X-Force: In the Shadows of the Future
by Sami Merchi
1) This material is not used for monetary profit in any manner. It is done solely for enjoyment purposes, and as homage to the great stories and characters of Marvel Comics Group
2) All the characters, events, and locations portrayed within are recognized as property of Marvel Comics Group should they so wish.
"This is Blue Team. We're in position."
"Green Team in position. Tho' Wade's goofin' off as usual."
"Red Team here. We've got him in sight, guys."
"White Team standing by. Lock X-Wings into attack positions."
"Hey, lighten up, 'Berto! We're ready and all that."
Roberto Da Costa did not 'lighten up'. Ever since he had taken on the mantle of X-Force's strike leader following Dani's stepping down, he had kept a tight, almost military rein on the team during missions. He did not take insubordination well. But he also knew these were his dearest friends and he wouldn't punish them. Much.
There was a moment of silence as Amara put her hand onto Bobby's shoulder and her gentle touch, as usual, soothed him.
"All right. Everyone prepare. T minus 10 seconds...on my mark...now." Bobby focused his eyes forward, towards the factory plant ahead, in the middle of the wilderness.
The only sound X-Force heard was the silent whispers of Meltdown carried over thru the comlink, as she started the countdown with experienced grace, without a separate command from Roberto. "10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1..."
The front doors to the facility suddenly started to hum and vibrate, and spontaneuosly exploded, all in less than a second. Rictor stepped out of the bushes and smirked arrogantly at his handiwork. "Not bad, if I say so myself. Of course, I've done better work. Just wait for my encore."
"Provided you live long enough, Julio!" The voice was familiar but abrupt, and Rictor was distracted for a moment as Shatterstar tackled him to the ground, just as a thick energy beam blasted its way thru where Rictor's chest had been only scant moments before.
Rictor glanced towards the direction the beam had been fired from, and pointed one hand in that general direction, letting loose a wide vibratory quake which rumbled everything in its path to bits. His eyes turned to Shatterstar and he put on a slight grin. "I just think you enjoy every chance to get your hands on me, hombre."
"Now is not the time for such things, Julio", Shatterstar growled emotionlessly as he got up, surveying the area quickly in strict military procedure. "Feh. Guthrie would have planned this better", he said disdainfully as he started towards the blasted doors, his twin-blade in hand.
Sunspot grabbed a handful of his cape in both his clenched fists, as he took on some altitude. "Sam is not the strike leader of X-Force, Shatterstar", he remarked in an icy voice. "You will learn to respect me or you will wish you had." At his mental command, black solar energy blasted out of his eyes, and lanced out to further damage the building around the door, with a huge explosion that was but a small reminder of the immense solar power he held within him.
No less dangerous was Roberto's wife, Amara Juliana Olivians Aquilla. Whereas Bobby embodied the sun, she similarly was the avatar of the planet. "Now, Roberto?" she asked with a wicked glance towards her beloved husband.
Roberto nodded. "Green Team should have done their job by now. If they haven't, too bad." Sometimes his coldness amazed even himself, but he quickly pushed it to the background.
Amara smiled and with but a thought from her, the whole western wing of the facility was suddenly demolished when the crust of the earth erupted underneath, spewing red hot magma to destroy the structure and swallow it into its destructive embrace. "Sometimes, Roberto - I can not help but love my work."
Bobby coldly watched the western wing of the facility crumble and sink into the magma pit, allowing himself a moment of luxury to admire the beauty of his wife. He could watch her all day long, and never get tired of her. Since she had joined the New Mutants roughly ten years ago, they had been thru a lot together, but it had only been later, when Roberto sought Amara's aid to rid himself of his meddlesome rival, the Black Queen Selene, that their emotions for each other had bloomed. After helping Amara kill her, they now both held seats in the Inner Circle, he as the Black King, and she as his Black Queen. Soon thereafter, they had married, and the wedding had truly been a spectacle.
The sudden crash waked him from her reverie, and his eyes turned from Amara back towards the building. Their suspicions had been true. Of course, if he hadn't thought they were, they wouldn't have come here in the first place.
"Nimrods", Shatterstar spat out, and leaped towards the first one emerging from the rubble that had only a minute before been the front wall of one of TecRex Developments' research centers.
