On the Vale, an alternate Earth, there is no X-Men. Mutants are hunted and killed for unkown reasons by cops in giant Iron Man suits called Sentinels. This is the first part of the Vale X-Men.
FR13 - mild violence and language
The Sentinel loomed down on the heap of rotting garbage and wretched waste. Its thermal scanners searched the area once, then twice, then thrice. Finally, with no indication of life present, it lumbered off, crushing an old truck. This sector was clean, meaning he could finally switch shifts. The gigantic robotic arms reached up to his head and pulled it from his torso, revealing a human head inside the helmet. Back at the station, Officer Harris powered down the ten-foot Sentinel Suit and exited through the unhinging backside. His hand stroked against the “Stark Industries” logo on the side of the machine. He was done for today.
Meanwhile, back at the dump, a shining white hand, almost transparent, emerged from the heap. Slowly, a gleaming figure emerges from the pile and began to descend the hill of crud towards the sewers. His skin began to grow dimmer and fleshy colored as he trudged to the tunnel by the river. Within seconds Robert Drake was once again underground and hidden from the surface. He walked onward for about half an hour until he reached the large boulder. He leaned up against the stone, muttering, “Summers”. Immediately the rock moved to the side, revealing a large cave carved into the sewage system.
“Bobby!” a voice came from across the room. Within seconds, Warren Worthington III had reached his friend and clapped him on the back. Warren’s wings were tucked under his shirt. Bobby knew he hated the exercise, but they knew Warren had to practice looking human for when they journeyed to town, like Bobby had today.
“Did you have any trouble?” Warren inquired, looking into a large shoulder bag his friend had returned with full of food.
“*Darn* Sentinel almost got me,” Bobby revealed casually, “but I just hid in the dump. They’re getting worse, you know.”
“Yeah,” Warren agreed. “Kurt was here a little while ago. Said they found the McCoy Camp earlier. We don’t know who’s caught or alive, if any, but we know a few escaped. Kurt is trying to find Hank or any of the others now.”
“Do we know who got away?”
“Sean and Elisabeth were the only ones Kurt knew for sure. The rest is speculation. I was hoping we could help tomorrow when the others get back.”
Bobby thought this over. “The McCoy Camp wasn’t that far away. How do we know the cops haven’t found out about us by now and caught them?”
Warren pondered this with terrible unease.
“How about we wait until tomorrow to see? If they aren’t back by noon, we’ll go find them.” Warren knew his plan offered a huge risk, but they couldn’t afford any false alarms right now with Sentinels probably all over the city searching for runaway mutants. Bobby, too, was not comfortable with this idea, but knew they had no choice.
“Ok,” he said, “We’ll wait ‘til tomorrow.”
Kurt Wagner was staying in the treetops. He couldn’t afford to be seen by the Sentinels searching the ground for runaways. He teleported from one tree to another, never hitting the branches or making a sound. He could not find anyone on the ground or in the trees, but he knew part of it was due to a squad of Sentinels so close by. If any mutant was around, they wouldn’t go anywhere near the cops.
Kurt finally stopped on a branch and rested. He had been searching for hours. If there was anyone out here where the camp had been, they had left New York by now. He was getting ready to find a place to sleep for the night when something small flew in front of his face, missing it by inches and hitting the branch he was holding. The object exploded and Kurt plummeted down. However, he was able to teleport away at the last second and into another nearby tree. Scouring the ground, he saw something that seemed to be covered in leaves at the base of the tree.
Teleporting down to the ground, he quickly reaching into the pile of leaves and fished up another person. His hair was long and rugged and his red eyes were wild with fear and hate. Before he could react, Kurt had him pinned down on top of a skyscraper in the city.
“Who are you?” Kurt demanded. The man just seemed to rest, panting. Then, suddenly, he punched Nightcrawler’s chest and kicked him off. Then, drawing a staff from his coat, swung at Kurt’s face. Nightcrawler teleported behind the man and grabbed him. He took his staff and then took them both back to the forest.
“I can leave you here,” Nightcrawler whispered, “to them, but I don’t want to quite yet. Now, what was your name again?’ He then brought them back to the roof and threw him on the floor.
“My name,” the man said slowly in a Cajun accent, “is Gambit.” He then fished out a playing card from his pocket and throws it toward Kurt. Kurt caught and looked at it glow purple before remembering the branch, but he was too slow and the card exploded in his hand, knocking him out.
Bobby was pacing the floor of the cave the next morning. It was 11:30, and there was still no sign of the others.
“We should go now!” he suggested.
“No, we should wait out the last half hour, just to be safe,” Warren said, standing in the back of the cave by his bed. The cave was about the size of a football field. On one side there was the circular doorway that lead to the sewers. On the other side was a row of bunk beds that Kurt had smuggled down for them. In front of the beds were a couple of tables where they ate and off to the side was a pantry for food. Bobby kept the frozen goods in a bin he refroze every night for the next day. A small TV and radio rested on another table by the pantry.
“What if they were caught and we’re wasting time?” Bobby asked.
“What if we get caught and then there’s no one left? For all we know, Beast is gone, along with his camp. I don’t know where Banshee would’ve gone, or Psylocke, but I’ll bet they left the city! You, Kurt, and I could be the only resistance left!”
Bobby was silent for a moment. He knew his friend was correct, but he hated not doing anything.
“I’m still going,” he muttered, and began to head for the door. He was walking so briskly he almost collided into the figure who had stepped through the door.
“Watch it!” Kitty remarked as she phased through him, “What’s up with you?”
Just then the door opened and Jubilee and Rogue entered.
“Hey, we’re back!” Rogue shouted towards the room.
“You’re Ok!” Warren exclaimed as he rushed to greet them. He and Bobby told the girls what had happened the day before. They then sat down to discuss the trip the others had returned from.
“It’s not looking good in L.A., either,” Rogue said explained, “Last week the Sentinels took down one of Hayes’ squads. We think they got Magma. *Darn* it! We told them not to go down there!”
“Don’t blame them,” Warren said, “Molly had half the city under her control when they got the Hulk in there to thin them out.”
“Yeah,” Jubilee added, “Molly is underground now, too. We figure they tried to build another Genosha, but they’re failing. Not even imprisoning the Hulk could stop S.H.I.E.L.D. from sending more Sentinels.”
“If I ever meet Stark,” Kitty began, “I don’t think there’s anyone alive who could stop me from kicking his-”
Just then the door exploded and there, in a mist of dust and cement, stood three sentinels.
“Surrender now,” the nearest cop said in a superior tone, “and maybe we won’t kill you and you’re friend.” He then reached behind him and pulled into the spotlight a very beaten Kurt, unconscious and bound. Gambit strode out looking quite proud of himself. A Sentinel pointed a gun straight at him.
“Kurt!” Bobby exclaimed.
“Yes,” the Sentinel said, “his brain is not very protected. Our psychics were easily able to get your location out of him.”
“You hunt mutants, but you have some on your own side?” Rogue said.
“You mutants are all *poo*. Our side doesn’t use mutants, we make mutants!”
“That’s insane! How can you be such hypocrites?” Kitty accused.
“Listen, lady, I just follow orders, but I still hate you all. So why don’t you just come along and don’t try any funny business?”
Hesitantly, the five mutants raised their hands and were bound, too. Gambit follows the cops. One of the Sentinels pulled Nightcrawler along.
“So how much am I getting paid for finding’ the blue one?” Gambit asked a Sentinel.
“Ha!” the Sentinel laughed as he turned and grabbed Gambit’s throat. “You aren’t getting anything, except maybe the Shot!” He began to squeeze Gambit’s neck. Barely able to breathe, he clutched at the mechanical arm, which steadily started to glow purple.
“What the-” was all the Sentinel could get out before his arm exploded, showering the tunnel with electric sparks and metal. Gambit fell and armed himself with the staff as the one-armed Sentinel suit began to drown in the sewage. The back opened and the cop stepped out, gun at the ready. Gambit quickly bashed the gun hand with his staff before smacking the cop across the face, knocking him out.
“Now!” Iceman shouted as he turned to ice, pummeling a Sentinel with ice beams. Rogue used a combination of Iceman's ice and Jubilee's firecrackers she had picked up awhile before to help. Angel unstrapped his wings and soared into the cramped, yet wide, tunnel, attacking the other Sentinel’s helmet. Jubilee fired a firecracker that exploded in the suit’s chest, blowing a hole through the exoskeleton. Shadowcat reached right up through the suit and pulled the man out before punching him in the face. She then did the same to the other Sentinel. The suits fell into the river, which was then frozen by Iceman. The suits were destroyed and the cops were unconscious. It was then they realized Kurt was coming to.
“Kurt!” Bobby shouted as he turned back to normal.
“Bobby?” Kurt muttered groggily as he woke up. Bobby helped him to his feet and undid the cuffs on his wrists and ankles. Right then was when Kurt saw his Cajun foe.
“Hey!” Kurt shouted, “He’s the one who attacked me!”
“Relax,” Gambit said, “I think we’re on the same side now.”
“He tried to sell us out!” Rogue remarked.
“No,” Warren said, “He’s with us now. We’re all in the same boat, and we need to get out of this sewer fast, maybe even the city.”
“Where do we go?” Kurt asked.
“We should try to find as many mutants as we can,” Bobby said, “We may not know why we’re being hunted, but there’s plenty of mutants all over the Vale that want to fight back. We’ll get to L.A. again. That’s where Hayes’ resistance is. We’ll start an army to stop these prejudice psychopaths.”
“Go up against the feds?” Jubilee asked, “Are we sure about that one?”
“We’re already on the run,” Rogue said, “I like the idea.”
“Me too,” Kitty said, “I don’t want to wait to die.” And one by one they agreed to build a team to stop the government and the Sentinels.
“Well then,” Iceman said, “let’s go.”
X-Men, Stark Industries, and everything related belongs to Marvel Comics. "The Vale" is a canonical and fictional place/dimension.