Hurt & Comfort

Book 10: Elusive Comfort

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Chapter 17 - Where We Dwell

"How are you doing, child? Did you have a good sleep?" Ororo asked gently.

"I... I don't know. I dreamed..." Gar trailed off as he looked around the MedLab to verify where he was.

"You're in a safe place with people who will care for you." Ororo quietly assured him, then cautiously asked, "How are you feeling?"

"Tired. Really tired. But I don't feel sick like I was before." Gar struggled to articulate.

"Do you feel like you're ready to eat something yet?" Ororo asked with a tranquil smile.

"A little bit. Maybe some soup or something." Gar said uncertainly.

"Why don't you take a little nap while I see to getting you some soup?" Ororo asked gently.

Rather than answer verbally, Gar closed his eyes and drifted into a dreamless sleep.

* * * * *

"Hank, Garfield briefly awoke, and I wanted to know if he is able to have some soup at this stage of his recovery." Ororo asked quietly from the doorway.

"What? Oh, yes. I'd recommend clear broth at first until his stomach has had more of a chance to stabilize. Then later, when he's hungry for something a bit more substantial, he should have it." Hank said absently, never once taking his gaze off his computer screen.

"What has you so consumed? This isn't another variant of the X-Gene virus, is it?" Ororo asked with concern.

"No. Nothing so dire. This is a cellular mass developed from Clark's blood sample." Hank said gravely.

"He's not sick, is he?" Ororo cautiously asked.

"No. He appears to be in remarkable health for someone who didn't evolve in this ecosystem." Hank said frankly, then explained, "What I'm looking at is a cellular mass... given the level of complexity it has achieved, one might possibly be justified in calling it an embryo. As much as I didn't want to admit it, the spectral imaging scanner that I used to analyze Clark's blood sample appears to have nourished and stimulated the cells to replicate. Essentially, what we're looking at is a clone of Clark."

"What are you going to do?" Ororo asked with concern.

"I don't know. On the one hand, I've sworn an oath to do no harm. But at the same time I have to consider the quality of life this being might be able to experience, should it survive. The radiation that bombarded it when it was first replicating seems to have severely warped it. This clone won't be a faithful copy of Clark. It's going to be wrong... potentially, horribly wrong." Hank said darkly.

"I wonder, how many normal everyday parents have faced a similar quandary when confronted with the possibility of having a mutant child." Ororo asked gently.

"I'm not a parent. I'm a doctor. I'm in a position to make a medical judgement that provides the most benefit to those involved." Hank countered.

"If your Hippocratic oath doesn't cover this mutated alien child, then what good is it? Who is it for?" Ororo asked firmly.

After a moment to consider, Hank finally said, "I know you're right. But I at least had to go through the process of reasoning out what was the right thing to do. Thank you for being my sounding board."

"So what are you going to do with the child?" Ororo asked with concern.

"It's too soon to be thinking of it as a child. It's currently a mass of differentiated cells." Hank calmly reasoned.

"That's a matter of semantics and you know it." Ororo said firmly.

"I suppose it is." Hank wearily relented.

"Is Tara going to be checking in on Garfield soon? I'm committed to work on a project with a group of students shortly." Ororo asked quietly.

"She should be here momentarily. I can keep an eye on him until she arrives." Hank assured her.

"Hank. I don't know if you've realized it yet, but you need help. I know that you're used to doing everything yourself, but the fact of the matter is that you're gambling with the well-being of your patients by assuming that you and Tara will be able to consistently provide twenty-four-hour care." Ororo said urgently.

"The professor also keeps a telepathic eye on things so that we don't have to constantly be physically present." Hank weakly explained.

"Hank. Listen to yourself. You've been treating these creative stopgap measures as your standard operating procedures." {It's only a matter of time before someone is seriously neglected because you can't do everything yourself.} Ororo finished in a gentle whisper.

"Before we encountered the virus, this wasn't as much of an issue. But with things being as they are, I've had to delay certain research projects to deal with away missions, alien maternity issues, and multiple degrees of patient care." Hank said gently as he absently placed his hand over Ororo's.

She turned her hand over to accept his hand into hers, then asked, "So are you going to get some help?"

"I will contact a few acquaintances in the medical community and let it be known that I'm looking for a research assistant. There are probably more than a few medical students who would jump at such an opportunity." Hank said as he gently caressed the back of her hand with his thumb.

"I have to go now." Ororo said regretfully.

