SENTINELS - ENGINES OF EVIL: Page 9 of 9

Last Updated: 
9th May 2014

For every action, consideration must be taken as to the possible consequences, else potential catastrophes are to be invited. The Trasks, both father and son, had myopically not foreseen the likely outcome of granting advanced intelligence to their creations, and as such reaped the betrayal that ensued. However, had those that followed in their footsteps learned from their mistakes? While the one who immediately followed the Trasks, Steven Lang, had no such problems with his models, his use of the Sentinels was short-lived. Sebastian Shaw, who inherited the technology as leader of Lang’s benefactors, proceeded to modify and construct Sentinel technology for years without incident under the program called Project: Wideawake.

However, during all this time, Shaw had not gained the government financing he desired to expand the program. What, one may then ask, would have happened had he succeeded? The results of Shaw’s success have been seen in multiple timelines, in each of which the logic and actions of the Trasks’ models were duplicated. However, with the government funding approved, these units had the means by which to carry out their plan and conquer the world in order to save humanity from mutants. Ironically, these machines continued to evolve, until they gave rise to the model of units called the Omega Sentinels.

Future Sentinels

Creator: Project: Wideawake
Appearances: Excalibur (1st series) #52, 66-67, New Mutants (1st series) #48, 50, Uncanny X-Men #141-142, 202, 281-282, Weapon X: Days of Future Now #5, Wolverine (2nd series) #72-74
Omega Sentinels: futuristic Hunter-Killer models, possessing greater strength, durability and adaptive warsystems and combat protocols than any contemporary models, employed shared datanet to learn from individual units' experiences, power-dampening energy spheres to capture renegade mutants, and advanced reconstructive abilities, allowing the Sentinels to cannibalize scrap metal and other raw materials to restore damaged systems
Nimrod: Omega-class mutant hunter, possessing enormous strength, force field supported invulnerability, molecular reconstruction abilities, humanoid shape-changing powers, hyper-advanced sensor nets and situational adaptability, concussive force blasts, electricity, plasma bolts, wide-angle shocknets, high frequency sonics, disintegration ray, synaptic dislocutor, localized tractor or repulsor beams, mutagenic inversion aerial drones, psionic inhibitor field, teleportation, time travel, repulsor-powered flight
Sentinel Pi: futuristic Hunter-Killer model augmented by Spiral's electrolyte bath for cybernetics, developed near-total sentience, capacity for self-evolution, and the ability to manipulate space/time, allowing it to teleport itself and other matter across vast distances or induce temporal stasis to freeze objects in place

The Omega Sentinels were first seen in the future timeline known as Days of Future Past. In this alternate reality, the US government had charged its creations with overly broad parameters, which resulted in the Sentinels’ decision of first taking over the country, followed by the entire continent. Within two decades, human society was in ruins, in its place mass graveyards and concentration camps, filled with what was left of mutantkind.

By this time, the Sentinels themselves had evolved. Now coordinated and controlled by a Master Mold unit, the more primitive Sentinels had given way to the Omega Sentinels, which were designed to adapt to their foes in ways inconceivable to the Trask models. Still, this level of adaptation was not enough for the Master Mold and those that served it. To take Sentinel technology to the next level the Nimrod unit was designed. While the Omega Sentinels could adapt from one production line to the next, the Nimrod Sentinels were designed for instantaneous adaptation, allowing its unit to ascertain the threats posed by its quarry and adjust its attack accordingly. However, before the Nimrod unit could be activated, what remained of the X-Men set in motion the downfall of the Sentinels.

While the Omega Sentinels had killed most of the X-Men, they allowed a few to survive as prisoners of a concentration camp in New York. Though posing as passive prisoners, resigned to their fate, what remained of the team conceived an audacious, two-part plan. In conjunction with foreign allies, the X-Men procured a device to deactivate the Sentinel-designed collars that inhibited their powers. Then, while Rachel Summers, the group’s telepath, attempted to use her powers to send the mind of Kate Pryde back in time into the body of her younger self in an attempt to change the past, the rest of the X-Men converged on the Sentinel headquarters in Manhattan - the Baxter Building.

