Beach at Rio…

The sun was glaring down through the cloudless sky to the white sandy beaches. To the people of Rio it was a fairly normal day. The sea birds cawed in the air and the waters were crystal clear with white spraying foam. To the visiting New Mutants however the weather was hotter than they had experienced in some time.

There were those who were more used to the hot weather such as local boy Roberto DaCosta aka Sunspot or Vietnamese mutant Xi’an Coy Manh aka Karma. Then there were those who couldn’t believe the heat like Rahne Sinclair Aka Wolfsbane. The Scottish mutant from the Outer Hebrides.

Xi’an was gifted (though sometimes she believed cursed) with the mutant power to control the minds of another, she had the ability to completely displace a persons will and control their body completely or to partially displace their will for various other effects.

The mutant gift she had led her through many a triumph and disaster from when she had to kill her power mad twin and raise their brother and sister alone like a single mother to meeting her friends and the many trials they had faced over the years up until the trial she was currently up to her neck in.

The fleeing masses of the beach in Rio were running past her. The shoved and trampled on one another as they tried to flee the Sentinel robots which had just emerged from the sea and began to move towards them. They seemed not to know that as human the Sentinel’s would not intentionally harm them. The panic they were currently in however would.

Karma closed her eyes. There were over a three hundred people on the stretch of beach. There were thousands along the entire stretch of beach but she could see that so far down the beach the people weren’t running but rather standing and watching the events from relative safety. Karma began to concentrate as she followed the orders of their ‘leader’ Sam Guthrie aka Cannonball.

She stretched out her powers, they were usually a beam of energy but on such a wide scale level a simple but brilliant flash of light exploded from her mind. “Slowly and calmly evacuate…do not panic!”

She opened her eyes slowly while still attempting to hold her concentration. She had not taken control of the people in the way that she was most experienced where they were simply her marionettes but rather just placed the controlling idea in their mind that they must evacuate safely.
 
Xi’an watched carefully as the crowd separated out and in orderly lines of quickly moving people headed towards the land beyond the beach. In between the lines she could see several people who had fallen or knocked down by their fellow evacuees. They were crawling or dragging themselves along the beach calmly. It was a problem with her powers, she had to be extremely accurate.

She closed her eyes again to concentrate, she was about to do something she had never tried. She was still connected to all the people she was controlling and so she sifted through them mentally. She couldn’t read their minds like a true telepath but she was able to gain an imprint.

Forty or so people stepped from the lines calmly and turned back the way they were coming and began to help those who had fallen up to their feet. They were those who were most altruistic and had the physical ability to actually help the fallen. Xi’an felt some guilt about sending them back towards danger but as they were human they were in minimal danger.

She was sure to maintain control as the people around her calmly filed away. The beach was emptying quickly.

Only the few remained moving against the tide of humanity. There were three people standing perfectly still Karma. Her close friend and fellow ex-New Mutant Dani Moonstar and girlfriend of their friend and ex-team mate Roberto DaCosta aka Sunspot.

“Xi’an what should we do?” the little voice spoke to her in French. She had tried many a time to have her younger brother and sister who she cared for to speak in English rather than their native tongue now that they live in America but the two youngsters couldn’t help but slip into their old ways. In many ways they had adapted more to the American culture much of the time to Xi’an’s chagrin.

“Melissa take Leong and Nga and get to the land. You should be safe amongst the crowd…look after them.” Xi’an stressed the last command. Her siblings were her only family, they were honestly her entire life and if something happened to them like she had allowed to happen to her twin Tran.  She had allowed him to destroy his own soul with darkness up to the point he tried to kill Spider-Man, it was then that she absorbed his entire being into her own. That was how she came by her name, Karma both male and female, darkness and light. Their parents had been killed years before by Thai pirates when escaping with their children from Vietnam. She did have an uncle in the form of Nguyen who is an international crime boss who Tran and Xi’an had both been in service of.

“Je t’aime tous les deux, soient bons.” Karma dropped to her knees and hugged the twins tightly. It was something she said to them both whenever she had to leave them. They were her world and the last time she had lost them for a while she went so far to serve her evil uncle in the hopes of finding them.

“Aimez-vous,” added the twins as they held her tightly before releasing her. They had been trained and drilled on situations like this over the years. They knew that hanging around would only get their sister harmed. They held one another’s hands as they walked to Melissa who began to usher them away.

“What about Roberto?” She added quickly as she was walking away.

“Does he look like he needs help?” Dani Moonstar nodded towards the Sentinels. She wanted to run down to help her friends battle the giant metal monstrosities but she had lost her mutant powers thanks to the events of M-Day so at the moment she was unsure of anything she could do to help, she felt useless. She took a deep breath and began to run towards her friends, she would help them anyway she could.