"Are ye shoor ye got every last one of 'em out, Wade?" Terry demanded, looking at Wade sternly.
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure", he replied in that irritatingly carefree tone of his. "I mean, I got me out - which is numero uno - I got you out - which is numero tres - I got the kittycat out - which is numero... ah hell, I've gotta start taking those spanish lessons again."
Theresa looked at Wade dumbfoundedly for a minute. "What about all the scientists?" she asked, her voice betraying her suspicions already.
"What scientists?" Deadpool asked and casually wiped the sword in his hand onto his thigh before putting it into the scabbard crossed across his back. A slight red smear stayed on Wade's thigh, slightly darker than his costume.
Terry's eyes went wide as she looked at the smear, then to Deadpool's masked eyes. "You didn't...?" she asked in a horrified tone, glancing back towards the wing they had just come out of.
With a quick whirl around, Wade turned around and started walking onwards, away from the wing and Theresa, who stood at the door to the corridor to that wing. "Of course not!" he snapped playfully. "What do you think I am - some kind of a monster??? I wouldn't kill little adorable scientists like that, would I?" His tone was sarcastic, almost teasing.
There was a moment of hesitation from Terry as she wondered whether to go back, but she knew Magma was scheduled to demolish the wing any second now. "What did ye do tae them, Wade???" she screamed to his back.
Wade turned around and leaned onto a corridor wall, and Feral came to heel at his side, as she usually did, having developed a particular fondness for this cold-blooded mercenary turned ally. "Them? Them who?" He slipped on a pensive look for a while, then looked up. "Oh! The scientists! Oh, I just cut their hamstrings so they couldn't get out of there", he explained like it was something akin to taking an aspirin.
"YE WHAT??????" Terry immediately turned to fly to the corridor leading to the western wing, but as soon as she opened the door, a massive heat wave blasted out of the door and she saw the other end of the corridor sink into a pool of hot magma. She closed the door behind her and quickly gave a prayer for the souls of the scientists. o O (Why do I have to love this psychopath???) she questioned herself, but couldn't find an answer, so she instead turned to rage, flying at Wade and grabbing him by his shirt, lifting him a few inches off the floor. "HOW *DARE* YE????? Oor mission was to clear the western wing so no lives would be lost when Magma pulled her trick!!! Ye IDIOT!!!" she screamed at him.
Under the screaming, Wade put a finger to rub his ear while he maintained a level look with Terry. "Oh come on, Teresa! How much of a loss could it be??? I mean, these guys didn't have any pictures of naked chicks on their office walls! Can you spell B-O-R-I-N-G?? It's not like we lost Jay Leno or anything... Sheesh!"
"I WID SAY YE HAVENAE RESPECT F'R HUMAN LIFE, BUT I'D BE RIGHT!!!!"
"Umm... Yeah, I guess you would. So, are we still on for that date tonight?"
"I'M GOING TO *KILL* YE WHEN WE GET BACK TO THE BASE!!!!"
"Gee, I guess I'm not the only one who doesn't have any respect for human life... Of course, it's debatable if I'm human... I personally think I'm an illegitimate son of Hercules. See all these muscles? I've had 'em all my life. Some doctors think..."
"NO, I'VE GOT A BETTER IDEA!!! I'LL CUT Y'R PATHETIC LI'L WILLY OFF WHEN YE SLEEP AN' PUT IT ON DISPLAY IN THE WOMEN'S LOCKER ROOM!!!!"
"And here I thought you didn't want anyone else to see it... You should've told me sooner you were one of those chicks who were open in their relationships and I would've taken more advantage of it..."
"YE...YE...OOOOOOHHHHHH!!!!!!" Terry dropped Wade and turned around, storming away, with a furious look on her face.
Feral looked at Terry as she walked away and lifted her eyebrow. o O (What's the big deal...?) she thought, then glanced up at Wade, who glanced back at Feral and shrugged. "She shoulda seen their faces when I hamstringed them. They never show anything like that in the TV these days... People don't have any sense of style anymore..."
Wade started to walk after Terry, into a dark corridor. Feral followed him on all fours, constantly on guard, her head darting around and around. "So what was numero dos?" she suddenly asks after they'd come a bit of way.
"I got a cute lab assistant out."
