Down-Home Charm Photo Album Songbank Fan-Fiction History Books Fan Art Miscellania Links
Fan-Fiction >
Claremont era
"Fortress Around Your Heart"

Fortress around Your Heart

Author's Notes
Chapter 1: Dramatis Personae
Chapter 2: We All Have Our Separate Battles...
Chapter 3: Tell Me Why
Chapter 4: Setting Parameters
Chapter 5: Approaching Storm
Chapter 6: Basic Training
Chapter 7: A Very Important Date
Chapter 8: Nice from Far, but Far from Nice
Chapter 9: Guest Account
Chapter 10: The Battle for Asteroid M
Chapter 11: With Enemies Like These...
Chapter 12: Denouement

Chapter Ten - "The Battle For Asteroid M"

Another mutant was called in to help. Lila Cheney was a famous rock star, and Greg was shocked to find out she was a mutant as well. Her power was very useful - she could teleport enormous distances. In fact, she couldn't teleport any less than about a light year. But, by jumping through a couple of stops, she could get them to Asteroid M very quickly.

The X-Men pulled out a set of Shi'ar spacesuits from storage. "We cannot trust the life support on Asteroid M anymore. Rogue - you, Colossus, and Fortress can use these, " Storm said.

'These' turned out to be simple helmets with a small air supply. The mutants' invulnerability would protect their bodies from vacuum. Colossus didn't need to breathe when armored, but with the helmet he could stay in radio communication. Greg was relieved - in a full spacesuit, he wouldn't have been able to extend his field.

"I'm afraid we don't have any suits for you," Storm told Magneto and his followers. "Are there any on your ship?"

"Actually, I have a better idea," Magneto replied, "which might help you out as well. I have a secondary station, which no one else has, ere now, been told of." Toad and Unus exchanged glances - they hadn't known either. He continued, "It was my prototype station. It's much smaller than Asteroid M, and it's in a far more distant orbit, but it serves as a good laboratory. I've stored some weapons there which may aid our campaign."

Magneto had given the coordinates to Lila, who had quickly transported the group to 'Asteroid N'. She said the intermediate stop that they'd flashed through was a restaurant on a planet near Sirius. Greg wished they'd been able to linger, but they'd appeared and disappeared in less than a second.

The air was cold, there was no gravity, and the walls were bare rock. But the lab they'd appeared in was large enough for them all. Toad and Unus were getting into spacesuits. What good am I going to be if I can't use my power? Unus thought. If I repel anything, I'll tear open my suit... He thought of Lorelei and his resolve stiffened.

Magneto was opening some cabinets and pulling out items. "This should cause batteries to discharge explosively. This creates large, opposed magnetic fields in metals; they tear apart violently. This uses induction; it merely melts metals. This is a directed EMP weapon; it should disrupt electronics even through significant shielding. Don't point it at any of us."

"Nimrod, at least, is mostly based on optical circuits. It won't hurt him much." Rachel explained. "It might work on the other Sentinels, if they follow the same design as I know, but they're well protected."

"Really. Well, in that case, perhaps this is a better choice. It puts a great deal of stress on optical materials, changing their refractive index sharply. I use the same principle in those telescopes over there. It might cause Nimrod some discomfort."

Shadowcat was prowling like her namesake, and came across an irregular blob of silvery metal. "What's this?" she asked.

Magneto glanced over. "Adamantium. I was investigating its properties. I can shape it while it's forming, but once solidified, I haven't been able to affect it."

"I wouldn't say that," Wolverine noted. His adamantium-laced skeleton had been jerked about by Magneto before.

"I stand corrected," Magneto replied. He continued excavating weapons. He was a bit troubled to be sharing so much with his former enemies, but the fight with Nimrod had been very convincing. "Here, Storm, this propels rounds of metal-sheathed carbon fibers. It has a substantial recoil, but the fibers pick up a charge on impact and spread through the target. It completely ruins electronics, motors and transformers."

Away from Earth's magnetic field, Xavier and Rachel could communicate over vast distances. Lila would transport the forces across the two light-seconds to Asteroid M, then return to N and wait to be called. Everyone thought it wise to have a quick exit available.

"There will be two teams. Alpha team will be me, Colossus, Professor X, Nightcrawler, Toad, Unus, and Fortress. Beta team is Storm, Rogue, Magneto, Shadowcat, Phoenix, and Wolverine." They'd been over the plan before, but Cyclops was a firm believer in review.

Rogue and Fortress weren't happy about being separated, but Scott and Ororo had agreed that it was best that they not be distracted by each other in combat. For not entirely different reasons, Kitty and Peter had been placed on different teams. Rachel and Xavier were split to afford a psychic channel of communication between groups.

