No! Jean-Paul Beaubier screams in disbelief and horror, as a bullet comes hurtling towards him, only to stop in midair, mere inches before him. A voice tells him to be cool. Jean-Paul turns towards the voice, only to see Marvel Girl in her X-Men uniform. She assures him that everything is going to be OK. The confused young man asks her who she is and what this is. Jean introduces herself and explains she’s an X-Man. Jean-Paul replies that two members of her group already visited him. Jean explains that she’s a mutant like him. She’s telepathically entered his mind, so they could take down a walk down memory lane together. Because, in another mili-second or so, Jean-Paul’s going to be shot.
He’s dead? Jean-Paul asks, dumbfounded. Jean explains that, thanks to his reflexes, the bullet meant for his heart ended up only grazing one of his lungs. If this is the past, where is he now? Jean Paul demands. In a comatose state at the hospital, Jean reveals and adds that he has an excellent chance at recovery. He’s really very lucky. What’s so lucky about being in a coma? he scoffs.
On that cue Jean shows him telepathic images of four young mutants: a schoolgirl with pink pigtails and bone growths protruding from her forehead, an African American young man with a shaved head, a young scruffy-looking leather-clad man with a Mohawk and piercings and a hooded girl dressed in rags. Last night, those four mutant kids were also shot in Manhattan by the same weapon used on Jean-Paul. He was the only one who survived. She was hoping he could show her the dirtbag who did this.
Jean-Paul freezes and admits that he doesn’t want to see him again. Jean implores him. He doesn’t want this to happen to anybody else, does he? What he wants is to be awake again, Jean-Paul cries. That can’t happen until he allows himself to move beyond this point. Jean-Paul recalls the man’s eyes. They made it hard to move. Jean takes his hands and promises that he can’t be hurt now. Not when they look at the memories together. One, two …
Three! the memory of Sinister states, as he shoots at Jean-Paul.
With a scream, Jean-Paul awakes to find Jean and Colossus at his bedside. Jean thanks him and introduces Peter, who watched over Jean-Paul through the night to make sure he was save. Is he single, the drowsy Jean-Paul asks. Peter automatically turns into his metal form at the unexpected question, while Jean drags him away with a grin. They’ve got work to do, she announces.
Midtown Manhattan, later. Two cops at the home of one of the victims going trough her belongings. Addressing the female cop as Nagra, the male cop asks if she knows what you call four dead mutants. If he says “ a good start” she’s going to shoot him in the kneecaps, the woman threatens her colleague. Outside the building, Wolverine carefully listens to their conversation.
Browning is undeterred by his colleague’s foul mood. Angrily, Nagra reminds him that a lunatic snuck into the apartment in the middle of night and shot a 14-year-old kid. Hw about he show some respect? He defends himself, by pointing out its gallow’s humor. It’s how he deals – Nagra scoffs reminding him of the last time they handled a dead girl case. He cried like a woman back then. With their backs turned to the room, Logan sneaks in through the window and sniffs at the bullet they’ve found.
Browning continues to defend his stance, asking what kind of life this girl had with those things growing out of her head. There are varying degrees of tragedy in life, he claims. A dead mutant is sad, but not exactly a red ball. What if she told him she was a mutant, Nagra asks. She has 26 ribs instead of 24, like ten percent of the population. Technically, she’s a mutant. But she can’t blow up people with her brains, he points out. Suddenly, they hear a noise. Drawing their arms, they run back into the room. The window is open. Nobody’s there.
Training at Xavier’s the hard way, as Rogue learns when an optic blast grazes her leg. She’s dead, Cyclops announces grimly. It was just her leg, Rogue retorts. If that had been a bullet, Cyclops explains, it would have hit her femoral artery. She’d have lost five pints in seconds. So, off the field with her. He looks up, asking Angel how things are with their dirty bomb. The bomb he’s referring to – a football – is nestled smugly into Angel’s hand, as the handsome mutant asks why they are having a midterm exam now, when there’s a mutant massacre. Shouldn’t they—
He screams in surprise as he flies straight into a hail of ice. He drops the football and Iceman, on an iceslide, reaches for it while at the same time burdening Warren’s wings with ice. Angel crashlands and Iceman gloats, until a hand phases through him and grabs the football. Hands off the detonator, Shadowcat threatens, or she’ll get all touchy-feely again.
