat up anymore."

"Right," Dominic agreed in a monotone. He broke out of Madrox's grasp, and left the building. Dominic had seen it before too, but he was still impressed with it. He walked down the steps, passing by the hundreds of people viewing the Memorial, and sat down next to the other members of their "team".

"Exciting wasn't it?" Jubilation Lee asked, blowing and a bubble.

"Yes it was," Dominic said with assurance, "you should learn to appreciate such things Jubilee. You could learn a lot from everybody."

"That's what people keep telling me," Jubilee responded with mock humor as her bubble got even bigger.

"Madrox is really into this whole thing isn't he?" Dominic asked, making conversation.

"Yep," Jubilee glibbly answered, her bubble bigger than her head.

"Shut up!" Sarah whispered from underneath her cloak as she stuck out a pointed bone and popped Jubilee's bubble, "Sara just wants to go home."

"I'm with bones," Jubilee told Dominic as she picked off the bubble gum. Jubilee was used to Sara's outbursts and crankiness. She berated herself for even providing such an opportunity.

The young girl covered in jagged bones named Sara was sitting on the steps, wrapped in an oversized blue cloak with the hood down, covering her face. Sara was the only one of the group who could not walk around with "normal" people out in the open. She, however, did not want to walk around with "normal" people. Sara was content hiding under the cloth, but deep down she wondered why she had agreed to accompany Jamie Madrox and his band of freedom loving mutants.

"So what we all doing out here?" Madrox asked as he and Cecilia joined the group on the steps.

"Waiting on your lazy butt Madrox," Jubilee whined.

"Glad to hear you were at least waiting for me Jubilee," Madrox said helping Sara to her feet. It was time to move out. They didn't really have a destination. They had a hotel room somewhere back in the city, but they had the whole day ahead of them to have fun and explore Washington D.C.

"Let's check out the Washington Monument next Madrox," Dominic suggested as he stood.

"Okay then," Madrox announced, "X-Force, move out!"

Madrox had named their team X-Force. It was to honor the X-Men. He thought it would be kind of cool, an homage maybe. They were a team, and they would stay a team for a long time. They all accepted Madrox and his little mutant hero ideas. A bond was threatening to form amongst them. They were X-Force.

The five of them walked down the steps, Madrox always in the lead, and stopped to look at the Washington Monument. Madrox simply stood in awe. Dominic was, again, impressed, but not as much as Madrox. Cecilia, Jubilee, and Sara were not. Cecilia had seen it all before. Jubilee was a lost teenager in a land of ancient structures. Sara simply did not care about any of it.

"You guys are so dull," Madrox commented as they started to turn away from the Monument.

Jubilee was prepared with a comeback to knock Madrox down a few steps, but she never got the chance.

"May I have your attention please," the voice in their heads said.

"What's that?" Cecilia asked, looking at everyone. They all heard it, even the people around them.

"This is Professor X of the X-Men with a telepathic warning for every intelligent lifeform in Washington."

"X-Men!" Madrox exclaimed, "It's the X-Men! They're here."

"Intelligent lifeforms huh?" Jubilee quipped, "I guess that counts Madrox out."

Nobody laughed; they were all listening to Professor X.

"I have just been informed by one of my students that Magneto is en route from the Savage Land with a fleet of reprogrammed Sentinels."

"Magneto?" Cecilia asked with a scared look on her face, "Sentinels? What's going on Jamie?"

"I don't know Cecilia," Madrox said in a hushed voice, "but it doesn't sound good."

"At their present speed, I estimate that they will be here in approximately two hours."

"Two hours!" Jubilee squeaked, "Did you all here that? In two hours our savior Magneto's gonna come here with Sentinels and destroy us? I thought this guy was going to save us?"

"He is," Cecilia told her, "but he's coming here to destroy normal humans. But still, he's going to kill a lot of people."

"The military have already been alerted to this situation and a complete evacuation of the capital is now underway."

"Yes he is," Madrox told them, "he's coming and he's planning on destroying Washington D.C. He's not a savior; he's a destroyer. He's another Hitler. We're mutants, but we're also humans."

"Great speech Madrox," Sara said with anger, "but Sara does not care about humans."

"Yes Sara," Dominic complained, "we all know how you hate humans. But that doesn't matter people. Washington is about to be destroyed! We've got to get out of here."

"In the meantime, my students and I will do everything we can to protect you."

"Did you hear that?" Madrox asked with joy, "The X-Men are going to stay and fight. They are heroes and Magneto is the bad guy. The Savage Land isn't a good place to go, Magneto is wrong and evil. The X-Men are fighting, X-Force should too."

