A bullet was fired at the Earth millennia ago. In 2019 the bullet hit bone. There was a war in the air: Cherubim and demons fought across the breadth of the sky with religious hatred. But finally the sky grew too small for them and they found Earth a fine new battlefield.
Time passed. While the demons fought here, their home in the sky was made ash by the cherubim. The war was done. The angels looked around at their battlefield, seeing new humans mutated into superior forms, become the companions of the gods.
And then, in 2019, everything changed.
2019. Manhattan lies in ruins. Animal corpses are strewn around. No future and Xavier’s dead is written on the walls.
37th Street and Lexington Avenue:
An internment camp.
A robot-like being, more organic than Sentinel, expects the prisoner Savant back from her excursion. He orders the tiny blonde to halt and present herself for post-excursion examination.
An eye, half organic, half cybernetic loosens itself from the being and examines her. No infection, it announces, negligible accretion of dirt and airborne human remains. No weaponry. Savant is ordered to walk on and return to the prison.
She walks past the heroes’ graveyard, seeing such names as Nikolas Kamarov, Nigel Keane, Kurt Wagner, Carol Danvers and Logan.
She finally gets “home.” She’s made it back, and an adult Kitty Pryde greets her. Savant almost breaks down. She didn’t think she was going to make it back this time. Kitty tries to calm her. She’s so tired, Savant moans. What did they send her out for this time? Kitty asks. Some kind of factional fighting on the other side of Harlem, comes the reply. The surviving Caucasians up there have broken into tribes. She had to examine some corpses.
Like they couldn’t have sent probes to do that, Kitty replies. Not the point, Savant explains. They only made her a trustee, so they could give her these jobs. They like to try and break her with these things. Kitty doesn’t understand how they hate the Kherans. She’s getting the idea, Kitty replies wryly. Did they have a Sentinel trail her? All the way. She’ll, never get used to the stench of those things. It’s stronger than the corpse piles.
They reach their shack where Voodoo is holding a rather childlike Storm. Tell her about it, Voodoo snorts. They kicked the hell out of her again, while Savant was gone, then did it again when the smell made her puke on them. Ooh, her poor feet, Savant moans, as she sits down next to Ororo. If she ever finds the lizard who took her seven-league boots… Any news of her sister?
No, Ororo replies despondently. She’s probably dead. Savant orders her to shut up. Undeterred, Ororo continues. Zealot and Jean and Majestic and Nate. All probably dead. Dead. Kitty asks her to stop it. Ororo continues her litany. Forge and Charles and… little Jubilation… Who would want to kill little Jubilation? She held Scott for so long. She pushed that piece back into his head, but he would not wake up for her. Was she bad?
Great, she’s off again, Pricilla scoffs. Call her when she’s recited the whole list of dead mutants. Kitty coldly orders Voodoo to shut her mouth before she does it for her. If she’s got nothing to contribute, she suggests Voodoo get out of her sight. Suits her, the other woman replies and leaves, only to be called by Jacob Marlowe aka Lord Emp, who is in a wheelchair now, pushed by Warblade.
Jacob asks her not to argue with their comrades in imprisonment. As if he needs to remind her: they are not all equipped for a prison yard brawl. Reno adds that Storm got trapped under a corpse pile during the Westchester purges. He asks Pris to cut her some slack. Besides, Jacob continues, they’re going to need every friend they can find soon. If they are going to leave, that is. Miss Pryde and he have been talking.
He’s lost it, Voodoo scoffs. He’s finally gone mad. Just wait until she’s heard the plan, Marlowe replies. Then she’ll be convinced he’s insane…
Reno scratches across his stomach where his implant is located and tells Pris he thought they’d both gone nuts. That thing he’s cooked up just to shut off these power-deactivation implants is probably going to get them killed on its own.
They have a first impossibility to achieve, Marlowe states and points to a house, first they have to break into the House of Ghosts!
The Daemonites had been at war with the Kherans for as long as either race could remember; since before anything in the galaxy had begun recording history. The war spread across the galaxy like pox, crawling from habitable planet to planet. In its last stages, it infected the far spiral arms. Those ageless, tired soldiers were very far from home, then. So far from home that it took hundreds of years for the Daemonite soldiers on Earth to discover that the war was over: Khera had broken Daemon.