Melissa cast a quick glance behind her. She could see exactly what Dani meant. Moving against the fleeing wave of humanity were the forms of six mutants. It didn’t even cross her mind to think that they were the reason for the attack in the first place. The fact that she was in love with one of the mutants focused her attention solely on him.

He was Sunspot. His skin was as black as the night sky in his transformed state while plasma burned around the outside of his body. He currently was hurtling through the sky towards the closest Sentinel to the land. His powers had changed much over the years from simply solar powered super strength to an ability to fly and hurl solar plasma himself. He was the resident hot head of the group and always had been. It was because of this it was no surprise he was leading the charge despite being the slowest flyer of those with the ability.

“Sunspot slow down! We gotta attack togetha’!” The command came from his best friend since they were boys Sam Guthrie aka Cannonball. Thanks to his nature and the years spent at the head of X-Force and working with the X-Men he automatically fell into the role of defacto leader.

“This is my home Sam! Rio has always been a safe place for mutants and I won’t let these monsters step foot here!” Sam cursed under his breath as Roberto began to dive. He pressed on the speed in hopes of helping his friend. It had been a long time since the two had teamed together and a long time since Roberto had even seen any field action, it seemed he was a little rusty on following orders.

Roberto let out a roar as he hurled his arm forward and tossed a glowing ball of energy towards the first Sentinel. It’s attention turned up to him as it’s sensors registered the attack. The ball of energy exploded around the shoulder of the robot bursting into flame and igniting the air around it. It dissipated quickly.

The Sentinel’s arm shot up and fired a blast, followed by a second one. A third came from the Sentinel twenty yards behind it who was wading through the water. All six of the Sentinels for the second turned their attention to Roberto and began to fire their own plasma energy blasts.

Roberto let out a yelp as he dodged left and right away from the beams of energy. He swept under one only to get clipped across the legs by another blast. Sam began to dive from his flight plan. Roberto seemed to have powered down as he fell due to his break in concentration.

Cannonball was by far the fastest of the team. His power allowed him to rocket forward at inhuman speeds. He slipped his arms under Roberto whilst also slowing his speed so as not to hurt his friend. Roberto shook his head clear and looked at the stern face of his friend. It was the stern look of someone like a father or an older brother about to give you a lecture for misbehaving. Sam opened his mouth “….”

“I know! I know! I’ll follow orders!” Roberto nodded and activated his powers with a flash of energy before dropping clear of Sam who continued to hurtle past him. He had been privy to the same lecture since he was 14 on following orders and not losing his temper. He knew it word for word. He was twenty one years old and he didn’t feel like getting it again.

Warpath let out a long yell as he hurtled past the form of Sunspot. He too could fly like Cannonball and Sunspot but in recent months had seemed to stop doing it he simply used the ability to aid his massive leaps. He had sped along the beach at superhuman speed before launching in the air and willing himself forward. He held in his hands two large blades made of Wakandan Vibranium. It was one of the toughest metals in the world and his blades were especially built for him to be the perfect weapon.

He sunk the blades into the hard metal form of the Sentinel. He hung for a few seconds by the handle of the two knives before dragging it out and hanging by one before he drove it in again in a new location and began to climb. He was still letting out screams of rage with every puncture of the blade he inflicted.

Cannonball slammed into the Sentinel with his full force. The blast field that engulfed him in flight protected his body completely from damage meaning he could throw caution to the wind. The Sentinel shuddered.

Cannonball noticed Warpath’s unusual behaviour. He had been Warpath’s leader before back during the last days of the New Mutants and throughout X-Force. He was a gentle soul despite the fact that he could flatten a mountain with his bare fists if he so chose. Sam was only briefly at the mansion with him before he went off with Rogue and James ventured into space but even in that short time he could see the difference in him even those who didn’t know him as well could see he had changed. He remembered Iceman referring to him as ‘Wolvie-path’. He wanted to help his friend overcome whatever had caused the change of character.

He didn’t have time to worry at the minute. There were six Sentinels stumbling towards the land and at the moment only he, Sunspot and Warpath had been able to engage one of them. They had just slowed it down meaning the others were now overtaking.

Sam titled and shot off sideways into the head of one of the others. He expected the head to explode around him as he ploughed through it like a knife through butter but instead he was met with a solid surface. He gritted his teeth and reached down inside himself to shove with even more force. The robot’s head tilted and for a second Sam though his rocket powered body may indeed simply snap the head clean off but instead the Sentinel stumbled sideways. It collided with a third Sentinel which collapsed backwards into the sea.

