Chapter thirteen:

Stevens' H.Q.:

"If you're in a trap made for a metamorph, then don't think like a metamorph," Mystique told herself as she left her cell. She edged towards the door. "Now I've got to knock out the guards, disguise like one of them, find my way to the communications room and radio the X-Men." The yellow-eyed woman peered outside the door and was surprised to discover that someone had already taken care of the guards, even more when she saw who'd done it. "How the hell did you kids get here?" The five teenagers looked up.

"Well now, had Remy known you were the one here, he would've skipped this place entirely."

"Avoid a woman who wears no clothes at all?" Giselle, whose skin looked drier, asked teasingly, "That's hard to believe coming from you."

"Knock it off, you two," the silent senshi scolded. "I'm aware of who she is, but we need all the help we can get." Saturn went up to Mystique. "Gomen, we must skip introductions. Could you please lead us to the exit?"

"I'm afraid I can't help you, kid." Not that I'd want to anyway. "I did manage to study a map of this place before being captured, so I have a slight idea of where I want to go; but I've got things to do here in the complex, I'm not leaving yet."

"Doesn't matter, it'll be safer to go with someone who knows the place rather than walking around aimlessly," Jenny spoke up, "Plus, we can use her fighting skills, Mystique is somewhat of a legend back at the colony."

"Well, aren't you the sweet-talker. Fine, you kids may come along, but you're looking after yourselves, don't expect me to save your necks if you get into hot water."

"Worry not, we can fend on your own," the red-eyed teen replied, "Remy might even get the chance to rescue you from distress." The guards they'd beaten had been playing poker, and Remy was putting the deck into his pockets. Kathy came up and questioned him with her gaze. "Ammunition, the cards are lightweight, quick to charge, plenty, and should travel a fair distance when thrown." The silent mutant crooked an eyebrow and gave a 'so-so' gesture, she didn't consider throwing cards to be a good image.

"Are we all set?" Saturn finally asked, "We're likely to be recaptured if we stay any longer."

"In a minute, there's something I need to do first," Giselle answered.

"Must it involve removing your clothes?" the orange-skinned girl asked. A blouse landed on her face.

"Yes, it does, wait here." The reptilian mutant went into the empty cell, the rest were puzzled, but began to wait all the same. Mystique was standing close to Saturn, and decided to engage in small talk.

"That's a nice-looking spear," she started, "Do you know how to use it?"

"It's a glaive," the amethyst-eyed senshi corrected. "Hai, though I won't use it the way you might expect."

"Is that supposed to mean anything?"

"There are more civilized ways of reaching your goals than murder."

"Don't talk to me as if I were some crazed lunatic!" the redhead metamorph protested, "There's a purpose behind my actions. Do you really think I kill people simply because I enjoy it?"

"Gomen, I should've been more sensitive, especially considering my reputation. But if you disapprove of it yourself, why keep acting the way you do?"

"Because I'm tired of hiding all the time." The blue-skinned woman took a deep breath. "Professor Xavier and the X-Men have the right idea, but they're too innocent if they expect to get anywhere through talking. Mankind's too blunt to listen to reason, the only choice left is straightforward action."

"Even if it costs you your soul?" Saturn inquired. Mystique merely shrugged.

"The way I see it, these kids win while I'm the only one getting condemned, a fair enough trade. By the way, what sort of a reputation do you have?"

"You'd laugh if I'd told you," the senshi of destruction chuckled as she checked her own petit form.

"Okay, I'm all set," Giselle called as she stepped into the room. Everyone turned and their jaws dropped, especially Remy's. The reptilian girl peeled of the last bit of dry skin off her arm and struck a pose. "I wasn't sure about coming out in my underwear, but black and green make a bitching combination, don't you agree?"

"Giselle! You look…" Jenny searched for the proper word. "Like a jewel!" Indeed, after molting, Giselle was comparable to a polished emerald.

"Thanks. Now come on, let's see if Mystique and I can make others drool besides the swamp rat."