All around them people seemed worried and scared. Nobody was hysterical yet, but the tourists knew that Professor X was telling the truth. They moved slowly, looking around at everyone. Nobody was sure of what to do. Nobody, except for Jamie Madrox.

"We need to help these people," he said quietly. He had stopped moving. He just stood there, staring at the Washington Monument.

"But," Cecilia agreed, placing her hand on his shoulder, "but it's suicide."

"They can't help themselves," Dominic said, looking at Jubilee.

"We can't fight Sentinels," Jubilee stated, trying to talk them out of it.

"Speak for yourself," Sara grumbled from under her hood.

"We're not going to fight Sentinels," Madrox told her, "we're going to use our powers to get people to safety. Look at them; they're not fleeing. They're not running. In two hours they are still going to be on the streets of Washington with...with a whole fleet of Sentinels smashing everything around them. We can protect them and get them to safety."

"Again Sara says speak for yourself Madrox," Sara said more defiantly, "Sara will fight any robot that tries to kill Sara."

"Yes Sara," Madrox said with enthusiasm, "you fight off the Sentinels, we'll save the people."

Sara turned away from him and watched the people meander by.

"I'm for it," Dominic said raising his hand, "I can keep Sentinels from hurting people, maybe."

"Right, see?" Madrox told them, "We can help. We have to help."

"I still don't like this," Cecilia muttered, "you're just trying to play hero Jamie!"

"I'm with Cecilia," Jubilee agreed, "we'll get killed if we try anything. Magneto and his Sentinels aren't going to be able to distinguish us from the regular people. We try anything and we're going to die!" She stood defiantly with her hands on her hips. Cecilia crossed her arms and looked towards the Monument.

"I don't believe this!" Madrox said throwing his arms into the air.

"What's so hard to believe about it?" Jubilee asked, "We're not risking our lives so you can save these people who hate us Madrox. And for that matter, I don't see why we should outright trust this Xavier guy in the first place. Maybe if we find Magneto when he gets here, he can take us to the Savage Land where we'll be safe."

Madrox didn't know how to respond. He just stood there, dumbfounded, staring at Jubilee. Dominic and Sara stood off to the side, watching the argument. They would fight with Madrox if it came down to it. Cecilia just stood and watched the people around them.

"Also, what makes you think these X-Men of yours will ever be able to stop the Sentinels?" Jubilee continued, not caring that she was drawing attention, "Those are pretty tough, freaking robots! And your stupid superheroes are just supposed to be able to stop all of them? A fleet is coming, a whole freaking fleet Madrox! Magneto is going to come, and wipeout all these stupid "normal" people and leave us mutants. The X-Men will die, Xavier will die, and these people will die! Magneto will live, and if we're smart, we can live too. If we try to do the "right thing" we'll die. I'm through playing hero with you Madrox. I'm going to save myself."

With that, Jubilee turned away from the group and started walking away.

"Go then weakling!" Sara shouted after her, "Sara never wanted you around anyway!"

"Sara quiet," Madrox whispered, "Jubilee! Wait, c'mon. We have to do something."

But Jubilee didn't stop, she just kept walking, and soon she was lost in the crowd. Minutes were ticking by.

"Why do we have to do anything?" Cecilia asked quietly, not turning from the Washington Monument.

"What?" Madrox asked, surprised by Cecilia.

She turned to him, arms crossed.

"Why do we have to help these people Jamie, why can't they help themselves?"

Sara was about to shout back, but Dominic quickly grabbed her and clamped his hand over her mouth. He didn't want her to get involved.

"Cecilia?" Madrox asked in a whisper, his knees almost giving out.

"No more Jamie, I'm with Jubilee," she said coldly, "I love you all, but this has got to stop. No more playing hero, these people can help themselves. We were supposed to be getting to safety. You were supposed to be taking us to the Savage Land. We agreed to join you on this crusade to Washington because we do owe you, but it's gone far enough Jamie Madrox. Help these people if you must, but I can't risk my life for them. Goodbye."

Cecilia turned the direction Jubilee had gone and disappeared into the crowd as well.

She didn't want to be mean, but Jamie was going too far this time. These people could help themselves. Magneto was supposed to be there to help her, and in a way he was. Attacking Washington was a horrible thing, but he was doing it for mutants. Soon everything would be perfect. She had decided to stop worrying and caring about anyone but herself. It was harsh, she knew, but it had become a harsh world. She could no longer live safely out in the open. She had to hide everything because she was a mutant.