"Henry Peter Gyrich. Special Advisor of Superhuman Affairs Division."
"Aye... I've heard o' him..."
"Also the man responsible for Project: Wideawake and the construction of the Nimrods."
Rahne nodded wordlessly. She knew all that this man was and more. Her fingers twitched slightly in anticipation as her sensitive wolfen ears waited for the signal.
There it was! The low rumble that Rahne immediately recognized as the signal. The western wing, the main storage area for finished Nimrods was hopefully now gone forever.
A small smile broke to Dani's lips as she felt this thru the telepathic link she shared with Rahne, and they both tensed for action, their bodies acting together like a well-oiled machine without the need for words, or even thoughts.
Rahne kicked in the ventilation grid with a quick motion, and leaped into the room, a furious look on her face as her claws reached for Gyrich.
The room was a dark cubicle, with various monitors dotting one wall and illuminating the area with an eerie phosphorescent light. Besides Gyrich, there were two other men in the room, one in a chair before the monitors, watching them, and another beside Gyrich. Gyrich instinctively pulled back from Rahne in shock, his hand reaching inside his jacket for his gun, but a quick slash from Rahne skillfully severed a few important muscles, and his hand fell mostly limp, as she grabbed him by his shirt and lifted him up into the air like he was a rag doll.
Dani watched Rahne go into action and prepared to back her as always, silently dropping from the ventilation duct, and pointing her fist at the man beside Gyrich, who was pulling a gun on Rahne. A bolt of psychic energy flew from her hand, hitting the man on the head. He dropped his gun as he fell to the ground, curling up in a fetal position and quivering in fear, withdrawing into his own thoughts. Dani smiled a bit, but didn't let that distract her, as she whirled around, and snapped a high kick to the side of the monitor person's head, quickly sending him unconscious.
"X-Force!" Gyrich snarled. "So you finally decided to show your true colors. You probably arranged everything with the Brotherhood last time, didn't you?" he said venomously, referring to the incident a year back when the Brotherhood, led by Havok and Polaris, had kidnapped Gyrich and planned to brainwash him to work as an insider for them in the government. X-Force had stopped them, and rescued Gyrich. "You are all under arrest for damaging government property!"
Dani smiled as she turned to look at Gyrich. "Yeah, right. Whatever. Look, Gyrich - we're a bit short on time. There's just one question I want answered: Are you going to give us the self destruct codes of this place voluntarily or not?"
"Not on your life", Gyrich said coldly as Rahne held him up in the air.
Dani shrugged. "Okay", she said and suddenly some letters and numbers appeared in front of her, hovering in the air like a holographic projection as she pulled the code out of Gyrich's thoughts and used her illusionary powers to display it to herself. She then moved to a console and started to tap in the code.
Gyrich watched Rahne, who stared back into his eyes angrily. He recalled what he knew of this mutant, and decided to apply a little basic psychology. "You should be glad Moira MacTaggart isn't alive anymore, Sinclair. What would she think of you, running with these outlaws?"
Rahne's eyes widened in surprise, then she growled low, and her eyes locked onto Gyrich's, furious and just about ready to take him apart. "Don't ya *DARE* talk aboot muh muther!! Ye're na fit t' mention her *NAME*!!"
"Are you?" Gyrich continued, his face taking on a slight smile despite the pain in his arm. "As soon as she dies, you join up with some outlaws like she never existed. How many times have you been thinking about her in the last week?"
A slight waver crossed Rahne's face. "I've...I've gotten over it..." she said weakly, her hold on Gyrich loosening somewhat.
"You're glad she's gone, aren't you?" Gyrich demanded coldly. "You just couldn't wait for a chance to go off and join up with these outlaws. Tell me, did you ever wish she would already die so you could run off?"
Rahne's heart skipped a beat and she felt herself only an eyeblink away from severing Gyrich's throat. But then a calm, soothing voice filled her mind. o O (Cool it, furtop. He's just trying to push you over the edge so he has proof we're as dangerous as he says. Don't give him the satisfaction), Dani sent thru their telepathic link. Rahne scowled but knew she was right, and steeled herself towards Gyrich's attempts, calming herself down and forcing herself to ignore his words.
"Blue Team, we need that back-up now", came Sunspot's calm voice over the comlinks.