The news drove the Daemonites on Earth mad. They went to ground insane with grief and anger… still at war.
Earth had its own wars, of course, some just as deep underground as the Daemonites themselves. The early flames of a race war burned down there. Homo sapiens were building weapons to use against Homo mutantis; huge mechanical soldier of infinite potential. The Daemonites saw this and dreamt of an evolutionary leap that might give them the edge over their Kheran enemies still on Earth. That might subjugate this world they were trapped on. And so the Daemonite soldiers stole the Sentinel technology, and fused themselves with it. And that’s when it all went wrong.
Inside the House of Ghosts, the imprisoned Jean Grey wonders if the Daemonites’ll ever let them die. It has occurred to her that they could keep them like that for decades… Cable, strung up and silenced, would probably die of old age first, perhaps forty years from now. Zealot is Kheran, with a lifespan measured in millennia. She thinks that suits the Daemonites. Millennia of torture might possibly exhaust their reservoir of hate. Might. Majestic too. The former Kheran Warlord hangs broken and beaten in chains. The Daemonites find a special joy in driving a Kheran warlord to the extent of his ability to suffer pain. But they are all soldiers. They expect that treatment at the hands of the enemy. She was never a soldier. If anyone can hear these thoughts… there is a way out of here. Find her. And if they can’t help her… then for God’s sake, kill her!
Elsewhere, outside New York, Grifter and Wolverine are walking in mutual dislike. He’ sick of walking. Grifter announces, He’s sick of him, Logan snarls back. He’s sick of the way Logan smells, Cash retorts. He’s sick of the way he talks, comes the reply. He’s sick of him, it’s Cole’s turn. He already said that, Logan points out. Cole orders him to shut up. How much further anyway? he asks a moment later. He told him to shut up, Wolverine reminds him.
Cole repeats his question with an expletive. God, but he’s a sulky little runt! Call him a runt again, he’ll spend the rest of the day picking his teeth outta his butt, Wolverine threatens. Twenty miles, maybe a bit more. Think he can handle a man’s walking tour, Grifter? Don’t call him Grifter, Cole replies.
Hell, times was you could see Manhattan from a hundred miles away. Not in that smog though. Twenty miles, huh? Call it fifteen, Logan replies. They’ll stop there and go over procedures. He got the legs for it? Why wouldn’t he ? Cole asks. They are longer than Logan’s!
Wolverine unsheathes his claws. Cole tries to calm him, they are all in t he resistance army together. Don’t make him put his gun on him….
Logan attacks someone hiding in the rubble who was about to attack. They didn’t hear anything but he smelled him. The dead would-be-attacker is Percival Edward Chang, aka Grunge, formerly of Gen 13. Thought he was dead, Cole remarks. See the marks on his face? Logan asks. Probably wished he was.
Got some more of the walking dead here! Cole announces as he looks at a group facing them, consisting of Ivana Baueil, Dani Moonstar, Frostbite, Feral and two tigers. Hello, Ivana. The group’s leader, Ivana, the cyborg, identifies them. They must have walked from Canada. What a long strange walk it must have been for them. They can ride the rest of the way in her hounds here. The Daemonites sometimes forget to feed the border guard trustees. They know how it is. Oh yeah, he knows how it is, Cole replies and shoots Feral.
Retaliating, Frostbite attacks Wolverine who in turn slices him. Moonstar lets loose an energy arrow at him, swearing he should be dead. Though the arrow hits Logan, Cole shoots her, calling her a collaborator bitch.
Ivana, in the meantime, is radioing for help. Logan literally disarms her (cyborg parts) and Cole remarks that they didn’t want to kill anyone but they can’t have their mission compromised. If they had more time, they would have found another way. But they have to get to Manhattan and they know that, if they let Ivana live, she will find a way to screw it up. She was scum long before the Daemonites came, but he thinks she is worth an apology anyway. Logan! Wolverine strikes.