"Remy resents that."

Manhattan, at a public plaza:

"Fix that curtain. Check the sound. Is mike 2 working? Keep those people away from the stage." The director in charge of this televised debate was walking around so fast and giving out so many orders that there seemed to be five of him at once. He'd been in this business for years and had a perfect control record; not once had a riot begun under his watch, no matter how controversial the subject. He didn't know as much about the situation as Professor Xavier or the X-Men did, and even so, it would've made no difference in his professionalism.

Michael was looking over and reading his notes out loud, the best answers to the most likely to be asked questions.

"Sir, if I may," the majordomo spoke up, "I was under the impression that you wanted to wait until your political career was more advanced before having this debate with Charles Xavier."

"Mike, sometimes you simply have to rush ahead," the mousy-haired man replied, "No one has been able to prove it, but I know that cue ball is a mutie. Why else would he speak so strongly on their behalf?" He checked his watch. "If I expose him here, he's done for, him and that freak show he calls a school."

"It is a good plan, Sir," the blue-haired man admitted, with a trace of doubt in his tone. "How will you bring your enemy to exposure?"

"You'll see, it's going to be one hell of a surprise." The sadistic chuckle made Michael edge away involuntarily, the man he served was definitely changing. He turned toward the audience and caught sight of a man wearing red sunglasses, he'd seen him arrive with Xavier, along with two others.

"I wish you luck with your plan, Sir." Although I do believe you're not the only one with a plot.

Scott was keeping an eye out for anything, he was the one closest to the stage where Stevens and Charles would hold the debate.

"This has been reduced to a waiting game," the young man said to himself, "Stevens, or rather the hate-demon, is bound to make his berserk move at any moment; while the professor awaits the right time in order to strike at our enemy. Just like in a western." He crossed his arms and grumbled. "And I've always hated those." If only we had him coordinating us, but the professor's keeping his mind closed out of precaution. Hmm, then again, I suppose it's best for him to save his strength for when the time comes. The brown-haired mutant took out his communicator, which was disguised as a cell-phone. "Setsuna, do you see anyone suspicious?"

"Ie, Scott-kun, this side is clear." The mocha-skinned woman would much rather be looking for Chibi-Usa and Hotaru; but being a logical person, she understood that Jean was best fitted for the search, while her own power was more useful in a potential confrontation. "I must admit, security here has done a good job keeping the radicals away. There are plenty of Stevens' followers here, but no extremists. It doesn't seem as though we'll have any violence in the immediate area." She switched channels. "Magnus-san, how does it look on the outside?"

"Hectic, to say the least." Dressed in a trench coat, he'd taken position at the farthest side of the square, which was practically a picket sign jungle. Most of the people there were against mutants, throwing insults that became lost among all the shouting, and the ones in favor of equality were no better. The white-haired villain longed to break the truce and snuff out the former group. At times like this I wonder, he thought to himself. Where and when did I develop this sense of honor? "If any of those black giants you've described should appear, it's bound to be here."

"Let's not be swayed by appearances," Setsuna replied, "You should know after working with Mystique." A loud murmur was heard in the background. "They're starting."

The moderator presented the first question.

"Tell us, Professor Xavier, in you own words: What make mutants dangerous?"

"Because we're not being hard enough on those freaks," the mousy-haired man butted in, "We're allowing them to get away with whatever they please." Ill-based applause erupted. This outburst worried Charles; he knew that, up until a few days ago, Jack Stevens would never behave inappropriately, regardless his conviction. This meant that his opponent's condition was becoming worse. After waiting a few minutes for the audience to calm down, the telepath retook his turn to speak.

"The reason mutants are dangerous, or any other person for that matter, is fear of persecution and the feeling of weakness it provokes."

"You're calling mutants weak?" the bigot huffed, "Don't you watch the news, all the destruction they're responsible of?"