"Roger that, Black Leader. Fifteen seconds."
"FEKT!!!" Shatterstar shouted he severed an arm off a Nimrod with a quick slash of his twin-blade, and it quickly flew back and grafted itself to the shoulder, being good as new in less than five seconds. "You hardly slowed it down, amigo. Let's see how they stand up to my vibe-quakes!" Rictor pointed his hands towards the Nimrod looming over Shatterstar, holding them together in the form of a gun, and let his mutant heritage flow. With a low rumble, the Nimrod exploded into tiny pieces as Rictor used his vibratory power to its most devastating extent.
A black streak, almost as dark lightning, flew past Rictor and Shatterstar both, and before even Shatterstar's extraordinary reflexes could move, Sunspot had smashed two fists into the chest of another Nimrod, and made a 90 degree turn to streak straight up towards the skies, carrying the robot.
"Roberto!" Amara's voice was terrified, but she didn't let her concern over her husband affect her work. With planned ease, she spouted red hot magma out of the ground where the Nimrod pieces lay, swallowing them up and melting them before they could get a chance to reconstitute.
"Za's Vid, but that was a move worthy of the Arena!" Shatterstar spoke admiringly after Sunspot, his sharp eyes following him for a fraction of a second before he had disappeared out of the range of even his eagle-keen eyes.
Rictor didn't speak, nor did he bother to look after Bobby. If their supposed 'leader' was cocky enough to go off on his own against one of them, how could he let himself be upstaged. No way. He calmly pointed his hands against one more approaching Nimrod, and prepared to blast it into little pieces, like the first one.
The Nimrod was faster. A beam of energy blasted from its eyes, and struck Rictor in the middle of his chest, sending him hurtling into the bushes, with a mixed look of pain and surprise on his face. He hit the ground with a hard thump, and lay still.
Shatterstar seemed to stay emotionless, as he leaped at the other one of the remaining Nimrods in a blinding blur, that would be nigh imperceptible to the normal human eye. Unfortunately, the Nimrods were not normal humans, and the robot raised its hand in a whack, to slap Shatterstar away in mid-leap. He landed a few yards to the side of the Nimrod, right in the path of the other one.
"They're learning!" Shatterstar got out from amidst sputtering blood, not that it seemed to slow him down much, as he sprung to his feet almost instantly. "First countering Julio's attack, and now mine !" He performed a skillful series of acrobatic stunts to avoid a series of energy bolts fired at him by the approaching Nimrod, while the one he had originally been going against was heading for Amara.
"You don't know much about Sentinels, do you, comrade?" Amara said a bit disdainfully, even as the area around the Nimrod approaching her quickly erupted in a geyser of lava. "The most dangerous thing about them is their learning program!" she shouted amidst the battle, while dodging a thin laser beam aimed at her. She made a quick motion with her hand, and lava erupted in a huge explosion straight forward, covering the Nimrod in the molten rock, cocooning it as she with but a thought cooled the rock into a stony prison.
Shatterstar didn't answer. He was concentrating on keeping one step ahead of the Nimrod's weaponry, but it was becoming harder by the second, as the computer added every move he pulled to its databanks so it could counter them in the future. And if he assumed an offensive tactic, he would end up the same way as Rictor.
Suddenly there was no need for dodging anymore, as he recognized the bright orange color of Sam Guthrie's blast field between him and the Nimrod, as Sam landed between the two combatants, Tabitha in his arms, carrying a huge globe of glowing energy slightly larger than a beach ball. Shatterstar's eyes widened at the sight, and he instinctively took on a braced position, though he knew he would be safe behind Sam's blast field.
Tabitha, safely within the blast field, suddenly dropped the ball out of the field, and it bounced a few times on the ground, because she willed it so, for cool effect, then stopped at the Nimrod's foot. Before it could analyze the threat posed by the energy sphere, it had been practically vaporized by the intense explosion following soon thereafter.
"YES!!!" Tabitha shouted, leaping down from Sam's arms and walking over the small spot of charred ground at the ground zero of her mini- nuke. "Meltdown one - Big bad Terminator rip-offs zero!!" She was teeming with energy, and four small globes, approximately tennis ball size, formed out of nowhere and started slowly orbiting her.
