Aboard Pandora’s Box, S.W.O.R.D.’s orbital research satellite, Kitty Pryde dashes through the ship followed by the small Broodling. Lockheed flies alongside them and he asks Kitty, sarcastically, if she’s associating with Brood creatures now. Kitty assures him that he’s not like the others. He’s a good Brood creature. That’s what Agent Brand told them anyway but, as she is now a bad Brood creature, he can take that for what it’s worth. The Broodling tells them that he knows neither of them particularly like him, and with good reason, but could they focus a little more on running?
Behind them, Beast, Colossus and Storm, each in a state of almost total ‘Broodness,’ give chase. Kitty quickly opens a hatch and tells her two companions to go through. She needs some time to think. Once inside, she locks the door and shorts out the system so even Agent Brand’s security clearance won’t open it. However, she knows that Peter will tear it down in less than a minute so they need a plan and fast.
She asks the Broodling to tell her that it’s not too late to save her friends and maybe she’ll be less angry about risking their lives to save his. The creature assures her that there is still time. They still look somewhat human. When they fully transform into Brood creatures, they will lack any characteristics of their old selves except for their powers. A bigger concern will be how they will survive. The three others are completely under the control of the Queens. If there was just one of them they might be able to fight off her influence, but two of them are too much to overcome. Kitty leans down and says they must even the odds. The creature hopes she has a plan, as he can hear Colossus destroying the door as he speaks. Kitty replies that she does but she’s just trying to work out if she trusts him. He says he doesn’t want to sound rude, but the sound of tearing metal should make her decide more quickly.
Moments later, Colossus brings the hatch door crashing down and they enter the room, only to find the Broodling standing there alone. The two Queens are with the X-Men and one of them asks the Broodling where the others are. He replies that they are gone and that they didn’t trust him, either. He tells her that they called their headquarters and diverted their escape shuttle to the airlock. They’ve probably reached it by now. The Queen calls him a liar, adding that his disease of the mind… his compassion leads him to deceive his own kind to save the mammals. She wants to kill him, but the other Queen asks her to wait. They can learn the truth easily enough. The Broodling is a monster but he is still a Brood. They can simply use the Hive-Mind to access his thoughts. The other replies that she has no wish to be tainted so she can do it. “Very well,” she replies, “But then I get to kill it.”
Holding the Broodling in her prehensile tail, the Queen attempts to enter his thoughts, but the Broodling focuses and remembers what Kitty told him.
Kitty explains that she was infected years ago and felt the Hive-Mind. It’s a two way street. They can touch his mind and he can touch theirs. She asks him to think about what makes him different from them; that when he sees another being in pain he feels bad. How he puts himself in their place. He should think about how scared he is being alone. Being like the rest of his kind but different - always apart. He should think about how sad that makes him feel and that they hate him for it. Take everything that sets him apart from them and shove it into their minds like a knife!
The Queen delves into the youngster’s mind and almost immediately realizes that something is wrong. The Broodling’s intense thoughts cause the Queen to scream and, whilst they are distracted, Kitty and Lockheed emerge from a skylight and attack. Kitty blasts one of the Queens and tells Peter that it’s her. She knows he can do this. Now one of the Queens is dead he can resist the other one.
As Beast grabs hold of Lockheed and the Queen envelops Kitty in her tendrils, she calls out to Peter again. “Peter, please. I need you!” Peter’s focus quickly returns and he smashes the Brood Queen. “That’s my boyfriend,” Kitty cries as the Queen flies across the room. Peter looks at Ororo and tells her to fight it. He knows she hates small dark places but she shouldn’t let them confine her within herself. He asks her to follow his voice and come back to them. Ororo understands and replies that she hears him. Beast, too, releases Lockheed and Ororo’s fist sizzles with electrical energy as she tells him she has returned. Finally, Abigail informs the Queen that she can also resist for now.
Ororo warns Abigail that Hank isn’t quite of it yet. “Hank, behave,” she barks. Hank replies, “Yes, dear,” and decapitates one of the Brood. Abigail quips that the key to a happy relationship is to establish early on who’s boss. The Brood Queen calls them disobedient children who will be punished. Hank aims his gun at her and tells her she’s got that backwards. The Queen grabs the Broodling in its tendrils and tells him that he will pay the most. “You stand with them? Very well. Stand with them forever.”
As Hank tears his way through another Brood soldier, he tells the others that she’s going to kill him. Peter says he can’t reach him and calls to Ororo to use her lightning. She responds by zapping the Queen’s head. The Queen releases the Broodling and Storm asks if she hurt him. The creature simply replies that it’s gone. The Hive-Mind is gone. He was never like the others but he could always feel them. They were always there and he felt he was connected to something. Now, he’s really alone.
