PG Jubilee relives her escape from the Hulkster
Daria screamed and the Prime Sentinels swarmed like giant bees. First I saw them take down Cannonball. His scream began as Daria's faded. The desert stretching far around us didn't even give the satisfaction of an echo, yet I still felt suffocated. The computerized sentinel voices hummed and buzzed like so many attacking insects. I wanted to scream in protest, to fight back, but my voice was silenced, my body stopped, caught frozen in a hot rage. Cyclops stood over what used to be Cannonball. He seemed to be thinking, but it took too long. He disappeared as a half a dozen or more Sentinels converged on him. He drowned in them. I saw his hand reach up for one last desperate grasp at life. I stretched my own hand out to him. Before he touched anything his hand went limp and sunk back into the pack of Sentinels.
I looked up and saw Storm, silhouetted against the night sky by the flashes of her own manifested power. Even as I looked on she shrieked. I felt myself shatter at the sound that more closely resembled the cry of lightning than any thunderous rumble ever did. Her body, suspended by the wind, arced, her glorious hair stood on end. The sky erupted in solid flames of electric energy all around her. Sentinels took hold of her limbs and began pulling toward the four corners of the globe. I had to look away. I couldn't watch, but I could hear. Then her sudden silence deafened all my senses. I was afraid of the stillness.
But it didn't last long. I heard laughter behind me, but I didn't turn around. I knew whose laugh it was. "What do you think of your precious X-Men now, Miss Lee? There's not much left of them, is there?"
"Shut up! You just shut up!" I whirled on Bastion, but I fell on my face at his feet. Once again I was restrained, as I had always been while in his captivity. I spit the sand out of my mouth. "No! You can't do this! They never did anything to you!"
"Oh, can't I? There are only two of your dirty mutants left. It seems I already have done this. And I wonder what they would think of you if they found out you were the traitor, the source from which we derived their location and the weaknesses that enabled my Prime Sentinels to take them down, forgoing even the slightest chance of their survival."
"I did NOT! I did not let you into my head! No! I never betrayed them. I-I love them. Please! Take me instead! Take me!"
"My dear Miss Lee, I already have you.and now I have them as well."
"Only two left. The red head and the short hairy agitated one. Well, you have been a fairly pleasant prisoner, and a good source of information." he smiled. I opened my mouth to protest, but he held up a finger to quiet me. I didn't want to obey, but I thought just maybe.. "Perhaps I should grant you one request, as a personal favor, a reward for a good pet. Perhaps I'll save one filthy X-Man for you. But only one. Which one shall it be Miss Lee?"
"I-I can't choose! You can't make me choose!"
"Ah, but you must, or else they both die and all is lost. Quickly!"
Jean or Wolvie? I want- I want Wolvie! But he would want me to choose Jean. But I can't stand back and let Wolvie die when I know I could have chosen him. But if I saved him and not Jean would he hate me for letting her die? I couldn't bear it if Wolvie hated me. So it must be Jean, then. But I can't bear to live without Wolvie!
"It is too late, Miss Lee. Now they both die."
"NO! Please give me more time. Let me talk to them!"
"They die. And you will watch." His voice faded away into silence. My restraints disappeared. I looked around but there was nothing, nothing but desert. Stillness, creepy, almost tangible stillness and silence, devoid of peace.
Suddenly a scream broke the stillness, and was stifled just as quickly. I recognized the voice. It was Jean. I didn't want to look, but it seemed I had lost control of myself. A Prime Sentinel held her by the throat, her feet dangling and kicking a foot or more off of the ground. Her face changed colors as the blood failed to reach her brain, the air to reach her lungs. A growl from behind me vibrated my eardrums. I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise at that sound. Normally I knew that sound, that voice, to be the herald of salvation, but something wasn't right. I knew this time it wouldn't end the way I wanted it to, the way it should. I fought it with my will, but my will had no power here. I wanted to stop him, but I knew that was impossible. Wolverine lunged from behind me at the Sentinel holding Jean. All three went rolling. Jean lay very still, her neck twisted awkwardly. I searched desperately for signs of her breathing, as if my own life depended on it, but to no avail.