"The sensation of being alone against the world is overwhelming. Countless acts of violence are committed each day because of choices, preferences, religion, even the color of one's skin. A quick and simplistic logic is 'to hurt them before they hurt me', which explains why so many children carry firearms to school nowadays." Charles continued. "Leave a mutant child unattended, without rules and limits, nothing will keep him from doing whatever comes to mind, often with damaging results."

"Thank you, Professor." The moderator turned to his left. "Mr. Stevens, what is the best way for these teenagers to learn responsibility?" The possessed man glimpsed at his watch before answering.

"You can't teach someone to use a weapon responsibly, without teaching him how to use the weapon in the first place, there lies the trap this so-called teacher is trying to lure us into." Charles' allies, Eric included, frowned at this insinuation. Their friend was anything but treacherous. "Weakness exists for a reason, a shift in power and everything is thrown off-balance…" His eyes narrowed. "And I believe in balance." Suddenly, Stevens noticed that something was amiss. No one was moving, and except for the breeze, everything was in absolute silence. He looked towards the audience, everyone was frozen in place. "What the hell is going on here?"

"A trick I've learned, works wonders during rush hour," Charles quipped. "And my friend Eric is keeping the signal from being transmitted, we have no witnesses."


"Sometimes it's safer to keep people in ignorance," Sailor Pluto explained as she came into view. "The true power behind this war must never be known."

"Whether you or somebody else is the mastermind," Scott said as he adjusted his visor, "This is when we find out." Stevens gritted his teeth and backed away shakily.

"I knew it. I knew you freaks couldn't be trusted!" he hollered. "Go ahead then, do your worst! You're all dead anyway!"

"Freeze!" the red-eyed mutant ordered. "One false move and you're out for a week." The madman snickered in response.

"Fool, didn't you notice I checked the time? I started my move ages ago."

"Nani?" A tremor was felt, then another, then more until there was a total of ten. The emerald-haired senshi looked up and her eyes widened in shock. "By the kami!"

"EEEK!" A woman shrieked and the people went into pandemonium. Frightened by the giant machines, Charles had unwittingly released them. He tried to calm them down, but the panic made it too difficult, he could only take care of a few at a time. Meanwhile, Cyclops and Pluto rushed over to fight the machines.

"Sir, are you mad?" Michael hollered as soon as he became aware of the situation, "You'll cause a massacre!"

"Can't you see this is a win-win situation?" Stevens cackled, "The freaks will get all the blame, and should Xavier die, his followers will raise hell to avenge him. On the other hand, should there be civilian casualties, then they'll begin to distrust us and all forms of authority, which is certain to escalate into anarchy."

"You idiot! Do you even realize what you're saying!" the blue-haired man roared as he grabbed his employer by his coat, "You're no leader, you're nothing but a lunatic—Ugh!" He received a fierce hook to the stomach.

"Can't you see, young fool, that your leader is no longer here?" The bigot's voice was no longer human. "He became my toy the moment I found him." Out of the corner of his eye, Stevens' saw a sentinel convulse and explode, and when he looked up he saw the reason.

Hovering above the mass, Magneto proved worth to his name, a simple gesture and another robot was crushed like a tin can.

"This couldn't be any easier," the mutant villain bragged as he floated towards the stage, dismantling a third robot. "I assume by your goofy expression that I wasn't expected."

"You? Helping humans?" Stevens frowned. "It seems weakness was not the reason after all. No matter, there is more than one way to skin—" Suddenly he went silent, his eyes went blank and he froze utterly. Perplexed, the master of magnetism turned his head and saw his old friend in deep concentration.

"It's your turf, Charles, but do be careful."

Jack Stevens' mind:

Charles stood before a frightening spectacle. He saw Jack Stevens, bound within the claws of a three horned, dark-skinned demon with torn, leathery wings.

"So this is the face of hatred," the telepath said, "even more monstrous than I ever imagined."

"Mock me all you want, mortal, you've been playing the part I wrote for you to the letter."

"My part?"