"Alpha team's primary goal is to infect the station with the viruses. Beta team is going to take on Nimrod. We're each carrying copies of the viruses, though, so if it doesn't work out that way we can still complete both objectives." He paused. "We have to expect lots of those new Sentinels, and plenty of traps. Our key advantage will be a certain amount of surprise - he probably isn't expecting us for another day or two. But we're going to have to move fast to make much use of it."

Alpha team materialized in what had been the galley of the station; located near the hydroponic garden, it offered reasonable cover and a straight shot to the main control room.

Lila disappeared instantly to fetch the Beta team. The mutants dashed for cover behind a counter and took stock. Much of the kitchen had been stripped; very little remained of any technology more complicated than a fork. Food lay rotting everywhere; they were glad for their sealed air supplies.

"All right," Scott called across their (hopefully secure) radio link, "let's go, by squads, leapfrog." The mutants moved into the garden in teams of three and four, alternately charging forward or providing cover. The garden was a mess; robots didn't need food or air, and had stripped this area for parts too. The only light came from the clear windows above, which filtered the sunlight to Earth-normal.

It didn't take long for the mutants to run into problems. Three Sentinels emerged from under the garden, blasting energy at their targets. Colossus protected Professor X and Toad, while Cyclops ducked and Fortress put a shield before Nightcrawler and Unus.

Unus slid to the side and fired the EMP weapon at one of the Sentinels. The effect was immediate; it looked like the robot had suffered a stroke as half its body went limp. The other half continued firing, even as the robot fell.

The other Sentinels were advancing quickly, however, and Professor X's induction gun wasn't having a major effect. Cyclops took one Sentinel in the leg and it went over. The remaining Sentinel had turned red, though, and Scott's hopes sank.

Fortress focused his field into a cylinder with a sharp tip and pushed it into the red Sentinel with all his might. It plunged through and emerged out the other side, scattering parts across the garden. Cyclops finished off the robot he'd knocked over and looked to see how he could help. Toad was using the battery weapon on the half-paralyzed Sentinel; something runbled inside and the robot collapsed. Colossus had practically dismantled the third robot as soon as Fortress had it on the ground.

So far so good, Scott thought. "Okay, regroup and move! We don't have a lot of time!"

But as soon as the teams resumed their advance, three more Sentinels came out of the main control room towards them. And behind them, Nimrod hovered, blocking the entrance itself.

Beta team appeared on the outer surface of the asteroid, magnetic boots holding them to the rock. They had chosen to start near the engineering areas; it was likely that Nimrod would be there, building new Sentinels. They moved as quickly as they could, aiming for a bulkhead they could tear through and start their hunt. It was hard walking in the boots; that and the lack of gravity slowed them down more than they liked.

Rogue and Phoenix flew "above" them, trying to look in all directions at once. Phoenix spotted the four approaching Sentinels an instant before they opened fire. Her telepathic warning reached Rogue just in time; she'd been reflexively counting on her seventh-sense to alert her to danger. She ducked and a blast shot over her head. The rest of the team had dived into a cleft in the rock and began return fire.

Magneto found to his dismay that these Sentinels were just as immune to his powers as Nimrod. He tore a large chunk of iron off of the asteroid and hurled it at one of the machines, nearly breaking it in half. Wolverine was firing the metal-shredder; it caused some cracks in a Sentinel's armor, but not much more.

Rachel couldn't directly affect the robots, either. She was able to block some of the energy bolts, and once managed to reflect one back at the robot that sent it, damaging its hip. Storm's charged-fiber weapon turned out to be devastating; one Sentinel almost disintegrated from the shock, and the one Rachel had damaged lost an entire arm.

Rogue had kept low, hugging the surface of the asteroid, leading the fourth one away from the battle. She'd palmed several heavy chunks of ore; after ducking behind some cover (she wasn't about to repeat the mistake she'd made last time), she turned and began pitching them. The Sentinel nearly melted through the outcropping she hid behind, but it finally froze up after the tenth projectile shot through it with the force of a meteorite. Ah wonder how Greg's doin', she worried as she flew to rejoin her team.

Shadowcat had phased down into the base, into engineering. She saw at least forty Sentinels in various stages of construction and nervously avoided them, looking for a terminal to plant the viruses with. By then Xavier had relayed that they'd spotted Nimrod, so the team's roles were reversed.

If Nimrod had still been subject to emotion, he would have been annoyed. The mutants had arrived significantly earlier than he'd planned; there had been only a 2.0349% chance of them attacking so soon. He wasn't optimally prepared. He had a little under two dozen operational Sentinels; many more were still being constructed. Most of his traps were incomplete.

Still, the extra sensors he'd scattered liberally across the station were paying off. He'd known when both teams had arrived and he'd been able to route Sentinels appropriately. He wasn't using overwhelming force yet; best to sacrifice a few troops early and determine their stratagems, develop countermeasures. Though not to the degree he'd planned, he did have the advantage of numbers now. They had some weapons he hadn't expected, but nothing that couldn't be countered.