The fight seemed to quiet down, and everyone glanced back at Magma. She was idly circling a huge block of cold stone, approximately thirty feet in diameter, surveying her handiwork. "I would like to see it escape from there", she stated coldly. "Of course, now is the time for the most difficult part."
Sam nodded and started taking his backpack off as he walked towards the mound of stone. "Where's Bobby?" he asked as he handed over the backpack to Shatterstar, who sheathed his sword to receive it.
Everyone took pause as there was suddenly a huge explosion in the sky, so directly upwards it could never be a coincidence. For the briefest moment, a new star lit up in the sky, then blinked out after shining brighter than any other star for the fraction of a second. "Lord almighty!" Sam gasped at the explosion, which seemed more like the thunderclap of apocalypse than anything else.
"Roberto!" Amara screamed, her eyes going wide in terror. o O ( Mars, give him strength...) she whispered in her thoughts. o O ( Please let him be all right...)
Tabitha said nothing as she stared up, but the bubble she was blowing popped up and messed up her face, but she hardly noticed as her eyes were elsewhere, and her jaw hanging slack.
Shatterstar similarly said nothing, quickly glancing up, then resuming his work, as he pulled a portable computer set out of the backpack, and quickly juiced it up, linking it to a strap which he hung over his shoulder, and he was ready to go, with the keyboard hanging loosely in front of him.
Rictor shook his head and sat up, slowly crawling out of the bushes, rubbing his aching back as he stood up and saw almost everyone looking up. "Que pasa?" he questioned, but after receiving no answer, he just started staring up as well, waiting for something to show up.
"Self destruct sequence activated", the computer said in a distinctly feminine voice. "This facility will self destruct in four minutes, fifty-five seconds."
Dani whirled around to look at Rahne, to make sure she was okay. " Okay, Rahney, we're rolling." She tapped her comlink, keeping her eyes sharply on Gyrich. "Green Leader, where are you?" she asked with some impatience in her otherwise calm voice.
The door was kicked in and Dani whirled towards it, pointing her fist immediately in the direction, and instinctively casting an illusion to make the room appear empty at the same time.
Deadpool's form stepped into the doorway, Siryn looming behind him with a vicious scowl on her face, and Feral heeling at Wade's side, as usual. "Knock knock", he said in his usual childish style. "Who's there?" he answered to himself in a slightly different voice. "Wade." "Wade who?"
"Wade *OOFFF*!!!" He got knocked to the side by Siryn who moved to the room and took a glance around.
Dani dropped the illusion and nodded to Terry. "Everything went according to plan?" she asked, even though Terry's scowl told her everything she needed to know right now. She tapped her comlink again. "White Leader - immediate dust-off on our position."
Dani's words had hardly faded as a bright stepping disk rose from the ground and swallowed them all up. The last words left to echo in the empty room were the remnants of Wade's peculiar conversation with himself. "Wade Ooff? That wasn't funny. Who writes her routine, anyway...?"
"Magma, I am ready",
Shatterstar stated calmly, but Amara didn't
seem to hear him. "Magma!"
Amara turned around and looked at Shatterstar for a while, not understanding, but it took her only a moment to remember what she was doing. For a few eyeblinks, she was conflicted by her love and her duty, but then steeled herself to do what Roberto would in an occasion like this. To make sure the mission succeeded. She gave Shatterstar a quick nod, and a tunnel opened in the mound of stone, just large enough for the flexible warrior to make his way thru. Shatterstar hardly looked back as he almost dove into the horizontal tunnel, keeping the keyboard in front of him and carefully making sure it didn't bump into the hard stone. He crawled into the dark tunnel, the light of the screen illuminating the stony walls with an eerie greenish light. It didn't take him long to make his way all the 15 or so feet into the rock and find the one substance Magma couldn't open the tunnel thru. The Nimrod's back. He quickly took some wires and plugs from a belt pouch, and within seconds had attached the computer into the Nimrod. "Connection estabilished", he said into his comlink.
Outside the mound, Sam shook himself out of the trance and immediately began snapping out orders. "Tab, Ric, secure the perimeter. Amy, make sure 'Star's okay." He gave everyone sharp glances to make sure his orders were followed.