Magneto was fighting for a mutant world. In that world, she wouldn't have to worry. If killing all these people was what it took…

My God!

What was she thinking?

Cecilia stopped in her tracks.

Magneto wanted to kill all of these people.

Genocide!

She looked around at the tourists and such. They seemed to have totally forgotten everything Xavier had said. They weren't running, or screaming, or anything. They simply continued on their way.

Foolish.

"Miss!" she heard a voice shout. She turned to see an army man at the door of a bus. "C'mon ma'am, we've got to evacuate the city, please cooperate and get on the bus."

She looked around; apparently they were evacuating, just that few were listening. She looked behind her, but couldn't see Jamie or the others. She looked at the Army man, extending his hand to her.

And she took it.

"Damned mutants," the man muttered as Cecilia as she boarded, "now they're coming after Washington."

"Yes," Cecilia responded in a whisper, "damn them all."

She was on the bus; it was practically empty. She moved to the middle, and took a window seat. She gazed out upon the day, people still milling around, no one trying to escape.

No one running in fear.

Yet.

The bus began to move, and as Cecilia watched, she could just make out Jamie, Dominic, and Sara. They were walking, shoulders hung low, in the direction of the Washington Monument. They weren't facing her.

"I'm sorry," Cecilia whispered, more to herself than anyone.



They started walking towards the Washington Monument. Jamie couldn't think of the name of the pool they were walking next to. The one in front of the Lincoln Memorial. It was called the Reflecting Pool, or something. They walked in silence. The people around them did not run. They heard "mutants" once and a while from an angry citizen who didn't want to listen to Professor X, but they ignored those people.

They reached the Monument in twenty minutes. They had an hour and a half before the Sentinels appeared. They stood about one hundred feet from the Monument. They stood, the three of them, just staring at the Monument, craning their heads back to look at the top of it. They knew what was coming. In fact, they could even see some airplanes and jets circling around in the sky preparing for incoming Sentinels. They had yet to see any ground troops though.

"So Magneto's starting a war between mutants and America huh?" Dominic asked just to make a sound. He didn't want to touch on the abandonment issue.

"Yeah," Madrox muttered. They had left him. Maybe he shouldn't have pushed them so hard?

They continued to stand there, just looking at the people and the Washington Monument. They were about to risk their lives for the "normal" humans.

Dominic had only been with them a short while. Madrox and his group of mutants found him in Pennsylvania as they were traveling to Washington. There weren't many Sentinels in Pennsylvania, but he was in hiding anyway. Madrox offered him companionship and safety. So he joined them. Dominic was lost as a mutant, not sure what to do or who to believe.

He never wanted to believe Magneto, and now he knew he couldn't. So Dominic Petros would fight; he knew he had the power.

What was left of X-Force simply stood at the base of the giant obelisk. Thousands of different thoughts racing threw three different heads.

Jamie was afraid. Cecilia was his rock, his confidence. Now she was gone because he had pushed her too hard. Now he was on his own. But he knew he was right. The problems would not get to him that hard; he knew he had to help these people. He would destroy every single Sentinel if he had to, but Madrox knew that he had the power to make a difference, even if the people hated them.

They all hated him, and his friends. These "normal" people around them. Was it worth it? To risk his life to save a world that hates and fears him? Professor Charles Xavier, a man Jamie had never met, said that it was. Xavier spoke of mutants and humans living together in piece. Magneto wanted to break that peace.

Jamie Madrox was an American dammit!

He twisted his New York Mets baseball cap to face frontward.

No evil mutant was going to destroy his capital while he still had his power.

He would fight!

He looked at Sara and Dominic beside him. They would fight too, he knew that. Dominic was like him, young and idealistic, well, maybe not as idealistic. Dominic simply wanted to belong somewhere good, he had the power to fight.

Sara was a wreck loose. Jamie was incredibly surprised when Sara had found him before they left New York and asked to join. He welcomed her with open arms, but Sara was harsh and rough. Sara would fight this battle recklessly; he knew he would have to keep her safe.

He was proud of his team, his friends. They would save these people.

Hours flew by like minutes.

"They're coming," Sara whispered in her ragged voice from underneath her cloak.

"What?" Dominic muttered, not really paying attention.

"The robots," Sara said, "they are here."

"The Sentinels?" Madrox asked, looking at the young girl.

"Yes," Sara hissed, "Can't you feel it Madrox. Sara can feel the robots, hear the robots, and Sara can even smell the robots. They are coming!" Sara pointed off into the distant skies. Madrox and the Dominic looked to where she was pointing, all of the jets seemed to be heading in that direction.

