It started with the global broadcast. Then, the East Coast went silent. This was followed by reports of hostilities in Los Angeles and San Diego. For the 800,000 residents of San Francisco, this is reason enough to get out of the city before the inevitable happens.
With traffic backed up all the way across the Golden Gate Bridge, many San Franciscans flee the city on foot. Before long, however, several alien ships emerge from the dense fog surrounding the bay, and blanket the city in an eerie, green light. The Skrulls have arrived in San Francisco.
The Skrull Commander, observing his fleet’s arrival from the Skrull cruiser, orders his dropships to engage and lay down a suppressing fire. Even though San Francisco lacks a significant super hero presence, they will follow proper protocol. “Dropcaptains, be ruthless but not needlessly cruel,” the commander says. “Destruction for destruction’s sake is pointless and distasteful, but make these people understand this isn’t their world…it’s ours.”
The dropships descend on the city and begin removing key threats. After securing their target block, Dropcaptain Ssrov and his ship’s chaplain, the Soul Shepherd, emerges from his ship’s loading bay. The chaplain asks for permission to bless their troops. Ssrov gives his authorization, but adds that it isn’t necessary, as the invasion is in compliance with Dar’dvan prophecy. The Skrull soldiers already qualify as saints. The Soul Shepherd proceeds anyway, offering a prayer that blesses the Skrull Crusade, absolves them all of guilt, and ends with three words soon to be known the whole world over: He loves you.
Nearby, a squad of San Francisco police officers forms a barricade in an attempt to stave off the Skrull invasion. One officer suggests they flee; the Skrulls will surely march right over their resistance! His commanding officer, a blonde woman named Molson, tells him to shut up and shoot. His family’s home is only a fifteen-minute march from their present position. If they do not stand up to the Skrulls, who will?
Despite their valiant defiance, the officers simply cannot compete with the approaching Skrull battalion. A bomber swoops overhead and eliminates the entire line of police cars with one decisive blast, propelling both Molson and her fellow officer through the air. While the injured Molson groans in pain, the defiant officer screams that he told her so, and, in the last moments he has, fires his handgun desperately at the approaching dropship.
Suddenly, a blast of red light splits the dropship in two. Its source, representing San Francisco’s last hope against the extraterrestrial invaders, springs forth from the emerald fog. Cyclops and the X-Men have arrived. “You’ve got your targets,” he tells his team, which consists of Sunspot, Cannonball, Beast, Emma Frost, Colossus, Armor, Prodigy, and Nightcrawler, among others. “Hit them until they stop moving.” A Skrull gunner aboard a dropship pivots his turret and prepares to open fire on the incoming X-Men. Before he can pull the trigger, however, Nightcrawler emerges from a cloud of purple smoke right beside him and knocks him out with a swift punch to the jaw. Teleporting to the deck below, Kurt kicks the ship’s driver in the face, and then teleports to safety before the ship crashes to the ground and erupts in flames.
Nearby, a tank-driving Skrull asks for identification of the superheroes, particularly the three in front of his vehicle: Colossus, Cannonball, and Armor. They only have files on two of them, the Skrull command reports back. Outside the tank, Piotr clenches his fists. “This sight offends me more than I can say,” he says, gritting his teeth. Sam Guthrie channels the big Russian’s anger at the appropriate target. He orders Hisako to follow their lead, and blasts through the tanks while she and Colossus begin ripping the fleet to shreds.
Dropcaptain Ssrov and the rest of the Skrulls finally realize they are dealing with the X-Men. As he and the Soul Shepherd board their ship, Ssrov orders the entire fleet to return to orbit and suppress the resistance with particle cannons. The Soul Shepherd reminds him they still have troops on the ground. These troops will be honored and remembered, Ssrov says as consolation. After the ship begins its takeoff, Dropcaptain Ssrov asks for an altitude update. Six feet, his pilot informs him, even with engines at full thrust. For some reason, the ship isn’t achieving liftoff. They do not see that outside, Colossus and Armor both hold onto one end of the ship, while Cannonball forces it toward the ground. With the getaway averted, Cyclops destroys the loading door with an optic blast and boards with the X-Men.
Armor, Cannonball, Colossus and Nightcrawler stand behind Cyclops while he orders the Skrulls to surrender. The Soul Shepherd, however, raises his hand in resistance. “Stay, human. You speak without understanding, or respect,” he says, cradling a hazy, purple orb in his other hand. “The unborn one extends his blessing to you, human, and you should kneel and give thanks. The history you speak of – it begins, for your world, today.” After reminding the Skrulls they are not mere humans, but X-Men, Cyclops orders the Soul Shepherd to explain himself. He introduces himself as Sar T’llrk, the Soul Shepherd. He begins to order Cyclops to kneel and kiss the feet of the Skrull Holy Warriors, but Cyclops interrupts him with an optic blast to the face.