"I know. But perhaps we can spend some time together tonight?" Hank suggested hopefully.

"You know how unlikely that is to come to fruition." Ororo said tenderly, then continued, "Why don't we just plan on me coming down here tomorrow while you're working and spend some time with you so that you won't have to neglect your duties?"

"You know me too well." Hank wearily chuckled.

"I must go." Ororo said as she leaned in to give Hank a brief, but firm, kiss.

The dreamy look in Hank's eyes was all the response he was capable of giving.

"Ask Tara to have some broth on hand for when Garfield awakens. I promised him that I'd see to it." Ororo said gently.

Hank absently nodded, still unable to form words.

"Don't forget to call your friends to ask for help." Ororo quietly said from the doorway before slipping out of the room.

Hank blinked in astonishment for a moment, then automatically picked up the phone.

* * * * *

"Remy? I wasn't expecting you back so soon. To what do I owe the pleasure?" Professor Xavier asked as he gestured for Remy and Xander to take seats.

"Warren be here?" Remy asked cautiously.

"Not at the moment. I'm expecting him back shortly." Professor Xavier answered, then asked again, "What brings you here this afternoon?"

Once seated, Remy said, "Tonight dere gone be a demonstration of de Sentinel Project at de Westchester Mall."

"Before you explain just what the 'Sentinel Project' entails, perhaps you could explain why they would choose our local mall as a testing ground, of all the unlikely places."

"It be a place where mutants be known to gather wit non-mutants. Dey need both to prove dat dere project works." Remy explained.

"Yes. I can see that reasoning, so now, pray tell, what is the Sentinel Project?" Professor Xavier asked curiously.

"De Sentinels be robots, built for de government, programmed to detect de X-Gene and negate mutant abilities. De test tonight be to show how de Sentinels be able to subdue all de mutants in an area witout getting any regular people." Remy carefully explained.

"I suspect that you have already come up with a plan of action to deal with this unfortunate intrusion." Professor Xavier prompted.

"Oui. De robots be programmed to do one ting. If a mutant be detected, dey neutralize de mutant ability and take de mutant into custody. If someone beside a mutant attack dem, dey got no programming to deal wit it." Remy said seriously.

"So you're suggesting that we gather a group of non-mutants to go on the offensive?" Professor Xavier speculated.

"It be a little more dan dat. I tink dat if we have a few mutants who can hold dere own, den we can use dem to lure de Sentinels into a trap." Remy said frankly.

"Otherwise the people who are running the operation might pull the plug when they realize that there aren't any mutants for them to collect." Xander said thoughtfully.

"Oui. An beside, if we arrange for some tird party wit a camera to be dere to witness de whole ting, it might end up making de people who want to hurt mutants look bad." Remy said determinedly.

"Not a bad idea. Did you have any specific people in mind to go on the mission" Professor Xavier asked cautiously.

"Remy and Xander not be from here. It be best if de professor choose de team." Remy said frankly.

//Cyclops, Wolverine, Portal. Would you come to my office? I have something to discuss with you.// Professor Xavier telepathically called out, not bothering to shield Remy and Xander from the call.

* * * * *

"Come in." Professor Xavier called in response to the knock on his door.

"What can we do for you today, Professor?" Andrew asked pleasantly as he entered the room with Scott and Matt following a step behind.

"Mr. LeBeau seems to have come into possession of some information about a potential attack at the Westchester Mall tonight. I've asked you here to make preparations to engage them." Professor Xavier explained.

"Before we start plotting, I just have to ask, if you know it's coming, why wouldn't you choose to prevent or avoid the attack?" Andrew asked carefully.

Scott and Wolverine glanced at each other, then toward the professor in unison to wait for an answer.

"If we prevent the attack tonight, that will only cause them to change their target. If we avail ourselves of the opportunity to thoroughly discredit them, we could possibly put an end to the threat altogether." Professor Xavier said seriously.

"Fair enough. So, what kind of threat are we talking about?" Andrew asked gravely.

"Dey be giant robots called Sentinels." Remy said simply.

"Believe it or not, I have some experience with giant robots." Andrew said grimly, then thought to add, "From my supervillain days."

"More like a super pain in the butt." Xander muttered.

Andrew laughed, then looked to the professor and said, "You normally don't include me in your planning sessions unless you expect for me to play a part. Did you want for me to provide transportation?"

"No. It's close enough that we can drive. Also, the giant robots reportedly have the capacity to analyze and neutralize mutant abilities." Professor Xavier explained.