"She's right!" Dominic blurted, "They're coming. They are here now."

With that, the first Sentinels appeared in the sky. Madrox could see them; there was no mistaking. He did not scream; He did not run. No, Jamie Madrox just stood there. They all did. All of them just stood there, and watched. They watched as more than a hundred Sentinels entered the skies and began blasting Washington D.C. to rubble. Even as the people around them screamed and ran, what was left of X-Force stood their ground.

"All right people!" Madrox shouted at his team, "We don't have any more time. Now we have to act. I'm on crowd control! Dominic, you and Sara are offense if we need it. Now go!" Madrox hit himself in the shoulder, and created a duplicate. The two of them took off, creating more duplicates as they ran.

Madrox looked around, and realized they were near the Smithsonians. They could use the museums as a place to hide.

"Let's see if we can lead people into the Smithsonians!" he shouted. The army of Madroxes started herding the people in one direction as Sentinels and bomb blasts filled the air.

Sentinels were landing all over the place, smashing cars and buildings. Dominic Petros was afraid. He had never faced off against the mutant hunting robots, but he would not back down. A Sentinel was closing in on him, but not noticing him in particular. The Sentinel was smashing the road and blasting at anything that moved.

Calling on all he had withing himself, Dominic roared as he lifted his arms high into the sky and shook the earth beneath him. The very ground in front of Dominic shifted and quaked, and the quake continued in a line until it reached the Sentinel. The ground underneath the Sentinel was disrupted and toppled the giant robot to the ground. Dominic leaped into the air and gave a cheer for his small victory. But the Sentinel was starting to get up.

"Bad robots!" Sara shrieked as she tossed off the cloak and pulled bone daggers from her legs. She ran at the Sentinel on the ground and jumped upon it. She began hacking and slashing at the eyes and face. Dominic ran to help her, but he turned to see some people running from another Sentinel. They were everywhere.

The people, two men and a mother with her children, were running frantically from a giant Sentinel. Dominic needed to help. With all of his concentration, he lifted one hand into the air, and brought a spike of the earth shooting up from the ground. The spike impaled the Sentinel through the foot and then through the body. The Sentinel was destroyed. The people didn't even notice, they just kept running with the crowd towards Madrox and the museums.

He turned around, towards the Sentinel he had just knocked over, and saw that it was standing up. Sara was still attacking the face, but the Sentinel was standing up. Dominic concentrated again, and shot another spike through the Sentinel's torso. He had destroyed another one. But there would always be more.

"Into the museum!" a Madrox duplcate shouted to the crowd of people being herded into the Air & Space Museum.

The original Madrox was watching the fight between Dominic, Sara, and the Sentinels. They were doing pretty good. Madrox was proud of his team. Dominic would wipe out a Sentinel with his seismic powers. Sara would leap about with amazing dexterity and gouge at the Sentinels with bone daggers.

One woman near Madrox looked around, the sky was getting darker and stormy.

"It looks like it's going to storm," she told the young man who was saving her, Madrox.

"Um...okay," Madrox said looking at her.

The the sky lit up with amazing lightning.

"Holy cow!" Madrox exclaimed, "That's lightning."

The lightening blasted right through a Sentinel.

"It must be the X-Men," Madrox shouted, running in the direction of the lightning, "I'm pretty sure one of them has the power to control lightning. See, they're fighting too. The X-Men are here!"

"Jamie!" a familiar voice cried.

Jamie Madrox turned around, and saw Cecilia Reyes some distance off running towards him. She was on the opposite side of "The Mall." He could barely see her through the new rain.

"Cecilia!" Jamie shouted, so excited that she was there. He began to run towards her, but froze instantly.

A Sentinel seemed to materialize out of nowhere as it landed near Cecilia. As it flew down it smashed into the corner of the building behind Cecilia. Like a dark nightmare, chunks of rock and wall fell to the ground, burying her alive.

"NOOOOOOO!" Madrox shouted and ran towards Cecilia, "Cecilia!" Time seemed so very slow. The rubble fell, right on top of Cecilia. She had been covered. Madrox ran to the rubble, and began pawing rocks away and lifting the larger ones.

The Sentinel loomed above them, not realizing what it had done. It continued to smash and blast the Washington landscape. It walked away from Madrox.

Madrox was crying. He beat his fists against the rocks, creating duplicates to help him. Together, they moved rocks and threw the rubble away. Cecilia was somewhere, and he would find her. Madrox could hear screaming, crying, and he could even hear the sound of death. Sentinels crashed into everything. Explosive lightning blasted through Sentinels, and Dominic's earth spikes ripped through them.

