Rain falls upon the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters in Westchester, New York. As the storm carries on outside without end, a television illuminates one of the rooms of the mansion. On tonight’s episode of “This is the Hour,” the host introduces his audience to Valerie Cooper from the Office of National Emergency. He greets Dr. Cooper and gets straight to the point. Do mutants that have survived M-Day still have the same civil rights as the rest of the American population?
Yes, of course, says Valerie, coolly. However, she knows where the man is going with this question. He wants to know why the movements of the residents at the Xavier Estate have been restricted while other registered super humans walk freely.
Sitting in the television lit room of the mansion is Kitty Pryde and her faithful dragon, Lockheed. Kitty lies on the coach and pets her dragon. Upon hearing Valerie’s comments, the bitter X-Man tells the television that they already know the answer to that one frau commandant.
Beast enters the room, hearing the bitterness in Kitty’s voice, and tells her that her claws are showing. Kitty greets Hank and tells him that he will start showing his claws too when O*N*E* locks the X-Men down finally. Won’t happen, replies Hank. On television, Cooper tells the show host that the Registration war aside, mutants are in a state of emergency.
Beast stops in his tracks and asks Kitty what that noise was. Apart from the rain, Kitty replies, she cannot hear anything. Beast comments that she does not have the preternaturally acute hearing of a cat. I also don’t get fleas, jokes Pryde. Beast heads to the window with Kitty and tells her that it happened only once. However, seriously, something is going on out there.
Hank pauses to listen, and Kitty asks him what he hears. Hank replies that he hears angry voices. It sounds like the 198 are tearing up the place. Beast hears the sounds of yelling, marching footsteps and guns being armed. He then smells the air and realizes that something is burning. Beast tells Kitty that they better get Scott. There is a riot going on!
Outside at the 198 camp, a fierce fire rages, thanks to Fever Pitch, who sets tents and foliage ablaze. Mammomax picks up a O*N*E* soldier and throws him up into the air, as other mutants riot as well. The Sentinels quickly arrive on the scene, which does not go unnoticed by Erg, who calls the attention of Caliban. Caliban is actually happy to see the Sentinels. He is also happy to see the soldiers arrive as well – just like how Domino said they would come.
As Sack and other mutants crowd around Caliban, the mutant calls out for everyone to get ready. Johnny Dee gets out of his tent and asks what is going on. What are they getting ready for?
Suddenly, a bomb explodes and takes out a good portion of the wall surrounding the refugee camp! Through the dust and debris, X-Force charges in with guns and swords a blazing. The duo, Shatterstar and Domino, leap into action and immediately start to take down the O*N*E* agents near them.
On television, Cooper continues to defend the treatment of the mutants at Xavier’s. The host of the show asks Cooper if the real reason the mutants are being kept under lock is because they are a danger to the community at large. Absolutely not the case, says Valerie. Most of the mutants are peaceful, law-abiding citizens.
At the 198 camp, Domino tells Shatterstar to remember what they agreed to. They will only disarm or disable. No fatalities! You want to tell that to the soldier boys, asks Shatterstar.
The soldiers open fire on the two, but the bullets bounce right off Shatterstar’s chest. Shatterstar laughs and supposes that someone informed the troops after all. They are using rubber bullets. This isn’t battle; it’s play-acting. Domino takes cover behind Shatterstar and tells him that he has a costume made from Mojoworld body armor. She is the one who will be covered in bruises tomorrow from the rubber bullets! She then leaps out from behind Shatterstar, who is still welcoming the bullets with open arms, and shoots the soldiers with a concussion blast from her gun.
With the soldiers down, Domino approaches Caliban, Outlaw, Erg, Fever Pitch, Mammomax and others. She tells the group that transport is on the other side of the walls. Anyone who wants out of this holiday camp should know that their flight is ready to depart. Caliban tells Domino that he thinks they have something to say about that. Domino turns to see three Sentinels towering over her. Classic David-and-Goliath situation comments the woman. They don’t stand a chance.
Domino turns and starts shooting the Sentinels, as Shatterstar, Erg, Fever Pitch, Outlaw and Caliban join her in battle.
Nearby, Colonel Reyes supervises the scene and is joined by Bishop. Bishop asks for a report on the situation and learns that the 198 started a riot to apparently divert attention from the perimeter wall. It seems the 198 had allies on the other side. Bishop recognizes Shatterstar and Domino and tells Reyes that they are from X-Force. An angry Reyes tells Bishop that they blew up a wall built with U.S. tax payer dollars. Domino and Shatterstar are terrorists!