"Now I can see why you want for us to get involved." Scott said thoughtfully, then slowly asked, "So, what is the plan?"

"Remy suggested that we could assemble a group of non-mutant fighters to combat the Sentinels. He seems assured that they won't have a defense against someone who doesn't have an X-Gene. They will automatically be classified as 'non-combatants'." Professor Xavier said seriously.

"Did you invite me here to recruit my children?" Andrew asked uncertainly.

"No. Actually, I was thinking of asking you to talk to Buffy about borrowing a few of her Slayers for a pleasant evening of shopping and violence." Professor Xavier said frankly.

"Two of their favorite things. From what I've been hearing, the Cleveland hellmouth has been kind of a disappointment lately. Nothing like Sunnydale, anyway. I'm sure that if I asked, they'd jump at the chance to have something constructive to do." Andrew said casually, then broke into a smile as he added, "Or something destructive."

"Of course we'll invite Angel and Spike along." Xander said thoughtfully.

Andrew nodded, then cautiously added, "Tara and Dawn, too."

"We should have at least a few of our people there who can function with their mutant abilities negated." Scott said thoughtfully.

"I can go. My only real mutant ability is healing. I can fight just fine without it." Matt said frankly.

"Oui. Remy be able to function juss fine witout de mutant ability." Remy said confidently.

"That may be so, but you're still a mutant, so that automatically makes you a target. It makes more sense for me to go and for you to hang back and help with the planning. Remember, it's our responsibility to make sure that Marguerite has someone to watch out for her, well into the future."

"You know more about the Sentinels than anyone else. It would make sense for you to have more of a behind the scenes role." Professor Xavier interjected.

"Remy be better in de field. But Remy stay behind for Marguerite." He said resignedly.

After a long moment, Andrew quietly said, "It might be good to include Clark on the team. Even though he just has the optic blast to work with, he's not a mutant, so he might be able to do some impressive damage."

"Perhaps, since we're dealing with autonomous robots, it might be to our advantage to invite Trey along. From what I've seen of his capabilities, he might be able to attack the Sentinels on an entirely different front." Professor Xavier said cautiously.

"I'm sure that you can understand why I'm reluctant to allow my children to participate in this plan of yours." Andrew said slowly.

"According to Remy, the Sentinel robots won't attack anyone who isn't a mutant. That being the case, your children will most likely be overlooked no matter what action they choose to take." Professor Xavier said confidently.

"Forgive me for saying so, but you or Remy saying it doesn't make it true." Andrew said seriously.

"We should be able to verify that within the first few minutes of the encounter. If it turns out that the Sentinels have been given the ability to defend against non-mutants, then we can withdraw the younger and more vulnerable members of the team and allow the more seasoned fighters to assail our opponents with brute force." Professor Xavier said decisively.

"Okay, if Clark and Trey are going, John's going to want to go too. We need to be united in our reasoning for refusing before they start pestering us about it. Trey is incredibly convincing when he puts his mind to it." Andrew said frankly.

"I doubt that John is going to feel much like engaging in heroics for the next few days." Professor Xavier said simply.

"Oh yeah, that's right. Considering their bond, Clark and Trey might want to stay behind so he won't feel left out." Andrew said thoughtfully.

"Whatever they decide, we should support them. The only way they'll ever learn about consequences is to be allowed to make decisions for themselves." Matt said seriously.

"But what if William wants to go? How can I justify allowing Trey to go and not William?" Andrew asked seriously.

"How likely is it that he will be able to contribute anything positive to the fight?" Scott asked cautiously.

"If it were just his fighting skills, he probably couldn't do much more than any other child. But if we're counting on him to use his Borg traits, then I could see him potentially doing a lot of good." Andrew said frankly.

"Wait, Andy, which side are you on?" Xander asked in confusion.

"I'm on the side of doing what's best for the kids. Giving them the opportunity to do great things... it's kinda what I do." Andrew weakly admitted.

"So you expect Trey and William to be on the team?" Scott asked cautiously.

"Possibly. Icheb too, if he's interested. Beyond that, if Jimmy wants to go along to document the occasion, I would be alright with that. At least, as long as I can be assured that he would be kept out of the battle." Andrew said slowly.

"We will need for someone to document the events." Professor Xavier cautiously admitted.

"Any word on how many of these things we'll be fighting?" Matt asked slowly.

