Authors Note: This story is set shortly before Bishop makes his appearance in the Animated Series. It was written as an attempt to produce an in-character way to deal with unresolved paradoxes and script elements I had not been comfortable with. I originally wrote this short story in 1998/9, so any other copy of it you find will date to around then. So as to confuse readers, the story briefly enters an alternative universe version of the real world. Beta readers and reviews welcome.
Disclaimer: The X-Men are owned by Marvel Comics. All other characters are the creation of P. J. Hammond and owned by ITC.
It was a warm day. The X-Men were gathered in the War Room. Gambit and Rogue were looking slightly more tired than usual, Professor Xaviar thought. Not so much tired as drained. He mentally shrugged and dismissed it from his mind. If it didn't interfere with their lives, the private affairs of the X-Men were not his business.
Suddenly, the doorbell chimed. The X-Men were immediately alert. Jubilee, who was monitoring security, had not notified them of visitors. Nor had any of the security systems detected intruders. Whoever or whatever was out there was powerful enough to evade their systems.
The doorbell chimed again. Jubilee's voice came over the intercom. "There's a man and a woman at the front door." Cyclops, Gambit and Wolverine cautiously left the room, to see who these visitors were. Ready for anything, Cyclops opened the door. Two perfectly ordinary-looking people stood there, as Jubilee had said. Dressed in crisp business suits.
"Can I help you?" Cyclops asked.
The woman smiled. "We're here to talk to Professor Xaviar. My name is Sapphire, and my partner's name is Steel."
Cyclops looked puzzled. This was not the answer he'd expected. He wasn't sure what he had expected, but this wasn't it. He gestured to Gambit, who quickly made his way back to the War Room.
Professor Xaviar looked puzzled. "I don't recall anyone by those names. Show them in." The couple were led into a conference room, where Gambit, Rogue and Storm waited for them.
"What may I do for you?" Professor Xaviar asked, once the couple had been seated.
Steel looked deadly serious. "You, along with all your X-Men are in grave danger." Professor Xaviar was a little surprised, but did not show it. "Go on," he said.
"A force from outside of your universe is manipulating the minds of yourselves and your adversaries for the purpose of destroying the X-Men."
"Why would they do that?"
"These beings exist outside of time and are forever seeking ways to break into reality. We are agents, of a kind, who have been sent to stop them."
"Indeed. Our universe?" Steel nodded.
"We exist in our own reality. Normally, we wouldn't be involved in a mission such as this, but there are no agents like us in this reality and you are the only ones who can tackle such adversaries."
"Then why are you here?"
"Because they intend to destroy you before you discover their existance, or learn how to defeat them. Before you will become as you will be." Professor Xaviar nodded.
Wolverine glared. "You believe all this rubbish?" he scowled, unsheathing his claws. "Let's see how you deal with this..." Wolverine lept at Sapphire, who smiled, her eyes glowing a brilliant blue. Time for Wolverine looped back. He lept again. And again. And again. Never getting anywhere. Sapphire laughed, warm and friendly for all the power she was wielding.
"Do you want to stop now, or after a few more hours?" she asked, sweetly. He glowered and sheathed his claws. Her eyes went back to normal and time snapped back into place.
"So, you can manipulate time." Professor Xaviar said.
Sapphire shrugged, concentrated for a moment and her clothes transformed to late 90's style combat gear - albeit in blue. "Time, the elements, some aspects of reality."
"What do you need from us?"
"We want Gambit, Wolverine, Cyclops, Rogue and Storm to accompany us to the reality where the manipulations are taking place. We'll destroy the bridge between the realities, but the X-Men will need to destroy the mechanism they're using to sustain it."
Some time later, at Marvel Comics:
Steel gestured. "The printing presses are that way. Destroy all copies of the comics they produce there, along with templates, presses, the works.
Then destroy the archive room."
"Why?" Wolverine demanded.
"Look at this week's issue" was the reply. Sapphire and Steel started towards the stairs, and... ...vanished.
Wolverine glowered. "Let's do what we came here to do."
The X-Men travelled through the corridors until they reached the editor's room. A pasted copy was on the desk. "Let's see what these creeps are really up to," Wolverine snarled. Then he looked, and his face paled. An angry growl ripped out of his throat as he shredded the comic and trashed the room.
"What is it?" Cyclops asked.
"A comic. About us."
"Are you sure? And what were we doing?"
"I'm sure! I was in it! And you lot were doing nothing. You were all dead!"
"Pardon?" Gambit asked.
"You heard me! You were all dead and I was about to be next!"
Sapphire walked around the corner and into the office. "Only, that won't happen now. We're altering the timelines and seperating your universe from this one."
"Are you sure?" Wolverine snarled.
"Yes. But you must destroy everything that sustains that connection."
"Won't they notice and rebuild it all?" Cyclops asked. Sapphire shook her head.
"When we close the bridge, time will remould itself. None of this will have happened. This building, and everything in it will be as it was."
"But won't that cause a paradox?"
"No. You're from a different universe. Changing this timeline won't affect your past."
Moving on, they quickly located the printing rooms. The machines were reduced to scrap metal and the copies to piles of ashes and confetti. As the last copy was incinerated, everything went white and the world faded from view. Moments later, they were back in the War Room.
Professor Xaviar looked up. "Mission accomplished?"
Sapphire walked up to Jubilee, who had joined them by now. She held her hands. "Your life expectancy is one hundred and ninety six years, fifty seven days, thirteen hours, forty one minutes and three point five seconds. This is not an estimate. It is recorded by the Universe itself."
Jubilee blinked. Wolverine grinned. "Guess we did it, then. We're not gonna die 'cause some punk wrote that we did."
"There's still the time break at this end." Steel cautioned.
"Your Danger Room."
"We gonna have to trash that, too?"
"Leave it to us."
"I was afraid you'd say that."
Sapphire, Steel, Cyclops and Wolverine entered the Danger Room. "Select a program in which there's a power source." Steel instructed.
Wolverine hit some buttons and the room became a power plant. "This enough for ya?" Steel nodded. A Sentinal started lumbering towards them. "Keep that thing busy!" Steel demanded, as he hooked himself into some power cables. Soon, battle commenced between the two X-Men and the Sentinal, only this one seemed impervious to their powers. Suddenly, Steel moved forwards.
"Wolverine! Cyclops! Get back!" Sapphire yelled at the X-Men.
They did so, just as Steel grabbed one leg of the machine. A loud cracking sound could be heard, as ice formed over it, almost in an instant. Steel stepped back. "Now, Cyclops!"
Needing no further bidding, Cyclops blasted the Sentinal with his eyes and the machine blew itself to pieces. Little more than dust and a few fragments of scrap metal remained. A small CPU glowered amongst the debris. Steel picked it up and crushed it. A howl seemed to echo round the room, and then there was quiet. "The people in the other universe can write what they like, now. You will never be controlled by them. Nor will those creatures from outside time be able to break through, now that we have destroyed their gateway," Steel said.
Sapphire smiled, then vanished, as did Steel.
Wolverine and Cyclops looked at each other. "Well, that was kinda unusual", Wolverine said, finally.