Unwilling to wait for success at their gambit of altering the timeline, the X-Men sought to prevent global catastrophe in their “here and now.” Having finished their conquest in North America, the Sentinel were preparing to expand their operations in overseas, an act which the sovereign powers of the world would consider an act of war and respond with nuclear retaliation. However, though the X-Men managed to make their way into the inner sanctum of the Sentinels’ lair, they found themselves no match for the automatons and were slaughtered. After the fight, only Rachel and Kate survived, hidden in the shadows. [Uncanny X-Men #141-142]

When her consciousness returned from the past, Kate informed Rachel of her success at averting the political assassination which had sent anti-mutant fury down the path which led to the rise of the Sentinels. Curiously, this had not resulted in the alteration of their timeline. A secondary mental jaunt through time caused Rachel to learn that her previous journey had been via cross-time, to an alternate reality's past. On this trip, Rachel also made contact with the Phoenix Force, who eventually bonded itself to the young woman and transported her to the era that Kate had visited, in order to give Rachel a fresh chance at a real life. [Excalibur (1st series) #52]

Though she had departed the horrific world in which she had been born, Rachel had not escaped. Activated prematurely by the temporal jaunt, the prototype Nimrod unit had mechanically duplicated the procedure and arrived several weeks after that Rachel had found a new home with the X-Men. For the next several months, this Nimrod unit would threaten the X-Men during its hunt for Rachel, only to eventually meet its own demise in an odd twist of fate. More information on this Nimrod's activities can be found [here].

Despite evading Nimrod, Rachel was still not done with her personal past. When the nigh-omnipotent entity known as the Beyonder arrived on Earth, Rachel recognized him as a threat to the whole world and sought to end it. When confronted by Rachel, the Beyonder decided upon playing a game where he provided Rachel with a power boost in order to fulfill her desire - though at the same time also provided her with a choice. Kill him, the Beyonder, or save her friends, the X-Men. To supply such a threat, the Beyonder summoned numerous Omega Sentinels from Rachel’s timeline. Only through teamwork - and Rachel using the power bestowed upon her by the Beyonder - were the Sentinels destroyed. [Uncanny X-Men #202]

For a while after this, Rachel was able to escape the influence her native timeline, immersing herself as an X-Man, and then later as a member of the British team of mutants called Excalibur. Part of the reason Rachel was able to put her past behind her was due to mental blocks which eliminated large sections of her own memory, leaving the most traumatic a shadowy recollection at best. However, when Rachel’s memory was eventually restored, her now recalling her life as a mutant hound in the service of the hunter, Ahab, she felt an engulfing guilt which prompted her wish to return to her name timeline to make amends by stopping her former master.

As Rachel made her intentions known to Excalibur, by happenstance the Sentinels and their human associated, led by Ahab, had succeeded in locating Rachel in the past. Arriving via time warp, a Sentinel brought Rachel, and accidently Excalibur, to the future, some two years after Rachel had left. With the rest of Excalibur running interference

together with a team of future super-beings, Rachel and an ally named Widget managed to change the directives of the Sentinels of the era to preserve all life, thereby ending the genocide that had prevailed for decades. One of the giant robots even saved Rachel when Ahab shot a harpoon at her. He then vowed to get revenge before escaping to whereabouts unknown. [Excalibur (1st series) #65-67]

Though the threat of the Omega Sentinels from Rachel’s timeline had ended, that did not eliminate the threat from other timelines, where similar histories had played out. In the X.S.E. Timeline, from which the X-Man known as Bishop originated, the US government had turned to the Sentinels as a final solution to the mutant problem, just as in Rachel’s.

Also as in the counterpart reality, the Sentinels concluded that the best way to protect humanity was to rule it. The result was a humanity enslaved and the mutants who survived placed in concentration camps. In this timeline, however, the mutants of this era did not require assistance from the past. Instead, led by a mutant named “Summers,” a group of mutants and humans arose, forming an insurrection which eventually overthrew the Sentinels’ rule of the planet, that had lasted for several decades longer than in the Days of Future Past reality.

Though the threat of these Sentinels was over, apparently not all were destroyed. Nearly two decades after their fall from power, a handful remained and were reprogrammed by the criminal mutant Trevor Fitzroy. Using his ability to transform life force into energy to open temporal portals, Fitzroy traveled back in time almost a century, to the era when the X-Men were flesh and blood, rather than just legend. There he utilized his Sentinels, far more advanced than their contemporary counterparts, to rise in the ranks of a group of mutants called the Upstarts. However, early in his set of operations, Fitzroy’s actions attracted the attention of the X-Men, who tracked Fitzroy and his Sentinels to their hidden base. Though the Sentinels had outmatched the X-Men before, they fell quickly against the X-Men’s attack and were all destroyed. [Uncanny X-Men #281-282]

