Abigail Brand, director of SWORD (the Sentient World Observation and Response Department) sits tightlipped in a vessel heading for asteroid Cruithne. Several other SWORD ships surround the asteroid. Brand addresses the strike team, telling them that no counter intrusion has been encountered. Mission is a go! She reminds them of the parameters: No prisoners, no negotiation. They kill and they leave.
They dock and enter what appears to be a hangar complete with atmosphere. One of the SWORD members wonders about this strange smell. Like Ammonia. Shut up! Brand orders him. Seriously he continues, Ammonia. And … cooking meat? Brand opens a door. She doesn’t believe it! she swears. They torched the &%$*$ lab! What the hell! she exclaims a moment later when she is faced with Brood Warriors.
Immediately, she fires at them, as do the others. Brand orders her people back to the ships. They came, they saw, everything caught fire and they ran the &%$& away…
They withdraw, Brand keeping on firing when she is almost at the lander (as are the Brood). She is notified via radio that she is the last on deck. Everyone else is clear of Cruithne? she asks. Yes, she is told. Now get the hell out of here! She and the others take off the asteroid, explosions following them.
One hits her lander’s wings. Her engines are maxing out, she can’t throttle them down and the electronics cut off too at that moment. She realizes she still has gravity shielding. Otherwise, she’d be an attractive smear on the back hatch right now. Which means it’s just her board that’s dead. Which means some damn monkey didn’t suspend the main board properly. She tries to fix the board, swearing she definitely won’t stab any shipbuilders in their gizzards when she gets back to the Peak…
She flies onwards. What seems to be a small success turns out not to be. No flight control. Way too much speed and the engines still won’t shut off. And no radio. Her options are to dump speed or it’s dinner on Neptune or she just drives into something big and heavy. Like Mars. She separates the escape shell.
Peak can finally contact her in the escape pod and Brand informs them that she is on reentry trajectory. She is told they are on the other side of the planet. They cannot reach her before she enters the atmosphere. So, what’s the plan? Going in, she replies, tight-lipped.
US space command gets a red ball by SWORD about this. Target acquisition trajectory looks like the West Coast. Heading for the bay area, maybe seven minutes from ground zero. Not able to lock on her they are unable to shoot her out of the sky. Reluctantly, the ranking duty officer decides on Code X and requires the assistance of the X-Men. Understood, Scott Summers replies curtly.
In the kitchen, he tells Beast he needs him to concentrate right now. Abby Brand’s in an escape shell with no drive, dropping down from space on San Francisco and she’s going to hit in about six minutes. They are going to need the X2, Henry decides as he drops his coffee and runs ahead. Scott reminds him they only took delivery of that thing from Japan yesterday. It’s fully fitted ands the only thing that’s going to save her life. Move!
They enter the plane, as do Emma Frost, Armor, Storm and Wolverine. Cyclops orders them to wear crashjackets. Saddle up and strap down. Beast takes the co-pilot station. They take off.
Wolverine asks how they are doing this. Brand’s gonna be coming down at a hell of a speed. This is a bleeding-edge rescue and recovery vehicle designed by the most brilliant and unhinged scientist minds in Japan, comes the reply. They are doing this any way they can in the only machine for the job, because no one else has a prayer. So they are making this up as they go along? Wolverine asks with a smirk. Same as they always do, Cyclops replies. He has acquisition.
Good God! Beast exclaims. The pod’s doing St. Vitus’ dance up there. Cyclops asks Storm to do something about that. Not close enough yet, Ororo decides, and the air up here will be so thin that she won’t have a lot to work with in any case. She should be able to straightn Brand’s course and strip some speed off her, but no more than that.
Emma’s turn. Emma telepathically contacts Abigail and asks about her condition. They are approaching her to get her out. Is she injured? No, she’s not, Brand replies, but they can’t possibly get her out of there. Don’t be stupid! With a smirk, Emma informs her they are the X-Men. A day without doing something stupid isn’t worth getting out of bed for.
Bradd’s fine, she tells the others. Thank God, Henry exclaims. He’s lost girlfriends before, but losing one to a ballistic re-etry in half a spaceship is just going to seem gauche when people ask.
Storm leaves the ship. She can detect the escape vehicle now moving through the air. She flies after the pod and uses her weather powers to slow the craft’s speed. It’s not enough, Brand informs the X-Men. Yes, it is, Cyclops replies.
Storm warns Cyclops that the increased oxygen flow around the pod seems to have fed an electrical fire on the hull.
Does Henry want him to take a shot? Cyclops asks. No need, comes the reply No slight on Scott’s skills but he’d rather apply a surgical exactness tot his. Wolverine stands on the platform outside.
Fractal bonding clamp away, Beast announces as he fires to hit the pod with the lined claw. But it does not connect.
The eye is willing, Emma remarks, but the great, big, hairy paw not so much. It’s still buffeting around too much. Can Emma tell Storm--? Ororo’s telling her the pod’s as straight as it’s going to get. Aim better, Emma suggests. He certainly would not have thought of that himself, he begins, you complete and utter… Finally, he aims true.
Wolverine unsheathes his claws and moves along the line to the pod. The next moment, the piece of the hull he is on is loosened and he falls.
He can’t touch anything without breaking it, Armor announces and jumps down to save him. She throws him back at the pod. He slices it open and tells Brand to go. They are insane! she announces. Blame her boyfriend, he tells her as he grabs her arm. He wanted to see if she’d bounce!
Armor shouts at Henry to release the emergency clamp. She holds fast to the line and to Wolverine and Brand on the other side as they are reeled in. The pod lands in the bay burning.
Was this the plan? Storm asks, watching the devastation from above. Scott says there may not have been an actual plan as such, Emma replies condescendingly. Tell him she didn’t notice, Storm replies wryly. He gets very upset otherwise. Seeing the debris, she tells Emma to tell Scott it was a very good plan. Especially the part where they took Brand out of the pod first.
Later, the X-Men land their vessel at Fisherman’s Wharf. Among the crowd, Emma particularly notices a blond girl in a green hoodie. She swears that was Laurie Collins, she tells the others. Who? Scott asks. Codename Wallflower, Emma reminds him. Why can’t she connect to her mind? Scott reminds Emma that Laruie was killed. Stryker had her shot dead.
Emma follows the girl. She remembers, but she also remembers each and everyone of her students and she swears that was Laurie Collins! She grabs the girl’s arm, asking her to talk to her. Laurie’s eyes glow as she announces contact. The girl transforms, splits apart, her entrails tumbling out as she transforms into a kind of biological Sentinel.