————— The Infirmary —————

“Get them into the back” instructed Quill as he, Spike, Glob and Dryad arrived in the infirmary.

“There’s no one here” noted the gelatinous form of Herman “Who is going to examine them?”

“We’ll get to that in a minute” replied Quill “Blink will tell us what Cyke wants us to do”

“You know you’re not allowed to call him that” said Evan as he grinned at how even in times like this Quill found a way to lighten the mood.

“Yeah well he can tell me off later after he is finished sorting out the mess outside”

“It’s a big mess” came a voice behind them. Maxwell spun around to see DJ, Wolfcub and Pixie carrying Preview and Psion with Match hanging onto the door a big slash across his forehead.

“Mark what the hell happened?” he asked as the Paragons staggered into the infirmary.

“That blast wave messed up the whole mansion” said the leader of the Paragons as he laid down Preview his team-mate on a table near the Four in One. He flicked his fingers at Wolfcub and Pixie to do the same and they set Psion down.

“Ben how’s your head?” he asked Match who was sitting on a chair looking a little dazed.

“I think I’m fine” he replied but his speech sounded a bit slurred and he was staring into the middle distance.

“He doesn’t look fine” said Callie as she knelt down at his side.

“One of the busts dropped from the standings in the hallway near here. It must have come loose during the blast and smacked him on the head” explained Mark who was worriedly eying the injured flaming form of Match.

“So Jessica and Carter are out too?” questioned Max staring at the unconscious group of telepaths laid out at the back of the room.

“Yeah. One minute we were sitting chatting then Jessica started freaking out. She started ranting about death and kept looking out the window of the dorm. She looked like she was expecting that blast wave. Then she screamed and just collapsed. When Carter tried to mentally reach her the same happened to him. We thought we had better get them all here for a check but I see no one is around” replied the field leader of the Paragons.

“Yeah where is everyone? Even Carter’s Mom is missing” remarked Megan as she fluttered to Mark’s side.

“I saw the destruction outside” said Maxwell “I know it’s bad but why are the injured not being brought in here?”

“Because they are still too busy fighting for their own lives” came Clarice’s voice accompanied by a flash of her signature pink energies.

“What do you mean?” clamoured Max and Mark at the same time.

“I went to get Mr. Summers and when I got outside there were sentinels everywhere” she said to a shocked audience.

“Sentinels?” quavered Callie’s voice and she began to shake with terror.

“Lots of them” confirmed Blink “Cyclops has ordered everyone to the fight outside at the front courtyard that feels they can handle themselves. You are all to stay close to me and I’ll teleport everyone out of there the minute it looks to much for us to handle”. Noticing the look on Maxwell’s face as she gave the orders she said “I’m just passing on what Cyclops said Quill”.

“I know I know, I‘m just not sure it‘s wise” he replied “Well everyone can’t go, somebody should stay behind to keep an eye on the telepaths”.

“Well Match is not up to much in his state” said DJ ” and Pixie won’t be much use against sentinels so they can both stay behind. Me and Nick will go with you”. DJ looked over to his feral looking team-mate for his agreement.

“No problem” said Wolfcub eagerly and began to shadow punch the air in anticipation of the soon to be fought battle. DJ smiled and admired Nicholas’s good humour. He himself was terrified at the thought of having to take on an army of sentinels.

“Well myself and Spike, Blink, Glob and Dryad are all fine but I think we should leave someone else behind too” Maxwell said looking surreptitiously at Callie. Taking the hint and gratefully thanking Max under her breath Callie steeped forward and stated she would stay behind with Match and Pixie to watch the telepaths.

“Ok everyone get ready” said Blink as she prepared to transport the group to where she had last seen Cyclops giving orders. Just as she prepared the temporal slashway the glass from the above skylights shattered and three sentinels the size of two grown men dropped to the floor. Reacting slowly to the surprise the students could do nothing and Clarice heard with horror the screams of Pixie as she was set on fire by one of the sentinels. Match who was nearby staggered to his feet and directed his own steam of fire at the sentinels. In his weakened state he missed and dropped to the floor as his intended target shot him in the head with a volley of bullets.

Seeing two of his team-mates fall DJ screamed and turning the volume of the trance music up in his stereo he unleashed concentrated blasts of lasers at the sentinel that had just killed Match. The sentinel exploded and this jolted the rest of the students into action. DJ watched as Spike and Quill blasted multiple projectiles at the remaining two sentinels. They had the right idea he thought but they were only causing surface damage. He then gasped as pink slash lines appeared across the sentinels in multiple areas effectively hacking them to bits. He was about to thank Blink for the power display but just then he saw more sentinels head toward the smashed window that the previous ones had entered through.

