San Francisco Bay
Admiral William Stryker and his executive officer, Commander Slade Wilson, were in an observation booth above the physical training field. They watched as the soldier below ran laps at incredible speeds. Beside them was the man responsible for the soldier's speed.
"As you can see," Doctor T.O. Morrow began, "Sergeant Trask has taken to the implants very well."
"How fast is he going?"
Slade asked, looking down at Trask with his one uncovered eye.
"Forty-miles an hour. In addition to his speed, the bionic implants give him enough strength to crush steel pipes with his bare hands. The bio-kelvar weave we placed in the lower levels of his epidermis, tissue, and bones give him remarkable durability."
"And all those implants will be able to put him on par with the mutants?"
"And then some. Further implants can be made to make Trask and the rest of the Sentinels less susceptible to certain mutant powers. They won't just even the odds, they'll run roughshod over anything that stands in their way."
Stryker said. "When do the rest of the platoon go into surgery?"
"With your approval, tomorrow. If they all recover as quickly as Trask,"
then the first wave of Sentinels will be ready to deploy."
"Then I give my consent. I want them all field ready as soon as possible."
"Yes, sir," Morrow said with a nod.
"And the chips?"
Stryker asked, turning away from the running Trask.
"Trask has a compliance chip inside of him, just like the rest of the Sentinels will. Only and Commander Wilson will have access to it.'
"Excellent. Carry on, Doctor."
Nodding at Morrow, Stryker departed from the booth with Wilson behind him. They walked through the open courtyard of the facility towards the administration building.
"Tell me, Slade, where are we on the break in at the Alcatraz facility?"
"Still investigating it, sir. But as far as details on what was taken, there was the mutant and Doctor Essex's laptop.."
"I don't like it, Slade. A survivor means stories can get out. Whatever the hell Essex had on that laptop could be proof. If the politicians found out what we're doing on Alcatraz, they won't be pleased. Mutants are a plague, but they have their sympathizers."
"Any ideas, then?"
"Project Sentinel has another facility at our disposal. The Krakoa one. Move Essex and his work to the Krakoa base and continue to operate Alcatraz as a mutant penal island. If fact-finders come snooping, they won't find anything."
"Yes, sir. We'll start preparations for the move as soon as possible."
"So what is this they tell me about your interest in the intruder we had on Alcatraz? That it's someone you know?"
Wilson said, his hand instinctively going up to his eyepatch. "A long time ago. But we're not certain. Regardless, I can remain neutral."
the walkie talkie on Slade's hip crackled. "There's someone here to see the Admiral. Says she's with Homeland Security..."
Stryker and Wilson traded looks before Stryker nodded at his XO. Slade pulled the walkie talkie from his belt and put it to his mouth.
"We're on our way."
Stryker and Wilson came into the Admiral's office and found a tall, blonde woman in a white pantsuit. Her hair was bulled back into a bun and she had on a pair of dark-rimmed glasses.
she said in a perfect American accent. She pulled an ID from her jacket pocket. "I'm Agent Danielle Snow."
To Stryker and Wilson, she was showing them a copy of an official CIA badge that showed her photo and declared that she was in fact Danielle Snow, a deputy director with the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. To anyone who wasn't in her mental control, they would have just seen a blank piece of paper.
"What can I help you with, Agent Snow?"
Stryker asked, motioning towards a chair.
she said as she sat. "Specifically, a group of them."
Stryker sat behind his desk while Wilson stood behind him at parade rest. "I thought it was already worked out that Alcatraz would function as a place for any and all mutants captured around the country?"
"It's not about imprisoning them, it's about a group that may have escaped."
Snow slid her folder across the desk at Stryker. He reached in and pulled out files. Some of them photos and stills of security camera footage, some of them were eyewitness reports.
"We have noticed a trend over the past month or so. A group of mutants active and abroad. As you can see from those photographs, they were present in Michigan last week when a mutant criminal was freed from captivity. We also have eyewitness reports from Buenos Aires that match the descriptions of the photos we got from Michigan. Seems like the same group fought a mutant weapons dealer and a suspected Nazi war criminal in a downtown park."
Stryker looked through the photos. They were grainy, some of them out of focus. He could make out a young black man with electricity cracking from his hands, another young man shooting lasers from some odd thing attached to his face.
"Fascinating reading, but what does that have to do with us?"
"Because these are the same mutants who double-crossed you and wiped your memory."
Stryker asked, his head snapping up from the photos. "How the hell do you know about that?!"
"Because I can access the parts of your mind Charles Xavier shut down..."