"Dey have ten complete. Dey wait for de result of de test tonight before deciding to make more or not." Remy said seriously.

"How do you know that? Where did this information come from? Just how dependable is it?" Andrew cautiously asked.

"Remy infiltrated my company to see what was going on with some super-secret government contract. He saw all of this himself." Xander said seriously.

"If this is your company, can't you just shut the project down?" Andrew asked curiously.

"The way Warren explained it, that part of the company is sort of leased to the government. And while their paychecks might come from our accounting department, we have next to no say-so in how they perform their duties. If things go our way tonight, I might be in a position to make the 'yes' or 'no' decision about whether or not to continue the lease, but me stepping in now would only tip our hand." Xander said regretfully, then ruefully added with a roll of his eye, "Contracts."

"If we're going to do this, we might need to consider bringing along a little more bait than just me." Matt said frankly.

"I was thinking the same thing. One or two capable fighters who are quick-witted and agile might significantly improve our chances for success." Scott said thoughtfully.

"Are we going in picking a fight or are we going in undercover, pretending that we belong at the mall on a Friday night?" Matt asked curiously.

"If it's too obvious that it's a setup, they might abort their mission. I believe that some small measure of stealth might be called for." Professor Xavier said firmly.

"Marie's good in a fight and wouldn't lose effectiveness if her ability were neutralized." Scott said seriously.

"I thought she went to visit her family for Thanksgiving." Matt said hesitantly.

"She did. She's back." Scott said frankly, then thought to add, "Some families function best with limited contact."

"As long as everyone's happy, it sounds like a way to go." Matt said honestly, then continued, "Either way, it sounds like she'd probably be up for a trip to the mall."

"Who else would you recommend?" Professor Xavier asked curiously.

"Evan's got some good fighting skills and he's fast on his feet." Matt said seriously.

"Make sure he brings his skateboard." Scott added.

Matt nodded his agreement.

"As long as we can recruit enough Slayers to get the job done, this sounds like it's doable." Andrew said frankly.

"That sounds like your department. Do you want for me to talk to your kids while I'm inviting the others?" Scott asked curiously.

"You might as well. If they have any questions about my feelings on the matter, let them know that I'll be back as soon as possible." Andrew said frankly.

"Okay. I'll talk to the kids, but I'll let you explain it to Alan." Scott finished with a mischievous grin.

"Yeah. I'll go and talk to him about it before I head to Slayer Central. He'll be expecting you when you get there." Andrew said unenthusiastically.

"Scott, why don't you stay here and work on planning? Gathering fighters is something I'm used to doing and I think you'd do a lot more good here." Xander said seriously.

"When you put it that way, it does make sense." Scott easily admitted.

"Be sure to let us know as soon as you have an answer. Our plan hinges on gathering a sufficient force to counter our robotic adversaries." Professor Xavier cautioned.

"Like I said before, I have some experience with giant robots, I'm more aware than most people of what you need to take them down." Andrew said confidently.

"So, while Andrew's busy recruiting Slayers, you want us to go ahead and invite the rest of the fighters?" Scott asked to confirm.

"Yes. If we end up having to cancel the operation later, it won't cause anyone too much of an inconvenience. Giving them sufficient time to mentally prepare is probably for the best." Professor Xavier said seriously.

"I can't be sure how long it will take to gather all the available Slayers. I should go right away." Andrew said frankly.

"Yes. No need for you to delay. I believe that from here on out, we will be discussing tactics and contingencies." Professor Xavier said decisively.

"I'll be back as soon as I know something." Andrew said as a doorway appeared next to him.

"Hang on, Andy. I'll go with you." Xander said quickly as he hurried to Andrew's side.

As Andrew and Xander stepped through the portal, Matt quietly said, "If you don't need me here, I could start inviting the people from the mansion."

"Remy stay wit Scott an de professor an plan for tonight." Remy said seriously.

"Sounds good. I'll be back as soon as I've talked to everyone." Matt said as he started toward the door.

"Check in with us as soon as possible to let us know who is committed to going so we can start making more definite plans." Professor Xavier called after him.

Matt waved his acknowledgment as he continued unabated out the door.

* * * * *

"Do you want me to go ahead and start inviting people while you talk to Alan?" Xander asked as he and Andrew arrived in the living room.

"You might as well. Even if he absolutely forbids it, the worst that will happen is that we'll have to tell the kids that we changed our minds." Andrew said frankly.

Xander looked around the large empty room, then cautiously asked, "Any idea of where I could start looking for them?"

