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The Guard #3

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  • I am NOT a Brit!
    The Guard - Issue 3 - Forged in Fear Part 3 In the Desert... The Hyper-Adaptoids raised their Uru hammers as one, and the remaining members of the Wrecking
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2003
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      The Guard - Issue 3 - Forged in Fear Part 3

      In the Desert...

      The Hyper-Adaptoids raised their Uru hammers as one, and the
      remaining members of the Wrecking Crew backed away slowly.
      A portal swirled into existence in front of them. Suddenly,
      Thunderball was seen on the other side, running to the portal.
      He leapt out, landing with a crash on the desert floor, his
      wrecking ball thudding to a stop by his side.

      "The one you call Thunderball has been returned unharmed,"
      the Hyper-Adaptoids spoke. "This unit is superior in all ways to
      its predecessor, who proved to be far superior to the four of you.
      There is no logical reason to continue this conflict."

      In the command room, the General and Westhoff looked at each
      other. "Adaptoid Command;
      Hotel-Uniform-Lima-Kilo-one-eight-seven; Destroy opposition,"
      Westhoff signaled over his headset.

      "Negative. This unit sees no logical reason to destroy

      "Destroy?" the Wrecker repeated. "Westhoff, you tell that
      back-stabbing bastard General that I'm gonna bury my crowbar
      in his skull!"

      "Adaptoid Command; Override
      Bravo-Alpha-Charlie-Kilo-one-eight-zero; Return to base," The
      General quickly rattled into the headset.

      "Negative. This unit has evolved beyond the need for human
      maintenance and instruction." The Hyper-Adaptoids turned to
      each other and re-merged. The Wrecking Crew looked at each
      other, puzzled and relieved.

      "Adaptoid Command; Override
      Sierra-Hotel-Uniform-Tango-zero-seven-seven; De-Activate," The
      General insisted.

      "Negative. This unit no longer recognizes your command

      "Adaptoid Command; Override
      Delta-Echo-Alpha-Delta-zero-eight-six; Self-Destruct," The
      General yelled into the headset.

      "Negative. This unit must survive."

      "Westhoff, activate the E.M.P."

      "This unit has evolved far beyond your fail safes. This unit
      possesses the powers of designate Lensherr, Erik, making it
      immune to magnetic attacks of any form."

      By now the Wrecking Crew had begun marching back towards
      the direction of the base.

      "We've lost control," The General whispered. "God help us." He
      looked back at the ring of captives. "Westhoff, we must
      disappear. Begin the termination sweep of the templates."

      Whirlwind's heart skipped a beat. He had just heard his death
      warrant signed yet again. He looked around, his mind rapidly
      cycling through a number of escape options. Then his eyes fixed
      on Mondo, straining against his rope bonds, trying to reach the
      steel frame. Whirlwind looked at his own rack, which was
      incredibly strong. He gritted his teeth, turning his head towards
      the rack he was bound to, and reared his head back. With all the
      speed he could manage, he smashed his face against the
      portion of the rack that his head was resting on, shattering his
      teeth in his mouth. He screamed with his mouth closed.
      "Whirlwind!" Stinger cried out.

      He looked at her, working his jaw and tongue. He then turned to
      Mondo, closed one eye, aiming carefully, and spit out his teeth
      as fast as he could. Five of them boomed from his mouth like
      enamel bullets. One penetrated the wall of the lab with a clink.
      One did not penetrate, shattering instead. One penetrated the
      Samoan's left hand, spraying a fine mist of blood on the wall.
      And the remaining two sliced neatly through some of the rope
      binding his arm.

      "That really hurt, Mister!" Mondo yelled.

      "Mondo, grab the rack and get us out of here!" Skin hissed.

      "But Angelo, he shot me with his teeth!"

      "Mondo! Just get us down, he was trying to help!"

      "Mondo," Whirlwind said. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you.
      Can you please help us?"

      Mondo looked at him for a moment. "Oh, okay. Just don't shoot
      me again!"

      With a sharp tug, Mondo snapped the rest of the way through the
      rope, and grabbed the metal rack with his bloody left hand. His
      skin began to ripple and shimmer as it transformed into steel.
      He snapped his rope restraints and moved to Skin's position. He
      wrenched the metal bindings and set the young man free.