Furious, Storm moves in close to the Queen and sends a bolt of electricity through her head, killing her instantly. She calls for the other X-Men to strike to kill. They head towards the remaining Brood soldiers The Brood warn the X-Men that they will die in agony for this. Beast replies that it’s more likely that they will. However, he suggests that if they stand down they will offer them safe passage back to their home system. He says this with reluctance, only because they are near extinction. His offer lasts exactly one minute.
One of asks about their young which are still inside of them. Abigail assures it that they won’t be harmed, but they are not theirs anymore. The Brood chat amongst themselves before giving their answer. They accept the proposal but they will not take the Broodling with them. Ororo replies that they wouldn’t let them anyway. He goes with them.
(The Peak, S.W.O.R.D.’s orbital headquarters, later)
With the danger over and the Brood eggs removed from their bodies, the X-Men have reverted to their normal appearance. Peter can’t believe one of the creatures was a part of him. As S.W.O.R.D. Agents herd the Brood soldiers away, one of them turns and informs Peter that it remains so. He gave the child life. Maybe one day it will gift him with death! Beast snarls at it and tells it to listen. “Tamper with the ship’s autopilot in any way and it will explode. One hour after it reaches their home it will explode.” Abigail adds that if they come back this way again… they explode!
As the Brood’s shuttle departs the Peak, Storm thanks God that’s over. Kitty asks if it ever really is with the Brood. They always come back. Maybe they should have killed them all. Storm replies that killing is their way. The victory is better for not doing so. They peer down into a holding bay where the Broodling sits alone looking disconsolate. Lockheed doesn’t care and Kitty kind of agrees. Yes he helped them out, but he’s still a Brood. It’s better that he stays on the Peak where S.W.O.R.D. can keep an eye on him. “Yes,” replies Storm. “Under guard. Mistrusted. Experimented upon and observed from a fearful distance. That is the proper place for a youth hated and feared by his own kind because he is different.”
She heads down to the holding bay as Kitty and Lockheed look on. Lockheed utters something and Kitty agrees that subtlety isn’t something Ororo is good at. Storm approaches the Broodling and asks how he’s feeling. It asks how humans stand the quiet. Storm takes his hand and leads him into another part of the Peak. They enter a room which glows with a soft green light. Large tanks filled with liquid flank them as they walk through.
Ororo explains that inside the tanks are the larvae that were inside them. They will soon hatch. S.W.O.R.D. will see to it that they too are cut off from the Brood Hive-Mind, but they are lucky. They will have him. None of them will be alone. The Brood replies that they won’t be like him. They’ll never know what it was like being part of something so big and then have it taken from them. When they get older they will be closer than brothers. Storm could never understand how close. He is different. They will sense that and won’t want to be around him any more than the others did. Ororo assures him that when that happens, he can come and see them. Finding a home for outcasts is their speciality.
(Utopia, home of the X-Men)
The team members are ready to go their separate ways. Abigail says they’d love to stay but her boyfriend is afraid of Cyclops. Hank replies that they had a profound disagreement over the future of their people. She makes it sound like a schoolyard spat. Abigail points and says, “There he is!” Hank turns quickly and asks where. He realizes that Abigail was messing with him, but he ignores her playfulness and turns his attention to Kitty, Colossus and Lockheed. He thanks them again for everything. They may have altered the destiny of an entire species. Abigail thanks them for saving her butt. She appreciates it, even though she still thinks it was stupid and was why Hank came to Utopia in the first place.
They head to the plane and Abigail asks Lockheed if he’s coming. Kitty looks at her old friend and tells him it seems like he’s pretty important up there; Alpha-Prime security clearance and all. She tells him that it’s okay for him to stay on Utopia if he likes. There’s plenty of room. He asks what she wants. Kitty reckons it doesn’t matter. It’s his career. She loses her calm façade and hugs Lockheed warmly. “Oh… the hell with it. Stay, Lockheed. Please.” Lockheed decides he just might.
On board the plane, Abigail asks Hank not to get any ideas. Unlike certain dragons, she isn’t throwing her career away to play wifey. Hank finds that shocking. The moment he met her, the first thing he thought was ‘soccer mom.’ She asks him, seriously, that because he and the X-Men are family and he’s known Scott Summers since they were kids, is hating each other really what he wants? Hank replies no, but that’s why he left. Maybe someday he can come back, like Lockheed. Maybe they can be a family again, but he has a sinking feeling that day is a way off.