Chapter One: Looking Good Doing It

Inside Seawall Tower 58, the Command Center is alive with activity. Nearly two dozen Infinities fill the crimson-lit room. Large projection screens fill the walls, while smaller, personal consoles line the floor. Clunking boots, clicking buttons, and shouting voices fill the air, making the room nearly deafening.

“ – another two dozen humans have been – “

“ – wer 87 is reporting that they are under attack by – “

“ – other Sentinels are coming in from the north, realigning beams to – “

The commanding officer of Tower 58 stands on top of a large dais at the back of the circular room. A pair of stairways lead up to the platform, while a large metal and plastic chair sits at the back. Small projection screens dot the air around him, touch-screens that he constantly scans and updates with flicks and touches. Built specifically to lead Tower 58, he is in his element.

“Excellent job so far men! 58’s current record for kills is 149, putting us in the top ten! I want the balrogs let loose, boost those numbers! Make sure to keep an eye on them, I don’t want another Tower claiming our kills.

“Try to contact Towers 49 and 61; they’re nearest to 87. Tell them to coordinate defense/offense on one target at time. Move us closer to 61, we’ll cover their flank.

“Make sure to keep an eye on all Sentinel activity! I need reports on our EM-launchers, are they still down? Bring those bastards BACK online and get them firing as soon as possible! I don’t care if you need to use yourselves as spare parts, I need those launchers!”

Suddenly, a new screen pops up, revealing the standard face of an Infinity. “Sir! I’m detecting a teleportation distortion field!”

If an Infinity had a spine, then the commander of Tower 58 would have shivers running up it right now. “Where?! What is it? Mutant, tech, the Council?”

“It’s – shit, it’s here sir!” The Infinity shouts, standing up at his console! “They’re here!”

A strange sound fills the air behind the commander of Tower 58. It sounded like…like reality…blinked for a second. He turns.

Sabretooth charges the processed-man, his inch long claws ramming into the commander’s guts! Creed’s voice is a low growl as he mutters “Pardon me.” Ripping out the strange tech-flesh that fills the commander, Creed throws him into the crowd and leads the charge.

Right behind him are Gambit and Blink, teleshards and charged blades filling their hands. They leap right into the Infinities, their projectiles making short work of the processed-soldiers. Jubilee hangs back though.

Focusing her powers on the Tower itself, Jubilee gestures and small explosions rock the chamber. Wall screens explode, computer terminals burst, and even the walls themselves are blown outward. With a mean grin she spins around, rising her middle finger to the command chair.

“One down.”

Chapter Two: As Above, So Below

The Man had spent the past few hours making his through the streets of London, inching ever closer to Big Ben. He’s avoided open spaces and people, his instincts (his training?) telling him to stay hidden. Moving carefully, he’s avoided what few peoples he has seen, despite his need to shout out to them. To talk to someone else. To figure out what the hell was going on. Towers floated in the sky, London was a wasteland, and giant machine men fired light out of their hands. Was this all some terrible nightmare? Was he still down there, trapped in a tube, experiencing only the Devil knows what?

His thoughts are interrupted as a massive explosion shouts overhead! The shockwave streaks through the air, kicking up dirt and dust, and forcing him to huddle against a wall. Blue eyes look to the sky, watching at Tower 58’s laser fire comes to a stop. For a  few moments nothing happens. Then, just as suddenly as before, more explosions! As the bursts cascade through the tower, it starts to tilt and lower, debris falling from the bottom of it.

Whatever was going on, something – or someONE – was destroying those towers. And somehow, that made the Man smile.

Scanning the area quickly, the man shoulder his automatic rifle and takes off. He doesn’t know who is destroying those things, but whoever they are, he likes them. He can help them. Maybe they can him too. So he runs, hope and excitement filling him as he slides over destroyed cars and leaps fallen walls.

Then he hears screaming. A small bundle of people come running at him, all of them dressed in tatters and rags. Emaciated, tired, and dirty, they run past him without a greeting or nod or anything to acknowledge his presence. A small child – a girl – runs behind them, her legs too small to catch up. She’s crying and panting and screaming all at the same time and suddenly something launches from the shadows. Claws and teeth sink into the girl, tearing her apart in seconds.

Unbeknownst to the Man, these are Tower 58’s balrog-class cyborgs, loosed just before the X-Men hit them. Birthed in cloning vats and built from animals, glistening metals, and feral programming, the balrogs act as hunter-killers and defenders for the Seawall Towers. They are uncanny predators, sleek, fast, and deadly.

Four thin metal legs, topped with razor sharp claws, propel the balrogs forward. An eyeless head, thick, with a too-large mouth filled with too-large teeth, can sense movement with ease. Finally, a long tail ends the beast, coated with metal for durability, but still somehow retaining an enhanced dexterity.

Three of them stare the Man down. Metal on metal hisses echo from the balrogs.

The Man doesn’t say anything as he pulls his rifle off his shoulder, puts the butt against his arm, and fires.