"Oh yes. You see, when I was awakened by your friend, Eric, I immediately tried to take control of him, such delectable intolerance and spite he holds. I couldn't take over his soul, but I was able to read his mind, which allowed me to learn about you, Professor Xavier." A pair of spiny tentacles extended from its shoulders and pinned Charles to the ground. "A telepath of astounding power, able to reach every corner of the world. With you in my hands, nothing will stop me!"

"Nothing but your own arrogance." Charles gripped his bonds firmly, gave a mighty pull, and flung his opponent over his head, slamming him against the ground! The hate-demon was absolutely taken by surprise. "We are no longer in the physical world. Just as you implied, in this plane, my strength is enormously increased."

"So it is." The dark-skinned demon fired beams from its eyes, Charles swiftly avoided the blasts as he moved closer to his enemy. Once he got close enough, right at its feet, he grabbed the extra limbs that were holding the real Stevens and started pulling.

"You will use this man no longer." Using all he had, the telepath tore away the bony arms, freeing the mousy-haired man. Roaring in pain, the hate-demon swatted both of them away. Bloodied, Charles stood up again. "Now, to take care of you." A moment's concentration was enough to send an energy wave that flung the monster back several yards.

"My turn." The hate-demon sent a wave of its own, Charles was barely able to hold against it, yet he managed to keep himself and Stevens unharmed. "You are stronger than I expected, Charles Xavier, perhaps it should be wiser to get the other one first." It started vanishing. "You may keep that wretch, he was but a tool, not my vessel." The three-horned demon disappeared before Charles could question it.

"The other one," the mutant telepath pondered.

Back in the real world, Magneto was nearly done with the sentinels; Cyclops and Pluto still had plenty to do, taking care that none of the debris fell upon the fleeing crowd.

"That baka almost crushed us a couple of times!" the time senshi complained. "Couldn't he try to be a little more mindful about the ones below him?"

"He doesn't even care," the X-man leader replied, "The only things in his mind are his own goals, it doesn't matter whether or who is affected." An optic-blast blew a falling hand to smithereens. "Friend or foe."

"Sounds too much like me." The ruby-eyed senshi muttered sourly. A frigid wind hit them suddenly, they spun and saw a black cloud coming out of Stevens' unconscious body. It grew so large it blocked out the sun, took a bestial shape and took off, filling the air with an unholy sound. Everyone at the plaza was filled with dread like never before.

"Professor!" Cyclops rushed to his mentor's aid as soon as he regained composure. "Professor, are you okay?"

"Yes, Scott, I'm still in one piece." The telepath was exhausted, and had actually been bruised as a result of his mental combat. He gave a short chuckle. "It's been a while since I've had my share of the action."

"Sir!" The three heroes turned towards Michael, who was desperately trying to awake his boss. "Come on, Jack, say something!" He saw the X-Men plus Pluto approaching and quickly drew a gun out of his jacket. "Keep away! What did you do to him! What?" The weapon was yanked out of his hand.

"Charles saved your leader's life," Magneto answered as he landed, "Whether you wish to believe it or not."

"I don't know what to believe. That thing inside him, was it a ghost or a mutant?" Michael let himself drop on the floor and dragged his hand over his face. He looked upon the chaotic scene, there had been no casualties, but many people had been severely hurt, and all had a look of absolute terror in their eyes. "The Jack Stevens I've worked for all these years would've never allowed this. He's passionate, but believed in order above everything else."

"Unless you help us," Pluto started, "The whole city will end up in a worse state. Forget what each of us thinks, you followed Stevens because you wanted to do the right thing, and right now, the right thing is to help us." The blue-haired man looked at each of them a long time. They sounded earnest but…

"I haven't changed my opinion about your kind, furthermore, you're asking me to commit treason." He took a deep breath. "But that murderous creature, whatever it was, must be stopped. Go south down Carlton road until you reach the fifth exit, that's where you'll find our base of operations. But I'm warning you, the personnel is heavily armed."