The teleporter was a definite problem, however. She introduced too much uncertainty - she'd already cost him in surprise. He'd need to disable her, trap the mutants on the base. He began formulating a plan, integrating the feedback from the other Sentinels.

Colossus was charging a Sentinel. It had responded by lashing out with a blast of what had to be liquid nitrogen; he was slowing, he could almost feel his metal body getting brittle. Vainly he tried to reach the robot, do some damage before it shattered him.

Xavier had been feeling useless; the weapon he carried didn't affect the Sentinels at all. Now he saw an opportunity to do some good. He turned the induction gun to low power and used it on Colossus. At first Peter didn't understand where the heat came from, but it allowed him to reach the Sentinel and piledrive an arm into its head.

Nightcrawler had gotten a fix on the other team through the psi-link that the telepaths were maintaining. After a nearly instantaneous nonverbal conference with Cyclops and Storm, he did some very fast teleporting. He grabbed Unus and teleported to Beta team, then took Wolverine back with him. The strain was exhausting, but Wolverine, being their best marksman, had the optical disruptor.

While this was going on, Cyclops and Toad were working on the second of the defending Sentinels, while Fortress frantically dodged and parried with the third. Toad's weapon seemed to have a diminished effect this time; the machine slowed but did not stop. Cyclops' blasts were not accomplishing anything. Fortress's opponent had developed a field of its own that protected it.

Xavier and Colossus saw this and acted to help out, telepathically alerting their teammates. Their Sentinel was still blasting freezing liquid and vigorously trying to determine the mutant's locations. Colossus picked it up and pointed the cold stream at Cyclop's foe. The robots were continually exchanging data, and the stream stopped shortly, but the target was already collecting frost. Xavier cranked the induction gun to its maximum output, pointing it at the rock wall next to the massive robot.

Molten ore sagged over the frigid machine; the resulting thermal stress shattered its outer armor, allowing the red-hot liquid inside. The shriek of frying metal was deafening.

Meanwhile, Cyclops was blasting the shielded robot for all he was worth; the whitish curtain of energy was visibly collapsing. Colossus threw his struggling captive, knocking over the beleaguered machine and destroying the field completely. Fortress smashed down with a hammer of force that crushed both Sentinels into rubble.

Nimrod had analyzed all this cautiously; he upgraded his assessment of the danger they represented. Their coordinated support of each other made them extremely effective. Even his advanced Sentinels had trouble defending against three or four threats at once. He began to prioritize targets; Cyclops and Professor X were unquestionably leaders, and should be eliminated first. He aimed a disintegrator ray at Xavier...

But Wolverine had drawn a bead on the ultimate Sentinel and fired the optical disruptor. Nimrod jerked like a fish on a line, random noise emitting from his many sonic outputs. A beam of white light flashed from his eyes into the floor, evaporating some water. His arms flailed.

Colossus and Fortress shot forward, ready to pulverize the deadly machine to powder. A very low-level, very reliable backup system kicked in and Nimrod disappeared in a sizzling flash. The mutants stopped short, dismayed.

Five more Sentinels emerged from the galley behind them. Wolverine's enhanced hearing picked them up in the nick of time.

Beta team had forced their way inside the base and were besieged in engineering. They had thought to destroy the incomplete Sentinels but had been intercepted by functional ones. Fortunately, the collateral damage of the battle seemed to be taking a toll on their surroundings.

There had been six Sentinels at first, and they were down to five. But Storm's fiber weapon was no longer effective; the Sentinels seemed to be running a charge across their surface which dispersed the strands before they penetrated. Magneto was shielding the other team members with his powers while simultaneously throwing parts at the robots. Rachel had destroyed the floor under two Sentinels, dropping them a level and giving the group some breathing room.

Nightcrawler appeared, carrying Unus; he left with Wolverine. Unus was disoriented and weak from the teleporting; Storm traded weapons and began using the EMP gun, with a little better success - this group hadn't been fully prepared for that weapon. Rogue broke out some of the roof and collapsed it onto one of their foes.

Split from her teammates, Shadowcat had found a terminal and begun deploying the viruses. It would take a few seconds for the upload to complete; she hoped it would finish before the Sentinel chasing her had a chance to lock on. Leading the robot away from the terminal, she phased through walls and floors as fast as she could; it was only a little faster than the Sentinel could smash through them.


Continued in Chapter Eleven


Down-Home Charm / Fan-Fiction / Fan Artwork / History Books / Photo Album / Songbank / Miscellania / Links / Updates

Legalese: Rogue, the X-Men, and the distinctive likenesses thereof are Trademarks of Marvel Characters, Inc. and are used without permission. This is an unofficial fansite, and is not sponsored, licensed or approved by Marvel Comics.
Privacy Policy and Submission Guidelines