On his comm, Reyes tells the Sentinels to lay down continuous fire. No one will get through these walls! The Sentinels attack the 198 and create an energy barrier to prevent them from escaping through the destroyed wall. The Sentinels order the 198 to return to their quarters. Reyes demands to know where the X-Men are. If they don’t come soon to back him up then he will have the Sentinels use lethal force. Bishop, who is busy fighting the Collective Man, tells Reyes that he called the X-Men. They will be here soon.
Shatterstar regroups with Domino and tells her that they are running out of time. They need to remove the Sentinels soon. Domino tells her partner that there is something she wanted to try and this seems like the perfect field test. She has always subconsciously manipulated probabilities, but she has been practicing her cognitive control. Does Shatterstar see the storm clouds above? There is a lot of electrical energy up there. Lighting has to hit something. Let them see what happens when she nudges the odds around a bit…
Suddenly, two bolts of lightning strike the Sentinels!
The tide of the battle turns as the 198 take down more troops. Caliban has witnessed many battles in his time, but he has not often experienced an atmosphere as emotionally charged as this one. There is anger as Bishop fights Domino. There is confusion as Leech watches soldiers being beaten. There is hatred as Scalphunter lethally attacks a O*N*E* soldier. There is a perverse joy out of fighting, as Shatterstar charges Bishop. Above all, though, there is fear, as the O*N*E* soldier looks up to the sadistic face of Scalphunter.
Emotion is what Caliban uses as a weapon. He feeds on it and transforms it and bends it to his will. When he is ready he unleashes it on a victim in the form of a psycho-active virus. The target this time is Bishop.
Bishop battles Shatterstar, but suddenly is overcome by grief for his sister Shard, and he collapses to the ground apologizing to her. Shatterstar is initially confused, but then realizes that this was Caliban’s doing. He is annoyed, as there is not honor in this victory now. Caliban tells Shatterstar that there is no time for honor. He did his job.
With the Sentinels, soldiers and Bishop down, a large craft flies over the wall and opens its hatch. Domino tells the 198, who have all grabbed their bags, and tells them that they don’t have time to admire the lights. They need to get their butts aboard the ship!
Nearby, a soldier tells Reyes that more mutants are coming in. Reyes turns to see the newcomers and then tells the soldier to relax. They are with the O*N*E*.
Cyclops, Kitty, Beast, Iceman and Archangel arrive on scene. Kitty looks at the scene in horror, as Cyclops knocks Domino off the pile of rubble she stands on with an optic blast. Iceman attacks Shatterstar, who deflects the ice with his swords. Beast immediately leaps upon Caliban. Kitty mutters to herself that this is so wrong. Domino and Shatterstar regroup, and Cyclops tells the woman to give up. Not a chance, Scott, says Domino. They are there to free these people. They have committed no crime – unless being a mutant is a crime. X-Force will not give up. The X-Men will have to kill them. Is Cyclops ready for that?
Nearby, Emma Frost approaches the collapses Bishop, who is being watched by a soldier. Emma asks Bishop if he is ok, but Bishop is talking to himself and telling someone that if they mess with his sister again he will kill them. Emma is confused, but the soldier tells her that Caliban messed with Bishop somehow. As Bishop begins to talk about his mother, Emma realizes that Bishop is affected with a temporary psychosis. He is flashing back to his past. She needs to fix it before any permanent damage is done. Emma then begins to block the neuro-transmitters for a couple of seconds, and Bishop is freed from his delusions.
The weakened Bishop asks Emma what happened as he sees a large aircraft flee the scene. Nearby, Colonel Reyes tells Sentinel unit three to follow the craft. Bishop approaches Reyes and demands to know what happened. He then learns that Cyclops let the 198 escape.
Bishop turns to Cyclops and asks him if this is true. Cyclops explains that there would have been fatalities if they kept on fighting. They have lost enough mutants already. Frustrated, Bishop tells Cyclops that he doesn’t believe this. He thought Cyclops was their leader. Without the Professor to tell Scott how to think, he seems pretty lost. Who is pushing his buttons now? Emma?
Feeling better are we, asks the grinning Miss Frost. Offended, Cyclops asks Bishop who he is taking orders from now; the O*N*E*? Bishop walks closer to Cyclops and tells him that the O*N*E* chain of command goes straight up to the White House. Does Cyclops really want to go down that road? Cyclops fires back that Bishop grew up in the shadows of Sentinels. Does he want that to happen again?
Bishop turns to look at the burning wreckage of the camp and tells Scott that he doesn’t. That is why mutants must police themselves. Otherwise there is chaos. Does Scott know what follows chaos? This, says Bishop, as he points to the ‘M’ mark on his right eye. Where he comes from, children were branded as mutants.