A special lunatic hatred for America evinced itself in the new metaspecies formed by the fusion of Daemonite and Sentinel. The conventional forces of the United States meant nothing to mad alien soldiers clad in the most sophisticated engines of destruction in the planet’s history.
The unconventional forces the Kheran soldiers on-planet and those enhanced by Kheran influence, stood with America’s best fighters and the first few generations of mutated humans. And it wasn’t enough. It could never have been enough.
The rest of the world stood off and waited. The Daemonite Sentinels took America, took their revenge and safe territory. And went no further. Because they were all insane.
Priscilla is the last to arrive at the meeting of the former X-Men and WildCATs imprisoned in the camp. He told her to be prompt, Emp criticizes her. Pris tells him to shut up. She just took a little love tap from one of them. They think it’s funny to reach down and use one claw on her. How long do they have?
No idea, Emp replies. He doesn’t know if they’ve yet realized this powerplant creates a communication dead zone. It’s based on a Kheran design they threw up millennia ago. No wonder the Daemonites lost the war… Pity they don’t walk like losers, isn’t it? Savant remarks sarcastically.
Enough already, Kitty interrupts. They can play wordgames later. They need to confer. Emp has come up with… a possible way to defeat the inhibitor implants. The only possible way, he insists. To hell with that, Kitty retorts. And she’s yet to hear what Reno has to say about his little plan. If Emp says it’s the only way, then it’s the only way, Reno replies calmly.
Someone going to explain the only way to the rest of them or do they have to guess? Pris asks. Emp says Reno can use his powers to cut the inhibitors out of them safely, Kitty explains. But how do they kill Reno’s implant, so he can do it? Pris wonders. They’ve been through this a thousand times.
Turns out kill is the operative word, Kitty points out. Pris gets it. They are all plugged into these things. You kill the implant, you die too! She tells Reno. He states he can tough it out long enough to free them. Stuff he learned on Khera. He can turn his hands into tiny razor-flakes, surgically replumb and remove the implants. He’s been studying his for months. He can see what to do.
Pris gets in his face. He’ll die! she states bluntly. Even if he manages to force himself to stay alive long enough to free them all, he’ll die! And the alternative is what, exactly? Reno asks. Waiting for the Daemonites to get bored of him? Waking up every morning, thinking for three seconds that he’ll see his friends again? Listening to her crying in her sleep for dead boyfriends? Admitting to himself that this here, this never being in love again, never being warm again, never being not terrified again, this here is as good as his life is ever going to be again?! Find a sharp piece of metal and jam it through his stomach, for God’s sake!
Emp takes out a sharp piece of metal. Let’s get it over with, Reno decides. Emp thanks him. He always was his friend... Reno tells him to shut up. Just get it right, huh?
Emp strikes Reno in the stomach with the jagged piece of metal. Oh, Emp exclaims when the implant comes from Reno’s gut, a greenish thing seemingly alive. Quickly, he tells Reno, who replies he just got lost for a second.
Clearly in pain, he first frees Emp, then Kitty. In short breaths, he tells her to do this plan of hers right. Let him see his friends again, because they’re all he’s ever had…
Later, with them all freed, now it’s Storm’s part. Panicked, she refuses. Priscilla orders her to do this. Reno died for this, so she’ll damn well do this or she’ll kill Ororo’s crazy ass right here and now and put her in the ground. To back up her threat, she turns part Daemonite and threatens Storm with her claws. Unfortunately, a Daemonite Sentinel detects the use of power.
Storm finally acts and lightning strikes the Sentinel. Kitty Pryde finishes it off by phasing through it and shorting its systems.
Inside the house of ghosts, Jean senses all this going on. The next moment, Kitty, Storm, Voodoo and Savant enter to free their friends.
Vodoo hisses at the Daemonite guard and partially transforms herself. This is for all the beatings, she announces as she claws at it. And this is just because she wants to, Kitty adds as she phases through one.
Savant is horrified to see what’s been done to her sister, at a lack for words. They tortured her, Zannah replies, calling her stupid. Can’t believe her own sister would be that dense.
