————— X.S.E. New York, Office of the Managing Director —————

Ororo watched as the tech team she had hired to help repair the X.S.E. building worked around her office. So far they had more or less restored most of the computer systems and communications technology in the building and now her office was nearly finished.

She walked to her window and stared at the coloured strips sticking to the new glass that had been placed there. She peeled one of them off and crumpled it in her hand. To think that it was only a day or so ago that she had stood here and thought everything was fine. She wondered at how easy it was for that all to be shattered.

She stared into the middle distance as she recalled the events of that day. How the sentinels had arrived without warning, how they had seemed endless and merciless. She remembered Thunderbird and herself leaping into action and every sentinel that she had taken down.

She also remembered the aftermath; once the sentinels had left she had been told one piece of horrifying news after the other. First had been walking into the foyer and seeing Rahne crouched over the dead body of one of her closest friends, Kurt Wagner.

She had then later discovered the unconscious forms of Sean Cassidy and Monet St. Croix in the Psi-Lab, Sean with bullet wounds, one to the head and one to the left leg. She had checked on their condition every hour or two but there was still no change. After that the names started coming in, staff that had been killed when the sentinels entered, personnel that were injured and missing, the latter consisting of nearly every telepath in the building.

Storm was struggling just to keep her head above all this, and then Siryn had told her about the Institute. She had since been on the phone with Scott Summers and the news he had given her was heart breaking. A significant portion of the student body dead, not to mention she had lost more friends, Lorna Dane Summers and Hank McCoy.

The worst thing right now, was she was currently missing the funeral being held for them. She had hoped to be able to bring Kurt’s body there to be buried along with his friends, but with the cleanup here, and trying to fix the damage done to the local area there was not enough time. As it was, the earliest she able to get to the mansion was later that day.

Her thoughts were interrupted as one of the tech aides tapped her on the shoulder, “Ms. Monroe, could you come look at something, some of the systems are refusing to initiate”.

Ororo frowned and followed the man to the console he had been working at. She glanced down at the screen and saw that the man had been frozen out of the system. “That’s odd”, she murmured, “Leave it with me, I will run my override codes on it”, she said to the man. He shrugged his shoulder and walked off to help one of his fellows.

Pulling out the keyboard Ororo entered her code, and waited as the system rebooted. As it started again, Ororo keyed in the sequence to initiate the systems this console was responsible for and frowned as, like with the man before her, it refused to do so. Punching in the overwrite code again, Ororo waited and smiled as it finally worked. A small glitch must have been stalling it, she thought.

She was about to search for what had caused the small malfunction when a beeping noise sounded from her desk phone. Checking caller ID she recognised it as an internal call and brought the image of the caller on screen. “Hello Heather, what is it?” she asked.

The person she was talking to was Heather Cameron, a member of her strike team here in New York. She was a good friend and reliable teammate of Ororo’s ever since the two had first been introduced in Australia. Back then she had led the Xtreme X-Men and had helped Heather and her brother Davis avoid assassination by an underworld crime lord. Heather had then developed mutant powers, the ability to develop whatever was required so save the lives of those in danger around her, including herself. After the X-Men had helped her she had decided to join them, eventually becoming a respected member of the team.

Shortly afterward when the world was threatened by the intergalactic warlord Kahn, they had discovered Heather was capable of assuming an avian appearance along with a very aggressive personality twist. Genetic testing had later confirmed Heather’s real mother was in fact a royal Shi’ar. It was fair to say the young woman had been through a lot since Storm had met her.

“I hate to bring in more bad news ‘Ro, but we just had calls in from Chicago, Brasilia, Hawaii and Vancouver. Same as the rest, all attacked by sentinels, all at the same time the others were and all the telepaths seemingly the main targets” said Heather, her Australian accent still distinct even after a couple of years living in the States.

Ororo sighed; the last day had been filled with reports like this, every single X.S.E. centre across the globe attacked. The worst she had heard of so far was the attack on the Genoshan X.S.E. where not only the staff had been targeted but civilians as well, what with the majority of the population there composed of mutants.

“Thank you Heather, if you hear anything more do not hesitate to call me”, she replied before hanging up. She dialled another number and waited for the screen to come on. When it did, she was looking at the face of another teammate, James Proudstar, otherwise known as Warpath.

“Hi Ororo, what is it?” he asked. He looked tired and grumpy and she realised she must have woken him up. She felt bad, it was probably the first real rest he had had since the attack, what with all the work he had been doing with the cleanup crews.

“I’m sorry to disturb you James, but I was wondering would you accompany me to the Institute. I promised Scott I would call over, and I would like to pay my respects to the dead”, she said, “I thought you might like to go and do the same for Dani? Rahne went up there this morning”.

He was silent for a moment while she waited patiently, “Of course I would Ororo, thank you for offering”. He hung up and Ororo stood up, she was continually re assessing how bad this attack was, how many people’s lives were destroyed by what had happened. She had lost friends but as was evident with James, she was not the only one. He and Dani had both been close friends and teammates together in the New Mutants; he would obviously be grieving about her death.

She walked out of her office, taking a deep breath as she did so, preparing herself for the reality of what she would greet her at the Institute.

————— ‘Inside’ the Building —————

“Damn it”, screamed Monet as she watched the screen showing Ororo, “Stupid woman, don’t ignore that”. She slammed her fists into what constituted the walls of this place and sighed before regaining her composure. She would not let her temper get the better of her now.

She had been so close though, so close to getting the others to discover what had happened to her. She had been trapped in the computer systems of the X.S.E. building since the attack, existing as some kind of psychic electronic entity. After trying various ways of getting her teammates attention she was getting frustrated. Nothing had worked; she had tried everything even going as far as zapping Neal Shaara with a mild electrical shock. Everything she did they chalked it up to glitches in the systems, which they put down to the damage sustained during the sentinel attack.

She sighed and scanned through the other cameras of the building trying to figure out some way of fixing her current situation.