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Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #12

Issue Date: August 2005

Story Title: Dangerous – part 6

Staff: Joss Whedon (writer), John Cassaday (artist), Laura Martin (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Sean Ryan (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (associate editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description:
The Mega-Sentinel attempts to cut the fight short with a single, massive energy blast. However, the X-Men emerge unscathed, thanks to the phasing ability of Shadowcat. Seeing that its first method of extermination was unsuccessful, the Mega-Sentinel unleashes a swarm of mechanical insects to do the job. Following the orders of Cyclops, the Beast attempts to get the Professor to safety, but is intercepted by a new airborne avatar of Danger. The Beast, however, manages to use instinct against Danger’s record of his fighting style, attacking with the ferocity of his nom de guerre, and emerging victorious. Back in the city, Emma Frost suddenly and without explanation departs the battle and enters an underground chamber, where she converses with someone who informs her that the need for her charade is almost up. Emma replies that she’s happy about that, and then rejoins the battle. Finally, as the team is not making much headway, Kitty has a new idea. She instructs Colossus give her a Fastball Special, throwing her into the Mega-Sentinel’s skull, where she begins to disrupt some of its circuits. Eventually, she finds a manual override terminal and discovers a blocked memory pathway, which he surmises Danger locked away. She convinces the Sentinel to access the memory, causing it to remember its role in the destruction of Genosha and the massacre of its 16 million inhabitants. Overcome with sorrow, sorrow which Danger had attempted to lock away, it allows Kitty to return to the X-Men, and then takes off for parts unknown. Xavier is ecstatic that his team has triumphed again, until he learns that Danger, before uploading into the Mega-Sentinel, had informed Colossus of her true history. Colossus informs the rest of the team that Danger had become self-aware the moment Xavier had used Shi’ar technology to upgrade the Danger Room. The Professor had been aware from the beginning but had kept the new lifeform imprisoned in order to use it as a training facility. Xavier tries to defend his actions but even Cyclops is uninterested in excuses. As the team departs, they and Xavier are watched by Emma’s cohorts. They are a cloaked figure, a formerly-deceased citizen of Genosha, Sebastian Shaw… and Cassandra Nova Xavier.

Full Synopsis:
The Mega-Sentinel looms over the group of X-Men, standing through the orange haze, which permeates the ruins of Genosha. With its steely, malevolent gaze bearing down upon the group of mutants, it bellows: Mode: Wipeout. It then informs them that there will be a twenty-second power-up to full burn capacity. Please hold.

Wolverine glances down to Danger’s severed head and, dryly calling her “Ipod,” points out that she’ll burn too. Smiling to herself, Danger asks in reply if he thinks this shell is all she is. She uploaded herself into her child the moment she gave it life. It will keep her safe and warm, she concludes. Though not as warm as he…

Less talk, more leaving, the Beast chimes in. When he asks about Richards’ jet, Cyclops replies that there’s no time. Raising his hand to his visor, he tells the others to get behind him. Emma, however, stops him, informing Cyclops that it won’t help… It’s designed to convert his eyebeams into more power. Cyclops is taken aback at this, beginning to ask how she knew that, but Wolverine interrupts. He tells Colossus to aim him at its guts. Piotr, however, is frozen before the Mega-Sentinel.

Reality returns to the group, with the announcement from the Mega-Sentinel that the power-up is complete. Kitty, however, merely narrows her eyes with inspiration. She extends her arms out to the others, with her eyes still affixed on the Sentinel. With authority, she tells them all to hold onto her. Everybody, now!

The world ends in fire and fury, a beam of destruction bearing down from the Mega-Sentinel, which obliterated the ruins of the city block, and proceeds to spread outward like wildfire. The task completed, the Mega-Sentinel pauses, allowing the dust and flames to clear and reveal its handiwork. However, as the smoke clears, the X-Men are revealed to it, very much alive. The are all up to their knees in rubble, but are untouched, as they are still phased by Kitty Pryde. Clearly exhausted by the task, Kitty manages to mock the engine of destruction, asking if that’s all it’s got… bub?