What’s the plan? Cable asks. There is a plan, right? Oh it’s great! Pris assures him with a mad grin. He’ll love it. They’re going to kill themselves.
Elsewhere in Manhattan:
When? Cole asks. When he says, Logan replies. Now? Cole asks a moment later. He’s like a kid in the back of a car, Logan snarls. Are we there yet, pop, are we there yet? His dad never took him anywhere, Cole muses. And he never met his mom, Logan adds.
Okay, this’ll do. Time to deploy the mission objective facilitator. Long word, Cole remarks. Plain old bomb would have done. Gotta say it’s been complete crap serving with him, Colonel Logan. Gotta say the same for him, Sergeant Cash, Logan replies. Let’s go nuke Manhattan, grab the world back and put their friends out of their misery, he orders.
Elsewhere, Emp uses his powers, beckoning the Daemonites to come. They took his legs and laughed at him, they kept him here like a pet. But he remains Lord Emp of Khera and he’s been wiping his backside on Daemonite skin since he was a child! Let him show them why Khera won the war… Energy crackles around him.
Another Damonite. Sentinel addresses him. It warmed them at night to know that an architect of the great war lies crippled in their pen. But he is no longer entertaining. Perhaps he will amuse them without arms… That moment, the thing is destroyed by the cavalry, the powerhouses the others have freed. Lord Emp, the enemy are held, Majestic informs him. Hello, Majestros, Emp replies.
Kitty explains that the enemy aren’t going to be held for long. They know them. They’ll mass up and come in a crowd. Emp points out she does the take-charge thing well, though if he’s honest, he thinks--
She doesn’t care, Kitty cuts him off. She’s held them together for years. She’s thought about this for years. He lost his teammates and his pride. She lost everyone she knew from the age of fourteen. This is hers. Clear?
This is what she’s got: Cable has knowledge of time travel in his head. Savant has the vast reserves of learning to make it work for them. Jean has the psychic ability to connect their heads and put it all to work. Emp has the raw power, and a certain set of coordinates…
They can’t save the world as it stands, she states simply. They lost that fight once. They can make sure that world never happens. They can stop it before it starts. And… they can’t be subtle about it. They can’t be clever or fiddly. This is a brute force option. If there were never any X-Men, then there’d never be Sentinel technology. If there were never any WildCATS, then there’d never be Daemonites on Earth. They get the idea.
Yeah, popular, she knows. If anyone has a better idea, she’d like to hear it before they are recaptured and re-implanted and they will be, unless they act now. The question is, which point in time do they return to?
The choice is obvious, Majestros announces. The WildCATS are and have always been soldiers. To die in battle is their choice and their place. It is the X-Men’s plan and powers. Let it be the WildCATs’ death! This is only right.
Elsewhere, Cole notes there’s something going on in there. Logan warns him they can’t pay it no mind now. Five minute switch on the device. Do they commit or not? Commit, Cole replies.
Daemonite Sentinels already show up and they begin. Jean connects the others mentally. She is in Cable’s memories, enabling total recall on the time travel system that brought him from his alternate future. Savant sees the data and thankfully understands it. She’s read things like that. She shows Jean a diagram. That’s so simple it’s frightening. They can work that diagram like a machine. Like you’ve parted the universe’s curtain and found a huge abacus being it, put in the numbers, the date they are picturing.
Over a thousand years ago, they see the spaceship. A Kheran war party arriving at Earth in advance of the Daemonite expedition. The Kherans came, the Daemonites followed.
In their link, they don’t know who is who anymore. Emp supplies the power, Cable and Savant the knowledge, Jean the way. For a moment, they fear the energy is not enough, that they are losing it. But then everything turns white. Manhattan is bombed.
But in the past, the gestalt being blows apart the Kheran ship. And the Dark Age never comes to pass. And the WildCATs never battle the Hellfire Club alongside the X-Men. And Grifter never teams up with Marvel Girl against the Brood Daemonite hybrids. And in WW II Logan never meets Zannah.
The new timeline:
Xavier’s school. It’s an idyllic day as Kitty Pryde and Logan walk home.