Before Stryker could respond, he heard a loud voice in his head.
Just like that, the block in his mind snapped like a twig. Memories, thoughts, and experiences came racing back to him. A whole six months worth. He could remember it all.
Watching as he and Waller recruited their team.
The attack on San Diego.
The fiasco in Kentucky.
Charles Xavier and his mutants had attacked him and his men. They had attacked them and they had brainwashed him. They were the ones that violated his mind.
Stryker looked across the desk with sudden clarity. There was nobody sitting there. Of course there was nobody sitting there, he thought, why would there be? It was just him and Wilson in the room together.
But he remembered. He didn't know how or why, be he remembered it all.
"Get me everything you can on Charles Xavier,"
Stryker said, looking up at his XO. "And tell Morrow to prep the rest of the SEALs for surgery right now. I want them on the operating table tonight."
Wilson nodded and quickly left the room. Stryker watched him go before he looked down at the files in front of him. He couldn't remember how he got them, but it wasn't important. All that mattered now was Xavier and his students.
Westchester County, New York
They were in the middle of war. Literally. The five X-Men were all crouched behind a semi-destroyed brick wall. Ahead of them, three Panzer tanks rolled across the open field towards their location.
"I'll provide cover fire," Cyclops said, setting the intensity of his visor. "Get to their left flank. Once there, Beast, try to get into the closest tank. You got the agility, use it. Metamorpho, time to use that tear gas form. Charge the middle tank and smoke 'em out. Black Lightning, Marvel Girl, the third tank is yours. Jean, you can psychically stop any flak from hitting the two of you with telekinesis. Jeff, that big metal tank is a perfect conductor. Let's do it."
Standing, Scott opened fire with his visor. He punched a hole in the center tank with his optic blast. The tanks began to maneuver and scuttle back at the blasts. Behind Cyclops, the rest of the X-Men went into action.
Running on all fours, Hank dodged tank shells that were shot his way. He zigged and zagged as he ran to avoid the tank's machine gunner. While he dodged bullets, Rex was already in his gaseous form. Bullets passed through him as he dispersed his shape over the center Panzer and filled the interior with tear gas. To his right, Jean deflected bullets with the wave of her hands. She stood in front of Jefferson and provided cover as he charged electricity from his palms. Shoving his hands out, he struck the tank with a large bolt of lightning. While he did that, Hank somersaulted on to the top of his Panzer and ripped the top open with his claws. He jumped inside the vehicle and went to work on the crew.
In just sixty seconds after giving orders, the four X-Men had disabled three Panzer tanks and the fifteen soldiers who made up the three tank crews. Smiling with his arms crossed, Scott addressed the Danger Room computer.
"Computer, ID login: Sierra-Sierra 002. End simulation."
The field, the tanks, and even his fellow mutants all disappeared. Scott was alone in the white Danger Room alone.
"Impressive," a voice said through the speakers.
Removing his visor, Scott looked up into the observation deck and saw Jean waving. Scott smiled and waved back.
"I have to admit, I don't like the idea of a walking, talking simulation of me. It's a bit creepy."
"It was a command simulation, that's all. If everyone could follow orders right, wouldn't be a need for me to practice."
"Just don't tell Rex you can replicate us that well. We'd never be able to get him out of here."
Chuckling, Scott left the room and climbed the stairs up to the observation deck. Jean was waiting for him as he entered the door.
"Speaking of creepy, didn't know you liked to watch me sweat like that.'
"Yep. Men in dorky and awkward visors are kind of my fetish."
"It's not that dorky... is it?"
"I guess it's not that bad. But I came down here because Hank was going to take us all to the movies tonight."
"Some kind of documentary?"
"Skimper. You know, that sci-fi movie where a guy has to go back in time and stop himself from stiffing a waitier on a tip and accidentally starting World War III."
"Well, that sounds like a ton of fun, but no. I want to get in some more practice. After that, I got that paper to write for class."
"Come on!" Jean shouted, shaking her head. "All you do is homework, training, and then missions. You have to expand your horizons."
"Well, I there was something I wanted to do... but it's in the city."
"I'm there," she said, springing up from her chair and taking Scott's hand.
"Wait," he said as she drug him from the room. "Don't you want to know what it is?"
"As long as it's away from here, I'm game."
A half hour later, Scott and Jean were in the black sedan as she pulled it out of the garage and rolled down the driveway. She turned on to the road and headed down the highway towards Salem Center.
Overhead, a military drone soundlessly passed above the mansion. The camera mounted on its underbelly snapped crystal clear pictures of the house, the grounds, and the surrounding area.