Still, not all were destroyed forever. Having learned from their confrontation with Fitzroy that the first use of his Sentinel was against the cyborg Donald Pierce and his Reavers, Wolverine and Jubilee journeyed to the abandoned Reaver base in the Australian Outback to investigate. There they indeed discovered the ruins of Pierce’s facility, however they also discovered that one of the Omega Sentinels which had seemingly been destroyed in fact remained functioning, albeit barely. [Wolverine (2nd series) #72]

Reactivated by their presence and quickly repairing itself, the Sentinel suddenly discovered that it was also self-aware, the result of a combination of cybernetic materials interacting with its circuitry during its dormancy. Further, the Sentinel was no longer operating under the orders of Fitzroy, nor any previous programming. It now existed under its own control, possessing the ability to think for itself; to conjecture, contemplate and wonder. Following the detection of the two X-Men, the Sentinel discovered the two peering into a vortex left behind by the now apparently absent mutant known as Gateway. Immediately setting upon a plan, the Sentinel declared its intention to use the vortex to travel to a time and place where Sentinel-kind’s potential might be realized. Understanding that this might include the destruction of humanity, Wolverine and Jubilee followed, arriving along with the Sentinel to the now abandoned Sentinel facility once known as the “ant-hill” sometime in the past.

There, the Sentinel reactivated four inert Sentinels, reprogramming them with their own self-awareness. Then, upon absorbing the facility’s computer systems, the Sentinel renamed itself Sentinel 3.14159 - the irrational ratio, the factor that resolves the difference between the infinite arc and the straight line. Now complete, Sentinel 3.14159 began to repair and reconfigure the base, attempting to replicate and improve on the plan of the destroyed Number Two to use a device to create solar flares. While the previous purpose of the machine was to simply sterilize humanity, now the device would be used to destroy it, leaving the Sentinels to inherit the Earth. When both Wolverine and Jubilee moved to intervene, Sentinel 3.14159 ordered its four reconstituted Sentinels to destroy them. However, when Jubilee paused to destroy a downed unit after it begged for mercy, Sentinel 3.14159 was likewise given pause.

Wishing to understand this illogical function called empathy, which it did not find among its existing traits of wonderment and curiosity, Sentinel 3.14159 deactivated and destroyed the solar flare generator and erased all schematics of it from its databases. In lieu of its initial plan, Sentinel 3.14159 instead dedicated the entire computer system of the ant-hill to develop a Sentinel program for higher functions of sentience, which it calculated would take 2137.3 years to complete. No longer finding the two mutants among its enemies, Sentinel 3.14159 offered to return them to their own time, which both accepted. [Wolverine (2nd series) #73-74]

Though it was not clear exactly when Wolverine, Jubilee & Sentinel 3.14159 had been transported, it was most likely between the period of Number Two’s initial destruction and later reconstruction at the hands of its subordinate units. In fact, the curious behavior of the three Sentinel units upon their reactivation would lend credence to the manipulation by Sentinel 3.14159. However, where Sentinel 3.14159 was at the time of their and Number Two’s reactivation is unknown.


In yet another known reality, humanity again turned to Sentinels for solutions, only to have it lead to destruction. While fleeing from the technarch alien known as the Magus, the members of the New Mutants became lost in cross-time. Split into two groups, one landed in a reality where humanity had turned to Sentinel to solve their perceived by reactivating the Sentinel program. While it is not clear if the Sentinel in this world took over the country, as there seems to have been at least some semblance of a federal government left, the wayward New Mutants were informed that the Sentinels had expanded their operations parameters on their own to capture and eliminate all super-powered beings, mutant or not
.

Immediately, detecting the arrival of the New Mutants in what was once the burgeoning metropolis of Manhattan, the Sentinels moved to terminate them. Luckily, however, what remained of the New Mutants from this timeline rescued their counterparts from the past. These freedom fighters told the New Mutants of the rise of Sentinels and their plot to expand operations over the world. Knowing that it was futile to fight the inevitable, what remained of the mutants of the world gathered together to leave Earth for the stars, to search for a new home. [New Mutants (1st series) #48, 50]


If there has been a future in which the widespread use by humans of Sentinels resulted in a positive outcome, it has yet to be seen. However, while so far the outcome has been universally negative, not all futures devastated by Sentinels have originated from Project: Wideawake or government sanction. In one such future, it was the revamped Weapon X program, led by the driven Malcolm Colcord, that led to the ravaged world. Unlike other anti-mutant organizations before, Weapon X sought to recruit mutants as agent. One such mutant was a man named Madison Jeffries, who possessed the ability to reshape psionically any artificial substance into new forms. Initially, the brainwashed Jeffries created simple Boxbot robots, based off of the design of his old “Box” armor he had used as a member of Alpha Flight. [Weapon X (2nd series) #1]

