Seventy years ago, Dietrich Trask had a dream—to find a way to sample a person’s DNA remotely, without a blood or tissue sample. Trask’s intentions were noble, for he was at bedrock an idealist. His Nazi masters, of course, saw other uses for this technology. To them, Trask had developed a method to help them perfect their final solution. That was why the Allies sent Logan and Nick Fury and his Howling Commandoes to stop him.
They thought themselves successful. The research complex was destroyed; they believed the threat eliminated. Sadly, however, Dietrich Trask’s descendants continued his work, building off his original designs and schematics. But as they did so, their creations began to evolve. The Sentinels developed a mind of their own and with it a better idea of their purpose. The species the Trasks created them to protect, they concluded, was fatally, fundamentally flawed. Better by far to purge them all, baseline human and mutant, from the global gene pool and start again.
The Central Andean Highlands, South America…
Now, these Sentinels lay waste to an unprotected village deep in the Andes Mountains. The frightened villagers run for their lives, but only can get so far before individually falling victim to a targeted Sentinel energy attack. One man watches in horror as the person next to him bursts into flames and melts down to an ashen skeleton. Another woman tears off on her own, cradling an infant in her arms. Her flight catches the attention of the Sentinels.
Suddenly, that attention is diverted by the approach of enemies. The Sentinels identify the energy signatures of the five assailants as mutant. Their power signatures confirm them as X-Men. Their primary directive applies; the X-Men are known targets and must be destroyed.
The approaching X-Men—Beast, Jean Grey, Shadowcat, Rogue and Nightcrawler—size up their adversaries. Beast advises the team to refrain from exercising caution; there are five X-Men versus ten Sentinels, and they have a whole town of innocent people to protect on top of that. Don’t assume what worked earlier will work now, Kitty adds. She reminds her teammates a hallmark of Sentinel technology is adaptation—especially to mutants. Jean, using her telekinesis to hoist both herself and Kitty through the air, keeps everyone linked via telepathy. That should provide them with total awareness and instant communications, she adds.
The airborne Jean blasts the nearest Sentinel in the face with telekinesis. Rogue follows up this attack by ripping its head from its shoulders. After Jean commends her finesse, she takes Shadowcat to their next target, hoping they can dismantle it just as quickly. She takes out the Sentinel’s eyes with her telekinesis before launching Kitty over to its head. Kitty, her adamantium claw extended, phases through the machine’s metal exterior but keeps her claw tangible. She cuts a swath through the Sentinel’s most sensitive area before phasing into its mainframe.
Nearby, Nightcrawler teleports to the ground. Beast follows suit shortly; he finds little need of his prosaic abilities in the canopy of the battle. As he descends, he notices something strange: these Sentinels have assimilated the raw materials of vehicles and technology they’ve destroyed. As far as Beast can tell, this is a new feature—but why are they doing it?
Meanwhile, back in the clandestine factory where this iteration of Sentinels was constructed, Nick Fury stares down the barrel of a handgun. “You killed my grandfather,” his enemy, Sigrid Trask, says. In his defense, Fury reminds her he killed a lot of people. After all, it was a war. Trask claims her grandfather was different; he was a dreamer and an idealist. That may be, Fury concedes, but his bosses wanted to use his creations as a weapon. He asks Trask to just look at what that precious technology has accomplished since World War II. How many times have the Sentinels nearly destroyed the world? Is that really what her grandfather, her father and her half-brother wanted? He asks her to just listen to him for a moment; it doesn’t have to be this way. All she is doing is perpetuating past mistakes.
The blonde-haired scientist refuses to budge. “You’re a sweet-talking devil, colonel,” she says with her gun leveled at him, “…but you’re wrong. At long last, Ziggy Trask is going to be the one to set things right!” With that, Dr. Sigrid Trask pulls the trigger.
Back in town, the X-Men continue their campaign against the gargantuan instruments of death. Beast barely evades an energy attack before realizing there are just too many Sentinels for them to handle. Anywhere he goes, he’s a sitting duck! In accordance with that fear, a Sentinel swings its hand downward, intending to smash Beast. Mere moments before he dies, however, Nightcrawler swoops in, grabs him and teleports him to safety—atop a Sentinel’s head. Is he all right? Beast assures his savior he is; he is merely awestruck by his sense of timing.
Jean, levitating nearby, tells Beast that is another one he owes her; coming to his rescue is getting to be a habit. Turning her attention back to the battle, she fires another TK blast at a Sentinel while asking Rogue to follow with the same move she used earlier. Rogue follows the order with pleasure. She charges fist-first at the Sentinel, swings her legs forward at the last second and kicks the machine to the ground.
