Chapter One: Catching Up

To say that the building is enormous is an understatement. The Citadel of Apocalypse towers over the fallen corpse of New York City like a triumphant predator. Once proud buildings, covered in shattered glass and made of bent steel, struggle to stand up, their bases littered with cars, bodies, and debris. The entire facility is important to Apocalypse’s rule of the America. It is his home, his castle, his playground, and right now, it is his trap.

Deep within the bowels of the Citadel, a crystal sits. No ordinary crystal of course. No, this is the M’Kraan Crystal. Unique in the universe, the M’Kraan is a nexus of all realities, a meeting place for the multi-dimensional plane. This piece, despite it’s continually increasing size, is not even the main crystal. Currently topping out at nearly twenty feet tall, colors and images dance over the crystal’s surface, reflections of a world that should have been.

The M’Kraan rests upon a technological dais. Large cables feed into it, attempting to channel and organize the strange energies pulsing within it. Those same cables snake along the battlefield into gigantic computer banks that rest along brick walls. Stain glass windows reflect the light from energy blasts, plasma rifles, fire, and explosions. Many have shattered or are at least now stained with the black blood of Infinities.

The Citadel of Apocalypse is under attack.

“This isn’t working.” Quicksilver mutters as he smashes a large rock into the head of another Infinity. The white-haired mutant drops the rock, his white gloves and boots stained with too many foul substances to mention. Even the grey-blue uniform, decorated with lighting-stripes, is a shade darker all over. Several small cuts are scattered across Pietro’s face, and in a few places his uniform is torn or burned away. He looks up from his handiwork, glancing at the M’Kraan above him. “If Bishop was right, something should have happened by now!” Suddenly the brick wall explodes inward! Quicksilver ducks back as the dust settles, Infinities pouring into the room.

“For Apocalypse boys!” The lead Infinity shouts, a large plasma rifle in hand. It braces itself and brings the rifle to bear at Quicksilver. “If they ain’t with Apocalypse then they ain’t leaving!”

Quicksilver says nothing at this intrusion. His only reply is the narrowing of his blue-grey eyes. Then he runs.

It’s funny how often Pietro Lensherr found himself underestimated by the forces of Apocalypse over the years. While true, compared to the magnetism that his father Magneto wields, running fast just doesn’t seem all that dangerous. But moving at 100 plus miles per hour combined with a self-generated impact field allows Pietro to land some PAINFUL blows. Bone breaking blows – Infinity breaking blows. The lead Infinity’s head caves in before it can even squeeze the trigger.

A blue of blue and white, Quicksilver continues his attack, dodging hastily fired blasts and slamming his fist into Infinity after Infinity. The knuckles on both hands are raw and bleeding by the time he stops, spinning around quickly.

“ILLYANA!?” He shouts, looking back at the base of the crystal. In his haste, Quicksilver fails to notice one last Infinity jogging into the room. The green cyborg pulls it’s rifle down, aims at Pietro’s head, and – CHOOM!

Quicksilver spins around as the Infinity crumbles, it’s head missing. He turns around again, amazed, and looks at his savior.

A few short hours ago, Illyana Rasputin was nothing more than another flatscan working the Core. She might as well have been dead for all that meant. Then her brother Colossus rescued her, losing his entire team of students. She entered the M’Kraan and stood at the crossroads of reality with Bishop and Destiny. She’s met the X-Men, she’s seen Apocalypse, and watched her brother die. That does something to a person – even if that person is an eight year old girl.

Illyana brushes her dirty blonde hair out of her eyes and strains to hold the plasma rifle up. “I’m all right.” She says as Quicksilver walks up to her. Despite the peculiarity of her appearance – stained overalls, the bulky green shirt, the much too long bangs and the gigantic plasma rifle resting against her hip – the image doesn’t even get noticed by Quicksilver.

“Good.” He says, looking at the rest of the room. Infinity bodies are everywhere, their oily blood oozing out onto the floor. A few mutant bodies lie on the ground as well, personal guards to the Elite. Despite knowing that Colossus’ body lies somewhere in that mess, very few X-Men had fallen in the fight so far. Quicksilver knew that wouldn’t last.

The X-Men are behind enemy lines, outnumbered, and out powered. If they don’t stop Apocalypse, NOW, then all of their effort in the past two days will be wasted. “We need to regroup.” Quicksilver says, ducking a stray plasma blast. He steps underneath the dais, ducking down next to Illyana. “We need to find the other X-Men, find Apocalypse, and finish – what?“

Suddenly Pietro stops as a blinding light fills the room. It only lasts a second, but it’s so bright that all fighting stops – and immediately starts back up.
”What was that?” Illyana asks, looking up at what remains of the ceiling. Outside, hovering in the dark clouds, floating above the remains of New York, are dozens of black dirigibles. They are sleek and deadly looking, a fleet of death. Large spotlights dance out from the ships, running over the city.

“My God…” Quicksilver says, standing in shock. “They’re really doing it.” As the shock passes, Pietro realizes what’s happening. And when he does, one word comes to mind: Ororo. Then he blinks, turning back to the little girl. “We need to find the others. We need to retreat. That’s the human High Council’s fleet – and they’re going to bomb the city.”

Illyana’s eyes widen, but she nods. As Quicksilver kneels down, she drops the plasma rifle. Then she climbs onto him, piggybacking him. Before he starts running, Quicksilver looks behind him.

“Hold on.”