————— Front Courtyard —————
Dust gathered her particles together and reformed on the front steps of the mansion. She was stunned by the sight that greeted her. Sentinels were crawling all over the grounds and nearly every X-Man she knew was resident at the mansion was out their fighting them. She could see her own mentor Dazzler battling alongside Bishop near the front gates. I can’t reach her in all this chaos she thought. Just then she saw Groundhog explode from underneath the ground only a few metres away. “Alan over here” she yelled.
Hearing his name, Alan spun away from the maddening sight of so many sentinels and saw Dust standing on the front steps. He ran over to her and thanked God that the X-Men were keeping the sentinels too busy for them to fire on him. He reached Dust and from the look on her face realised that she wanted to do the same thing he did. “I think we should get back to the others” he said to her “If there are sentinels here then they could be attacking all around the mansion.”
“I agree. Let us go” replied Dust. Before he could even blink the form of the Afghani woman exploded into a sandstorm around him and raced off in the direction of the canteen.
Focusing his own power Groundhog shifted the earth under his feet and dived into it, the earth flowing around him as if it were water. He loved travelling this way. It was so fast and the feeling of the earth all around him gave him a security he had lacked all his life. He hoped now that the comfort he had found at the institute was not about to be shattered.
————— The Canteen —————
Alan burst from the ground just outside the canteen and saw that his sense of foreboding was spot on. There were sentinels attacking everywhere and he could see that the Longshots were hard pressed to keep them at bay. He then saw Mercury dashing out from behind the ankle of a sentinel slashing at it with blades she had shaped on her arms. They were all outside fighting the sentinels. There was no sign of Wither, Bubble or the Longshot, Rain Boy. Racing outside he levitated a large chunk of ground underneath a sentinel’s foot causing it to fall backward. Looking to his left he saw Kiden, who had lately taken the codename Freeze Frame, exert her time altering field around a sentinel, freezing it in time, allowing Daystar to run in and blast the robot’s head with his solar blasts.
Noting that Daystar seemed to be the one organising them, Alan ran over to him. “ David where are the others” he yelled.
“Taking the wounded to the infirmary” replied the young leader of the Longshots as he kept a steady stream of solar blasts coming from his hands, “I figured there was not much Bubble or Wither could do here”.
“Fair enough” conceded Alan as he quickly raised a rock wall at their side protecting them from some pulsar blasts.
“Groundhog can you distract that sentinel Mercury is hacking at?” yelled Daystar.
“Yeah hang on a sec” he replied. Concentrating Alan liquefied the ground just beneath the sentinel into mud. As it began to topple over Daystar unleashed a powerful blast that slammed into the sentinels chest. Looking to check what sort of damage it had done they realised that it had opened a large cavity in the sentinels chest. What happened next came as a shock to the remainder of the Longshots and New Mutants. About twenty or so small sentinels swarmed out of the cavity and flew to the students, firing laser blasts in a wide spread.
Daystar, quickly raising a shield over himself, saw that four of the mini sentinels had aimed for the doorway that led from the canteen to the rest of the mansion. The doorway that Wither, Bubble and Rain Boy had just carried Blindfold through. “Kiden freeze those sentinels they are going after the others” he screamed at his team-mate. He watched as Freeze Frame spun around throwing her hands out toward the sentinels, but nothing happened. He realised that she was simultaneously holding three other sentinels off herself and that it was not easy for her to freeze restricted areas. He knew she had no problem with the range of her powers as she had once admitted to freezing the world for three months but her finer control was lacking.
“David, I can’t” she groaned as she desperately tried to stop the robots. She eventually dropped her hands when the four sentinels passed through the doors.
————— Somewhere in the Mansion —————“We have to get going” said Jason as he re-adjusted his grip on the unconscious Blindfold. “The sooner we get these guys there the sooner we can get back and help the others”.
“And do what, exactly?” said Kevin on other side of the telepath “We have been in sentinel programs in the Danger Room and neither of us was any particular use”.
“Well maybe you are, but I could at least try and protect some of the guys” replied Jason sulkily. He knew well enough that Daystar had been right to send them with the injured, there was nothing they could do to significantly help the rest. He was about to ask Rain Boy, who was staggering on ahead of them, if he was ok, when he heard a loud crash coming from the corridor they had just turned off. Turing he was just in time to see what looked like four tiny versions of the sentinels flying toward them. To shocked to do anything, he failed to dodge the energy blasts that exploded all around them. Falling to the ground he saw Wither lying next to him. “Kevin you Ok?” he asked.
The New Mutant stared at his team-mate a bit longer before realising that his open eyes were not staring at anything. He jumped up and backed away from the dead body of his friend. He looked up at the sentinels and saw that there were now just three of them. He thought he glanced another one racing away from them but he couldn’t be sure. He quickly used his powers to extend the protective bubble around himself that gave him his code name. He watched as the sentinels scanned his plastic shield and the last thing he knew was that his shield could not keep out lasers.