The Sentinel slumps toward the jungle floor—right on top of Shadowcat, unfortunately. Kitty, fearing she will not have time to phase, holds her arms over her phase in a pitiful gesture of self-defense. The Sentinel completes its course and crashes onto her position.
Jean watches this scene unfold in horror. Enraged, she turns to the rest of the Sentinels, unleashes an enormous telekinetic pulse and declares the fight over! She has had enough of these wretched robots, she shouts. Her sudden display of immense energy catches Beast, Rogue and Nightcrawler by surprise. Where has she been hiding all that power—and where can Rogue get a piece of it? Nightcrawler suddenly has a very bad feeling about this.
Back at the research and manufacturing facility, Nick Fury applies pressure to his bleeding thigh and asks Dr. Trask if she feels better now. She bet he thought she’d shoot to kill, Trask says. “And where’s the fun in that?” Fury asks in response. “Shoot me dead, you lose your audience.” Commending his perception, Ziggy admits killing him would be too easy; she wants him to suffer. It’s a moment—and a vengeance—long overdue. Fury tells her he can understand why she feels that way. Trask curtly tells him not to patronize her.
“It was a world war, honey,” Fury continues. Guys on every side of the conflict did things they maybe came to regret later in life. As he speaks, Fury recalls some of the things he did and the horrors he saw in this raid, particularly parachuting into enemy territory with Logan and viewing the eviscerated corpse of Dietrich Trask. He tells Sigrid he is sorry about what happened to her grandfather, but the fact is that his death made a difference. If Dietrich Trask had lived—if his technology had been deployed—who knows how many more might have died?
He takes a moment to ask Sigrid a bit about herself. What’s her story? Ziggy doesn’t mind revealing some details. Her father and grandmother fled to South America because of the war. There, they started again. They worked to make the Trask name respectable once again, and they succeeded. After the death of Ziggy’s father’s first wife, he married the woman who would become Ziggy’s mother, and together, they worked to bring Dietrich’s dream to life. However, as close as they came, no matter how hard they tried, the accursed X-Men always stole away their rightful triumph!
Meanwhile, in the nearby village, the X-Men stare at Jean Grey in awe. She just single-handedly took down all the Sentinels, Beast says. Jean knows; she has a beaut of a headache to prove it! Worried, Rogue asks about Kitty Pryde. Jean, however, calms her nerves a bit by explaining she reestablished a link with Kitty; she’s just fine. However, her thoughts are a total mess and she’s really upset.
As if on cue, an adamantium claw emerges from the side of one of the downed Sentinels, taking Rogue back a bit. As the claw cuts its way through the shell, Beast cannot help but marvel at the ease with which Kitty makes herself an exit. The hide of Sentinel is as thick and tough as battleship armor, after all. She has got to let him examine that claw, Beast says.
Kitty finishes cutting the hole. The slab of armored skin collapses outward and falls to the ground. Gangway, she says! Nightcrawler, Beast, Rogue and Jean move to the makeshift entrance and peer inside, and what they see raises even more questions. These Sentinels, Shadowcat points out, are way different than the ones they normally fight. All the combat and operational systems seem confined to the limbs. The torso, however, looks mostly hollow. At first glance, Kitty presumes the hollow center is some sort of construction site—but the formatting pods are empty. Whatever they were making is long gone. They need to investigate the other Sentinels and see if they’re the same, Kitty adds. Maybe they will find a clue as to what the heck they were building!
Inside the Consortium-operated facility, Nick Fury continues mining Dr. Sigrid Trask for information. Her half-brother Larry knew the truth about the Sentinels; he realized the threat they posed to everyone, Fury tells her. The Sentinels nearly killed him for it, and would have, had not the X-Men saved him. Ziggy scoffs; lesser minds bring about flawed creations, she says. Her creations, however, will be perfect. Fury tells her that will not be the case if somebody stops her. As for who that might be, the sound of a jet hovering overhead provides an answer. Ziggy looks up in panic; what is that? All Fury tells her is that they X-Men have their own methods, and he has his. Game over, he tells Dr. Trask.
As S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers repel out of the aircraft and infiltrate the abandoned base, Dr. Trask looks up in bewilderment. She didn’t expect things to turn out this way. Nevertheless, she aims her gun at Fury and tells him she’ll kill him first. He urges her to go ahead; it won’t change a thing. Before Trask can pull the trigger, however, a carefully aimed bullet fired from across the room knocks the gun out of her hand. She recoils.
