Lasset uns beten, Kurt Wagner, the Skrull orb says to Kurt. He denies it, but the voice urges him to find the true path before he dies. As he is currently being strangled by a Super Skrull, Kurt’s death might be closer than he realizes.
Cyclops appears and knocks down two of the Super Skrulls with a perfectly ricocheted optic blast. He orders Kurt to flee. Kurt complies, teleporting far up into the sky. Two Super Skrulls with the same capabilities follow him, however, and upon appearing, pierce his shoulder with an energy blast.
Down below, Colossus, Cannonball, Cyclops and Beast battle the six Super Skrulls who stayed behind. Beast assesses the situation and realizes the tide of battle has turned against them. Cyclops tells him to hold his ground while he calls Emma for backup. Because the Skrulls have disabled all telepathy, however, Scott has to call her the old-fashioned way. As a Super Skrull dives on top of him, he opens his visor to full power and shoots a beam high into the sky.
Upon seeing Scott’s signal from across town, Emma Frost orders Pixie and Dust to extract their besieged teammates. Pixie, using her teleportation spell, completes this task with haste.
Later, aboard the Skrull Dreadnought, the Skrulls plan their next move. With the beachhead established and the resistance crushed, it seems to Skrull Lieutenant Jash they have won the battle for San Francisco. His commander disagrees. The X-Men may have fled and taken their wounded, but they will not stop fighting. Instead, they will oppose the Skrull occupation with everything they have. How, then, should the Skrulls respond, Commander H’Kurrek asks? Lieutenant answers with a reasonable plan: continue monitoring the perimeter, while using search-drones to seek out carriers of the X-gene. Commander H’Kurrek commends this suggestion, adding they will also reinforce their thought wall. “Divide and conquer, Jash,” the commander says. “Seed the Earth with mines and the sky with eyes.” He turns and faces his lieutenant for emphasis. “And let them come to us. As they always do.”
Meanwhile, the X-Men regroup at their base so Scott can outline their plan of attack. The Skrulls have blocked or destroyed all methods of leaving San Francisco. Additionally, they have established an unbreakable blackout in the city’s communication network, which includes phones, radios, and internet access. Worse, Emma adds, is the psychic thought-wall the Skrulls established, which makes projecting or reading thoughts painfully impossible beyond a range of ten feet.
Hope, however, still exists. Scott brings up some photographs taken by Beast and Anole of the Skrull mother-ship. This ship is their ultimate target, he says, but they will not attack it until they know they can win. In the meantime, while they gather the proper intel, the rest of the X-Men are to engage the Skrulls in hit-and-run, guerrilla warfare. They will attack them all over town and keep them busy until the X-Men are ready to strike the mother-ship. Everyone’s a part of this, Scott says to the room of X-Men. “This is war, people. Let’s be clear about that. And like it or not, we’re on the front line. But we’re better equipped for that than most people are. As mutants, we’ve been fighting since they day we were born. We know the odd, and they’ve never been on our side.”
Surprisingly, several of the X-Men stare back at their leader with disaffected glares. Cyclops continues. He sees them looking at each other distrustfully, and orders them to stop it. The X-Men work well together because they trust each other; the moment they withdraw that trust, the Skrulls win. Besides, he adds, the Skrulls did not expect to encounter the X-Men in San Francisco. They would have known that bit of information if they had a sleeper agent amongst the X-Men, and certainly would have fought this battle much differently. “So we win or lose together. And in case there’s any doubt on that score,” Cyclops says, “we’re going to win.”
As the team shuffles out of the briefing room, Surge quips that she doesn’t remember joining the Army. One of her teammates asks her to quit, then. “Uhh-- no, I’m good,” Nori says.
Beast approaches Cyclops and asks how he plans to deal with the Super Skrulls. By avoiding them for now, Scott responds. He tells Hank they will need some sort of Skrull doomsday device for their raid on the mother-ship, and as the resident scientist, it is Hank’s job to come up with something. What kind of something, Hank asks? Scott sets no boundaries, and suggests Hank do the same. Hank requests a Skrull tissue sample, to which Scott replies he will see what he can do.
Emma interrupts with some good news. Before she went psi-blind, she sent out a telepathic APB, and a few of their friends responded: Dazzler, Northstar, Aurora, and Husk. Good, Scott says. Emma reminds him they may not be who they say they are. Scott restates his logic from earlier: if the Skrulls were well-prepared enough to infiltrate the X-Men’s ranks, why would they not just bomb them? He switches topics and tells Emma he has an assignment for her and the Stepford Cuckoos. “We’re psi-blind, remember?” Emma says, rolling her eyes. Scott knows this, of course. That is why he needs their help.
After the briefing, Nightcrawler sneaks away to his room. He shuts the door and he produces the Skrull orb he commandeered from the Soul Shepherd. Once more, it speaks to him, this time asking if he knows what a parable is. A story, Kurt replies. The orb corrects him: A lie that is truer than truth, it says. Kurt accuses the orb of being some sort of Skrull iPod; he is only talking to it because of the chance it might contain some important information. You’re wrong, the orb says. It claims to be a sacred text, like Kurt’s Bible, only fitted with a mind-amp interface so it can assist in meditation. I will tell you a parable, it says, by way of illustration.
The orb tells a tale of two brothers from the Skrull homeworld. Their names were Brona and Skeld, and they were farmers in the valley of the Esul. While usually quite prosperous, one season their crops were stricken by a drought. Brona prayed to the mountain to cast its long shadow over his crops and protect him from the sunlight. Skeld, meanwhile, prayed to the river, that it rise and flood the valley floor. Skeld’s prayer was answered; the river rose, but the mountain remained where it was. Brona begged his brother to share his crops, but Skeld refused, prompting Brona to try to take it by force. In the ensuing conflict, Skeld killed his brother. For the river is many things, and the mountain is one, the orb says. And that which changes is forever holy.