As Max watched the new batch of sentinels land he ordered Dryad to use the vines growing outside to restrain some of them while the others disabled them. She complied and focused her thoughts on the thorny vines outside. Exerting her will she encouraged them to grow rapidly and it seemed they had taken a life of their own as they wrapped themselves around the robot bodies. Seeing that Dryad was doing her part Max gathered the Corsairs around him. He sent Spike to help Wolfcub who was viciously tearing into a sentinel that had been restrained. Himself and Blink attacked the ones that were still free. He was about to order Glob to attack as well when he noticed that some of the sentinels had broken away and were heading for the back of the room where the telepaths were. He ran toward them but stopped in puzzlement when they slammed up against an invisible wall. He looked around and saw DJ holding his hands out toward the unconscious bodies using his energy manipulation power to erect the force field. He was sweating with the effort and Max ordered Glob to help him.

“No problem boss” said the transparent hulking mutant. As he walked toward the sentinels he casually used the fire still burning on Pixie’s dead body to set his hand on fire. Glob decided that now was as good a time as any to show everyone this new trick he had learned. Knowing that his body was composed of a paraffin like substance and that it was flammable he had experimented with using some of his mass as flaming projectiles. It had proved successful and the expended paraffin grew back within days.

DJ watched in amazement as the enigmatic and silent member of the Corsairs set himself alight from the flames of his dead team-mate. A wave of anger washed over him at the apparent disregard for the fallen student but he pushed it aside quickly as he knew Glob meant no offence. He was having to turn up the volume of his music to increase the potency of the shield he was holding around the telepaths. It had been interesting to discover that not only music type but its volume had different effects on his power. The sentinels stopped trying to get past the shield and instead eerily turned their heads around the room. DJ began to wonder what they were doing when he realised with a shock that they were scanning for the source of the shield.

He could not support two shields at once and all his energies were bent on protecting the telepaths. Glob had managed to take out one by covering it with burning paraffin but there were too many for him to take on alone. He saw a group of them head toward them and shouted “Quill, Cub I need an assist”.

Hearing DJ yell out for help Spike and Wolfcub ran toward the sentinels that were advancing on him. A burst of quills flew past them and Evan realised that Max had heard the cry as well and was leaving Blink and Dryad to deal with the other robots. Growing numerous razor edged spines from his arms and knees he leapt at the sentinels attacking Mark. Slashing his way through the first he spun and neatly decapitated a second. A quick glance to his right revealed that Wolfcub had gone berserk at the sentinels his rage obviously heightened by witnessing the deaths of Match and Pixie.

He quickly dodged a pulse blast and leapt back at the offending sentinel. Slashing his arm in an arc he opened its chest in a vertical slash and plunged his other arm into the robot in a stabbing motion. This proved to be a mistake as his bone fashioned blade had become lodged. He tried to snap it off but he had grown it thicker than usual so it would be able to slice through the reinforced metal that the robots were made of. Struggling Evan felt a warmness spread from his stomach outward which was then followed by searing pain. He dropped to the floor his arm still lodged in the sentinel. Looking down he realised that the robot had blasted him in the stomach opening a massive wound and blood was pouring from it. Faintly he heard someone calling his name but they sounded far away. Blackness began creeping in at the edges of his eyes and he suddenly felt very sleepy. Closing his eyes Evan decided to have a quick nap before resuming … whatever it was he had been doing.

Mark cried out Evan’s name one last time before he saw the sentinel rip the dead boy from it’s chest and fling him emotionlessly to the ground. Anger surged through him and he quickly flicked the channels on his MP3 player to a rock track. Increasing the volume he dropped the shield and generated an energy ball inside the sentinel that had killed Spike blasting it apart. As soon as he did so though all the remaining sentinels that had not been bound by Dryad flew directly toward them. Fumbling with the controls of his MP3 DJ flicked the music back to classical to raise another shield. He did so but after checking it noticed that Preview and one of the Stepford Cuckoos was missing. What the hell had happened he thought, did the sentinels take them?

“Hey Max” he shouted above the noise and watched as Quill ran over to him destroying a sentinel that Wolfcub had missed. “Did you see what happened to Jessica and one of the quadruplets?” he asked flicking his head to the tables where the remaining telepaths still sat unconscious.

“No. I was helping Blink cause I thought Spike and Wolfcub had your back. Where is Spike by the way?” Max asked innocently.

Grimacing at having to give the news he pointed in the direction of the dead Corsair. He watched as Quill’s eyes grew moist with tears and then become steely as he resolved to end this. “Everybody regroup over here in front of the telepaths” he yelled. In an instant Blink had teleported all of the remaining students to Quill’s side. “Form up a line in front of DJ and keep these killers at bay” he shouted at them.