Across the room, the redheaded Daisy Dugan hangs loosely from an open ventilation shaft with her free arm. In her other, she holds a smoking pistol. She orders Trask neither to utter a word nor make the slightest move. If she fails to comply, Dugan promises the next round she fires will make Ziggy scream. With the situation under control, Dugan reports to her colleague, Caruthers. She tells him the site is secure and their boss, safe. However, Fury has been shot, she says. She requests a medikit and an immediate evac.
Agent Caruthers confirms her request. They will have the gear and a medic on the ground in a jiff, he says over the radio. However, things do not proceed as smoothly from the aircraft’s end. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Manuel reports movement on the threat board. Caruthers doesn’t understand how; they swept the complex clean. Over the radio, Daisy Dugan urges her colleague Tori to drop the tethers and get out of there right away. Her warning comes too late. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the jet suddenly detect multiple inbound contacts. Just as they realize what is heading for them, the explosives hit their jet and blow it out of the sky.
Fury and Agent Dugan direct their gazes overhead as the explosion reverberates through the building. Fury hopes the X-Men’s telepath sensed what just happened. He tells his agent on the ground, whose name he forgets, to keep an eye out for any survivors—and especially for whoever is responsible for the attack.
During this commotion, Dr. Ziggy Trask slips away. Daisy Dugan doesn’t notice she’s gone until it is too late. She begins to run after her, but Fury orders her to stand her ground. Ziggy knows the rat’s nest; Daisy doesn’t. Fury refuses to let her run off and get killed. He doesn’t want to lose any more agents on this assignment. Let Ziggy run, he says—for now.
After the X-Men rejoin Fury and Dugan, they search for Ziggy together. However, they fail to find her; she seems to have made her escape with success. Rogue asks Jean if she detects any sign of Ziggy, but Jean concedes she is too well-shielded. Rogue can’t find her either; the jungle canopy is too thick to spot a lone fugitive from the air. If Sabretooth were there, he could follow her trail, Shadowcat supposes. Nightcrawler reminds her that is why they’re a team: each of their abilities complement one another.
In the back of the briefing room, Nick Fury asks Beast if he found anything useful. Nothing he likes, McCoy answers. He does tell Fury they fought ten classic Sentinel models, all of which seemed to be construction models. Fury asks if they saw what these Sentinels were building. Not conclusively, McCoy tells him. He adds, however, that he saw one of them searching for scrap metal in the village. Although he didn’t understand it at the time, he believes they were attempting to procure building materials. Right now, all of Hank’s best guesses are giving him nightmares. Whatever is out there took down Fury’s plane, which makes it hostile. They can’t find any trace of it, meaning it’s undetectable. Since they’re derived from Sentinels, they need to assume they’re fundamentally nasty, both to humans and mutants. Basically, although they can label this round a draw, they need to realize it’s just the beginning.
Jean, meanwhile, wanders to the front of the room and stares out the broken windows into the jungle. She berates herself for not psi-probing Ziggy harder when she had the chance. She can’t wait to hear Scott scold her about it, either. Ziggy should have trusted her brother Larry’s judgment, Jean thinks. At least he understood the true nature of the Trask family’s creation. Ziggy may think she’s claiming her rightful legacy and fulfilling Dietrich Trask’s dream—but she’s wrong.
Right now, the only thing Ziggy Trask is feeling is scared. She’s running, following an instinct she didn’t know she possessed, trying to put as much distance as possible between herself and the construction complex. Any moment, she expects to be caught, if not by S.H.I.E.L.D., then by the accursed X-Men. Ziggy cranes her neck behind her as she runs, too terrified of what may be following to ignore the possibility it might be gaining distance on her. Unfortunately for her, her inattentiveness proves costly, as she trips over a snap, tumbles to the ground and hits her head. Ziggy just wants her mother to come to her rescue—like back when she was a little girl.
“Stop crying, Ziggy,” Mrs. Trask says to her young daughter. Little Ziggy tells her she fell, though, and it really hurts! Her mother, dressed in a knee-length, floral print dress worn over a red, collared shirt, informs Ziggy she’s getting better, even as they speak. “The moment you learn to stand and walk, Ziggy,” Mrs. Trask says, “…you accept the reality that sooner or later you’re bound to fall. What matters, though, is making sure you’re able to get up and start again. Much as our family’s done.”
Mrs. Trask walks her daughter Ziggy through one of their family factories as she teaches her this tough lesson about life. She explains to Ziggy how her father and grandmother came to America with little more than the clothes on their backs. Look around, she instructs Ziggy, and see just how much her father created. He used both his skills as a doctor to make people healthy and those of a scientist to take all the secrets left to him by his father and use them to create a means of making everyone in the world safe. “But didn’t bad men kill Großvater Dietrich, mama?” Ziggy asks. “What if they come for papi?” Mrs. Trask encourages her not to worry; that was a long time ago in a far away place. This is their home now, and their days, better. They are quite safe in America. Besides, why would anyone try to hurt her father when he’s simply trying to help?