Rain Boy watched in horror as the four sentinels arrived. His suit had protected him from the worst of the initial blast but when the rubble had cleared and saw Wither lying still on the ground. He tried to get back to them but could only make slow progress as the cracks in his suit were getting larger. He cried out as he watched one of the sentinels pick up Blindfold and fly back down the corridor it had come from. He began to run toward the remaining three and watched in horror as he saw Bubble die in front of his eyes. He knew that there was no way he could defeat these things but he would be damned if they were going to get away with it.
The sentinels approached him and he looked up at them. He knew that they would not appreciate some dramatic line from him as he destroyed them so he didn’t waste his breath. He grabbed the large glass shard that was embedded in his chest and ripped it out of his suit with a scream. He let his body pour through it in a blast of pressurised water that completely destroyed the sentinels. His last thoughts were that he hoped his friends were doing better than this.
————— Outside the Canteen —————His energies were beginning to ripple across his arms and occasionally leaping from him in random bursts. Daystar had been afraid of this. Even with two years training he still found it hard to keep his power levels low or even containable. The more he used his power the more he seemed to have at his disposal. Flora ran up to him and he noted from the glance she gave his head that his hair was glowing. It did that when his power levels went higher than they used to be. If he didn’t get this under control there was going to be a nasty situation that had nothing to do with the sentinels.
“I know, I know” he said “We have to finish this soon”.
“I think I have a way but its going to put loads of strain on Kiden” replied Cheryl.
“We have to give it a try” he said “Kiden get over here quickly” he yelled at Freeze Frame who was taking a quick breather while Dust screened her from the sentinels. She ran over to them and Cheryl quickly explained her plan.
“Right let’s go” she said when Flora had finished.
“You’re sure” asked David.
“Yes I have to at least try” she replied.
Closing her eyes Kiden expanded one of her time fields across the area the New Mutants and Longshots were battling in. Concentrating, she opened holes in the field around each of the students, allowing them to move around. They sprang into action as soon as they realised that everything else was frozen. Flora used vines she had grown up around the ground to tear a sentinel to shreds. Mercury and Groundhog worked in tandem to take out another one, and Dust short circuited one by blasting sand particles into it’s head. Daystar singly used the massive store of energy he had built up to devastate another two sentinels.
Just then he noticed shadows appear over the area and looking up he realised that other sentinels were trying to enter the area and were being caught in Kiden’s field. And they had still not destroyed all the smaller versions yet.
“David I can’t keep this up” said Kiden. He looked over at her and saw that blood was streaming down her nose and out her ears with the effort it was taking her to maintain her complicated time field. He raced to her side just as she collapsed unconscious and suddenly the world came crashing back into motion. Felling a surge of energy race though his body David realised that Kiden’s time effect had just amplified the power store he had rather than let him diminish it.
“Everybody get around Kiden” he screamed at them all. He reeled back in pain as the power contained within him strained to get out. When they had all gathered around the fallen Kiden he threw a shield up over them. He was briefly aware that Groundhog and Flora were screaming in frustration that he had kept them from the fight. He them let himself go to the power. Feeling it rip from his body, a massive explosion of solar energy erupted from him, expanding in a dome around him creating a huge bang. Every sentinel within the vicinity was obliterated.
Blinking the after image out of his eyes Groundhog looked around. It looked like some sort of missile crater had formed in the area, with the only green bit of ground left that around him and the others within Daystar’s shield. He looked for the Longshot leader and saw him lying still on the ground at what looked to be the centre of the crater. He ran over and checked that he was still live. Convinced, he picked him up and yelled to the others to follow him.
They had just lost two of their most powerful members, and there was no way they would survive another wave of sentinels. “We have to get to the front of the mansion, most of the X-Men were there” he explained. Everyone else just nodded and they set off in that direction.
————— Front Courtyard ————
Alan stood, looking at all the X-Men standing around. They looked slightly confused that all the sentinels had suddenly just stopped. The only people acting differently, were the X-Men Havok and Cyclops. The first was crying and the other was talking to a girl he recognised from the Corsairs Squad. Just then he and the girl disappeared in a flash. Ignoring it Alan scanned around for their mentor Dani. He knew she had been out here fighting and he hoped she was alright. He saw the Longshot mentor Dazzler running toward them and decided to wait and she if she knew anything.
Dazzler ran like the wind when she saw her squad show up at the edge of the courtyard. She got worried when she drew close enough to see that they looked beaten and tired. She panicked when she noticed that Daystar and Kiden were not moving and that there was no sign of Blindfold and Rain Boy. Reaching them she asked Flora where the others were. She watched as the young girl collapsed to the ground began to cry, saying that they were probably dead.
“Um… Ms. Blaire do you know where Mirage is” asked a young boy she knew was one of Dani’s kids. Turning to face him she let a tear run down her cheek and couldn’t bring herself to tell him.
Next: New X-Men #4 Decimation: Mind Wipe – The death and destruction continues as two more squads face decimation. Find out who lives and who dies in the Corsairs and Paragons and what is going on with all the telepaths?