An hour later, The X-Men’s underwater base…
“Welcome home!” said Warden, approaching the team as they descended the stairs of the X-Jet into the hanger. “Rad interview, by the way boss-man!”
“Thank you, Warden,” replied Piotr. “Assuming that was a compliment, anyway…”
“Totes,” he said. “Anyway, Emma sends her congratulations too, and Wolverine said that maybe the next time you’re on camera you should try not doing that creepy smile that you were doing.”
“Really? The advanced technology that you’re comprised of, and you’re reduced to acting as an answering machine?” asked Shiro.
“I can act as a toaster too,” shot back the android. “Makes you kind of defunct, no?”
“Warden, I need you to pull up the files on Regan’s powers, as well as the most recent brain scan that you’ve taken from her,” ordered Colossus.
“Ugh, you mean I have to get poked and prodded like a lab rat?” asked Regan. “I thought the X-Men were meant to be different from AIM?”
“Not at all,” replied Warden. “I can take scans from the information from the nannites in her system and process them against her baselines recorded at resting levels for a comparison. Why do you ask?”
“Something happened at Times Square. I think I might have had a vision,” explained Regan. She paused for a moment, glaring at Warden before turning her glare towards Piotr. “What the fuck does he mean, ‘the nannites in my system’?!”
Colossus frowned. “You mean you didn’t know?”
“NO, I DID NOT KNOW!” she screeched.
“I also, was not aware of this,” added Shiro, angrily.
“Me neither,” said Avalanche.
“I don’t care,” said Juggernaut, shrugging.
“Safety measures,” said Warden dismissively. “After all, its not as if any of you are exactly trustworthy by any stretch of the imagination. This way not only can I keep an eye on your vital signs and physical health in the field, but I can also make sure that if you tried to do anything stupid like killing Colossus in the field, I’d be able to shut down your powers at source, and if necessary, initiate a negative feedback loop, but only as a last resort.”
“What the hell does that mean?” demanded Regan.
“It means that if you try to hurt anyone who is unsanctioned as an acceptable casualty via mission parameters, you’ll experience intense neurological pain,” explained Warden clinically.
“Okay, this can wait!” yelled Colossus, shifting into his steel form. “Warden, what can you tell us?”
“Lots of things. But I imagine that you’re being specific right now,” he said. “Okay, so Regan had a brain-activity spike around an hour ago consistent with those of precognitive mutants experiencing a psi-quantum event.”
“Could we get that in English?” asked Avalanche. “I’m science-impaired.”
“Okay, I get it,” chimed in Christian. “Emma’s told me about this before. Telepaths can access the astral plane, right? The astral plane doesn’t exist the same way that the real world does. Sometimes the past, present and future kind of collide there. I think it’s Madame LaFarge’s theory of precognition, it was published in the Journal of Psychic Research a few years ago.”
Juggernaut looked at Christian blankly.
“I was home alone for nearly ten years,” shrugged Christian. “I like to read stuff.”
“Yeah, small problem with that, buddy,” said Regan. “I can’t access the astral plane. My telepathy just doesn’t work that way.”
“I thought that was one of the rudiments of telepathy?” asked Shiro. “You mean to say that we have a team telepath who’s not even an especially good one? Logan was right, you really ARE desperate for X-Men…”
“Bite me, Charmander,” spat Regan. “AIM had me as a test subject for nearly a year after I came into my powers. It could be something they did to me.”
“There is absolutely nothing in her genetic data that would suggest that she would have any precognitive abilities,” added Warden.
“Regardless,” said Colossus. “You think that you had a vision, Regan?”
“Not think,” she said thoughtfully. “It was like I knew what it was. I knew that it was a vision. It felt real. All of it just felt very real.”
“But what did you see?” he asked. “Are we in trouble?”
“Not us,” she replied, shaking her head before looking up at Piotr. “Someone you know, though. Dazzler’s show. Tonight. Those religious types who want to kill mutants.”
“The Church of Humanity?” asked Avalanche. “I thought they got shut down after everything that went down on Muir?”
“Obviously a cell survived,” interjected Warden. “I know that the cell that was being run by Matthew Risman was missing, presumed dead after a fire in the church that they were operating from.”
“Great,” said Avalanche, rolling his eyes. “So now we have to hunt down some religious zealots AND listen to Dazzler’s music? I genuinely don’t know which is worse…”
“Oh please, you’re European,” snorted Regan. “Aren’t you meant to love that electro-dance stuff?”
“How long do we have?” asked Colossus.
“Alison Blaire’s come-back show, STAPLES center, this evening at 8 PM,” replied Warden. He cocked his head to one side. “Also, her personal cell is switched off, and while her X-Men communication device is active, it’s also in her London apartment, whilst she’s in California.” Warden shook his head. “That’s not especially helpful.”
“Everyone, get ready and then get back here,” said Colossus. “Look’s like Dazzler’s going to have a contingent of X-Men bodyguards tonight…”
Meanwhile, Church of Humanity headquarters…
She hurt all over. It wasn’t from the routine beatings, or the fact that she thought that the drip in her vein was possibly infected, or even from the mixture of arcane and technological measures in place to keep her from escaping. It was an inner hurt– that she had escaped from one hell to end up in another; albeit with ecclesiastical trappings.
She’d grown accustomed to the dim lighting, so when the fluorescent tubes in her basement prison flickered into life, she flinched, her eyes burning momentarily. She hissed as she saw her captor approaching, the shell of a robotic arm encasing his own. She glanced down at the floor to see her Soul Sword, surrounded by a metal circle with sigils etched into it– bound within it. Completely inert and useless. She growled impotently.
Risman approached her, his smile lop-sided due to the thick scar tissue on one side of his face.
“The time approaches, demon,” he said, clenching and unclenching his robotic fist. With his free hand, he pulled back the metal lid of the cylinder that was built into the base of her restraints, revealing an indent that matched that of the detached Nimrod hand. “We know where we can strike to punish your breed and those that worship them like false idols.”
“Bully for you,” she rasped.
“We’re ready to leave now,” he said, ignoring her. “This will hurt.”
“I hope you die,” she cried out, stretching against her restraints.
“Not before killing the rest of your kind,” he snarled, slamming the Nimrod hand into the device.
Illyana screamed, bolts of pure pain rushing through her entire body as she felt her powers forcibly activate, a disc of energy appearing in mid-air, connecting two points in space and time via Limbo. The pain subsided, yet the portal remained open. Illyana’s body went limp. She bit down on her lower lip and repressed the urge to sob, knowing that her capture had just signed the death warrant for one of her fellow mutants…
To be continued…