Speaking of her father, Ziggy spots her dad on the factory floor, wearing a hardhat and white lab-coat. She runs to him with enthusiasm. Bolivar Trask is delighted to see his little Ziggy. Where did she come from? As she leaps into his arms, Ziggy tells her papa she came from right nearby, with mama. She hadn’t seen her daddy for so long that mama brought her for a visit. Bolivar embraces his daughter. With a smile plastered on his face, he explains he has been busy. Ziggy knows this; she just misses him. Once more, Bolivar apologizes—but shows Ziggy his latest project that has taken up so much of his time.
Turning her attention to the factory floor, Bolivar asks her to behold a staggering array of giant, humanoid, purple and fuchsia robots. They stand in ordered rows, staring ahead with menace in their lifeless eyes. What does Ziggy think? All she can say is “wow!” Bolivar explains this is his father’s dream, at long last about to be realized. Soon, his Sentinels will take flight and keep the world—and the human race—safe forever.
That was the dream. Reality turned out to be far different. Trask had identified mutants as the greatest potential threat to humanity. His creations set out from the beginning to eliminate them. Bolivar Trask eventually came to realize that not all mutants were threats; indeed, his greatest adversaries, the X-Men, acted as humanity’s defenders. But he’d built far batter than he’d known. His Sentinels saw themselves not as defenders of humanity, but as Earth’s masters. As their programming evolved, they concluded that the entire human race were potential mutants and should therefore be purged. The struggle claimed Bolivar’s life, and very nearly Larry Trask’s, but in the end the X-Men—Angel, Beast, Iceman, Marvel Girl and Cyclops—apparently emerged triumphant.
Sadly, it seems that fate has other plans. Ziggy, picking herself up off the ground and catching her breath, examines her jungle surroundings. She can’t bring herself to run anymore; and to think she believed herself to be in shape. Still, she hopes she gave the X-Men and Nick Fury the slip.
A mysterious noise coming from the dense foliage grabs Ziggy’s attention. She turns to face it, her heartbeat racing. At first, she tells herself it’s just the jungle—it’s filled with noises. When she hears it again, however, she cannot deny it sounds out of place and that it’s drawing nearer. She calls out to the intruder and tells it to keep it’s distance; she’s armed. In a robotic voice, the approaching figure spits back that it ran a weapons scan on her. The subject is unarmed, it says. Ziggy’s eyes grow wide as she gets a look at the bearer of her fate.
In the conference room encircled by TV monitors, three Consortium agents argue over the developing situation. It’s a fiasco, one agent declares. Not only have valuable assets and a fortune of resources been lost, but worst of all, their fundamental security may have been compromised. His female colleague disagrees; they do not know that yet. Given the circumstances, the man says, he would hardly expect an objective assessment. “Then you’re an idiot,” the female Consortium agent tells him. He begs her pardon; she explains to him that all along, he has been the one jumping to conclusions. The man disagrees. In his defense, sometimes the wait-and-see strategy merely guarantees disaster. Especially in a situation like this, his male colleague adds.
The woman refuses to budge. The disaster of which they speak will be of their own making if they insist on acting like precipitate fools. Yes, their adversaries have pieces of the puzzle—but nothing as of yet to connect them. They don’t even have a hint of how vast the truth really is, either—unless the Consortium’s overreaction provides that hint. “I will deal with my daughter, when it is appropriate,” the blonde-haired Consortium agent says, speaking of Sigrid Trask. “She sought to fulfill her father’s dream by succeeding where my stepson failed—to create at last an unflawed and perfect iteration of the Sentinel. We all knew the risks, yet the Consortium still sanctified the project. Before we take action,” she concludes, “we at least need to learn how it turned out.”
Dr. Ziggy Trask clings to a vine as a pair of bright headlights approaches her from the shadows of the forest. Its robotic voice tells her to remain calm; hostile contacts are subject to immediate elimination. That doesn’t sound too nice, Ziggy says to the mysterious figure. Whoever it is, she means no harm. The machine recognizes her voice and confirms her as Sigrid Trask. Surprised, Ziggy looks up at the glowing set of eyes; it knows her? “We are your creation,” the Sentinel says.
Ziggy asks what it means by “we”; she sees only one set of eyes. At that moment, however, sets of electronic eyes light up the shadows of the forest encircling her. She looks around at the horde of Sentinels at her command in wonder. “Wow,” she says with a fiendish grin on her face. “Oh mama, have I got a surprise for you—and for the X-Men!”