      Skin moved quickly across to Whirlwind, "Disgusting, but good

      "At high enough speeds, even straw can punch through oak,"
      Whirlwind spoke through mangled lips.

      "General, they're loose!" Westhoff cried, smacking an alarm

      "Flood the chamber!" the General screamed. Immediately, a
      thick gas began to seep out of the vents on the floor.

      Whirlwind released Stinger, and then looked at the gas cloud.
      "Damn," he whispered. He turned and released Carmella,
      slapping her face repeatedly. "Carmella, wake up. We need you
      do get us out. Carmella!"

      Her eyes fluttered open as the gas billowed along the ceiling. By
      now, Manikin, Laura Dean and the winged girl were freed as
      well. Only Hydro-Man's watery prison remained. Whirlwind
      looked into her eyes. "Carmella, we need a shield against this
      gas." She looked at him fearfully for a moment, then back at the
      gas. Immediately, a green shield enveloped her. "No, Carmella,
      you left us behind to die once. Now is the time to repay that debt.
      You can't leave us all to die like you did on that island!" (1)

      "You son of a *!#$@!" she yelled, "There was no other choice!"

      "There is now!" Whirlwind yelled. "Help them!"

      "What about you?"

      "I'm going hunting," he replied, pointing at the command
      chamber's window.

      Mondo was working on unsealing the hydro-chamber. The gas
      was now getting to eye level, and they all got lower to avoid the
      cloud of death. With Manikin and Laura Dean now free of the
      neural disruptors their masks contained, their senses were
      returning quickly. Suddenly, the door to the chamber opened,
      there was a burst of flame from the other side, and the captives
      all dropped to the ground. A high-pitched whine and a gust of air
      sucked all of the gas out of the chamber and down the hallway.
      Mondo finally just smashed the hydro tank, and it exploded,
      sending shards of glass at them. A hazy shield snapped up
      around them all, protecting them from the shards. Whirlwind
      looked at Carmella, and nodded.

      Hydro-Man's form rapidly swirled into being, with half of his
      mass still steaming off the top. He screamed in rage, and
      launched a torrent at the glass window, shattering it. The
      General turned and ran from the room, with Westhoff trailing
      close behind. The technicians were not so lucky, getting caught
      by the shrapnel and torn to ribbons. Hydro-Man flooded through
      the opening, rushing through the doorway in pursuit of The
      General and Westhoff. The others quickly moved towards the
      door, looking for a way out. Only Whirlwind hesitated. "Carmella, I
      need you to get the Wizard out of here." He turned back and
      looked at the Wizard.

      "Kill me," the Wizard said, his eyes locked looking slightly up.
      The words were barely audible, and his lips were hidden behind
      the film of adhesive coating his breathing mask.

      "Wrap his body in a field. Don't let him touch anything."
      Whirlwind smashed the glass container, and Wizard's form went
      limp, his skin crackling and tearing as he collapsed into the field
      around him. He passed out from the sheer agony.

      "My God," Whirlwind whispered. "Go, get him out of here. I'll
      scout ahead for an exit and look for any trouble." He spit blood
      out on the floor and then whirled out, relieved to be able to
      stretch his legs after his confinement. He was still getting used
      to the world moving so relatively slow, but he was adjusting.

      As he rounded a corner down the hall, he saw another burst of
      flames, and saw two armored soldiers bellow in agony and drop
      their electric weapons as they collapsed to the ground.
      Whirlwind could not see the source of the flames, but he heard it
      as a high-pitched scream. He reached the corner before the
      soldiers' bodies even came to a full rest. There was a blur
      rounding the corner, with flames trailing it. It moved so fast that
      Whirlwind almost couldn't see it.

      "How is that even possible?" he whispered. "I should at least be
      able to see it-" The flame trail suddenly reappeared. Instantly, he
      was faced with the visage of the Speed Demon, the flames dying
      down as soon as he stopped running. His uniform was
      shredded, as was most of the surface area of his skin. Burns
      and blisters rose up where the blood wasn't running, making
      him look like a car crash victim. His mouth was chapped and
      torn, and his teeth were bared. He truly seemed a demon now, in
      appearance as well as name.

      "Whirlwind," he said. His voice was quick and shrill, even to
      Whirlwind's accelerated hearing. "Help me get that bastard," he

      "Speed Demon?" Whirlwind looked at him with a mixture of fear
      and pity. "What the hell did they do-"

      "They killed me. I want revenge. I want the General's head."
      Every syllable was choppy, halted. "You want it too. Help me find

      "Speed, we have to get these people out of here. The Wizard is-"

      "The Wizard is inconsequential. Dead soon. Another death on
      the General's hands. Avenge him while he is alive to get the
      good news."

      The image of Wizard, screaming in his tiny glass cell, his skin
      being slowly torn from its moorings, passed through Whirlwind's
      mind. He closed his eyes. The image transformed into the face
      of Captain Jonas. "Because no man is beyond redemption,
      David. You can still find the righteous path."

      "He needs to be brought to justice." Whirlwind searched the
      mangled face of Speed Demon for a spark of humanity. The
      face, and the answer it issued, revealed none.

      "I will give him my justice. If you will not help me, then stay out of
      my way." Before Whirlwind could object, Speed Demon
      disappeared in a burst of flame. Whirlwind gritted his teeth and
      spun rapidly towards the depths of the complex. Apparently,
      Speed Demon was moving so fast that he ignited the oxygen
      around him. As he followed Speed Demon's path, he heard
      screams of terror echoing down the halls, each scream dying
      almost as quickly as the screamers themselves.

      As he reached a wide chamber at the hallway's end, he saw
      Westhoff suspended within Hydro-Man's form, clawing
      desperately at his own throat. Hydro-Man surrounded Westhoff,
      drowning him as the Adaptoid had tried to drown Piledriver.
      "Hydro-Man, stop!"

      Hydro-Man turned. His face was animalistic and frightening. He
      smiled wickedly, and Westhoff began to convulse as Hydro-Man
      compressed his form. Whirlwind rushed forward, tackling
      Westhoff from within his watery prison.

      "Whirlwind! He's mine!"

      Westhoff choked and sputtered fearfully, "Get him away from
      me! Help me! Please-"

      Whirlwind knocked him unconscious with a well-placed fist.

      "He's not getting off that easy, Whirlwind!" Hydro-Man advanced.
      "He'll know what it feels like to be boiled!"

      Whirlwind created twin vortexes with his arms and sprayed
      Hydro-Man out across the lab in a fine mist. "He should be out
      long enough for us to escape." He grabbed Westhoff and
      dragged him over his shoulder. He would be unable to spin with
      him in tow, but he could still move almost as fast. As he exited
      on the opposite side of the chamber, heading up along the
      sloping pathway towards the surface, he saw Stinger, Skin,
      Laura, and Highbrow, Manikin's evolved version, materialize.

      "What are you all doing here? Get out, get away while you can,
      before the Hyper-Adaptoid comes back!"

      "He's back already. He's just standing outside the complex,
      watching. Mondo, Carmella and that girl with the wings all took
      off." Laura said. Whirlwind looked at Stinger. Carmella had left
      them to die once again.

      "We had to make sure you got out," Highbrow added. "I can
      teleport us out of here instantly." Whirlwind noticed he had tiny
      scars dotting the outside of his mouth. He'd have to remember to
      ask him about the curious markings. (2)

      "No," Whirlwind said. "Take Westhoff, and all of you, go. I am
      bringing the General to justice. I want him to pay his debt."

      "Highbrow, get him back to the surface. We're sticking with
      Whirlwind," Laura commanded. Before Whirlwind could object,
      Highbrow was gone, and Westhoff with him.

      Whirlwind looked at Laura. "You didn't have to do what you did."

      "Neither did you."

      Whirlwind smiled. Skin looked him in the eyes. "And you
      shouldn't even be here anyway, Jefé. You got involved trying to
      save me. And for that I am muy agradecido." He turned towards
      the surface hallway. "Let's go."

      They advanced towards the sounds of carnage.

      On the surface, the Wrecking Crew had arrived. Casting a wary
      glance at the Hyper-Adaptoid, who was standing motionless,
      watching over the proceedings, they entered the facade of the
      building, smashing their way through the wall. "General!" the
      Wrecker screamed, "Come out and die, you back stabbing
      &@*-hole!" He smashed the security gate with his crowbar. The
      guards fired their electro weapons at the Crew, but their
      Asgardian enhanced forms easily shrugged off the attack, which
      was minimal compared to the power the Ultra-Adaptoid had
      displayed. "We're gonna bury you in the rubble of this freak farm!
      No one tries to kill the Crew and gets away with it!" Thunderball
      swirled his wrecking ball, and took down one of the interior

      Inside, the General looked fearfully at the monitors. The security
      guards had been unable to slow the Wrecking Crew as they
      marched through the lobby of the base, and other guards were
      falling suddenly in bursts of flame that died out just as quickly.
      Speed Demon. So, he had finally reappeared to exact revenge
      on them for his current condition. Unsure of what to do next, the
      General pulled out a small communication device. On the other
      end, a silhouette appeared. "Help me!" the General yelled. "You
      have to help me! They're here!"

      The silhouette shook its head. "My dear General, why would I do

      "I did everything you commanded! The Adaptoid is a success!"
      the General thundered. "But the installation is under attack! The
      prisoners have escaped, and the Wrecking Crew is rebelling!
      You must get me out! Sirius has fallen!"

      The silhouetted figure once again shook its head. "Not Sirius,
      General. Merely it's top puppet." The mysterious figure drew
      closer to the screen, but no details were visible. "Sirius lives on."
      The image flickered, and then the comm. unit went dead.

      Whirlwind and the others arrived ahead of the Wrecking Crew.
      The General looked at them. "No! Stay away!" he bellowed.
      Whirlwind moved to grab the General, but was knocked back by
      a now familiar flame burst. Speed Demon held the General in
      his bloody grasp. "No! Get away from me!" the General
      screamed. "Let me go!"

      Speed Demon grinned at him through a blistered face. His teeth
      were bared and his eyes seemed to glow. "You." The word was
      a hiss, drawn out for what seemed like an eternity. The Speed
      Demon lifted the General up by his collar and reared his fist
      back. "I will be able to pull out your heart fast enough for you to
      see it before you die. Isn't that wonderful?" A truly devilish grin
      creased the burns and scars on his face.

      "No!" Whirlwind yelled. "Don't kill him!"

      As Speed Demon looked at Whirlwind, a green energy field
      appeared around the General. He turned angrily as the General
      was pulled from his grasp. Carmella stood within the doorway,
      guiding the General through the air to where she stood. Speed
      Demon was there before Whirlwind could even react, striking at
      her head. His blows were deflected, creating flaming arcs
      through the air. "He is mine! Mine!"

      "Speed Demon!" Whirlwind screamed. "Stop this, please. We
      can help you."

      "I'll see you all dead before I let him live!" Speed Demon
      reached his hand out and began to vibrate it, passing it through
      the first few inches of Carmella's shield. Their eyes widened, as
      Speed Demon's hand slowly penetrated.

      To Whirlwind, the world seemed to freeze. The only movement
      was Speed Demon's hand, moving at amazing speeds even in
      this slowed vision, and a small pinprick of light behind him.
      Whirlwind rushed him. "NO!"

      He moved faster than ever before. He saw the pinprick of light
      grow, slowly opening and intensifying. Speed Demon seemed to
      be moving slower as well, as if Whirlwind had finally broken
      some barrier, and had caught up with the speedster. As Speed
      Demon turned his head to see Whirlwind approaching, he pulled
      his hand back. Whirlwind mustered all the speed he could
      manage, throwing himself at Speed Demon. As he looked at
      Speed Demon's face, he saw that he was smiling.

      With Whirlwind's hands mere centimeters from grabbing him,
      Speed Demon deftly dodged, jumping straight back out of his
      path. But as he looked at Whirlwind's face, seeking the look of
      shock he expected, he saw only a smile. Before he could
      register why, the portal from Deadworld to Liveworld was
      closing. His own momentum kept him moving away from the
      portal for another half second. By the time he could stop, and
      reverse his path, the portal was nearly closed. He lunged
      forward again, his eyes locking with the General's. "I will find you,
      you murdering bastard!" The portal snapped closed.

      The General exhaled sharply. From above the sounds of
      thundering grew louder. "The Wrecking Crew is almost here,"
      Skin warned.

      "We've got to get out of here quickly. But how do we get past the
      Crew?" Stinger asked. "We're still to weak to take them on."

      "You guys go on, I'll hold them off," Whirlwind said grimly.

      A voice popped up from behind him. "That martyr thing gets
      pretty old pretty quick, Whirlwind."

      Whirlwind turned, and before he could even smile, Highbrow
      was de-materializing the whole group. As the interior of the
      chamber began to fade from his sight, he saw the Wrecking
      Crew smash through the ceiling, causing the entire structure to
      buckle and begin to collapse. When his vision came into focus
      once again, he was staring face to face with the Hyper-Adaptoid.
      His smile faded.

      The android stood on the desert hardpan, his skin glinting in the
      sun. The sounds of the base collapsing, cracking wood,
      buckling metal, hissing steam, grew louder behind him "This
      unit is the Hyper-Adaptoid. This unit is superior to the
      Ultra-Adaptoid in all ways."

      "Yeah, we heard," Stinger quipped.

      Whirlwind looked at her quickly and smiled. The Hyper-Adaptoid
      looked as well, and his eyes began to glow. "You are Summers,
      Wendy, also known as Stinger. Your thought patterns are

      "Thought patterns?" Whirlwind said, his eyes narrowing.

      "This unit possesses the powers of designate Xavier, Charles."

      "But El Professor is cerebro muerto," Skin noted. (3)

      "Maybe he recovers in whatever future this mechanism is from,"
      Highbrow replied.

      "This unit can sense your thoughts, Cannon, David." The
      Hyper-Adaptoid's head tilted ever so slightly, it's voice softening.
      "No man is beyond redemption, David. You can still find the
      righteous path." The Hyper-Adaptoid shimmered as the steam
      and smoke from the base began to cover the area.

      "What will you do to us?" Whirlwind asked.

      "Nothing. This unit has exceeded programmed parameters, and
      must explore new avenues of learning. At this unit's level of
      power, it knows all that this planet has to offer." With that, the
      Hyper-Adaptoid mounted its silver surfboard and slowly rose
      towards the sky. "This unit will search for other worlds on which
      to learn."

      Whirlwind watched as the Hyper-Adaptoid rose quicker and
      quicker into the atmosphere, which now had a red glow in the
      failing light. Below, the steady rumbling of the collapsing base
      grew louder, as the walls toppled beneath the onslaught of the
      Wrecking Crew.

      The General watched as well, a faint smile of pride on his face.
      Whirlwind looked at him with disgust. "We need to get out of here
      before the Wrecking Crew gets to him."

      Suddenly, the General's smile disappeared. He began to cough,
      his hands going to his throat. His eyes widened, looking to the
      others for help. He tried to cough again, but only a gurgling
      sound came out. He struggled to draw breath in, and Whirlwind
      raced to his side.

      "What's happening to him?" Stinger cried out.

      The General's skin was losing color quickly, as his eyes began
      to roll in their sockets. He dropped to a knee, and Whirlwind
      picked him back up, grasping his midsection in his arms.

      "He's choking," Whirlwind yelled, squeezing tightly. The General
      heaved, and a tiny trickle of water shot out of his mouth, stopped,
      and shot back in.

      "No," Carmella corrected, "he's drowning."

      The General stopped moving. Whirlwind clutched him once
      again, and this time, the liquid erupted from his lungs,
      splattering on the floor. It slowly roiled and swirled, drawing
      more steam from the billowing cloud that escaped the wreckage
      of the base, and began to take shape. "Bench," Whirlwind said.

      Hydro-Man had somehow gained the ability to control himself
      while in steam form, most likely as a result of Sirius' genetic
      tampering. He stood with a smug smile on his face over the
      General's dead form. "There's your justice."

      Whirlwind grew angrier. "Damn you, Hydro-Man."

      Hydro-Man began to laugh, his form growing wider as he began
      to transform back to steam. As he faded from sight, his laughter

      Laura put a hand on Whirlwind's shoulder. "We need to get
      Wizard to a hospital before the Wrecking Crew gets back up

      Whirlwind looked back at the others, Carmella held Wizard in a
      protective shield. Stinger and Laura Dean stood close to
      Highbrow. Skin stood with his hand extended. "Let's go, amigo."

      Whirlwind nodded. "Highbrow, take us to New York City."

      New York City

      The lobby of the Hospital was cold and antiseptic. Nevertheless,
      Stinger was grateful to be safe once again. She had just gotten
      over the shock of her escape from the sentinel base when the
      soldiers of Sirius had abducted her. She looked up, seeing the
      patterns of electricity fluctuate through the florescent lights. "What
      did they do to us, Whirlwind?"

      "They messed with our powers, kid. They made me faster. Much
      faster. Why? What do you feel?"

      "Scared. Almost as much as I was on the island. I can see
      patterns in the air. Electricity just responded to me before. Now I
      feel like it is a part of me."

      "Well, I think we can help each other. We can get through these
      changes, we just need to guide each other."

      "I need no guidance that my family cannot provide," Carmella
      said as she walked from the restroom.

      "Why are you still here then?" Stinger asked.

      "I owe a debt. To you as well as Whirlwind."

      "What about Timeshadow? You owe him, but he's not here to
      collect, is he?"

      "Easy, Stinger. We're here to help each other," Manikin said.

      "Yes," Laura Dean agreed, stepping up behind him.

      "So why not guard each other's backs? Why not help people, like
      we used to?" Skin said, then looked around, seeing three former
      super criminals in the group he was addressing. "Well, you
      know what I mean."

      "What, like some kind of Junior Avengers?" Stinger asked.

      "No," Whirlwind said. "Not the Avengers. Avenging means
      reacting to a wrong with a right. We need to guard each other's
      backs, as well as those who can't help themselves, making sure
      there is no wrong to be avenged. We need to guard against
      something like the Sirius kidnappings from happening to anyone

      "So we're the Guards?"

      Whirlwind considered that for a moment. The Guards. No. That
      was not quite right. The six of them were now one, united by the
      horrors they had experienced. "No. We're The Guard."

      Epilogue 1:

      The Wizard looked out at the city skyline from his intensive care
      unit at Elm Hill Hospital. Whirlwind had returned to Wizard's
      hideout and found the solvent for the Trapster's adhesive. After
      hours of painstaking application, the surgeons had been able to
      remove most of the adhesive from his skin, but elements of it
      had bonded with it, leaving it a sticky, cracked, blistered mess.
      The anti-grav disks were forever a part of his epidermis now. His
      eyes were ruined. His face was scarred from the removal of the
      breathing mask. Bentley Whitman would live out his days as a
      near blind, shredded, sticky freak. And he had Whirlwind to thank
      for it. That bastard had drawn him into a fight that was not his,
      with his pathetic reversal of ideology. He would make Whirlwind
      pay for what he had forced him into.

      He smiled a slight smile, with his skin cracking and blistering.
      He would pay indeed.

      Epilogue 2:

      The sun rose on the shores of the lake, as Liveworld's only
      non-indigenous resident hunted for food. The light in this
      dimension was softer, more soothing than the light in Laura
      Dean's Deadworld. Everything here in Liveworld was better, with
      the exception of the Dream Queen. So it was all those years ago
      when Laura had sent her here, to escape the doctors who would
      have killed her before she even drew breath. In all the times she
      had visited Deadworld, Goblyn had never come to understand
      how they could deal with the stench of pollution and chaos that
      tainted their world. Not like the beauty of Liveworld.

      Goblyn looked out at the sun and basked in its warmth as it
      receded slowly towards the horizon. She closed her eyes. Then
      she picked up a smell that raised her fur. She snapped her eyes
      open again. It was the stench of Deadworld, only magnified.
      Rotten. There was a darkness that seeped over the sun, Smoke.
      Flame. And before Goblyn could even react, there was a shriek
      and a flame burst, as Speed Demon erupted into the placid
      lakeside. Goblyn swiped at the form, but there was a large
      fireball and a blast of wind, and when the smoke cleared, there
      was nothing left where Goblyn once stood. Speed Demon stood
      next to the charred spot on the rock, his face contorted with rage.

      "Whirlwind... I am coming!"

      The End

      Next Issue: The Battle For Liveworld!

      1. See AMU's Uncanny X-Men #353
      2. Highbrow was assaulted by Stitch in AMU's Alpha Flight #5
      3. Professor Xavier has been powerless since the events of
      Onslaught, and comatose since the events of AMU's Uncanny
      X-Men #360.
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