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"Smoke and Mirrors"

Smoke and Mirrors

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19

Disclaimer: All characters are Marvel's and are used without their permission. I'm not making a cent off of this - the only thing I get from this is slightly better mental health! Archive and distribute freely on and off the Web. (Hey, I'll take it as a personal compliment if you do) Write to me telling me what you think about the story. (It was a life-changing experience\I used it to line my budgie's cage\My delete key has been used 17 times so far - so will you kindly get on and finish it) But to all my loyal and wonderful fans (i.e. my two budgies - Smudge and Rainbow a.k.a Muffin), thank you for your support! This is the penultimate chapter. Enjoy it - I know I'll be sorry when I write the last word of it.
P.S. If you have enjoyed this story and would like to read some of my other FanFiction, please e-mail me with the subject line - Give me more info. - and your name and address in the body. I'll send an order-formette to you and you can fill it in. Yaay!

Part 18

The sun rises over New York, tipping the buildings with scarlet and gold. A new day, but not  necessarily a brighter one . . . .

8.00 AM

"Halt, Ma'am. You have been identified as a mutant . . . ."
"What?" Her eyes were frightened, "How did you know? All my life I have hidden my secret and now . . . oh Lord . . . ."
"And have been scheduled for termination."
The woman lashes out with a flame-bolt.
"Resistance is futile. Prepare to be terminated."
"Oh LORD . . . . "

8.10 AM

"Sir. Step away from that mutant, she has been scheduled for termination."
"She's my wife, for heaven's sakes. I won't let you kill her."
"Our programming dictates that we terminate mutants, not humans. This unit cannot contravene the prime directive."
"Mike, please, save yourself."
"I won't, Sheila. I can't."
"Then you leave me no choice, Mike."
With a gesture, she shuts down the blood-flow to his brain, putting him to sleep instantly.
"I'm so sorry . . . ."

8.15 AM

"Your daughter has been identified as a mutant."
"What do you want with Ruth-Ellen?"
"And has been scheduled for termination . . . ."
"She's just a little kid. Take me instead." The woman sobs hysterically. "Take me."
"My orders are to terminate mutants, those possessing the X-Factor gene, not humans."
The burst of a laser beam. The woman is blinded momentarily and she fears the worst.
"God . . . oh God . . . no . . . ."
"Not to worry, ma'am. Your daughter is quite safe."
"Who?" She rubs her eyes and sees a man standing there, surrounded by twisted metal.
"Scott Summers."  He gives the child to her.
"Mr. Summers. How can I repay you?"
"Love your daughter with all your heart and that will be repayment enough."
"Thank you."

8.20 AM

"These crude metal constructs cannot stand up to the fury of the elements." Storm yells above the gale-force wind.
"Neither can my claws for too much longer." Wolverine shouts as he grips the tree, "Shut off the fan, Stormy, before I get blown away."
"My apologies, Logan."
"Fine,  Ro. " He looks around the landscape of twisted and broken metal, "You did a heck of a job on those tinmen."

8.25 AM

"Playing piggyback with a Sentinel is a most edifying and exhilarating experience." Beast says, bouncing up and down as he grips the neck of the robot.
"These Sentinels, as you named them, are unique." Jean replies, "They appear to have some form of artifical psyche. A conscience, an intelligence, of sorts."
"Intriguing." Beast pulls open the panel at the back of the robot and examines the mass of wires, "Sentient sentinels."
"Maybe I can use that against them." She muses.
"Typical manufacteuring ineptitude to not include a wiring schematic." He mutters, "Once more, I will have to resort to scientific methods. As the great Faraday no doubt did not say: when in doubt, pull them *all* out. . . voila!"
He jumps off as the Sentinel collapses in a shower of sparks.
"One down . . . nine-hundred and ninety-nine still to go."

8.45 AM

"Halt, mutant. You have been scheduled for termination."
"Sorry, bub, but I'm all booked up. Call my receptionist at a later date and make an appointment- if you're still breathin' that is." Wolverine's claws flash in the air as he slashes at the Sentinels, exposing the mass of wires in the chests. "Up to you now, squinty."
Optic blasts tear through the wiring, disabling them.
"Don't call me squinty."
"Sorry, squinty."

9.15 AM

"Beast smash, Beast trash puny robots. Hmm . . . Would I not make Hulk green with envy at my unsurpassed elocution." He punches a Sentinel's head, damaging the sensor array.  The blinded Sentinel fires laser beams in all directions, knocking down more of its kind.
"Like playing dominoes." Beast says from within Jean's telekinetic bubble, "Thanks for the assist, my dear Jean."
"Any day, Hank." She pauses, "I think I have come up with a way we can defeat the Sentinels without any further bloodshed."
"And pray tell, what is your solution?"
"By using my telepathic powers, I can shut down their intelligence, in the same way that I would shut down a living creature's mind."
"Surely that is dangerous for you?"
"Yes." Her mouth is set, "But it is better than this ongoing stalemate."
"I cannot condone . . . ."
"It is not your choice to make. It is mine."
Beast sighs.
"You are right - when will you strike?"
"When there is a lull in the battle, I shall drop the telekinetic barrier I have created around us and hit them with the full power of my mind."
"Jean . . . ."
"Hank. Please, respect my choice."
"I do, but it doesn't mean that I like it."
"Nor do I."