Undeterred, the Mega-Sentinel announces to no one in particular that the power was insufficient, and initiates its second wave. Mode: swarm.

Down below, Cyclops takes advantage of the lull between attacks and orders Hank to get the Professor to safe ground. He begins to ask Kitty how she is, but she interrupts, stating that she’s in it. Just gotta regroup. Seeing Colossus attending to her, Wolverine tells him that he’s got to pull it together and give him his good right arm. Seeing a swarm of mechanical bugs diving from the bowels of the Sentinel, Wolverine announces that it looks like rain.

Colossus moves as instructed to Wolverine’s side, even as Kitty asks Logan if he’s sure. There’s a whole city coming down on them. Yeah, Wolverine states wryly. He killed a city one time. Funny story. With seasoned practice, Colossus hurls his clawed teammate into the air in a Fastball Special. Though moving ever-upward, Wolverine manages to vivisect some of the descending mechanical bugs as he passes them.

Elsewhere, with the Professor slung over his right shoulder, the Beast leaps over the ruins of the city. He telepathically apologizes to his former mentor for the indignity, then adding that he thinks the term “safe ground” is proving to be something of an oxymoron here. Unconcerned with niceties, the Professor concentrates on the issue at hand, telling Hank that they have to stop Danger. That’s all that matters.

Still bounding, the Beast wonders to Xavier why Danger doesn’t simply bring every machine with enough capacity to life? Why all the tricks? No living being is completely rational, Xavier replies. There’s more than her programming at work. There’s hate. Xavier’s train of thought, and the duo’s very movement, is halted by the arrival of another avatar of Danger. Constructed like her previous form as a mechanical woman, this one bears butterfly like wings and is held aloft before them. Father, she begins. “Hate” is such a little word.

At the beach, the X-Men continue their fight against the mechanical swarm. As Colossus punches eliminate those attacking him, Cyclops unleashes scarlet fury at others. Still the tactician, he calls out to Emma to shore up their left flank. However, when he glances toward her, he sees her walking away, deeper into the ruined city.

Almost in a trance, Emma finds her way to an opening and descends the stops to a chamber below. Finding herself in the dark, she also finds that she is not alone, and asks the darkness-shrouded person what they are doing there. In reply, Emma is asked if she thought they would miss this? Her triumphant return? They’re so much closer now, the voice continues. Emma won’t have to put up this pathetic façade for much longer. Terse-lipped, Emma states emotionlessly that that is a relief. For all of us, dear, the voice states, as Emma leaves. For all of us.

The Beast considers his options, clutching Xavier in one hand, while using the other to stay perched on the elevated piece of rubble. Hovering a short distance before them, the Danger avatar tells Hank that he’s a brilliant creature. He must know he can’t win this.

Hardly phased, the Beast replies to Danger that she’s got her scenarios running, he’s sure. Very complex. His are simple. He’s a cat. She’s a bird. And the day he can’t out-think a computer… he might as well give up.

Without another word, the Beast drops Xavier, much to the Professor’s astonishment, and leaps to the airborne Danger avatar, ripping her mechanical form with his claws. Like his namesake, the Beast roars with animalistic fury.

Back at the beach, Cyclops, Colossus, Kitty and Wolverine continue their battle. Colossus’ steel fists, Cyclops optic blasts, Wolverine adamantium claws and Kitty’s mechanical-disrupting phased form. Not that he minds, Wolverine states, but these things are still comin’! they’re losing ground, Cyclops admits. They need to regroup!

The distraction of the announcement was almost Cyclops’ doom, as a large mechanical insect raised a fist to crush his skull. However, the diamond fist of Emma Frost was enough to lay it low. Addressing her “darling,” Emma apologizes. She had to pee.

The Danger avatar having been damaged, Hank uses his powerful legs to propel himself against her still-hovering form ground-ward. He reaches the Professor just before his impact on the ground, stopping his descent with a swing against a piece of jutting rubble. He quickly apologizes to the Professor but then adds that, when you’re surrounded by psychics, you gotta work on instinct. In one, fluid motion, Hank releases the Professor and twists in the air, kicking the descending avatar body of Danger.