"If you knew these fellows like I do, you wouldn't have given us such a warning," the white-haired villain replied.

"Now we've got somewhere to go," Cyclops said, with the feeling of victory in his grasp. "Let's go!"

Hephaestus' colony, remains:

Grunting, Neptune and Gus removed one more large rock.

"I think I felt a gust of fresh air there," the gooey morlock commented, "That's good news, it means we won't suffocate."

"Good to know," the ocean senshi replied. She looked down towards Storm. The ebon-skinned girl was taking a short break, actually, she'd already taken several. And all that deep breathing didn't bode well.

"Okay, enough resting!" she announced as she got to her feet, "Back to work!" Gus made her sit down again though.

"Look, it's obvious you're not well. Just sit back and let us do this. There's not much left to do anyway."

"I can handle it," Storm assured, "I've been in tighter places and survived." She began digging through the rubble. "It doesn't shame me to admit I'm scared. Quite frankly, I want to get down on my knees and cry; but there are people out there who need me, and you guys need me here as well. I'm helping." Gus stood there silently a short while, watching Storm and Neptune work.

"You're really something, you know that?"

"Hai, we know. But leave the girl watching for another day, Gus-san," the aqua-eyed one scolded.

"It's not that. I just…" The morlock sat down. "Down here it's every man for himself. We do work together, couldn't have survived otherwise, but most people here don't really care for one another." He gave a sad sigh. "Cloud and Jenny cared, well, he cared for his sister, while she cared for everyone." Gus' fist tightened. "She knew it from the start! She knew there was something wrong and tried to warn us! And did we listen? No! We were too anxious to get even to do so." His head dropped in defeat. "None of us cared enough to listen."

"Gus-san." Neptune stepped closer. "You know, you don't sound like an uncaring person at all, all the contrary, I think you didn't listen because you cared too much."

"Huh? What are you talking about?"

"You've seen the youngest one among us, Sailor Chibi Moon, ne? Well, when Uranus and I first met her, we considered her to be too young to know what was good for her; we just did what we thought was best, and not until it was too late that we realized she knew better."

"We've had similar experiences with our students," the weather-witch added as she approached. "You may blame yourself for acting foolishly, but don't lie to yourself by saying you're uncaring." Gus wasn't expecting such encouragement, especially not from people who, only a few days ago, where his enemies."

"Thank you." Just then, the stones covering the exit started to shake! The trio darted away from the tumbling rocks, once it was over, a female figure emerged from the dust cloud.

"Ororo? Neptune? Are you guys okay?"

"Jean-san! By the kami, are we glad to see you!"

"No gladder than I am," the redhead replied. "And, umm…who's your new friend?" The gooey morlock was holding on to Storm, he let go as soon as he realized what he was doing.

"Sorry, got a little startled, is all."

"Don't worry about it," the white-haired heroine grumbled as she tried wiping off the blue goop. "Were you able to avoid the platoon on your way here?"

"We did cross paths," Beast answered as he came into view, "Luckily, they were too busy to pay attention to their surroundings."

"Too busy carrying the children, you mean," Neptune guessed. The blue-furred man nodded silently. "And the two of you trying to rescue them would've been foolhardy. Blast it, if only we knew where they've taken them!"

"That we do know," the blue-furred man said, "I received a call from Cyclops and the others, they've got an address and have the Blackbird on standby."

"What are we waiting for? Let's get a move on!" Storm shouted. She then looked back. "Sorry, Gus, but—"

"I know, gotta leave this to the pros." Even so, the morlock tried coming up with an excuse to accompany them, none came to mind. "I've got a place to go, so don't worry about me, just concentrate on taking care of yourselves. Oh, and if you find Jenny…you know."

"We understand. She'll be well taken care of," Beast promised.

"Wow, this place of yours is in the middle of nowhere," Haruka told the driver. "How much further until we get there?"