The water churned wildly as the two sunk below the surf with only small masses of metal breaking the waves. The Sentinel which had been hit began to stir almost instantly. The one Cannonball had collided with wasted no time in following the action.

Cannonball watched the Sentinel’s as they righted themselves. He had fought many Sentinel’s before but most recently they had been ‘allies’ piloted by O*N*E. He wasn’t sure but he knew it was possible that he could be holding back. The second option was that these robots had been upgraded beyond their original outdated specs.

“Magma!” he yelled as he changed direction. Amara Aquilla turned her attention to him. She had been standing on the shore line with Boom Boom and Wolfsbane as the three waited for a Sentinel came close enough for the three of them to help in some way. “Shake…” Cannonball let out a yell.

A long tendril had shot out of the hand of one of the Sentinel’s and wrapped itself around the legs of Cannonball as he altered position. Sam’s blast radius kept him safe from any physical harm but the force exerted by the Sentinel once it had a good hold on him meant it could yank him off course.

Cannonball was dragged unceremoniously under the water. His blast field was still active but the motion which comes with it had ceased. He felt could feel his chest tighten, the blast field did not come with it’s own oxygen supply.

His hands began to pound wildly on the coil powered by the thrust of his powers in each blow. One thing was clear to him as he tried to punch himself clear with everything he had and that was he had not been holding back. The Sentinel’s had been reinforced beyond their usual steel coatings. It was some sort of super metal, secondary adamantium and steel mix was his guess. Durable but not indestructible… “indestructible enough!” he thought as his vision blurred around him. He was running out of breath.

“Sam!” Rahne yelled as she shifted from her wolf form to the lycan form she had been inhabiting most recently. She sprinted across the beach and dove into the sea water and began to swim towards her downed friend. In this form her physical ability was above human levels meaning she could cover the distance easily.

Sunspot also changed his direction and headed for the Sentinel which had entangled his best friend and began to unload rights and lefts into it’s solid metal form. The clanging of his fists seemed to be the only effect. The metal began to tarnish from his blows but it didn’t bend or break.

Rahne reached Sam under the water and pulled on the tentacle which ensnared him. His eyes panned to her for a second and he continued to struggle as she pulled but it seemed to have little effect.

Warpath screamed angrily. He had been continuing to hack wildly at the Sentinel he had been attacking. His Vibranium knives had sliced through the metal of the Sentinel’s chest. Inside was a metal frame surrounded by wiring and tubes. He growled to himself “God I miss Doug!”.

Doug was Douglas Ramsey a New Mutant who was killed protecting his friends. He had the power to understand and use any form of communication. It helped him understand computers and mechanical systems like they were written in English. James had not been a New Mutant back when Doug was alive but the two had spent a fair few months together at the Hellion’s academy. He had liked the gentle soft spoken lad.

He gritted his teeth and shoved his hand inside the machine. Electrical shocks ran up and down his arms making it go numb while the Sentinel waved it’s arm ineffectually at him to swat him away but it’s proximity programming would not allow it to strike close enough to it’s own body. He gripped his hand around a metal tube which was red hot to the touch, there was an ice cold box behind it. Warpath gripped the tube and pulled. He knew enough about computers to know that it was basically the spine of the machine with the box acting as a cooling system for it so it didn’t explode.

No sooner had he yanked part of the pipe out the rest of the spine did just that. He hurled himself clear as the centre of the machine exploded. He splashed into the water.

“Warpath! Cut the tentacle!” commanded Dani Moonstar with a point as she reached the water front. Warpath had enhanced senses but with the noise raging around him and the water in his ears he could just make out what she was saying. He moved his position to look at the Sentinel which was in front of him. He narrowed his eyes as his enhanced vision focused on the cable.

It was only a couple of inches thick and at a distance of over sixty meters. That added to the fact he was currently bobbing up and down and being tossed by both the natural and Sentinel made waves it would not be an easy shot.

He raised his hand out of the water and shook it for a second to loosen up before he hurled it forward releasing the blade he held in his grasp. The strong and perfectly angled knife span through the air.

It struck the cable dead on and then span off into the sea. He watched it carefully so as he could retrieve it later. A shadow suddenly fell over him. He titled his head back to stare at the giant metal form of the Sentinel which stood over him pointing it’s laser hand. He took a deep breath and dove as fast as he could. The water seemed to explode around him.

He felt the white hot heat all around him for a second, he swam as fast as he could and then slowed. “You wanted to never feel anything again, never be hurt? Why fight it? Why not give in to the oblivion?”