All of this was happening around him, but all Madrox could comprehend was that Cecilia was underneath the rubble. People shouted for help. Sentinels "screamed" in pain. But the only thing Madrox could hear was his own labored breathing.

"Cecilia!" he shouted into the rocks, "Cecilia, can you hear me? Keep digging you dupes!"

They continued to dig. Madrox and two duplicates moved one large rock, and he could see her. Her hand!

"Here!" he shouted at them, "Dig here!"

They began pawing through the smaller rocks. Uncovering more and more of Cecilia. When her upper body was uncovered, Madrox held her in his arms. He cradled her head while the duplicates uncovered the rest of her.

"Cecilia," he said softly, "talk to me."

She didn't move, she hung limply in his arms.

"Cecilia," Madrox cried softly, "no. Cecilia, c'mon. Wake up. Please."

Cecilia's eyes popped open and she quickly pecked Madrox on the lips.

"Oh Jamie," she said in a sing-song voice, "you're my hero."

"What?" Jamie asked with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, "What are you...hah. You little witch. Your force field. Hah." He was so relieved.

"Well at least now I know you care," she said standing up, "don't you think this many dupes is overkill."

"Heh," Madrox said wiping his hand through his hair as he reabsorbed the dupes, "I had to get you out."

"Okay," Cecilia said, her attention waivering, "where are all the Sentinels?" She looked around. There weren't any Sentinels smashing the buildings anymore.

"You guys!" Jubilee shouted as her, Sara, and Dominic ran towards them, "All the Sentinels are gone!"

"Jubilee! Um, we know that," Madrox told her, "I wonder what's going on?"

"Can you feel that?" Dominic said, feeling the tug of some kind of magnetic pull.

"I'm sorry I ran out on you before Jamie," Jubilee spoke into the ground, "I…"

"Not now," Madrox silenced her.

Madrox wasn't about to scold her, but the winds had begun to pick up and blow around. The power of the wind became almost unbearable as parts of fallen Sentinels and other metallic pieces of rubble were ripped from the ground and attracted to a glowing blue light forming above the White House.

"What's happening?" Jubilee shouted over the roar of the magnetic winds.

"It must be Magneto," Dominic told them. He was holding his head in his arms to protect it from the maelstrom.

Madrox held onto Cecilia for dear life. The wind was blasting harder than ever before. Cecilia watched as the pieces of Sentinel and rubble collected into one giant ball. She watched as that ball blasted into the sky, above the clouds.

"Oh man," Jubilee screamed just to scream.

"Quit your whining woman!" Sara shouted at Jubilee.

The ball of metal burst through the clouds. Then, as the sound built to a mighty crescendo, the ball exploded in an amazing array of lights and sound. A brillaint light, so bright, Madrox had to cover his eyes from the glare.

It was quickly over, and the sound continued to vibrate in everyone's ears. The light died down, and all was silent again.

"Wow," Dominic said, a nice understatement.

"Amazing," Sara awed, "that was beautiful."

"Yeah," Madrox agreed, "that was the X-Men. It had to be."

"Do you think it's over?" Cecilia asked quietly.

"The fight is," Jubilee answered, looking at the Smithsonian, "but don't look now people, I think we're heroes."

The group looked towards the museum to see a large throng of people headed their way. It was the people they rescued from the Washington Monument. They were cheering and shouting for joy. A group of them approached X-Force.

"Thank you sir," one man said with joy as he shook Madrox's hand, "you saved me and my family."

"No problem sir," Madrox responded, shaking two hands at once, "just doing my job."

"Are you those X-Men we heard about?" a woman asked.

"No," Sara answered with a sneer, "we're X-Force. Get it right." Madrox winked at her and patted Sara's shoulder.

"So you're mutants?" one man in the back asked. The crowd was silent.

"Yes," Madrox said with pride, "we are."

The crowd unleashed a joyous cheer. Mutants were no longer such a threat. The people continued to slap Madrox and company on their backs. Shaking hands. Kissing cheeks. They were heroes.

Cecilia smiled as a mother held out her daughter to kiss Cecilia's cheek. She reached out and grabbed Madrox's hand. She simply held it, and smiled at him.

They had once again fought the Sentinels.

Only this time they had saved lives.

They were heroes, all of them.

Cecilia had been buried alive.

But she had survived.

She had never met Professor X or his X-Men.

But she didn't want to anymore.

She had known Jamie Madrox for more than a month.

And she was a part of his X-Force.

She was lost in a world that...used to hate and fear her.

But she wasn't alone.

Not anymore.