Notes: This collection of 15 short-stories is part of my contribution to the 15 genres, 1Prompt, 1 month on livejournal, connected, in my case, to the Excalibur Fandom, with special focus on Pete Wisdom, and promt aftermath; few of them will be set in my Blackdragon Universe, others will more canon.


Author: Little Firestar
Rating: T
Fandom: Excalibur (Marvel Universe)
Characters: Pete Wisdom/mentions of team
Summary: So, at the end, this is, the end of the world.
Spoilers: Just for Excalibur #94 (that was printed back in 1996)
Genre: Post-Apocalypse

Note: sort of follow-up story to Broken Dream

So, at the end, this is, the end of the world, acid rain falling on them from pitch black skies never seeing the light, nor at night, total darkness embracing everything and everyone, included himself, and machines- hybrids, actually, half animals, predators, half machines, created in the Weapon Plus facilities to track down the last few human populating the planet, like in the worse Matrix movie. The horrors, they call them, the last living things besides them - the escaped from the Sentinels' camps - and it's kind of ironic, because he used to red Heart of Darkness, and was it Kurt calling it at night, just before dying? The horrors, his professor told him, was what was inside the human's heart, and what are those creatures, if not the creation of the fears of humans, of the evil and craziness who walked the planet over a decade before, when there was still life and they could still feel the sun shining on the skin?

He didn't see that coming, he has to admit, and he is quite ashamed of this, because he should have known better, and because it was supposed to be his work. He was supposed to be able to see this thing long before they could happen, know them before they could happen, but he didn't; he let this happen, even given the signals, even if Rachel and Kitty told him to look after humanity, now that Fury was no more, and all the world was left with was Pete Wisdom, last intelligence agent standing, the last hope for a planet overcome by machines of mass destruction on their way to conquer the most important Alien Empire, now that the Moon had fallen along with the Inhumans and the Watcher, the one who knew and never acted to stop such a destruction.

Sometimes, he wonders if this the reason his old pals back at Black Air broke his body, not because of his betrayal but because of his failures, his inability to see what was happening, despite everyone was begging him to stay alert, to do something about it.

But he didn't do anything, and didn't make enough attention, and that's the result.

Many of his friends have been either long buried now or - Kurt, the damn elf, fell first when the sentinels attacked the States, Amanda died few months prior the attacks, at her mother's hands, Doug Vanished, and Kitty and Piotr…. Last time he checked, he knew that they had gotten married. And that they had lost a son because of the sentinels, the sentinels, the same AI that sold Britain to Black Air, transforming it into a dark, beaten place, where nothing of what it used to be still stays.

Sometimes, studying the planet from a cold monitor, sitting in his wheelchair, looking at surveillance feeds beamed by members of the resistance without flinching, he remembers a conversation of many years prior, shared with a woman who, like almost everyone he has ever cared about, died too soon. He remembers her question, and now, after so many years, he wonders if he should have answered in a different way.

Looking back, he doesn't know.

In Birmingham, bio-engineered troops of animals track down mutant, or at least, the few of them left walking on the ground, by following their shed skin cells, at the London's bridge, bodies are left hanging at the trees until the meat slides off the bones, and somewhere else, mass graves, where black air operatives divest the bodies of the possessions and gold fillings, and the whole country sails by in a river of blood.

He used to wonder, looking at those fake images back in the day into the danger Room, images that are no more faked, if that was how London used to look like during the War. He used to not know it, now… he still doesn't know it. Because he is pretty sure it's way worse: he still remembers the images of the American take-over, and sometimes, hidden in the caves that serve as Excalibur's headquarter, he hears Betsy crying late at night.

He wonders if she knows that sometimes she sleeps, that she still dreams of the man she used to love, that she wished to have died alongside with, Warren, the Angel of the X-Men, he wonders if she remembers what she felt through her weakened psychic bond, his white wings burning into fire.

He doesn't dream any longer, even with all his regrets, he doesn't, can't afford this luxury any longer, not now, not after everything, or maybe, Karma and the others are right, and he is just an old, paranoid little man- he hopes that Brian is wrong, though, Brian, who keeps repeating he'll outlive them all - he doesn't end the sentence, doesn't end the thought, that at his side, Karma falls on the ground, passing out, crying and sobbing and in pain.

He knows what's happening, he has seen it so many times he doesn't need her explanations: her "ride" is dead- Brian's dead, and he know what it means. With Brian, Excalibur lost, and with Excalibur, the whole country lost. And he is alone.

He takes the gun he hasn't used in years from the holster, and takes a big breath, closing in his eyes, and when he pulls the trigger, his memory flights back to a red-haired woman, asking him why fighting for the dream when no one wanted for it to come true- maybe she was right, maybe Magneto was right, maybe they took the wrong decisions.

He pulls the trigger, and, miles away, bio-engineered wolves sniff his mutant blood.

He lost. Britain lost. The world is lost. And he is sick and tired of always being the last one standing.