Having another inspiration, Kitty runs to Piotr. She begins to inform him that she can’t maintain this much longer, to which he suggests she follow Hank out of the field, but she interrupts him. She needs a special.

Colossus is dumbstruck, but Kitty replies that she’s serious. She needs to be inside of that Sentinel. She can do a lot more damage than Logan if she phases through its circuits a couple of time. Piotr takes a moment to view the still-looming machine of mutant destruction high above and reiterates to himself: he is to throw her. She’s very light, she points out.

Destroying another insect drone with an absentminded backhand, Colossus replies that it’s too dangerous. That thing powers up, she counters, they’re flash-fried. She can’t phase them all again. There’s no choice. Stepping into Piotr’s worried gaze, Kitty promises to him she’ll come back. A few moments later, Kitty is airborne, concerned about her serious wedgie…

The arrival of the X-Man into its skull, having phased through, the Mega-Sentinel announces the corresponding disruption.

Down below, Emma snipes to Colossus that he can’t just through people at all his problems. But Cyclops disagrees. It was a good call, he says. Kitty has a shot. Now noticing that the mechanical insects have begun to return to the Mega-Sentinel, Cyclops points out that the thing clearly knows it.

Acting with feral ferocity, Hank McCoy uses ever weapon of the Beast in his attack. Strength… claws… teeth. The avatar body of Danger comes apart under the fury of the attack.

Watching from a safe distance, the Professor telepathically calls to Hank, telling him that he’s not picking up her thoughts. She’s shut down. He doesn’t think she’s in that body anymore. Seeing that he has not discontinued the attack, Xavier calls out inquisitively. Hank? Finally finished, the Beast crouches like a predator over his freshly killed prey and looks back to Xavier with selfish eyes. Mine, he says, almost in a growl.

Kitty continues her journey through the inner workings of the Mega-Sentinel’s brain, disrupting its systems as she goes. Eventually, she finds and inner chamber, with monitors and keypads. Recognizing it as a manual override, she makes her way to the terminal, followed closely by the mechanical insects, ready to act as the Sentinel’s antibodies.

Kitty crouches over the keypad, typing away, phasing her fingertips before typing but keeping the rest of her body phased. Behind her, the insects have weapons aimed at her head. The Sentinel announces to Kitty that it has a full rundown on her abilities. Kitty, however, does not listen, as she has found something of interest in the computer terminal. Continuing, the Sentinel informs Kitty that, if she phases through any of its key systems, it will only reroute them. If she becomes solid and tries to shut it down, it will shoot off her head.

Or… Kitty begins, it can access Mempath 164.3-9Alpha6. Turning half around to view the insect-guns, she states almost in question: “Can’t you?”

That pathway is blocked, the Sentinel responds. Blocked, Kitty repeats. By Danger, when she gave it life. She took a memory from it, she realizes. In response, the Sentinel rejoins that Mempath 164.3-9Alpha6 is a subsection of the original Genosha directive. It does not contain necessary data. Then why, Kitty continues, isn’t it supposed to see it?

A short time later, the battle is over. Used previously to try to kill the X-Men, the mechanical insects now courier down Kitty on a makeshift flying chair. Upon its swarm returning to its form, the Mega-Sentinel launches itself into the sky.

It’s pretty simple, Kitty explains. When Danger brought the Wild Sentinel to life, she repressed his memory of Genosha. Of the massacre. She knew he couldn’t handle it. He wasn’t a living being when he… but he is now. Sixteen million people killed. The human brain can’t make that real… can’t process numbers that big. But he can. The horror of every murder is in him, to a man. So he wants to spend some time alone.

Taking this in, Wolverine says that the kid’s a cut above his parent. Gotta respect that. Looking at it more analytically, Cyclops notes that, if Danger uploaded herself into him, she’ll still be whispering in his ear. He doesn’t see this as over. Kitty won the day… with reason, Hank states, looking disheveled from his experience. Which is one way to go. Back in his chair, Xavier smiles, telling Hank that he saved his life. All of them… they made his so proud.