"Icheb and the younger kids are out front looking at the car. Trey, Clark, and John appear to be sharing a quiet moment in Trey's room. Robert, Bobby, and William seem to be working on a project in the basement." Andrew said slowly as his eyes glowed golden for a long moment.

"I'll try Icheb first. Good luck on your talk." Xander said with a weak smile.

"Thanks." Andrew said quietly, then turned to walk to the kitchen.

* * * * *

"Did you have a good visit with your dad?" Alan asked as he opened the oven.

"What? Oh, yeah. He needed portalling lessons. He did great." Andrew muttered.

Alan looked at him curiously, then slowly asked, "What's wrong Andy?"

"After I got done helping my dad, the professor called me." Andrew reluctantly admitted.

"You just got back from Africa, he doesn't have you going on another mission already, does he?" Alan asked in a pained voice.

"No. I mean, I plan on being in the command center, but I won't be going into battle or anything." Andrew said reluctantly.

"Do you need for me to go with you?" Alan asked cautiously, sensing that Andrew was holding something back.

"No. Scott's got it covered. It'd probably be best if you hang back so that we'll have you in reserve if things end up not going the way we expect." Andrew said uncomfortably.

"Out with it, Andy. What are you not saying?" Alan asked as he looked deep into Andrew's eyes.

"Icheb, Trey, William, and Jimmy are all going to be invited to join tonight's campaign." Andrew said quietly, then waited anxiously for Alan's reaction.

"I'm sure that there's something that I'm missing, so maybe you could tell me why you think involving the kids makes any kind of sense at all." Alan said, mostly reasonably.

"They're going to be fighting giant robots programmed to hunt down and neutralize mutants. Not being mutants, they should register as non-combatants to the robots which will leave them free to 'hack attack' the robots' programming." Andrew fought to explain.

"Just because they're supposed to be seen as non-combatants doesn't mean that they will be." Alan said thoughtfully.

"True. But I'm going to be recruiting Slayers to the fight, so if the kids turn out to be in danger or aren't effective, we can pull them out and let the Slayers deal with things the old-fashioned way." Andrew said seriously, beginning to sound a bit more self-assured.

"What happens if I say 'no'?" Alan asked curiously.

"Then that's it. The children won't be included in the plan." Andrew said simply.

"That would probably be the safest and most responsible thing to do, but I think I see what you're thinking. It's not about allowing the kids to contribute to their community by defending it, as much as it is allowing them to make a unique contribution." Alan slowly reasoned.

"I'll be there watching them every step of the way. I can pull them out if they're ever in any danger." Andrew promised.

"You'd better." Alan said firmly.

"I have to hop over to Slayer Central right now to gather a fighting force. I may be gone for a few minutes." Andrew said regretfully.

"Don't run your blood sugar too low. At least take something with you." Alan said with concern.

"Hand me a slice of bread." Andrew said as he reached for the jar of peanut butter.

"How about a glass of milk to wash it down?"

"Just a small one." Andrew said as he spread peanut butter on a single slice of bread.

* * * * *

As Xander walked to the car, he saw the curious sight of the children grouped around the open hood.

"Icheb, do you have a minute?" Xander asked cautiously, not sure of what he might be interrupting.

"Of course, Uncle Xander. Would you like for me to drive you somewhere?" Icheb asked hopefully.

"Oh, Gods no!" Xander automatically responded, then calmed himself before continuing, "I mean, I just had a question to ask you."

"Proceed." Icheb said reasonably as he straightened and devoted his full attention to Xander.

"We've gotten word that there might be an attack tonight. Your father thought that you should be invited along to join the counterattack." Xander carefully explained.

"Am I being asked to join the X-Men?" Icheb asked curiously.

"Maybe. As one of the reserves, at least. You see, the attackers tonight will be targeting only mutants, so the idea is to gather a group of non-mutant fighters to stand against them."

"You should invite Trey. He has the most fighting skill of any of us." Icheb said frankly.

"I'll be inviting him next." Xander assured him, then thought to add, "And the enemies that we'll be fighting are giant robots. We thought that you might be able to attack them in some way besides brute force."

"Purely robotic adversaries... that is an interesting challenge." Icheb said slowly, obviously considering a million or more possibilities.

"Will we be invited to attend as well?" Janine asked seriously.

Xander looked over the remaining children and thought quickly about how he should respond.

