All right, Cyclops announces as he and his team of X-Men just exited their plane, to find themselves surrounded by nervous soldiers. He doesn’t have time for this. Wide tackle, then disarm them from the flanks. The top limit is broken bones. He doesn’t need any dead kids today. On three. Two!
He fires his optic blast at the soldiers, followed by his teammates who also attack. Idiot boys, Storm chides the soldiers while throwing lighting. A short while later it’s over.
She could have helped, Cyclops chides Emma Frost. And deny their friends their exercise? she smiles Shall they just get on with this? The X-Men walk through the village of Karere toward the hospital. Suddenly Scott begins to swear. Emma suggests he smile. He’s come to help and they are oh so glad to see him!
The hospital where the Mutantes Sans Frontieres field doctors are is one again surrounded by armed soldiers. This is madness, Storm announces seething. Emma states she thinks these people want to leave now. The soldiers stare as if hypnotized and drop their weapons. Next, they drop their pants. Then they walk off. Emma plays innocent She didn’t do anything She just gave them a hard stare and they shuffled off like good little soldiers. Don’t look at her like that, she tells Cyclops, then gives the departing soldiers a wave and a wicked grin.
The doctor who called out to them introduces herself as Helene St. Just and explains the soldiers arrived ten minutes after they got here. They were supposed to have a clear run at this but she thinks they were lied to quite extensively.
How does it look? Scott asks, eyes cast down. Helene admits she’s never seen anything like it. They need to see for themselves. Hank introduces himself and asks do they not have a hospital or clinic. This looks more like a village hall. A hospital of sorts, she replies. It burned down. A child exploded.
She leads them inside where her co-workers are trying to care for the children. Helene continues that the biggest problem is language. The local dialect is obscure, the people here have a little English, a smattering of French but it’s not enough… Emma? Scott asks and Emma kisses the surprised Helene. This is a 48-hour-download of the local language. She’ll give it to all her people. See if they can’t get on equal footing with the inhabitants. She smiles, satisfied while the doctor looks after her in astonishment.
Good God! Henry exclaims as he looks at a baby with translucent skin. He isn’t the worst, Helene replies. There are children with tentacles, burning children, one seems to be a pterodactyl skeleton, another consists only of a blue torso and a huge mouth with sharp teeth. Henry looks at them and begins to cry.
Wiping away the tear, he asks Cyclops to send Wolverine and Armor across to get the larger of his two field kits. He may need to borrow him, Emma and Storm momentarily. He raises his arms and asks the Mutantes sans Frontieres staff for their attention. He introduces himself and announces he will be taking command of their expedition. They will all be able to speak and hear the local language so they can precisely collect facts and case notes. Emma immediately begins kissing the staff members to upload the language. Henry continues that he wants full examination of every child in this building and he wants to see their charts afterwards. It is imperative that they begin this investigation with as complete a database as possible. He thanks them. And Emma continues kissing.
Scott remarks this looks like a room full of mutants to him. Henry agrees. Except it cannot possibly be. Not without a radical change in mutant pathology that does not happen overnight. This is something else.
Scott walks outside to see Ororo talking to some local women. She tells him she will be right with him. Respectfully, he keeps his distance. Ororo tries to comfort one of the women who is crying silently and hugs her.
A little later, she joins Scott. As they walk through the village, Ororo explains these people have been scared too long. This has been happening for months and they’ve received no support at all from their government. They have next to no contact with the outside world. They have no coping mechanism at all.
Scott replies he doesn’t want to sound, you know… but did she get anything useful from them? Taken aback, she reminds him this isn’t just another mission. This is these people’s babies!! He gets that, Scott assures her, he really does. But he looks in that hall and he sees nothing but mutant babies. And Henry assures him they can’t be mutants. He hears him. But at this point they are essentially a finite and dying race. And all these scientists assure him that the working X-gene can potentially once more be born into people. But no one knows what that’s going to look like. Why do they assume it’ll be the same as before, with it switching on at puberty? He sees a room full of mutant babies and he wants to throw a ring of steel around this village. That’s his instinct. So he needs facts. His head needs to win over his gut here. She’s got her own concerns here and he respects that but he has a job.
He always did have an astonishing skill of making life too difficult for himself, Ororo remarks wryly. All she has for him is a timeframe and, well, in America she’d call it an urban legend. They explain this to themselves by saying the devil lives outside the village.
Beast fiddles around at a device asks to borrow Armor for a moment. He takes a trancutaneous electronic nerve control device. A ray gun that makes you feel numb, Hisako translates. He uses it on a baby but has Armor fend off the pain of the needle. Does he know what is happening yet? she asks. He has a few ideas, but not enough information to choose between them yet. He would delight in being a TV medico who can sniff at person and correctly deduce that they ate particles of exotic matter in their sushi three months ago. But that’s not really how science works.
Hmm. He looks at the result. He’d hoped for better news. Something in his box just pinged, Logan tells him. Looking at it, Beast exclaims that’s just not fair. Is it broken? Hisako asks. Just the opposite, he replies. Get Scott!
Scott and Ororo arrive. Henry explains his radiation detector just took a hit. There’s radiation here? Ororo asks. Carrying a baby, Emma joins them and asks what kind of radiation. And she doesn’t believe one of his usual hyperextended lectures is appropriate right now. These children are not mutants, he explains. There’s no X-gene. Just a mess of chromosomal damage.
She’s… holding a baby, Scott states non-plussed. Full marks, Mr. Summers, she replies. Save any further comment for a time when she can beat him in private.
Henry goes on to explain he set this detector to eliminate certain environmental factors that may have caused such a vicious mutation over a period of months. However, one highly unlikely factor has just showed itself. Something very akin to a radiation signature they encountered very recently. Ghost Box radiation.
The others look shocked. Another annex attempt? one asks. Ghost Boxes are radioactive? Are those bastards hiding out there? Henry states he has no further answers for them. All he can tell them is that a few particles with a signature very like an open Ghost Box are whizzing around in the immediate area. It may not mean another annex attempt. What else could it mean? Scott asks. They don’t have a great deal of data in transuniversal travel, Henry admits. Perhaps any jump between parallels generates Ghost Box particles. There is another possibility he’s tangentially aware of but it’s not a good one.
Something drops in the room and suddenly they are all blinded. It’s a flash grenade. Cyclops orders Wolverine to secure the door. That would be pointless, comes the voice of a newcomer, a tall African man, wearing a military uniform. His left arm is cybernetic and the left part of his face is horribly scarred. They won’t be staying, he continues. He suggests they move very slowly. Mutants are notoriously hard to kill. Field doctors somewhat easier. His name is Joshua N’Dingi. They will now be so kind as to return to their vehicle and leave his country. It is their choice whether they’ll be carrying corpses or not.
The X-Men regain their eyesight to see all the field doctors are being threatened with weapons by N’Dingi’s soldiers.
Wolverine unsheathes his claws. You don’t give me choices. I give you choices! he snarls. Fine, comes N’Dingi’s reply. He chooses death. What now?
Henry tries to be the voice of reason and reminds him he is brandishing firearms in a room with children. They’re not children, he replies with a feral grin. They’re Warpies. He orders his soldiers to escort those people back to their vehicles. Then execute all the babies.