S.W.O.R.D. Reverse Engineered Kree Starship “Magellan”, nearing Lunar Orbit

Quicksilver stretched his tired legs as faint humming emanated through the cockpit, and it brightened at Pietro’s command in a flimsy attempt to emulate sunlight. Soon, they would pass by the Moon and thoughts of his ex-wife Crystal and his daughter Luna filled Pietro’s mind once more.

He tried to distract himself with a dozen checks to keep the mad idea of changing the ship’s course to visit his daughter at bay. Having been a member of the Inhuman militia himself, Pietro knew the S.W.O.R.D ship would have been shot out of the Moon’s orbit long before it touched the lunar surface. Of course, that would be if Luna even wanted to see him.

As the heavenly orbs of Earth and its satellite drew nearer, Pietro longed for the presence of one of his teammates. Darkstar perhaps, whose secret was one of the many Pietro kept. He, Iceman and Laynia had silently agreed not to inform Rogue and Psylocke of Laynia’s episode in the Brood Queen nest. Pietro had merely remained silent, Laynia had locked herself away, while Drake had as usual covered his unease with incessant jokes. But right now, Pietro would have put up with the prattling Drake’s company would insure. Pietro required distraction, as the world around him continued to pass him by so painfully slow. It was too quiet.

Quiet enough for Pietro to sense the shadow before it fell.

Pietro whirled as the magenta blade of psychic energy came stabbing at him. Psylocke inched backwards as the telepathic knife around her fist faded to nothing, magenta phosphorence coaelescing into her telekinetic katana in its place. She slashed, slicing into the controls as Quicksilver danced away, sparks flying as Pietro turned tail and did what he did best.

He sped down the corridor, his mind racing. He recognised the dead look in Psylocke’s eye, the way she moved. Wanda, Magneto, half a dozen others, even himself, Pietro knew outside influence when he saw it.

The perfect strikes, even for a ninja, it was unnatural. Psylocke moved like a puppet not controlled by human strings.

Just like Darkstar had been.

Pietro skidded to a halt in the empty Captain’s Cabin. His eyes flitted across the bed, walls, floor, door. The question forming on his lips interrupted by the sight of shadows folding on themselves.

He sucked in a breath, arriving too late as Psylocke felled Laynia with a kick. Pietro caught the Russian mutant, lay her down and whirred. Psylocke dodged the first blow and struck herself, forcing Pietro back into the hallway. He snarled, his second blow striking Braddock’s stomach. He rained down punches, until the winded Psylocke landed on the floor with a satisfying smack.

He checked on Laynia, who appeared to be breathing and largely unharmed then checked the rest of the ship, and found Drake and Rogue unconcscious amid a pool of vomit. Avoiding the foul odour, he propped them up against a wall away from the pool of liquid.

Pietro approached the cockpit again. His eyes narrowed as he took in the sight of the hulking rectangular mass headed for the Moon. He recognised the craft.

The X-Men called it Ship. The original X-Men, as the mutant team called X-Factor had once lived in it with a set of students. Pietro wasn’t aware of the details. He only knew that it had once harboured something much less benevolent.

“Drake!”

Pietro’s feet pounded on metal again as sped back to where Drake lay. He grabbed the younger man’s shoulders, and shook him hard. Drake’ s head rolled to the side, his now gaping mouth only adding to Pietro’s frustration.

“Wake up, damn it!”

The Blue Area of the Moon, Outside Attilan

Genocide fought not to let energy crackle past his palms and into the Blue Area’s unnatural atmosphere as the Celestial vessel lowered itself onto the lunar surface. He stood with bated breath as it alighted on the ground, swirling up a cloud of moon dust that hung even as the craft’s engines began to power down. Behind Genocide, War let out a roar as he rubbed at his eyes, the bulk afforded by his stone minotaur mutation shielding the Dark Beast, the drummer Famine and the geisha Pestilence who stood behind him.

The Dark Beast, an alternate reality counterpart of the X-Men’s own Dr. McCoy, peered out from behind War’s massive frame, then bounded before Genocide, a curious contraption in one clawed hand.

“Scanner, “Dark Beast explained, fighting to be heard over the din of the attack that Clan Akkaba had just launched on Attilan. “Familiar readings…”

They could take Attilan. The Inhumans were a powerful threat, but a secondary force had been expidited to the Peak to prevent anyone from coming to the Inhumans’ aid. Genocide had lost count how many mutants they were pouring into this attack. Pestilence had called him reckless, but Genocide didn’t care. It didn’t matter. Not if Dark Beast confirmed what they all suspected…

“Well?” asked Pestilence. Genocide bristled at her words. “What does this mean, McCoy? Is it him?”

Before the Dark Beast could respond, a bright flash of light blinding him and the three horsemen as the craft opened up. But Genocide, whose eyes had long ago left their sockets, could see only to well as a figure emerged from the craft and stepped down a rapidly extending walkway. The grey blue-lipped mutant towered over Genocide as he paused to take in the forms of his most loyal followers.

Genocide gazed up at the man he called father.

“I am Apocalypse,” boomed En Sabah Nur. “To me… my Horsemen!

 

Next: Apocalypse has returned at the worst possible moment! Is this the end for Inhumanity? And what’s up with Psylocke, Gambit and Wolverine? Can Agent Brand and Crystal prevent the destruction of the Peak? Do Rogue’s? All this and more, next issue!