9.30 AM

"We're losing out there." Kelly slams his cup into the table, spilling coffee over his papers, "What is going on, Trask?"
"Relax." Trask puts his two index-fingers together in a triangle, "We have run into some unexpected interference, that's all."
"You call us getting our butts kicked:  'unexpected interference'?"
"There are plenty more Sentinels where those came from. If need be, I'll deploy them."
"You'd better." Kelly says, "Because if we lose, it's going to be your neck on the line. Not mine. Not the US Government's. Your's."
"I understand, Senator."

10.00 AM

The morning frost has melted and evaporated but the air still retains some coolness. Some bitter bite beneath the sultry exterior. Here, it is far from the fighting. From the struggles between humanand mutant. Between two different species who are more common than either would care to admit.
It is a place of peace and rememberance, where people come to see those that they have loved and lost. A place of hope...
The young man drops his cigarette and grinds it beneath his feet. It smoulders in the grass before dying into ashes.
"Disgustin' habit that."
"Smokin', chere ?"
"Yeah. Do you realise exactly what is in a cigarette ?"
"If I did, I would probably give smokin' up."
"Then why do you do it ?"
"It relaxes me."
"You'll look very relaxed lyin' in yer coffin."
Her green eyes are bright beneath her lashes and she looks at him with a combination of suspicion and relief.
"So y'all came . . . ." She says eventually.
"Don' have no reason t'stay away." He shrugs, "Been hell wit'out you - couldn' get much worse."
She is silent. Emotions play across her face as her mood changes.
"Remy . . . ."
She stops herself as if she is scared of what she will say and retreats back within her shell of pride and loneliness.
"Why'd you send me the note ta meet you here?"
"Note?" He is confused, "Never sent no note."
"Lawd. . . ." She says quietly, "Still too afraid ta trust me with th' truth, sugah?"
"Au contraire, Rogue. It was you who sent me a message t'meet ya here."
"Ah . . . Ah wanted ta but Ah nevah did. Too scared, Ah guess."
"If you didn', who did?"
"Don't know." She looks at her feet, "An' does it really matter?"
"What d'ya mean, chere?"
"Ah mean that we're here. Don't matter how or why. We're here. We have another chance ta . . . make things right. Ta be honest with each other." She places her hand on his, "Startin' with what we used ta be."
"Does it matter, Rogue?" He says, "It be dead."
"Then what better place ta tell me than here where we come ta remember th' dead?"
"I can't."
"Why not?"
"Have y'ever done anyt'ing so bad dat ya could never tell anyone about it?" His eyes are guilty, "Because tellin' someone would make it real when all ya want t'do is f'rget it ever happened."
"Remy . . . . Please, tell me."
"Don' you know already, chere?" He puts a hand to her cheek, cupping her face, "Didn't you find out when we kissed?"
"Yes . . . No. . ." She pauses, "Sorta . . . . All Ah keep seein' is flashes o' what you did. It's jumbled an' Ah can't make sense o' it."
"Dat makes two o' us den." He says, "Rogue . . . I'm afraid you gotta trust me dat when I can, I will tell you about everyt'ing. Will make everyt'ing right again."
"Ah . . . do." She smiles, "Ah really do."
"Good." He grins, "B'cause I love ya and would hate t'lose you over somet'ing stupid I did long ago when I was little more dan a pup."
"Hon . . . .You will tell me about what you did when you're ready?"
"Scout's honor."
"Nevah thought you were a boy-scout, darlin'."
"Never was, chere." He laughs, "Jus' sounds better dan t'ieves' honor."
"Ah believe y'all either way."
"Den are you ready t'go home b'fore Cyke discovers dat I borrowed de Blackbird wit'out his permission?"
She laughs, "Lawd. How I love th' sound o' that word!"
"Cyclops, chere?" He teases.
"Home." She punches his arm.
"Wonder how de team is doin' wit'out deir two most charmin' an' talented members?"
"Probably sittin' on their butts in front o' th' television an' arguin' over th' remote."
"Probably . . . ."