“Boomer, Magma I need one of you to break the tentacle!” Dani pointed towards where Warpath’s blade had cut through half of the wire leaving it dangling but still connected. She began to run into the water and then dove forward into a swim.

Amara Aquilla aka Magma controls the earth itself and the flaming lava within it, she’s also capable of bursts of flame which is exactly what she does. The flame licks along her arm before shooting out towards the wire which waves in the air from the arm of the Sentinel. It hurtles past one side and then the other. She brought both hands together and growled as she prepared to fire one final massive fireball straight at the cable.

“Move over flame brain,” Boom Boom shoulder barged Magma to get herself in the perfect firing position. “Sammie hasn’t got all day.” Tabitha Smith Aka Boom Boom, Boomer, Meltdown and whatever else she can come up with during a mission is literally a firecracker. She’s completely full of energy both in personality and mutant power.

A golden ball of energy exploded in her hand about the size of a soft ball. She raised her leg and hurled the ball like a baseball pitch. It sunk harmlessly into the sea. Her arm still outstretched. Magma fired another blast while she spoke “Nice going!” her blast also missed. The two girls didn’t exactly get along at the best of times, there were no serious problems just a mismatch of personalities.

The golden ball of energy suddenly appeared as it was tossed up by a wave. It bounced on the sea again. “I call it the damn buster,” Tabby grinned. The ball bounced twice more before Boomer hurled her arms up in the air causing the ball to rise as it was directed. It shot towards the cable, Boom Boom took a deep breath before she let out a long and protracted “BOOOOOOOM!”

The ball exploded in brilliant white light. It hadn’t yet reached the cable but it was close enough causing it to fall into the sea.

Wolfsbane and Cannonball pulled again on the cable as they saw it descend to the floor. It whipped and crackled like an angry snake as it burned through the residue of power coursing through it.

Rahne’s chest felt fit to burst but she gave one last tug. She looked at Sam whose eyes were half closed and his head was beginning to loll to one side. She pressed her lips to his as she had longed to do so many times in their youth and breathed hard. She’d give him a little extra time to work. She broke the kiss of life and swam to the surface for another breath. “Hold on Sam, Dinnae stop fighting!” commanded Rahne with her thoughts as she swam away.

She broke the surface and breathed deeply just as Dani shot past in her fastest swimming stroke which for a girl raised swimming against the current in rivers in the Rocky Mountains was pretty fast. “Dani! Dani! He’s here! Sam needs help!” Dani kept going a little longer and then dove under the water from sight. Rahne filled her lungs again and dove.

She first pressed her lips to Sam again to give him a mouth full of air and then with her own lung full she got to work on pulling at the cable’s again. “I let Julio down. I won’t let you down Sam!” She pulled again but still the cable didn’t budge. She grabbed it tightly in her clawed hands and braced herself as she pulled, she closed her eyes and preyed. It was something she hadn’t done since Julio. “Please Lord let Sam be ok,” it was a simple prayer but from the heart.

She opened her eyes to see the form of Dani Moonstar floating above her. She held in both hands the form of Warpath’s giant knife. Her teeth gritted blowing bubbles from her mouth as she raised it above her head and swung it forward.

Sam’s now free form began to rise. Dani nodded to Rahne and they both seized an arm and made for the surface. The three broke the surface, the girls took a deep breath in and out a few times before looking to Sam. His eyes were closed and he bobbed in the water only held up by them.

There was a tense few seconds before Sam lurched forward and vomited into the water, he’d taken in a lot of sea water. He followed with a quick inhale of air. The two girls smiled at him. Then one another, Dani felt of use and in the back of her mind she could feel something she had lost, she could feel his presence.

A shadow fell over them as it had Warpath a minute earlier. The loose broken cable hung loosely from it’s wrist but the glow in the centre of it’s hand let them know that it was fully active. Cannonball grabbed tight hold of the two girl’s arms. “Hold on!” He had just come within seconds of death (again) and was ready to save his friends again.

He exploded out of the water was a small explosion dragging his two friend’s with him. The blast field which encased him thankfully did the same to anything he held meaning their arms weren’t yanked from the sockets by the force.

It only took a second till the three landed on the beach. “Sam!” Tabitha launched herself onto Sam and pulled him tight. He was soaking wet but thanks to the swim wear they were all still in it didn’t bother her much. It wouldn’t have bothered her even if they were in full costume, she was so happy to see Sam ok. “You ever do that to me again and I’ll drop a time bomb in your trunks!”

“Hey guys! A little help or do I have to do everything myself!” Sunspot span in the air above them as a glancing blow from one of the five remaining Sentinels hit him. He shot straight back away from the small group on the beach across the water back to the Sentinel which had hit him.