Amara nodded and followed Sam's orders like she would have Bobby's . She moved over to the stone mound and lay her hand upon it, to get a better feel of what was going inside. Tabitha and Rictor nodded as well, and started to walk a bit away, to check things out. There was a subtle tap at Amara's shoulder, and she whirled around , blazing hot, but her expression immediately softened when she saw who it was.
"Miss me?" Sunspot smiled mischievously, and slowly hovered down a foot or so, to gently touch down on the ground. "I did, you, milady", he said in a smooth tone as he put a hand to her cheek, caressing it softly, his solar absorption powers absorbing all the heat she radiated, making him literally stronger by her touch.
Amara just gaped at Bobby for a while, then she regained control of herself. "Oh shut up, Roberto, and kiss mmmmMMMMMMM!!!!!" She put her arms around him, and they embraced each other in a passionate kiss, holding each other for a long time, just enjoying the heat of being together, the excitement of their hearts beat in the same rhythm.
Sam shook his head amusedly as he watched the two. o O (Always the same with him) he thought and chuckled softly. o O (First pleasure, then work.) He took a few steps towards the lovebirds. "Hey Bobby?" he called out, not enjoying having to interrupt. Not much, anyway. " You think these're th' only Nimrods assigned t' guard duty? Don't seem ta sit well..." he said suspiciously.
Bobby broke the kiss, reluctantly, to turn to Sam. "You're right, Sam. These most likely aren't. But once we introduce the virus program Shatterstar designed to one Nimrod's neural net, it will spread to all the current models. And with the destruction of this place in a few minutes, plus Green Team's destruction of the base's databases, a lot of precious information should be lost to them, and their research should take a step backwards." He kept holding Amara's hand all the time, softly but reassuringly squeezing it.
Sam nodded, after listening to the speech. "Ah'm impressed", he said in a sincere tone. "You know, back in the New Mutants, Ah never thought -you-'d be leadin' us one day", he broke a little smile.
"Times change, Sam", Bobby said, a bit wistfully. "People change."
Amara nodded to back Roberto's words, her hand letting go of his, and wrapping around his waist, just as Shatterstar slinked out of the rock, like a silent cobra. "Virus program entered, Black Leader", he said and immediately started to pack up the computer.
Roberto nodded and tapped his comlink. "Blue and Black Teams, regroup", he said quickly, then looked to Shatterstar. "Everything went well?" he asked in confirmation.
Shatterstar nodded. "Like taking brandy from a baby", he said as he put away the computer. X-Force had generally gotten accustomed to Shatterstar's occasional slip-ups in proverbs, but Amara let out a slight chuckle by accident, before she noticed it. Shatterstar raised an eyebrow and glanced around to see the three amused faces. "What??" he demanded with a priceless look of confusion on his face.
The promising conversation was unfortunately interrupted by the returning Tabitha and Rictor, who came trotting towards the others, from different directions. "Ready, White Leader?" he asked, tapping his comlink.
Sunspot sighed, and waited for Tabitha and Rictor to get close, then he tapped his comlink again. "Dust-off...now."
A shimmering stepping disk appeared under everyone, teleporting them away with grace and elegance.
"Mission accomplished", Sunspot nodded as the stepping disk dropped them off at Limbo.
Illyana was sitting before them all on her throne, made of skulls and bones of what looked very close to human beings. All of X-Force had fortunately gotten used to the sight of her these days, though. The main differences to her human form were the hooves she sported instead of feet, and two huge red horns growing from her head. Not to mention her tail and blazing red eyes. "Well, 'Berto?" she asked in a slightly hissing tone. "Welcome back. I'm glad you're okay. But of course I knew all the time that you were." Her tone was slightly stinging, dangerous.
Bobby raised an eyebrow at Illyana, his eyes locking onto hers for a while, then he merely turned away, to face the others, all assembled here. Amara. Ric. Shatterstar. Sam. Tabitha. Dani. Rahne. Terry. Deadpool. Feral. Pridewalker. And of course Risque. "I want a full debriefing in two hours. Until that, we don't want to be disturbed." His voice was cold and adamant, as he walked up to Amara, slipping his arm around her waist and walking towards the stepping disk leading off to their private corner of Limbo. They walked into it and disappeared in the shimmering light of the stepping disk.
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