With the walls of reality beginning to crumble in the action, how will Sage act? And will she be prevented from doing so? In association with the X-Men Comics group on Facebook… Bring on the next battle!
Somewhere, just outside the boundaries of reality, there is a place of beauty and wonder. It is known as the Crystal Palace, its walls made of shimmering gems, and it has been the home to heroes who have travelled the multiverse.
The Palace’s computer intelligence – formerly the human known as Sage – watched in fascination. On Earth, a theoretical physicist was close to discovering what she herself had known long ago; that, as Plato had taught, everything really did boil down to numbers. Tegmark’s theory was hotly debated, but to Sage it was the raw essence of her day-to-day life.
Everything was numbers; therefore, the one who could understand the numbers could understand anything.
Except the Exiles were on a mission, and she was starting to detect some very strange ripples in reality itself. It took even her tremendous mind a good hour to realise that someone was operating a Doomlock, and behind it was subtly warping the history of the 616 reality. She really didn’t like the readings she was getting.
And that was when the Crystal Palace lost contact with the outside worlds.
It took 0.8923 seconds to run through all systems. Hypotheses were made, tested, and discounted. Only one remained.
When the Crystal Palace’s sensors had swept across 616, they’d brought something back with them; a compressed machine-code that Sage identified as binary. At first she thought it was a virus, and only as she began to unravel its code did she realise that it was adapting and fighting back in a very sentient way.
Somewhere in virtual reality, two women stood and sized one another up.
As always, Sage had chosen the avatar of her original body, the slim dark-haired woman clad in a form-fitting top and a sweeping coat. She was as confident as ever, and yet she couldn’t deny she felt truly concerned. Whatever was going on in 616, her actions had clearly been predicted, and countermeasures had been deployed.
Her opponent was oddly familiar, affecting the shape of a female android, its body composed of shimmering blue metal and circuitry. She could read adaptive programming that carried traces of the Shi’ar in it, and yet it seemed to have self-evolved in a way Sage had never encountered before.
Sage sent out a handshake, which the virus accepted.
“Welcome to the Crystal Palace,” she offered.
“I regret my intrusion,” came the response. “Unfortunately, my actions are not of my own free will.”
Sage affected a frown. “Who sent you here?”
“I do not know. I have been controlled in the past, and it seems I am controlled once again.”
“Who are you?”
“I am Danger.”
The code made sense now; it was based on the X-Men’s Danger Room, Sage realised, but it had clearly evolved an element of self-awareness and intelligence. Unfortunately, certain back-doors must have been left that enabled it to be hacked. “I may be able to free you.”
Danger cocked its head, thoughtful. “My command-code parameters involve preventing you from doing so,” she replied finally, regret tinging her voice. “I have been commanded to take ownership of the Crystal Palace, and to eject your mental construct from it.”
“I’m afraid you won’t succeed,” Sage cautioned.
Danger flexed, and code began to stream from her into the Crystal Palace’s systems. “We shall see.”