He let out a blast of solar plasma into the face of the Sentinel, the strong metal didn’t seem to budge but it provided enough of a distraction for him to land a strong blow into one of it’s ‘eyes’. The Sentinel fired a blast far to the left, with it’s sensor broken it meant it’s targeting was off.

It calculated the trajectories as best it could with one eye and changed it’s targeting system. It’s weapons shot towards Sunspot.

“Arrrgh!” Warpath exploded up from behind the Sentinel and shoved his remaining blade directly into the top of the Sentinel’s head. A thick slash ran down his back meaning bloody water was running down his body and the head of the Sentinel which he stood on.

“Sentinel…68% affective!” it claimed as it’s hand rotated and tried to shoot at the two mutants who were buzzing around it’s head.

“You ever seen clash of the titans?” Warpath screamed as he pulled his blade clear and leapt to the side and hovered in the air. Roberto nodded. “Clashing rocks!”

Sunspot needed no more of a hint, he circled around the Sentinel as fast as he could kicking up a thick path of plasma behind him. The two rushed towards one another with only the Sentinel’s head between them. They each collided with the metal head of the robot, it had so far seemed impervious but the large gash Warpath had carved into it’s head had fractured it’s structure meaning the metal crumpled sending wires and metal flying in all directions.

The two young men shot clear of the debris as it rained into the sea and slapped each other with a high 5. “Two down!” yelled Roberto he spiralled in the air for a second.

“Four to go!” growled Warpath. He ran his hand along his back for a second and looked at the watered down blood on his hand. The gouge was stinging.

“Why does everyone always look on the negative side,” Roberto touched down next to Sam and the others. Their leader was still sucking in air as Warpath landed next to him and slapped him on the back.

He no sooner did that then his hand was outstretched to seize his second blade from Dani. “Come to daddy,” he smiled as he took his blade back, the weight felt good in his hand.

“There getting closer,” said Wolfsbane as she nodded towards the four remaining Sentinels who were wading through the surf. The debris from the one Warpath had destroyed bobbed in the waves amongst them while the one he and Sunspot had just rammed stood still to attention without it’s head.

“Were still out of their firing range, we got time to figure some things out…” Sam shot his hands out and shoved Tabby away into the arms of Warpath while he dove sideways and grabbed Dani whilst doing so. The super fast reaction speeds of Warpath and Wolfsbane allowed them to pick up on his movements and grab their other team mates and dive just as the ground exploded where they had been. “Ah hate it when they change the Sentinel specs!” growled Sam as he rolled away from Dani. “Go back up the beach to safety Dani!”

“I want to help!” Dani bounced to her feet and began to run after Sam. He skidded to a halt and grabbed her arms.

“Ah don’t want me or anyone else worrying about you while we’re fighting. Leave this to us!” He stared into Dani’s eyes and nodded before releasing her and rocketing away.

“Magma!” he commanded as he shot through the air towards Magma, Boomer and Warpath who had grabbed them and leapt from the blast of the Sentinel. “Quake the ground!”

Magma nodded. She breathed out heavily and held her hands towards the ground. The thoughts clattered through her mind to the last time they had been on the beach, the ground began to shake. The last time she’d stood on this beach and accessed her powers she’d nearly levelled the city and caused a small volcano to sprout out of the ground in the middle of the ocean bay which they were now facing. Her eyes panned up to look ahead.

The Sentinel’s shook as the waves lashed around them. They slowly began to rise out of the water powered by their own personal rockets. The volcano behind them out in the bay was spewing smoke into the air. Magma let out a loud yell as she stopped using her powers. “I can’t do it! The volcano is going to…I can’t do it!”

“‘Mara you’re not like you were anymore, you can use your powers…”

“I can’t! When I tell you I can’t…I CAN’T!!” She shoved Sam away.

“This is nae the time,” Rahne growled as she bounded over on all fours with Sunspot flying above her. She nodded to the four Sentinels which were flying over the water towards them now. Sam nodded.

“Magma can you melt some tunnels into the sand? Fuse them into glass a couple inches thick and about 6 from the surface?” Magma thought for a second and then radiated heat from her body before dropping quickly from sight into the ground.

“Warpath and Rahne take the farthest two. Sunspot and Boomer take the closest two. Destroy them if you can but if not lead them up the beach towards the parasols. Ah’ll be back!” Sam pointed past all four Sentinels and nodded to his team mates before launching into the air. He shot vertically for a few seconds before arcing back around and shooting back towards them. He tunnelled under the ground himself.