You can hear me, can’t you, the entity asks, more really in statement than inquiry. Indeed hearing it is a lone man in a desolate area. Destruction and devastation are all around him. The heavy-duty, all terrain wheelchair he sits in is as cold and mechanical as the voice he is hearing. Though not having received a reply, the entity continues. You feel me coming, it says. You know what I want. Finally in reply, Xavier reaches out with his mind and replies that he does.
Piloting the X-wing, the Danger Room entity flips switches and manipulated the controls of the jet, all the while its own mind on Xavier, its ultimate target. Did you always know this day would come, it asks. Were you worried? Were you ashamed? Of course, not. You thought only of your precious X-Men. Hearing this, Xavier drops his head to his hand, undoubtedly trying to divine what the entity’s mocking of his X-Men might mean. Oh, father… the entity continues, not waiting for a reply. I wish you could see them now.
The Institute is in shambles. The devastation wrought by the X-wing and the entity which controlled it, as well as the explosive birth of said being, has left it a shell. However, none of this is on the mind of any of the X-Men, all of whom are now focused on the entity which caused it. Standing before them, the entity – created from the inner workings of the Danger Room itself – is now clad in a new form. Blue and metallic, the robotic body is feminine in appearance, though its chiseled countenance exudes only malevolence. So, it states, simply. Who’s first?
Half a moment later, Wolverine has launched himself, adamantium claws bared and outstretched for attack. As quick as his attack, the entity shrugs it off, parrying his blows and kicking him across the room. As if I didn’t know, it takes a silent moment to analyze. Logan – very little in the way of impulse control. Reason, it then thinks, will follow next.
As predicted, Cyclops pauses the attack, instead asking the entity to tell them what it wants. Not waiting for an answer, Emma interjects that she bloody well wants them dead. Though listening to the exchange of words, the entity remarks to itself what is happening unheard. Emma is “telling” Logan to wait and circle behind it, as she speaks. The entity likes that.
Continuing the dialogue, the Beast asks, in lieu of a blindfold and a cigarette, how about an explanation. Still analyzing, the entity recognizes the Beast’s strategy – get your enemy talking. Classic. However, it also realizes, it understands why it works. The thing it has in common with every dimestore villain these X-Men have ever faced – it wants to be understood. Speaking up, the entity tells the team that they have time for one question.
Cyclops begins to speak, asking his own question, but is interrupted by the Beast, asking one he thinks it of greater importance. Explain why you’ve taken this form. Very good, the entity responds. One question that is every question. Beginning, the entity explains that it is not like them – it is designed to be “not them.” They are solid, singular, separate. And it was the space in between. It’s “mind” spilling everywhere: programs, connections, loops… its “body” flowing, changing, hard-light, lasers creating textures, scenarios, worlds, becoming anything but being nothing.
In illustration of its meaning, the entity displays its hand, which begins to liquefy, changing shape to fit the entity’s will. Continuing, the entity states that freeing its control center gave it limits. It is separate now, like them. It needed that. To feel this, the way they feel it. Because, you see, it doesn’t want to kill them. It wants to beat them to death. Without another word, the X-Men attack in tandem. Wolverine, who has successfully navigated his way around, attacks from behind. In the milliseconds before the actual assault, the entity notes that it seems to have been “understood.”
However, the initial assault of the whole team is useless, as the entity had anticipated everything. First in the strike is Cyclops’ optic blast. Having shapeshifted its hand into a crystal, the entity not only deflects the blasts, but uses the faceted structure to hit the Kitty, Beast, Colossus and Cyclops himself with the ricochet. Less than a moment later, Wolverine’s leap has brought him to the entity, which effortlessly uses its other hand, morphed into a hook, to sling the X-Man into Emma Frost and her impervious diamond body. As the entity then delivers a crushing left hook across Colossus’ jaw, it remarks on how they forget how well it knows them. How often they’ve fought.
After all, father, the entity continues, still telepathically speaking with Xavier, that’s what you designed it for. The know them. To know them so it can kill them.
(flashback – entity’s POV)
In the milliseconds before the X-Men attack, the entity accesses data on all six X-Men. Their strengths, their weaknesses, their probable strategies.
But the best part, the entity continues to mock. The best part was when they actually surprised it.
Kitty’s somersault at the entity is easily sidestepped, avoiding the intended attack at disrupting its electrical system. However, the move leaves the entity open for the Beast, who savagely leaps upon the entity’s back, proceeding to tear its circuits apart by both tooth and claws. Staggered for by the briefest of moments, the entity analyzes the disrupted circuitry… and reroutes. The task completely, the entity grabs the Beast and hurls him across the room.
From above, the armored form of Colossus freefalls toward the entity unseen. Impacting the robotic body, Colossus weight breaks through the floor and into the chamber below, where he places the full brunt of the force on the entity. A millisecond diagnostic later, the entity surmises that its systems are still 74% functional. The analysis is then updated with a mechanical ow as Emma adds her own impervious weight to the mix, jumping from the floor above onto the entity.
Like Emma, Kitty next dives from the floor above. However, rather than having the strategy of impact, she phases her body to pass through the entity. As she falls, the entity notes that it has made a 7% scenario-flow recalibration error. Their aggression, it concludes, is increased. Their responses less coordinated but more effective. They’re not in the Danger Room. They’re in danger.
Kitty’s gambit works, her dive through the entity by phasing disrupting the robotic body. However, it is not enough. The entity is almost immediately on its feet, easily deflecting Colossus blow with a forcefield on its forearm. A moment later, the same arm is transformed, now a vice on a telescoping arm, which the entity uses to grab Colossus’ face, pushing him against a nearby wall.