"They wouldn't send little kids to fight giant robots. That'd be stupid." Quaid said frankly.

Xander was surprised by the statement, but decided to capitalize on the opening that Quaid had given him. "The adults and older kids fight to protect the younger kids."

"If you want to be part of the fight, then we should stay here and defend Marguerite, Thomas and Chakotay. While we're depending on everyone else to defend us, we can defend them." Quaid said seriously.

"Yes. We can prepare defenses in the event that their efforts prove to be inadequate." Janine said decisively.

"Actually, that sounds like fun." Quaid said with surprise.

"Jimmy, your father was saying that if you were interested, you might want to go along to document the fight." Xander said cautiously.

"Father said that?" Jimmy asked hesitantly.

"Yeah. At least, he said that you could go as long as we promised to keep you out of the fighting. You're just supposed to watch and report back." Xander explained.

"Yes. That does sound like Father." Jimmy confirmed.

"Jimmy, is your subspace neural link functional?" Janine asked seriously.

"It is functional but inactive." Jimmy responded.

"Activate it when you observe the confrontation. I may have something to contribute." Janine said succinctly.

"Yes. I will do so." Jimmy promised.

"I need to go and invite Trey and Clark. Make sure to be somewhere that we can reach you." Xander said seriously.

"We have concluded our post-trip inspection of the vehicle. Henceforth we will be inside the boathouse. When you are ready for us to embark on our journey simply call." Icheb said in a moderately Borg tone.

Xander nodded his agreement, then headed back toward the boathouse.

* * * * *

"Do you mind if I interrupt you for a minute?" Matt asked from the doorway.

"Not at all. What can I do for you today, Matt?" Ororo asked pleasantly.

"I just need to talk to Marie for a minute." Matt said simply.

"Certainly. I hope it's not a problem." Ororo said with concern.

"Not much of one. Remy got word that there was going to be an attack at the mall tonight and I was sent to recruit Marie to be on the team to deal with it." Matt said frankly.

"Why am I just now hearing of this?" Ororo cautiously asked.

"I think the Prof is getting our first wave organized before worrying too much about the home front." Matt said seriously.

"If there's an operation, as a team leader I should be included in the planning." Ororo said firmly.

"I'm not disagreeing. But since the professor is planning for a battle between robots and non-mutant fighters, I think he's worrying less about the mutant contingent and more about the fighters he's recruiting from another dimension." Matt said carefully.

"Robots and non-mutants from another dimension? It sounds messy. Perhaps this once I won't be too bothered about not being involved." Ororo said with a forced smile.

"Ro, if you're feeling left out, let Charlie know. I don't think it has anything to do with him looking down on your capability as a leader. He's probably just looking at the simplest way to achieve his goals and isn't thinking too much about what it looks like to anyone else." Matt said frankly.

"Who did he decide to put in charge?" Ororo asked cautiously.

"From what I saw, he's taking care of it himself. He's got Scott there, but that's mostly to carry out his decisions." Matt said seriously.

"And he has you recruiting certain people for this operation?" Ororo asked to confirm her understanding.

"Yes. In fact, right now I need to track down a couple vampires. If you want to help me out, you could ask your nephew if he'd like to join in on the mission." Matt asked cautiously, obviously uncertain of her probable reaction.

"May I know what Evan and Marie will be expected to do? Even if Professor Xavier doesn't have need of me, I am curious to know why he would choose to include the younger members of the team." Ororo said with concern.

Overhearing her name, Marie stepped closer to participate in the conversation.

"I think it's because they look like they'd fit in at the mall on a Friday night. Besides that, both of them are smart, fast, and agile and not too dependent on their mutant abilities. If these robots can really stop a mutant ability, then they've still got a good shot at being able to fight or dodge them." Matt said frankly.

"This is why you have us doing all that work in the Danger Room, isn't it?" Marie asked seriously.

"Yup. Days like this is what we're training for." Matt confirmed.

"Marie and I would be happy to aid you by inviting Evan to join your endeavour." Ororo said peacefully.

"Thanks Storm. Remember to tell him to bring his skateboard. We're going to need everyone at their best, ready to react when the time comes." Matt said as he turned to leave.

"We will be." Marie assured him.

To Be Continued...

Editor's Note: Nice Chapter, MM. I wondered if you had forgotten to add "peacefully" to the chapter.

I had to smile when I saw it.

Am I correct in assuming that you thought of filling in some missing information, so that future events will have some back story to bolster the events presented therein?

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher