"Kill all the mutie bastards!" he screamed. Zooming in behind him were Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, She-Hulk and many others.
"It's the Avengers!" I yelled in disbelief.
"No!" Apocalypse yelled back. "It's the Ultimates!"
Somehow Cyclops gathered his wits and blasted Captain America's hovercraft with his optic beam. With a blood curdling cry, the Captain leapt off the flaming wreckage of his flying machine. He charged straight toward us. He pulled back his shield and razor sharp spikes popped out from the outer edge. He jumped right in front of me and swung his shield straight at my head.
In mid-motion, Apocalypse dove in front of me and knocked Captain America's shield aside. Then a rather strange look crossed the Captain's face. He stood there motionless for a moment. We stared at him in confusion and then a trickle of blood started to leak from the corner of his mouth. As he collapsed to the ground in a heap, Wolverine was revealed standing behind him, blood on his claws.
"What the hell is going here, Chuck?" he asked. All I could do was shake my head. I tried to reach out with my mind to probe our attackers, perhaps take control of them, but for some reason, I wasn't able to connect with them at all. It's like they were shielded somehow from telepaths.
Then a huge deafening explosion erupted next to us, sending everyone sprawling to the floor. Groaning, I pulled myself up onto my chair. I looked over to the others and saw Apocalypse cry out in anguish. His howling got louder and he threw his arms into the air. An ephemeral head started to emerge from his chest. As it took shape, I realized it was the Vision. He materialized inside Apocalypse, splitting him in two.
"Professor, over here!" called Emma. She was leaning out of the jet-copter that we had flown in from my former school. Mystique and Toad were with her. Cyclops, Wolverine and I started to make our way through the rubble, trying to avoid falling rocks and flying missiles. When we were almost at the ship, wild tendrils of lighting ripped down from the exposed sky and blew the ship to pieces. Thor, laughing like a maniac, threw his hammer and it tore through Toad's chest.
Thor landed on the ruined platform next to us. She-Hulk, Iron Man and the other Avengers fell into place next to him. I tried again to reach them with my mind, but to no avail.
"Time to die," said Captain America with a sneer. Thor raised his hammer to call down more lighting as Iron Man raised his repulsor blasters at us.
I watched as if in slow motion the lighting bolts crackling towards us. The repulsor beams streaked out from Iron Man's gauntlets, headed straight at my head. Just before the impact though, an eerie orange fire bathed our team. The other-worldly flames absorbed both the lighting and energy beams. The flames then spread out to engulf the Avengers. They were all sent flying.
As the flames moved away from us, I could see that they were in the shape of a giant fiery bird. More specifically, a Phoenix. Reaching out with my mind, I felt Jean. Our Jean.
"Hello, Professor," Jean said as she floated down next to us. At least, I think it was Jean. She had an organic steel body like Colossus, though with the Phoenix symbol on her chest. It was definitely her mind, though. "Shall we get out of here?" she asked.
"You can tell me later how you found us and where you got that body from," I answered. "If you have a way out of this nightmare, then get to it!"
And with that, Jean reached out into mid-air and I had the strangest sensation of being pulled through some kind of glass barrier. We entered some kind of giant pristine white room. Turning back, it appeared that we had just entered this room through a television set. The images on the set showed a world erupting in fiery destruction. Looking back to the white room, I realized that there were dozens of other people here. All of strange looking crew had one thing in common - Phoenix symbols on their chests.
If I don't accept Picard's invitation to the Enterprise Christmas party next year, I think he'll understand.