"Not that far, it's always closer than it seems." Under normal circumstances, the shorthaired racer would've never gotten this far in just one day, she had to, shall we say, charm her way in. "I'm telling you, last night was fantastic. You've got a lot of skill."

"Umm, arigato, but please, try not to let it around."

"Why?" the green-haired youth asked, "It was awesome. And three times straight I might add."

"It would ruin my image," the sand-blonde explained, "I want to keep this in the closet, so if you don't mind…"

"All right, all right, I promise never to talk about last night." Something in the rear-view mirror caught the young man's attention. "That's odd, I thought I saw someone following us."

"I don't see anyone." Haruka leaned out the window and took a good look. She had to admit, Logan was pretty good at tailing people. "Maybe it was a shadow and you thought it was something else, happens to me from time to time. Hey, is that it?"

Outside it looked like an ordinary country house, and the inside was pretty normal as well. Two guys were at the living room playing a flight simulator, it was all they had to do until new orders were received.

"I gotta tell ya, Frank, this isn't what I expected when I was assigned as commander of this outfit."

"I hear you, I joined these covert team because I wanted action, not wasting my time with videogames. Even if I am kicking your ass each time."

"Shut up, I'm just going easy on you."

"If you wanna kill time," a voice from behind called, "then join us for a little target practice." The commander and Frank turned and saw a buzzcut redhead carrying a plasma rifle.

"Are you nuts?" the former asked, "All of this is inventoried."

"Come on, who's gonna miss one? Besides, they use batteries, not ammo, all we have to do is recharge 'em and put 'em back in."

"Well…" The commander thought about it for a moment. "What the hell, why not? I think I saw a deer out the window just a few minutes ago." Everyone cheered and gave high fives. The door opened at that moment, and in came the green-haired rookie and Haruka.

"Hey, everybody, I brought a new recruit."

"Well now! This should make things livelier!" the redhead exclaimed, giving the blue-eyed girl a stare that made her regret her chosen outfit.

"Hai, I'm ready to join the party." She looked over at the weapons. "Are those for mutant hunting? Can I try one?"

"Sure thing, we were going to do just that." As everyone went outside, the commander came up to the green-haired youth.

"I wasn't informed of her arrival, and you need at least level four clearance to come here." He let his hand fall heavily on the kid's shoulder. "What's the story?"

"She was almost killed by a mutie last night, didn't you notice her bruises? She's a diehard supporter of Jack Stevens, and was itching to get even with the creep who attacked her, so I figured she could come."

"Well, she's easy on the eyes, so I'll cover for you. Just tell me one thing, in full confidence. Did you two…?"

"Umm, if you must know…" The kid scratched the back of his head. "Yes we did."

"I should've known," the commander sighed as he shook his head, "Someday I'm going to find out what's so good about these trading card games."

"I don't see any deer," one of the soldiers noticed in disappointment, "I guess we'll have to settle for the trees." He offered a rifle to the racer. "How about it honey, want to go first?"

"Hai." She picked up the weapon, pretending it was too heavy, and took aim. "All I gotta do it press this thing, ne?"

"The recoil might be a little too much for you," another one said as he put his arms around her. "I'll help you out."

"Umm, arigato, but I can manage." Why did I have to come up with this plan? Haruka took aim and fired hastily. Just as predicted, the force of the blast knocked her off her feet. "Heh, I guess I was a little too much for me." She noticed the frowns surrounding her. "What's wrong?"

"You know, you're acting a bit too klutzy and cute."

"Yeah, and you look strong, the guns aren't that heavy for you." The mob started closing in. "What's the deal?"

"The deal? Well I—" Haruka grabbed the soldier behind her and threw him over her shoulder towards the one in front; a sudden sprint allowed her to sweep a third off his feet, and a fourth was knocked out with an uppercut.

"Bitch!" The commander tried to fire, but his weapon was slashed to pieces and a jab took him out for the count. The melee was short, and soon, the troop laid defeated.

"I agree," Logan began, "last night was beginner's luck, you really are an awful actress."