Bishop then stands in Cyclops’ face and tells him not to preach to him. He doesn’t know what real oppression is. Cyclops begins to tell Bishop that he does know, but Bishop covers Scott’s mouth with his hand to silence him. “Don’t,” says the firm Bishop, with a finger in Scott’s face.
Bishop then walks away from the X-Men, who aren’t pleased.
Tony Stark meets with General Lazer, Valerie Cooper and Bishop in the meeting room of the tower. He sums up the recent events. Two members of X-Force waltz into Xavier’s mansion and take away over half of the refugees, leaving a guard critically injured. X-Force’s craft outruns a Sentinel and they have no idea where it is. They could be with Captain America for all they know. Tony Stark is sure General Lazer agrees that this isn’t O*N*E*’s finest hour.
Lazer defends his organization and tells Stark that X-Force’s craft was cloaked against surveillance and his people were not authorized to use the necessary force. Necessary force, questions Tony. What is Lazer trying to say? Tony offers to simplify the situation. The White House has asked him to oversee a solution, which will demonstrate that mutants are not a menace to society. He would like to see a joint force of mutants and Sentinels working to bring in the renegades. Unfortunately, most mutants prefer to remain neutral. Tony motions to the screen, which shows an image of Micromax and Sabra. Bishop tells Lazer that they are good people who he has recruited.
An Englishman and an Israeli is the best you can find, retorts Lazer. He supposes he can let Bishop and his recruits assist. Tony, however, tells Lazer that he has recommended that Bishop lead the operation in field. It will be good for the public to see a mutant acting as sheriff. Valerie speaks up and tells Lazer that Bishop has experience policing mutants with the X.S.E. and on the street in Mutant Town. He is a perfect choice.
An angry Lazer gets up and tells Stark that this isn’t a management decision. He is a professional soldier. This operation will stay under his command. Smugly, Tony tells Lazer that when he put the idea on the table to the Secretary of Defense this morning, the man responded favorably. Beaten, Lazer realizes that this is a fait accompli. Why did Tony even bother to ask for approval?
“Professional courtesy?” offers Iron Man.
As Lazer storms out, Valerie tells him that she thinks Tony is right about this. A thief to catch a thief is fine in theory, replies Lazer. However, when the chips are down, Cooper will see that a mutant will always side with his own kind.
“His own kind?” repeats a disturbed Cooper.
As the sun sets, four men quietly change into leather outfits. Cyclops tells his friends that they should have no illusions about what is happening; what they are about to do will put them outside the law. Won’t be the first time, someone replies. Cyclops continues and explains that they will run against Bishop and the Sentinels eventually, and probably even Iron Man and the other registered heroes.
Archangel zips up his suit and tells Scott that they know what they are getting into. Cyclops tells him that he just wants them to be sure. We are sure, replies Warren. They find the 198 before O*N*E* does, not matter what. They have chosen their side. They are mutants. They protect their own – until death. Cyclops turns to Iceman. “What he said,” says Robert.
When the four leather-clad men are done dressing, Iceman turns to Emma and asks her for the verdict. How does she like the bad-boy look? “Hold me back,” says a smiling Emma.
Iceman drives a heavy-duty Hummer down the tunnels of the mansion as Archangel flies overhead. Bobby comments that Forge has done them proud with this vehicle, as it handles like a dream. Inside with Iceman are Cyclops, Emma and Beast. Hank hopes that here isn’t a Sentinel at the end of the tunnel, but Scott tells him that they are too busy patching up after the incident last night. Iceman supposes that they are safe until replacements arrive.
The team makes it outside to the outskirts of the estate grounds and park at a lookout point over the estate. They exit the vehicle and Emma tells Scott that she wishes he would let her come too. Scott tells Emma that someone has to put out the fires and look out for the students. No, says Emma. That is not it. This is something special for the boys isn’t it? The original X-Men.
Not quite, says Scott lowly, as he looks down to the ground.
As the team looks back at the mansion, Iceman tells his friends that he never though they’d be sneaking out like this – like thieves in the night. There has to be a name for this kind of situation. Yeah, replies Archangel. It’s the end of an era.
The four men then enter the vehicle and drive off. Emma watches until the vehicle is out of sight, but suddenly she hears a booming voice tell her that she is outside the designated perimeter of the Xavier Estate without permission. I’m sorry, says the shocked Emma as she flips around.
Emma looks up to see a massive Sentinel unit, a bit different than a typical unit, towering over her.
“Sorry won’t do it!”