However, as years passed, his responsibility changed to creating Sentinels, doing so individually by himself. Eventually, the task became more and more physically exhausting to Jeffries, until one of his Boxbots took the surprising initiative of constructing more Sentinels while Jeffries rested. Unfortunately for Jeffries, this was still not enough for the Boxbot, and eventually the Boxbot evolved itself into a Sentinel unit, into whose head the unwitting Jeffries was placed. Now living a shadow of a man, Jeffries existed only as

a nearly comatose CPU for the Boxbot’s task of Sentinel construction. To reflect this change in status, the Boxbot declared itself “Mastermold” and proceeded to command the existing army of Sentinels, even as it continued to expand it. Like its counterpart in the “Days of Future Past” timeline, the Sentinels proceeded to deny subordination to its former masters and take over the world, enslaving humanity as it exterminated mutants and reducing the civilization it was designed to protect to ruins. [Weapon X: Days of Future Now #5]

Though the X-Men had fought numerous Sentinels over the course of their careers, the two units of the Stephen Lang Master Mold and the Nimrod unit from a dystopian future had nearly bested them. When the two came into contact and began to merge, the team was only saved when the merging unit was hurled through the Siege Perilous, apparently never to be seen again. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #246-247] Little did they know that the unit would indeed return, judged by some higher power and sent back to Earth as the hybrid man/machine which called itself Bastion. [Operation: Zero Tolerance]

For a while, Bastion rose to power, working within the system, and very nearly turned it against the world’s mutant population. However, he soon fell from political grace and went rogue, which ultimately led to his ignominious decapitation. Nevertheless, not quite human, Bastion survived and his head was freed by a group of followers, the Purifiers. In a staggering action mirroring the mythical snake of Ouroboros, which consumed its own tail, Bastion’s head was attached to another Nimrod unit from timeline separate from the one in which his progenitor originated. [X-Force 3rd series) #1]

Though it is unclear whether it was from same the timeline from which his new Nimrod unit originated, Bastion made contact with a future where Sentinels had indeed succeeded in wiping out all mutants. There, Bastion utilized two Master Mold units, one of which would create an increasing number of Nimrods to attack the X-Men and the other which would protect the first. Biding his time, Bastion waited for the right moment to strike, which occurred when Cable returned from his journey through time with the so-called “mutant messiah,” a young woman calling herself Hope Summers. When the X-Men raced to get her to safety at the island of Utopia, Bastion carefully targeted the X-Men’s teleporters and then erected a forcefield sphere around Utopia. With all of the world’s mutants effectively trapped within, Bastion opened a portal to his future era, through which waves of Nimrods were sent.

Though the X-Men were able to repel the first wave, Cyclops knew they could not hold out for long and so devised a desperate plan. Using his time travel device, Cable would journey with X-Force into the future from which the Nimrods were originating and deactivate the Master Mold units creating them, using the literally computer-literate Cypher to do so. The gambit indeed succeeded. While X-Force fought the secondary, mobile Master Mold unit, Cypher managed to deactivate the factory Master Mold, which immediately shut down all Nimrod units currently attacking Utopia. [Second Coming]


Conclusion
Like any technology, from the florescent light bulb to the super-computer, the Sentinels are a tool, a machine to do the work of man. Bolivar Trask constructed these automatons to counter the abilities of mutants, but in the process created an instrument of destruction so deadly no doubt he could never have imagined. It is clear from his final moments that he saw the true threat of his invention, and as such he would have been horrified that creation would live on after him.

However, as one whose inventions was built upon the inventions of others – metallurgists, computer technicians, robotics engineers – Bolivar Trask would have well been aware that it would be very difficult for the world to return to one of darkness after the invention of the light bulb, or abandon a finely designed weapon once constructed. Further, even if the technology was lost – there was no guarantee that it could not be reinvented. In the long run, it's not a question of if the Sentinels will return, but when; whether it's in the form of some Wild Sentinel in the Ecuadorian jungle, a reactivated sleeper Prime Sentinel unit, a newly built robot from Trask's or Shaw's blueprint or some advanced Sentinel crossing over from some alternate reality.
Sentinels Mark II