"Are you suggesting more snarling and drooling?" Haruka retorted, "Come on, let's go inside and see if we can find something useful."

They decided to head straight for the office, the most likely place to find important evidence.

"I never was any good at paperwork," Haruka complained, "I can't tell whether this is a receipt for grenades or laundry. Let's just take the most important-looking stuff back to the school and let Setsuna-san figure them out."

"Hold that thought." Logan went up to a bookcase and started sniffing. "Funny, a lot of people have been coming here, and none of the goons we fought seemed the literary type. What do you think?"

"Tres cliché, but it does make sense. Do we pull on the books or look around for a remote?"

"Nah, I'm feeling lazy."

"Likewise," the sand-blonde chuckled, "Uranus crisis power, make up!" The wind senshi gathered her energy. "World shaking!" The feral man went over to inspect before the dust even settled, while Uranus tried to communicate with her ocean princess. "There's some sort of interference. We'll have to go back to the school and tell them about—Nani?" She almost dropped the keys that were tossed at her.

"Jeep's just over the hill, hidden behind a tree," the feral man informed. "You know her quirks, so she won't give you any trouble."

"You're not going in there on your own, are you?" Uranus asked. "There must be ten times as many soldiers down there."

"I can handle it. You go back and let your ball and chain know where you are. I'm going ahead."

"Ball and chain?" Uranus frowned and tossed the keys back. "Michiru doesn't have me wrapped around her little finger." Logan gave a laugh.

"I made that same comment about Jean once. Take that as a warning."

Stevens' H.Q.:

Rogers was looking at his newest acquisition through the 30 inches of tempered glass. Hephaestus was sealed inside a refrigerated chamber, with barely enough oxygen to breathe, let alone ignite.

"Robert Morrison," the gray-haired veteran read the file in his hands out loud. "Problem child, low grades, committed several minor felonies before running away from home at twelve. Presumably mutated at the age of fourteen."

"Do you think he's worth the risk, Sir?" a brunette scientist asked as she checked the monitors one last time, "The other monsters did say he's their leader, he won't be easy to submit."

"I have contacts in Canada. Believe me, he'll be servile before you know it."

"General!" A younger man, carrying a portable TV rushed into the room. "Sir, you better take a look at this." Rogers' eyes widened in shock as he watched the small screen. It was very brief, but he could clearly see the outline of the giant robots. "It's confirmed, Stevens took away and activated ten sentinels without authorization. Furthermore, the computer shows that they were all destroyed."

"THAT FOOL!" Rogers hollered, "What was he thinking? Does he have any idea of what he's done?" He rubbed his neck nervously before giving instructions. "Send a clean up crew and put Jack under arrest, along with all of his—Huh?" An alarm started ringing.

"The temperature's elevating," the young woman said as she checked the monitors, "Impossible! It's much too fast to compensate!"

"Release the nitrogen," the young man rapidly suggested.

"I already have but it's not—!" A tremendous explosion blew the chamber open.

"Unngh." Rogers moaned as he struggled to get up unsuccessfully. His leg was broken and his ribs were completely chattered. Through the smoke, he managed to see the brunette, who lay dead with the left side of her skull crushed by debris; the other man had survived, but not for long. He opened his eyes only to see a brief blue light, the upper part of his body was carbonized in less than a second. "Morrison," the gray-haired man grunted, "you'll never make it out of here."

"This mortal would've corrected you by stating that his name is Hephaestus," the magma-skinned morlock replied as he came closer, "I don't care, none of my kind has ever been given a name." His soon to be victim was confused. "Don't bother, your feeble mind would never understand. All you need to know is that you've been useful; and had you not been so disciplined, you would've lived longer, as my puppet." The morlock's hand turned into a fiery blade, it was the last thing Jim Rogers saw before his head was separated from his body. "Princess Serenity is just within reach, and Charles Xavier will arrive soon." Three small stumps started growing from the magma-skinned morlock's forehead, and the demon within cackled with the thought of godhood.