All at once Wolverine was crouched over her wilted figure. He held one of her hands in both of his, but she made no response. He called to her. She didn't answer. As gently as I'd ever seen him move, he slid one arm beneath her shoulders while supporting her head with the other. He put his face close to hers. In the silence he listened for breathing, for heartbeat. Perhaps he could hear something I could not. Nothing. I saw his nose crinkle as the first twinges of the smell of death, of her death, reached his enhanced senses. He threw back his head and made a sound like I'd never heard before, a mourning, wailing howl, almost like a wolf, but eerily human.
My heart broke instantly for him. I couldn't think straight. How? How could one man's life be marked by so much pain? Why could his pain hurt me so much? "Wolvie." I called to him, my voice cracked with emotions I dared not name. His ear heard me; his heart could hear nothing over the agony bellowing in his soul. He began to cry, his tears blood-red like the rage that glazed his eyes. He laid Jean gently back on the ground in front of where he knelt. After his touch, she almost looked at peace, aside from the unnatural ugliness death had marred upon her normally beautiful and graceful figure. His lips moved, and though I could hear no words I could imagine what he was saying. As his tears trailed down his rough angled face, they made scarlet streaks, contrasting his tanned skin and matting in the blue-black hair of his mutton chop sideburns. His tears collected in little pools at the corners of his lips as he continued talking to Jean, apologizing for not being able to save her in time, declaring his love and respect for her.
But like their creator, Sentinels had no such respect. The one Wolvie had tackled while strangling Jean alerted the remaining Prime Sentinels to "assist in the termination of the mutant designate: Wolverine."
"Wolvie!" I screamed to him to look up and fight back, but his concentration was deep and overwhelming. The only other time I'd seen him so impenetrably focused was when Mariko died and Gambit and the Silver Samurai and I had to practically drag him from the cemetery in the rain at the "request" of the Japanese government.
He didn't look up until the Sentinels had surrounded him. SNIKT. His claws extended, he lunged already swallowed by his own rage. They swarmed again and I lost sight of him. "Wolvie! Wolvster answer me!" But all I could hear were the metallic sounds of the Sentinels.
Then abruptly they were gone. Jean's body was gone. All that was left was Wolverine lying motionless where the Sentinels had attacked him. No thinking. I just ran to him. The first thing I noticed is that he was clean, no blood, no dirt, not even sweat. No wounds, healed, half-healed or otherwise, broke his skin. His eyes were closed. It almost looked as if he were sleeping.almost. Something was dreadfully amiss. Something was missing from him, something vital. I took hold of his thick shoulders and shook him. His body was flaccid, limp. The last time I had seen him like that was when I first found him, when I thought I was just trying to make a dying man's last days a little easier.
Dying? Did I say dying? No! I pounded my fist on the ground and yelled at him between sobs. "No! Wolvie-no! You can't-die! You can't. I need you!-I need you."
"S'okay darlin'. I'm right here. I'm right here. Shh, you don't wanna wake everybody else." It was Wolvie's voice and I was the one being shaken by the shoulders. I looked up into Wolvie's face, rough and stolid, warm and friendly, a little dirty, and glowing with the spark of life. Behind him, by the dying light of the fire I could see five sleeping shapes: Cyclops, Jean, Storm, Cannonball, and their new friend Mustang.
"Wolvie!" I threw my arms around him and buried my face in his neck. It took me a minute to realize that I was crying hysterically. "It was horrible. The prime sentinels were everywhere and they killed e-everyone, I watched. He made me. I-I didn't want to. I tried to help, but I couldn't. They killed all of the X-Men, even you, because I couldn't choose between you and Jean. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. You were dead Wolvie. I thought you were dead again."
He put his arms around me and drew me into his lap like a small child. "I think you were havin' a nightmare darlin'. But s'okay, you brought me back from the dead once and you did it again. Here I am, right here."
I just hugged him tighter and cried. "I hate Bastion. I hate him, more than hate him." Fear, anger, confusion, helplessness, hate-I was shaking.
He rested his chin on my head and rubbed my shoulder until I was calm and quiet again. "You fallin' asleep Jubes?"
I moved my head out of the warm spot it had found nestled against Wolvie just far enough to whisper in his ear. "I don't wanna be alone. Please don't leave me."
He gave me another squeeze as he lay back down on the ground beside the glowing coals of the campfire, pulling me with him. "I'm not goin' anywhere. If you want it, my shoulder's yer pillow darlin'."
I nodded. He couldn't really see me move, but he could feel it. "Mm-hmm. Thanks Wolvie." Then I curled up against his side and fell asleep to dream of sunglasses, bubblegum, fireworks and rollerblades.