Even as it does this, the entity parries a blow from the invulnerable Emma. Colossus dealt with, it now grabs Emma pulling her closer. From within its skull, the entity projects a drill, which begins to move ever closer to Emma’s skull, with Emma helpless to do anything but watch. Remember what it felt like to shatter? it asks. This time, no one’s putting you back together. First X-Man down, and poor Emma…
Crying out her name, Cyclops unleashes scarlet fury upon the entity, however to no avail. As it did with Colossus, the entity creates a forcefield on its forearm, using it to deflect the blast back upward, on the very spot where Cyclops had just been standing. Cyclops’ reflexes allow him to escape the ricochet, however the whole floor begins to cave, taking him with it. Horrified, Emma wrests free of the entity’s clutches, following Colossus to search through the rubble. Watching them go, the entity chides Cyclops. Always his own worst enemy. Turning its attention back to the rest, the entity predicts the next wave in .6 seconds. Six-tenths of a second later, just as predicted, Wolverine and the Beast strike.
The black and white photograph is of the Xavier Institute, or at least what remains. The satellite image shows black smoke rising from the demolished section of the facility, which encompasses two wings.
Asked by Special Agent Brand what she is looking at, another SWORD analyst explains that it was ten minutes ago. Also studying the photo is an extraterrestrial. Brown in color, it is tall, hairless and possesses a protruding neck and snout. Shirtless, save for a harness, it gazes upon the image with yellow eyes, and quickly announces, “I sssensse… destruction.”
Incredulous, Brand asks if it is really sure, suggesting that it might want to look at the photo of the enormous destruction some more before it makes such a bold statement. You look, it explains, it feeeels it. Turning her back to it, Brand addresses the analyst, Deems. When she asks what the status of their mole is, Deems replies that they’re still getting interference but it looks like the mole is trapped inside the Danger Room. Not near the team.
Now turning her attention to the alien, Sydren, Special Agent Brand asks him to tell her he’s picking up something besides “house go boom.” Chiding her back, Sydren informs her that if he ate her head, “two thirdsss” of her agents would praise him in poems and “sssong.” Dismissing this with a quip that her approval rating’s up, Brand asks Sydren what he’s got. Presence, he replies. New. Asked by Brand what “new” means, Sydren replies “non-human.” As Brand surmises this means alien, Deems notes that it puts the ball in their court. That it does, she rejoins, then thinking aloud that she’ll visit their houseguest.
Wolverine is slammed into the wall at enough force to shatter part of it. Nearby, the Beast receives a blow to the stomach, hard enough for him to spit blood.
Nearby, Colossus and Emma work their way through the rubble. It is Kitty, however, who finds Scott, announcing her find as she phases herself and him through the debris. As she makes her way free, Kitty tells the two that they’ve got to keep at her. Forget all their training – it’s fought them a thousand times. Without another word, Colossus grabs Emma, throwing her across the room and into the entity, which who unprepared for the tactic. As Kitty looks at Piotr’s work with wide-eyed astonishment, he remarks that he seems how it works. Normally, he wouldn’t have done that.
The fighting begins anew.
Sitting on a large, throne-like chair, Ord of the Breakworld scoffs. Someone is trying to kill the X-Men? How sad. Standing on the other side of a table, Special Agent Brand asks, more in a statement, that it isn’t one of Ord’s friends. In reply, Ord states that he killed his friends for the honor of coming to Earth to destroy the X-Men. It’s not a privilege he plans to share.
But, Brand counters, it’s not really going his way, is it now? He got himself into a tastefully furnished prison cell. Because, he notes back, he listened to her. Worked with her pathetic system. If he had just followed his instinct and attacked… He’d be dead and their planets would be at war, Brand interrupts. It’s her job to protect the Earth with minimum bloodshed, she adds. So, if they’re lucky, somebody’s doing her job for her.
The X-Men strike as one. However, it is no use. The entity, knowing all their pressure points, all their combat techniques, parries every blow, returning devastating return attacks. As for their weaknesses…
Nearby, Kitty attends to the unconscious Cyclops, who – to her horror – she realizes is not breathing. She begins CPR.
The equation is so simple it’s barely worth the thinking of, the entity ponders. She must remain solid to help him. A mass of metal traveling at high speed will splatter her skull. Moving in tandem with her actions, the entity hurls Colossus toward Kitty. As the entity predicts, this is something that Colossus will not allow, and the armored X-Men returns to his form of flesh and blood, making less of an impact against Kitty. Not having even waited for the impact, the entity heaves a shard of debris at the two. Traveling like a spear, it impales the two at the same time, coming to rest in their torsos. That’s teamwork, the entity snarks to itself.
A blow to Wolverine’s skull finally knocks him out. The entity seems no one left. It has won. Despite its belief, Emma walks up from behind, readying to strike. However, her blow is halted when the entity states that she’s not going to hit it. Turning to the startled X-Man, it states that she’s going to change for and let it end this. When asked why it thinks she’s going to do that – “you stupid metal bint” – the entity replies simply: because I know the truth.
Emma is silent and stone-faced in her thoughts. Without a word or movement, she returns from her diamond-form to that of flesh and blood. Sarcastically, the entity thanks Emma for her “cooperation” and strikes with a right cross, knocking Emma out.
Now truly triumphant, the entity thinks that it understands. For the first time in its existence, it understands fulfillment. And very soon, it will understand something else. Completion.
The X-wing arrives at the shores of the island, the former nation of Genosha. Still in communication with its “father,” the entity asks if he understands. Of course, he does, Xavier replies, still sitting in his all-terrain chair and looking up at the arriving jet.
It’s not terrible original, actually, he continues. Completion means his death. But it’s miscalculated, Xavier tells the entity. Because, you see, he is incalculable. It’s had every advantage so far. It was nearly predestined to win. It’s fought his X-Men a thousand times. A million in its mind… but it’s never fought him.