Downtown Chicago: detonations shock the city. Several mutants are driving away from the disaster zone. One of them, a blonde female, asks the others to turn on the radio. The DJ’s going to say something funny in thirty-five seconds. What’s really funny, one of them adds, is watching all those little “dung ticks” scurry around. Too bad they didn’t have a bigger bomb to kill them all.
They notice that a tall man in a trench coat with a cap drawn deep into his face stands in the middle of the road, apparently not caring that they are coming right at him. Suddenly, the psychic shouts that they’ll be eating pavement in six seconds. As the car ploughs into the unmoving man, it crashes and three mutants fall out, propelled by the crash and landing hard on the pavement. Colossus didn’t even budge and radios Iceman that he found the car. The situation is well in hand. The other mutants shout to get out of the car but, suddenly, they and the car find themselves high up in the air on one of Iceman’s ice-slides. The info was dead on, Iceman announces to Wolverine: Neither of those guys are leapers or fliers, just like he predicted. They are trapped. How are thins going at Lincoln Park Zoo? Did Wolverine find the jumpjet they were heading for? Well, Wolverine replies, exiting the jet, he just hopes the pilot has a secret mutant power for reassembling faces …
He then radios Storm asking her if she can handle damage control on her own. Storm sits cross-legged, high in the air, and focuses on creating a limited rainstorm to extinguish the fire of the detonation over those city blocks. Do the others think that people will like them again if they catch those creeps? she wonders. Firemen and bystanders look up and see her do her stuff. Colossus optimistically announces that this little episode is the X-Men’s first step on the road to salvation.
Stamford Connecticut. A middle-aged couple and their young son are listening to the news of the X-Men’s latest exploits: The news-reporter announces that the police first believed the assault on Chicago’s biggest credit union was caused by both teams in response to the arrest of Charles Xavier. However, their latest information suggests that the X-Men actually captured the Brotherhood members in the hope of claiming amnesty against further SHIELD arrests. General Nick Fury refuses to accept this plea for amnesty, though. The war on terror will continue until the X-Men and the Brotherhood both are captured. The family calls them a bunch of backstabbing freaks, turning on their own at the first sign of trouble. They just hope that the president won’t cut a deal with them.
Well, so much for that idea, Kitty Pryde sighs. She, Jean and Beast are sitting on the family’s spare couch, with Jean clouding the humans’ perception so they don’t notice their presence. Beast tells Kitty they have to keep trying. The only way the humans will ever trust them again is if they are the ones to bring in Magneto. Kitty tells him that she wished they had a decent work-base. She can see how their safe-houses are compromised, but they could hole up with Storm’s old friends in Harlem … Staying with this family without them knowing is creepy. She feels like a Peeping Tom. All that matter is that they have two spare bedrooms and are not linked to the X-Men in any fashion, Beast explains.
Kitty turns to the dejected Jean, who has kept silent throughout their exchange, and asks if she is okay. Jean first brushes off her concern, but then tearfully admits she is anything but OK. She’s been a mess since the Phoenix thing happened. Worse, she feels the Phoenix still within her, telling her things about the others she doesn’t want to know, like what really happened between Wolverine and Cyclops in the Savage Land. Kitty was there, too. Does she think it is possible Wolverine let Cyclops die so he could be with Jean?
Camp X-Factor, Cuba:
Here, SHIELD houses and contains suspects in the war on genetic terrorism. Accompanied by armed SHIELD agents, Nick Fury addresses the Xavier, who is strapped down and unable to move. Fury apologizes for the mind-blockers, but it’s the only way they feel safe around a telepath of Xavier’s calibre. He informs him why they believe that he is working with Magneto - basically because he lied to them about having killed Magneto. They now believe that he was in league with him from the beginning. Xavier scoffs. That’s ridiculous and Fury knows it. He tried to rehabilitate Magneto himself, because handing him over to SHIELD would have been an automatic death sentence. Like the one Magneto issued on all those civilians who died in his terror attacks since? Fury retorts. Three thousand people would still be alive, if Xavier hadn’t lied to them. Doesn’t he feel guilty?
What does he want, Xavier asks. An address for Magneto and the X-Men, Fury demands. Well, he has neither, Xavier claims. Fury doesn’t buy that, but his psychics can’t look into Xavier’s powerful mind. And the Brotherhood booby-trapped their agents with a thought-virus that destroys any mind interfacing with theirs. But they have other options, he states and lets SHIELD agents bring in the captured Nightcrawler. <>
Kurt assures Xavier that SHIELD treated him well, but he has no idea for how much longer he can keep their telepaths at bay. Nightcrawler obviously knows where the X-Men’s safehouses are, because he was heading towards one, Fury deduces. If Xavier tells him where the X-Men are right now, though, he’ll do everything in his power to protect them, he promises. Xavier turns away. He will no betray his students. They are the only hope either of their species has left. His choice, Fury shrugs and leaves.
Chicago: twenty seconds after one of them pulled a gun on Wolverine, he is standing on top of a crowd of very injured soldiers.
Later, back “home,” sitting at the kitchen table over a world map, the other X-Men take in the news incredulously. How many troops did he hospitalize? About fifty or sixty, Wolverine estimates, guzzling down his beer. Great, Beast sighs, they are doing everything in their power to prove to the world they are the good guys and Wolverine carves up fifty to sixty public servants. Why don’t they all just send off for some Brotherhood of Mutants baseball caps and be done with it?
Jean coolly remarks that that’s the problem with wild animals. Let them into your home and sooner or later someone gets scratched. Wolverine tells her to give it rest with those not-so-subtle hints about his killing Cyclops. He knows she’s going through a rough patch. This isn’t a rough patch, she replies, She’s looking past his funny psychic defences with the Phoenix Force. She knows he’s not evil, but twisted by all the horror he suffered. He believes that violence will always solve his problem. No surprise that he used violence to eliminate the competition for her affections. Wolverine tells her to stop flattering herself. Iceman asks both of them to give it a rest. They have enough enemies right now without tearing into each other. They’ll see, Jean states sullenly.
Colossus suddenly jumps up startled, as the mother walks past them to get some cereal from the cupboard. With an embarrassed, grin he tells Kitty to give him a break. He isn’t immune to the occasional fright. The lights go out and on again. Before them stands Magneto, dryly stating “quite understandable, Colossus.”
Iceman automatically attacks, shooting an ice-spear towards their foe, which passes straight through him. He’s not really here, Magneto explains. He’s a hologram, so they cannot hurt each other. How did he find them? Beast demands. Actually, he didn’t, Magneto explains. He just instructed the Brotherhood’s resident genius to create a means of contacting them, wherever they were. He introduces them to the mutant in question - Forge - and enthuses that the young man may be the most impressive mutant he ever encountered. Imagine being able to build anything you can think of. Imagine being able to build anything a master of magnetism can think of …
A doomsday weapon, Beast deduces grimly. Naturally, Magneto agrees. But he didn’t come to threaten them. He came to extend them the same courtesy he just extended to his wayward children… a final chance to join the winning side. He blames Charles and his mental manipulations for their past misunderstandings. How else to explain a group of mutant outcasts that fights to save a world that hates them? They won’t find his citadel. Look at what happed to Xavier’s peaceful approach. Should they blow up people instead, Jean scoffs. Those bombings were merely a smokescreen for his actual master plan, Magneto hints. The world is a cherry, ripe to be plucked, thanks to a device Forge has built for him, Magneto states and asks them once more to change sides. Wolverine is about to give a very rude answer, but Magneto cuts him off and tells them to consider his proposal. They have seven days, he announces as the hologram fades.