10.30 AM

"It is of no use, Scott." Storm comes to rest beside him, "We strike one down and three more rise up to take its place. There are simply too many for us to stand any chance of victory."
"It also doesn't help that half the team is approaching exhaustion. And that certain members are AWOL." His laser beams cut a swathe through the metal men.
A Sentinel explodes behind him and he dives out of the way to avoid the shrapnel.
"I'm touched y'noticed, Cyke." Gambit smiles as he picks up some rubble and charges it with kinetic energy, "I go away f'r twelve hours an' what happens? De whole team an' half o' New York falls apart." He throws it a Sentinel, destroying it. "Remind me t'cancel de Aspen Ski trip, chere."
"Remy. You could not have picked a better time to return." Storm turns to face him.
"Ororo. What in th' name o' all's holy is goin' on?" Rogue looks around the landscape of broken buildings and Sentinel remains. "Barely had time ta throw on th' ol' uniform before gettin' here."
"Rogue. Thank the Bright Lady."
"We can get ta th' reunions an' prayers o' gratitude later; foh now Ah want ta know what Ah'm up against."
"Sentinels. Intelligent machines whose sole purpose is the eradication of mutantkind."
"Weak spots?"
"I'm t'inking anywhere ya hit dem, chere."
She smiles, "Wanna test that theory, sugah?"
"I ain't stoppin' ya."
Years of frustration come to a head as she systematically takes apart the Sentinels.
Lightning bolts flash across the sky and strike, frying synapses. Optic beams mingle with charged rubble and ice. Claws flash. Blue fur, quite literally, flies. Then, almost incongruously, there is silence. Sentinels fall, their bodies crashing across streets, crushing buildings. Their diodes are black, their sensors useless. Jean Grey drops to her knees. They have won, but at what price to herself?

11.30 AM

"You idiot." Senator Robert Kelly slams his fist into the tabletop. "Get them back online. Now."
"I can't." Trask taps frantically at his keypad, "There is a complete shutdown in their core consciousness. Their AI, to put it simply, has been fried."
"Perhaps . . . if I . . . ."
Sparks shoot out of the keyboard, burning his fingers. He throws it from him.
"It's no good, Kelly."
"This never happened. I was never involved with this project." Kelly feeds the thick file marked D-Day into the shredder, "It is all your fault."
"But . . . ."
"It makes for a good story, doesn't it? The mutant-hating zealot who creates machines to do his dirty work."
"That isn't true. You were as much involved with this as I was."
"Trask. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story." Kelly turns and walks out of the office, "I certainly don't intend to. . . ."
"Jerk."  He mutters when the older man is out of hearing.
Slowly, Trask picks up the shattered pieces of the microcomputer and puts them in his pocket.
"What the good Senator doesn't realise is that I have only just started. . . ."
"On the contrary, your worthless life is finished and with it your genocidal robots." The man steps out of the shadows and in the electric light, his white hair gleams like a halo around his head.
An avenging angel but Trask has no time to pray for redemption before the world becomes dark.

11.45 AM

The room swims before her eyes. Colors merge into one kaleidoscope of sensations, then clear into the face of the man she loves.
"Jean. Are you alright?"
"I've been better, Scott. How are you?"
"Fine." He kisses her hand, "Your shutdown of the Sentinels' minds was successful."
"Good. I'd hate to think that I'd gotten this migraine for nothing."
"Never do that again."
"Tell me you wouldn't have put your life on the line for the team if you were in my situation and I'll call you a liar."
"You're right." He sighs, "It just seems that we do it more and more each day."
"We have to believe that tomorrow is better or we will go insane."
"Xavier said that, right?"
"Yes." She smiles, "But is is up to us to live it."

12.00 AM

"The X-Men have succeeded." Zodiac runs into the room. "The Sentinels have been defeated."
"As you predicted." Sinister says.
"What now?"
"I could strike them now that they are weak." He rubs a finger beneath his chin, "Could, but will not."
"Why not?"
"Because it is time for your reward." His face twists in a parody of a smile, "For Sinister always keeps his word."
"I can get my revenge on the one who caused the massacre of my people?" Her silver eyes widen.
"And the beauty of it all is, at the same time, I get my vengeance on the person who betrayed me."
He touches a button and an image springs onto the screen. The image of a young man with red eyes.
"Prepare the tesseract chamber, Zodiac. It is time for the prodigal son to return home . . . ."


Concluded in Chapter 19.

1. Faraday investigated electricity in some detail and discovered the electrical nature of particles.
2. Wow. Is it just me or is Rogue being remarkably caring and wonderful this chapter? Is Gambit actually dealing with his wicked past in a non-angsty way?Are they actually having a decent mature conversation? Wow. Marvel take note.
3. When I speak of Gambit charging a card, I mean that he transfers the potential energy inherent in the object into kinetic energy. (The Law of Conservation of Energy dictates that I should say this)

In Smoke and Mirrors 19:
*Jubilation and\or depression (On my part because I've finally finished)


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