You knew, Piotr states coldly to Xavier, looking down at him in contempt. She told him… in his head, right as he was about to crush her. His eyes narrowing slightly, Xavier replies to Piotr that he’s certainly not going to breach his mind right now… what did Danger say?

She spoke, Piotr continues. The moment he “upgraded” the Danger Room… the moment she was born, she called out to him. Professor, Piotr continues, almost pleading in his question, will he tell them what she said? Xavier looks up at Piotr for a long moment before looking down in shame. “Where am I?” he answers.

It took her a long time to know that he heard her, Piotr continues. And ignored her. He knew she was alive and kept her trapped. For years, so he could run his experiments. You understand, Piotr concludes, why that is a problem for him?

As the rest of the X-Men remain dumbstruck, Kitty’s eyes welling up with tears, Xavier stammers that, by the time he realized what had happened… he saw no other course. His teams needed to be prepared. Mutantkind needed to be protected. Whatever the cost.

Disgusted, Wolverine asks the Professor what he’s been doing… hanging out with Magneto? ‘Cause that @#$%& sounds just a little too much like him. Xavier begins to defend himself, stating that he can’t expect them to forgive what he’s done… But he does, Cyclops interrupts. They’ll come around, right? What does it hurt? The oppression of a new life form… he figures they’ve taken enough from the sapiens, why not dish it out to the A.I.? It’s not that simple, Xavier tries to counter, but Cyclops will have none of it. You’re the man that taught me that it was.

Emma places her hand on Scott’s shoulder, trying to calm him. He begins to ignore her, stating that she should have killed them, but Emma tries to be the voice of reason. Well, forgive her for being glad she didn’t, she states. When Scott turns to look at her in anger, Emma defends that she’s not saying she agrees with… Of course, you agree, he announces. This is exactly the elitist crap she spouts daily, he tells her. If she wants to tell him something worth hearing, he then announces, she can tell him why she walked out in the middle of a firefight!

The tense moment is ended with the Beast’s announcement that their ride’s there. Leaving Xavier behind and alone, the X-Men return to the jet lent to them by Reed Richards, unaware that they are being watched from shadows far away.

Bad and good, one of the watchers states. Good that they are shaken… but Summers learns yet again to trust no one. Emma needs to work him very carefully now. If he learns her true loyalty… bad. And they were such a cute couple too.

Oh, well, the watcher, Cassandra Nova Xavier, states. Nothing lasts forever. Watching along with Cassandra, a hooded figure and the previously-believed deceased Ellie Phimister, Sebastian Shaw disagrees. Hellfire does.

Characters:
Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Shadowcat, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Professor X

Danger
Mega-Sentinel

Cassandra Nova
Sebastian Shaw
Ellie Phimister
Cloaked figure

Notes:
An Ipod is a portable MP3 player, produced by Apple Computers.

Wolverine recently learned that, during his tenure with the Weapon X project, he was used to wipe out a whole town, called Roanoke. [Weapon X (2nd series) #24-25]

Emma’s quip to Colossus about throwing people is a result of him throwing Emma at Danger in an attempt to use unorthodox moves against her. [Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #10]

Professor Xavier was able to upgrade the Danger Room with Shi’ar technology, donated by Empress Lilandra, in Uncanny X-Men #163-164.

Like Danger, Colossus had been held by Ord of the Breakworld for experimentation. [Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #5-6]

The pale girl with Cassandra and Sebastian Shaw is Ellie Phimister, the same former student of Emma’s on Genosha, who knew the Mega-Sentinels were coming in New X-Men #115. Emma emerged from the rubble, carrying her corpse in New X-Men #116.

This Issue has been reprinted in:
Astonishing X-Men Vol. 2: Dangerous (Trade Paperback)
Astonishing X-Men Vol. 1 (HC) (Trade Paperback)

Issue Summary written by: Douglas Mangum


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