Blink was momentarily surprised at Quill’s sharp manner but then she noticed the dead body of Spike and that explained it. Spike had been Quill’s best friend since they both started at the institute and had been inseparable since then. Blink broke from her thoughts when she heard a shout to her left. Looking around she noticed that one of the sentinels Dryad had ensnared with her vines had become free and was headed straight for her.

Blink unleashed a distortion wave at the oncoming sentinel but it was intercepted by another robot that flew unknowingly into its path. She watched helplessly as the sentinel rained down laser blasts at Dryad and she screamed as she saw them burn through her body. Callie fell over and Blink looked away from the lifeless eyes that were staring up at her. She screamed with rage.

Callie was not a fighter, she did not deserve this, she only ever loved looking after plants and had not a bad quality to her. A close friend of Clarice’s ever since she had helped Blink to put some bullies in their right place, she felt as if she had lost a part of herself. Feeling a rage build up she fed it with happy memories of times spent with Callie, she recalled the uncaring deaths she had witnessed today and in the blink of an eye she unleashed a barrage of shear bolts at the remaining sentinels. In another blink they were all lying in pieces around the infirmary.

Clarice sagged to her knees the exhaustion that she felt after pulling off such a stunt left her tired to her bones. She glanced around and saw Wolfcub kneeling over what looked like a skeleton. Trying to clear her head she saw Quill kneel down beside her.

“It’s Herman” he said guessing at what she was looking at “He burnt off most of his body in the fight I guess”.

“Is he…?”

“I think so” replied Quill “One minute he was fighting the next he just fell over there is only a small layer of that weird stuff left on his bones. Some of the organs are falling out of it”. Upon saying that Clarice leaned over a retched. Sitting up Quill was still looking at her. “Thank you for doing that, I know you nearly killed yourself to do it so thank you”. She watched him glance over to Evan’s dead body and couldn’t help wondering if Quill was really cursing her for not doing it sooner.

“Clarice, Max” came DJ’s voice “Now we have a bit of space should we move the telepaths?”

“No not yet” replied Quill darkly “Blink go and fetch Mr. Summers here. Whether he wants to come or not”. Nodding her head Blink agreed and flashed out of the infirmary.

“Why do you want Mr. Summers” asked Mark “He’s too late now”.

“Exactly my thoughts” replied Max frowning.

————— The Courtyard —————

Blinking back into reality Clarice surveyed a confusing scene at the front of the Xavier estate. When last she was there the X-Men were fighting a losing battle. Now all the sentinels were lying on the ground motionless. She could hear screams and crying all around her and the occasional moan from an injured student. Ignoring it all her eyes sought Cyclops. She spotted him standing over what looked like his brother Havok. The blonde Summers brother was on his knees at the base of the Phoenix memorial statue sobbing. Why, she had no idea? She ran up to her mentor and grabbing his hand teleported them both to the infirmary.

————— The Infirmary —————

Max watched as his mentor and hero surveyed the scene presented to him in the infirmary. Of all fifteen students that had been in the room five were dead on the floor, two were missing, four were unconscious and the four still standing were not sure what to do.

“My God” was all that he had said since he had arrived on the scene with an exhausted Blink dragged him along. He had stared in amazement at the bloody bodies scattered around and then at the unconscious kids lying side by side on the back wall tables. Quill felt his anger rise as the exalted leader of the X-Men did nothing. In some way Max had hoped that Cyclops would have an answer for what he had just witnessed.

“Max. MAX!” shouted Scott at the leader of the Corsairs, his student team. Max realised that he had been glaring at his mentor and that Scott had finally noticed. “Are you hurt?” he asked.

“Am I hurt?” he screamed in rage “My friends are dead on the floor and all you can ask is if I’m hurt. The telepaths aren’t responding to anything and you want to know if I’m Ok. Screw you Mr. Summers” and with that he stormed out of the infirmary Blink closely following him.

Scott looked at the two surviving members of the Paragons and nearly broke at the helpless look they gave him. “I’ll inform Amara of what happened. You two should get some rest” he suggested lamely. Suddenly it clicked in his head what Quill had just said “The telepaths!” he yelled as he ran out of the room.

DJ and Wolfcub stared in confusion after him until he was gone from sight “Nick help me put these sheets over them” Mark said gesturing to their fallen team-mates “Nobody else seems to be around to help” he added dejectedly.

Coming Soon New X-Men #5 Decimation: Excelsiors and Exemplars – A further two teams face Decimation as the students struggle to survive this sudden attack. More telepaths go missing and more students die. Will this arc ever end? Well this is the penultimate issue! Read it soon.