“I want these computers stripped to the bare wires,” Scott says after turning away from the fallen Skrull chaplain. He asks Emma to send in Beast and Prodigy. While the X-Men get to work investigating the ship, Nightcrawler’s attention is drawn to the smoky orb that lay beside its unconscious keeper. He slinks over toward the mysterious object, picks it up, and gazes into it, his face wrought with determined curiosity.
The Skrull command aboard the cruiser assesses the events below as they unfold. The Commander asks if when the thought-wall will be activated. Ten spans, his advisor informs him. The Commander turns and looks once more at the chaos below. “This is just a setback,” he says.
Meanwhile, aboard the commandeered Skrull dropship, Hank McCoy and David Alleyne scramble to decipher the alien coding of the ship’s computer. The physical interface is designed for use by shapeshifters, though, stalling their progress. Hank asks for a few more minutes. Cyclops orders them to narrow their search and gives them five minutes before they must abandon the project, while behind him, the entranced Nightcrawler looks deeper and deeper into the orb’s core. Greetings, seeker, the orb says into Kurt’s mind. He gasps, staring at it with wide-eyes full of wonder. The orb continues. Meditate on me, and you will find what you seek.
“Kurt.” Cyclops’s voice interrupts Nightcrawler’s trance. He turns away from the orb and responds to Scott, who orders him to head outside and guard the ship’s exterior. Nightcrawler complies, teleporting outside in a puff of purple smoke. He takes the sphere with him.
Emma Frost, battling a Skrull battalion with Mercury and X-23, relays orders from Cyclops to the rest of the X-Men. She is happy to report that, thus far, they have sustained zero casualties. Anole and the Stepford Cuckoos are busy evacuating the San Francisco hospital, she tells him, but Angel and Rockslide are pinned down by a railgun in Union Square. After ordering Pixie’s team to take the railgun out, Scott asks Emma to request more fog cover from Iceman. Their plan of severing the Skrull cruiser’s visual contact has worked well so far. However, the Skrulls fight back with a different kind of interference. As Scott continues speaking to Emma, his words stop making sense and quickly become gibberish. Emma winces at the psychic intrusion in her mind. Dust tries to support her teacher as she stumbles to the ground, but there is nothing she can do. Emma wipes her face, and after pulling her hand away, sees it is completely covered in blood. Elsewhere, the psychic static disrupts the minds of the Cuckoos.
With their thought-wall in effect, the Skrulls initiate the next phase of their attack. They fire their cannons at key locations in the city, and from each impact crater emerges a hulking, menacing Skrull.
While the barrage of cannon-fire reverberates in the background, Nightcrawler, sitting cross-legged on top of the captive Skrull ship, gazes longingly into the Soul Shepherd’s orb. Meditate, it tells him. Kurt tells it to shut up, but the orb once more tells him to meditate upon it to learn the truth. Neigen sich, Kurt Wagner, it says. He stares at it, even further perplexed by its use of his native German. Beugen sie sich vor der wahreit. And be exalted beyond what your mind can imagine! He accuses the orb of trying to hypnotize him, but the orb insists Kurt’s will is entirely his own. Then what is it you want from me, he asks? My function is to save your soul, it says. To equip you with the truth that will lead you into righteousness and make you—
A Skrull missile strikes the area next to the ship, knocking Kurt and his orb to the ground. The Skrulls have finally captured his attention. He picks himself up and crawls to the orb. You tricked me, he says. No. My concern is your soul, Kurt Wagner, as I said. But they – the warriors – they have a very different task. Kurt lifts his head from the orb once more, this time locking eyes with three angry Super Skrulls emerging from the green smoke of their craters.
Aboard the Skrull cruiser, the fleet advisor continues to give his commander updates. The Super Skrulls have successfully engaged their targets. With the situation finally settling down, the commander asks his advisor Dzirot a direct question: who provided the intel on this city? Dzirot responds it was his own team, and he promises to punish them accordingly. The commander robs him of that chance. He pulls out a pistol and fires a round into his advisor’s brain. After Dzirot’s body falls to the floor, he orders his other subordinates to drop it out of the airlock. The Skrulls are now engaged in a Holy War, he reminds them. Only the best fit – the bravest, strongest, and most virtuous – are fit to partake in such a crusade. The weak, he says, will go to the wall.