“That was a parable?” Kurt sneers. Indeed it was, the orb responds. If Kurt considers it, he may find a deeper truth. After all, did he not kill his brother, just as Skeld did? Kurt is stunned to hear this. “My – you mean Stefan Szardos?” Before the orb can answer him, Hisako enters and tells Kurt the team is about to depart.
Stationed at the Golden Gate Bridge, Skrull Mobile Pacification Unit 3 orders the crowd of civilians trying to flee the city to go home. Disperse or be punished, the Skrull says. A wiseguy in the audience asks if they can disperse and be punished. What if they want both, he asks? The Skrull puts his gun in the young man’s face and asks if he wants to die instead. “Not necessarily,” the young man says. “I just feel we should know what all the options are.” He puts his hand on the Skrull’s rifle and creates an impenetrable ice barrier on its barrel just as the Skrull pulls the trigger. The gun backfires, explodes, and knocks the Skrull to the ground. Bobby Drake ices up just as Jean-Paul and Jeanne-Marie Beaubier, the mutant twins Northstar and Aurora, arrive. Iceman tells them to take care of the large Skrull cannon pointing in their direction. The twins join hands and blast the cannon to smithereens.
Aboard the Skrull mother-ship, the commander receives incoming updates. Three of the Skrull guard posts have just been attacked, almost simultaneously. The commander concludes the X-Men must be using teleporters. He asks for a list of all active mutants who possess that capability. Ch’rith, his intel provider, begins naming the twelve known teleporting mutants, but Commander H’Kurrek stops her. Recalibrate the search-drones on those mutant signatures, he says. As long as the X-Men use their current strategy, he trusts the Skrull army will emerge victorious.
A squad consisting of Nightcrawler, Armor, and Rockslide teleports to one Skrull post and quickly eliminates it. Pixie, Angel, and Husk, meanwhile, teleport to another post and destroy a Skrull tank. Warren asks Paige how her love-life has been. Not sure, she replies, before suggesting they head back to base and find out. Elsewhere, Kurt teleports yet another team, this one consisting of Cannonball, Surge, and himself, to a strategic Skrull position in an alley. Cannonball takes to the skies while Surge tries to blast ships out of the air with her electrical pulses. Kurt, however, slips away and continues his conversation with the Skrull sphere.
Why did Stefan ask you to kill him, it asks? Was it because he feared he would change? Be corrupted? The voice explains that change is nothing to fear. Change is holy. It is stagnation that begets evil. Surely the mutants, mankind’s agents of transformation, understand this, the voice says. Kurt listens in bewilderment. “We’re nothing like you!” he says aloud. “We don’t--”
Cannonball and Surge abruptly return and tell Kurt they need to leave; the Skrulls are coming right behind them! Sam asks who Kurt was talking to, but Kurt snaps and insists he was not talking at all. He grabs them and the three mutants teleport to safety.
Elsewhere, Pixie, Dust and Mercury arrive on at the crest of one of San Francisco’s many hills. Dust and Mercury depart and tell Pixie to wait for their signal. She waves goodbye and offers a half-hearted cheer, while overhead, a covert Skrull camera monitor’s Pixie’s position. Commander H’Kurrek watches the live feed from the Skrull mother-ship, and tells his crew that the subject, Megan Gwynn, interests him. They are to have her body dissected after capture.
Meanwhile, in the Cerebra chamber, Emma Frost and the Stepford Cuckoos outfit themselves with Cerebra’s headgear. Emma asks them to repeat their plan of action, from the top. Using Cerebra’s link, they are to channel their power into Emma while she tries to pinpoint the source of the Skrull thought wall. If Emma’s brain begins to hemorrhage, they are to pull the plug. However, the Cuckoos doubt the plan will work; if Emma does make contact, she will certainly hit one of the Skrull’s firewalls. “Only if they identify me as an intruder, Phoebe. I’m going to try to match frequencies so they think I’m one of their own. But assuming I should fail,” Emma says as she slides on her helmet, “please don’t fight over my new summer wardrobe.”
Pixie, sitting expectantly on the curb, plugs her nose as soon as she hears Nightcrawler’s familiar brimstone BAMF! She tells him to hang an air-freshener on his ear or something, but as she turns around, she doesn’t see Nightcrawler, but a Super Skrull. It shoots at her with an optic blast, knocking her to the ground. She tries to recite her teleportation spell but stumbles over her words. Things look grim for Pixie. However, a threatening voice from behind signals the arrival of Warpath, Wolfsbane, X-23, who immediately begin their orchestrated attack on the Super Skrull.
Back in Cerebra, Emma tells the girls she has broken through the Skrull’s psi-shield. She begins to wince in pain, however, and the girls watch helplessly as Emma falls unconscious. Her vital signs flat-line. She slumps over, dead. “Oh my god, her brain’s not functioning. Who’s going to tell Mister Summers?” one of the Cuckoos says. I will, says another. “What about the dresses?” asks the third.
After a brief battle with X-Force, the Super Skrull falls victim to Warpath’s hunting knives. Wolfsbane commends Pixie on her excellent performance as their decoy. “You’re welcome,” Pixie says. She then notices the new addition to their team. “Who’s the metal-wing guy? He new?” she asks, gesturing toward Archangel. Warpath thanks her again, deliberately avoiding the question.
Back in the X-Men’s laboratory, Beast focuses his attention on some test tubes. A sudden thump on the table breaks his concentration and causes him to drop his samples. He turns, and sees the dead Super Skrull sprawled out on his workstation. Cyclops and Warpath stand over it. Here is your tissue sample, Cyclops says. “Over to you, Hank.”