Narration by Tangerine:
In her mind’s eye, she can see how it began. Camelot communications detected a transmission trace and sounded the Yellow Alert. Radio silence was established too late. They’d got a whiff like hungry sharks, scenting blood they came. Red alert was sounded, everyone was running, non-combatants to the deep bunker, defense to the surface door.
Outside crashing metallic footfalls approach. The door begins to buckle. Air laden with the acrid stench of hot oil and ozone rushes in as two foot thick steel plates shred like paper. Its ragged shriek rises, a shrill note amid a cacophony of grinding gears and screaming servo motors.
Sentinels. Omega class. For an instant, the flower of Camelot stand transfixed by the terror they feel. But only for an instant. The heroes attack but knowing neither death nor fear, the Sentinels surge forward in passionless obedience to a soulless program.
They exterminate all resistance: Union Jack, Motormouth, the Darkguard. Britain’s greatest champions slaughtered. Death’s Head stood at the center of the carnage. His near invulnerable form a symbol of Camelot’s resolve. In the moment he died that resolve failed.
Breeze of Pendragon’s Knights raced into the fray in an attempt to rally the splintering defense. But even her superspeed could not hold off the Sentinels’ onslaught.
Though beaten and broken, the defenders continued the fight. They knew the battle was lost, but preferred death to capture. Without thought, without conscience, the killing machines obliged. Those in the deep bunkers surrendered. They were transported to the HIVE in an energy sphere. The main force of Omegas was diverted to assist Ahab to kill the others. They thought they were so clever, driving away Ahab. But he only had a few Gamma and Delta Sentinels with him. The Omegas were all at Camelot. Killing their friends! Tangerine cries.
Dark Angel and Arthur try to comfort her while she moans that they should have been there. Arthur sensibly points out they couldn’t have helped. They would have been massacred as well.
Nightcrawler announces he does not wish to intrude on their mourning but, if the Sentinels wear searching for them, it is logical they will follow their trail. Killpower, who has lost his partner Motormouth, calls him a coward. They are not running! They stand and fight! He hits Nightcrawler.
Captain Britain holds him back, pointing out they are in too much trouble to waste time fighting each other. Arthur apologizes. Killpower is a trifle impulsive.
Cap introduces Excalibur. Arthur muses that they had a Captain Britain and Meggan here too but they and their children were killed when the Sentinels destroyed Braddock Manor. But the only Excalibur here is Arthur’s gun named in days of youthful optimism. His comrades are Grace, Killpower, Tangerine and Dark Angel. He calls himself Arthur but his real name is— As he takes off his helmet, Nightcrawler recognizes him as an older version of Nigel Orpington-Smythe, head of the Resources Control Executive.
Resistance Coordination Executive, Arthur corrects him and notes by Kurt’s tone that he doesn’t know him as an ally. Was he a villain in Excalibur’s time? Diplomatically, Kurt replies he was a man of destiny in search of purpose. Arthur understands. Before the rise of the Sentinels, he longed for battles, so that he might prove himself a hero. Now that he has seen the reality of war, he yearns only for peace.
Kurt calls him a wise man. Arthur replies glumly that a wise man would have anticipated the Sentinels’ attack on Camelot. It took four years to build this complex. He was so confident of their army’s prowess. They were preparing to launch an attack on the Sentinels. Another dream turned to dust.
The RCX, Camelot, Cloud Nine, Arthur, Peter… Captain Britain wonders if this is the future, even of an alternate timeline, how can it parallel their own time so closely? An enigma for another time, Kurt suggests.
Kitty reminds them of Rachel. Arthur warns them an attack on Sentinel HQ would be suicide. Surely this devastation proves that. Kurt retorts it proves a direct attack is their only option. They have to destroy the Sentinels’ guiding intelligence. And for that they need to reach the headquarters. Sentinels are logical. They analyze and react. They do not anticipate. They have no imagination. That is why they needed human advisors like Ahab. He believes this blind spot will allow them to pass through their defenses in their own Trojan horse. He points at the ruined Sentinel…
Manhattan, the Hive, the Hierarchy:
Here the Mastermold takes in the latest reports by lower Sentinels that response action has been initiated and Ahab is getting his limbs replaced. Four divisions of Omega units were assigned to apprehend the eight fugitives who accompanied Rachel Summers through the timeportal rift.
The Mastermold announces that the Nimrod Sentinels will achieve mobilization in 159.23 days. It is essential to ascertain the location and nature of the tangential infestation by that date. He orders the units to report to G9 and and download the temporal rift analysis.
Next, the Mastermold orders G7 to concentrate on analyzing the entity. Mind probes will be ineffective against Summers’ psychic defenses. She will be interrogated by Houndsmaster Ahab.
In her stasis cage, Rachel berates herself for her stupidity. Instead of saving the world, she got herself caught. And the fishbowl, she is in generates the same force field Ahab used on her before. She wonders if she could overload it with the Phoenix Force, but fears that’s what the Sentinels want. For her to burn herself out, fighting her own power. But if she doesn’t resist, she may be able to tap into the field and drain it.
What about Kate? Rachel wonders, looking at the unmoving Widget. Is her mind really in there? She tries to retrieve the psychic bond she shares with her. Instead of a mindscape, she is surrounded by electronic force impulses which nevertheless feel like Kate. She calls for her and Kate answers.
She explains the Sentinels were experimenting on her. She was torn apart in the time warp. The Sentinel monitor unit evolved to survive in the time warp. Somehow it absorbed Kate and a lot of other stuff. It’s hard to think. It’s difficult to stay focused. That was Cringebottom and Bert’s doing, Rachel figures.
Kate thought she was dreaming until the crystal anchored her to this plane. Kate decides it was wrong to try and hide Rachel from the Sentinels. Her disappearance revealed the existence of alternate realities to the Sentinels, of new mutant populations to terminate. They are like a virus infecting the multiverse. They must stop them from spreading.
Meanwhile, a reprogrammed Sentinel carries his “prisoners,” Grace, Dark Angel and Killpower, in an energy bubble towards the Sentinel headquarters in New York. The heroes wonder if this will fool the Sentinels. After all, half its head is missing. Dark Angel explains that severely damaged Sentinel units can still function and the static spectrum she is generating will block any scanners. Hopefully. They’ll see three parahumans ripe for dissection in the custody of a damaged Omega, Killpower announces and wishes he had his gun.
Unseen are the other heroes hidden by Cerise, who is carrying the whole mess. Arthur points out their real problem will be when they encounter Sentinels. Kylun’s vocal mimicry should get them through, Nightcrawler decides.
Kitty joins them, dressed in leather, shades and carrying a big gun. She thinks she’s found her new image, she remarks. What is she playing at? Kurt demands. Not playing, she replies. The two of them aren’t heavy hitters like Cyclops, Havok or Storm. They need weapons. She helped Killpower stash a load in the left leg. If Rachel’s been hurt, she wants to be able to inflict a lot of damage on those clockwork killers.
Not far away, Brian tells Meggan he’s been thinking about what she said. He doesn’t have any answers. He wishes he did. He wishes he could say something clever, something romantic and wonderful. But he’s never been very good with words. He only knows he loves her. He can’t say how things would be if things were different. They are who they are. She agrees but is confused. She asks him to hold her.
Tangerine warns of an approaching Sentinel patrol. Kurt tells Kylun it’s showtime.
A Sentinel patrol approaches them asking the Sentinel why it is here without authorization. Kylun imitates the Sentinel voice and explains that one of the mutant captives is responsible for the lack of radio communication. The other Sentinel asks it to respond again. Kurt shushes Kylun. Believing the Omega to malfunction, the other Sentinel decides to escort it to the Hive.
Inside the Hive, Rachel taps into the forcefield and soaks up its power. She breaks the containment field to the surprise of the Sentinels, which weren’t aware of her Phoenix Force.
Rachel frees Kate / Widget and orders her to get them out. Those research units are no challenge but she doesn’t want to waste power fighting drones. She’s going to need it all to take on the Hierarchy!
Kate teleports them inside the Hierarchy, which immediately fires energy at them. Rachel protects them both pretending this takes more out of her than it does, while she secretly forces a link with the Hierarchy’s electronic brain.
Excalibur’s Sentinel has arrived and they notice the whole Hive is in an uproar. Tangerine informs them Kate and Rachel are taking on the Hierarchy. Then this is where they want to be, Kurt decides and asks Kitty to get the others from the bubble.
The other Sentinels notice the captives are gone. Suddenly, the Sentinel strikes the two guarding him through the head. Kurt asks cerise to take them to Rachel.
In the Hierarchy’s chamber, Rachel is still busy with the link. Kate warns her of the horde of Sentinels approaching. Rachel tells her Kurt and the others are nearby, about to make a dramatic entrance.
They use their Sentinel as a projectile against the other robots. In quick order, Cerise contracts her forcefield around her friends, Kitty phases them and Killpower detonates his grenade, turning the Sentinel into a bomb.
Rachel warns them of doing the same to the Hierarchy. If they destroy it now, the Sentinels will regroup, evolve a new Hierarchy and establish a new Hive. The only way to stop them all is to attack the core program. She warns her friends they are outnumbered a thousand to one, but the Sentinels won’t fire energy weapons in here, so they may be able to buy her some time.
They’ll give it a shot! Kitty replies and they fire their energy powers or weapons at the Sentinels. Tangerine is overwhelmed with fear. This is just like the slaughter of Camelot! There are too many Sentinels! They can’t stop them all – they are all going to die! Cerise orders her to pick up a weapon and die fighting.
Phoenix, in the meantime, has broken through the Hierarchy’s last psionic shield. She and Kate are linked with the psybertronic brain. Rachel cannot comprehend what she is seeing, but Kate can.
In the meantime, the battle continues. Nightcrawler saves Feron’s life, while Cap pushes Meggan’s out of harm’s way, just as she is about to be skewered. He is ready to take the brunt of the attack. But the Sentinel stops moving, they all do.
A smiling Rachel announces that she and Kate reprogrammed the Sentinels through their link with the Hierarchy. Every last one, all over the world. They’ve won!
In the shadows, Ahab seethes when he hears that. Summers is the architect of his pain. Long he has dreamed of breaking her to his will. But if it not to be, he will not let her live. He throws his energy lance at her… but a Sentinel catches it. First directive: Protect all life! it announces. All life Rachel stresses. Homo sapiens, Homo superior, even bigoted cyborgs. Ahab is on his own now. The Sentinels are good guys now. Ahab vows to kill her and teleports away.
Kitty points out Rachel could have stopped him. He is nothing without the Sentinels, Rachel replies and she isn’t interested in revenge. It’s never been about revenge! She wanted to change time. Bring back her parents. But she knows that’s not possible. They are products of their past. Change it and they cease to be what they are. She knows that now. The last thing the Phoenix said to her was “The past is forever gone, cherish your future.”
Arthur tells her she has given this world a future to cherish. Rachel warns him the peace still has to be won. Will she help them? Arthur asks. That’s their destiny, she replies. She doesn’t belong here anymore. Turning to Excalibur, she announces that she has a new home, a new family and a new future. She loves happy endings! Kitty agrees.