Kitty hands Cyclops the “bomb.” Instead of praise, she receives a stern reprimand though, as Cyclops reminds her that her phasing power disrupts electronics. If this had been a real nuclear device, Westchester would be a crater now. Cyclops chews all the junior members out. He knows their minds are elsewhere, but the fact that someone is killing their people means they have to train harder than ever. They have to be ready for anything, so they are to try again…
Inside the mansion, Professor Xavier confides to General Fury that he can’t do this alone. SHIELD may be their only hope for finding the responsible killer. He adds that one of his students found out that this “Sinister” possesses some kind of hypnotic power, but Xavier has been unable to locate him with Cerebro. Perhaps he’s not a mutant but the result of genetic engineering. He doesn’t have proof, Fury points out. Four mutants are dead, Xavier retorts. All shot with the same gun, Fury agrees. This is definitely a hate crime and another argument for better gun control laws but it is not Fury’s jurisdiction.
Has he forgotten about Hank, Xavier asks. If he makes Xavier send his children into battle he could condemn another one to the same fate. Nobody’s making him do anything, Fury retorts. He’d advise him to stay out of this altogether. It’s a complicated time for SHIELD, he explains. If it looks like they’re sacrificing resources meant for national security to help a special interest group— Oh, is that what they are now, Xavier asks snarkily. The telepathic transmission of Fury fades out, as he tells Xavier’ he’ll be in his thoughts. Not literally though, he hopes. His image disappears and Xavier is left alone in the Cerebro chamber.
Over the mansion, a localized storm is brewing. Floating in the air stands the young woman who controls the weather effect – the X-Man, Storm. Having undergone a startling transformation after the death of her boyfriend, Beast, she has cut most of her hair short and now wears a skimpy leather ensemble.
Hearing a characteristic bamf sound, she tells her teammate, Nightcrawler, who has teleported on the roof to go away. Undeterred, Nightcrawler mentions that Kitty told him about her new look. Very … interesting. She wants to be alone, she coolly states. Kurt replies that here is an assembly and her attendance is required. If she called down a big bolt of lightning right now, does he think he’d be able to teleport away in time, she asks. Because he is three seconds from finding out! Her eyes crackle.
Nightcrawler tells her he is sorry. He knows how much Beast meant to her. Is that why he’s always bothering her, she snaps. Because she’s the one who falls for furry freaks? Maybe he’s hoping to fill Hank’s shoes. Her Weltschmerz is no excuse for cruelty, he calmly retorts. He explains the term: a word coined by the German Romantics; it is the depression that comes when one compares the way the world should be to the way the world is. No one feels pain like poets, right?
He doesn’t know what he’s talking about Storm insists. Perhaps not, Kurt agrees, but he was there the day Weapon X turned Hank into something else. He remembers how furious Storm was that they had hurt him. She wanted to kill the ones responsible, but Kurt would not let her. He didn’t wish her to become a monster as well. How sad Hank would be to learn it took his death to do that. Mutants and humans continue to die at the hands of others, he reminds her. If she cares to rejoin the fight, the X-Men will be there for her. With those last words, he teleports away.
He reappears at McCoy Memorial Hall, where all the other X-Men, save for Wolverine, are already in attendance. Xavier addresses them all and, at that moment, Storm joins them. Cyclops pipes up, explaining that he has already come up with a few plans to locate and neutralize the killer. Actually, they will not be involved in the hunt for Sinister, Xavier reveals. In the foreseeable future, none of them will be permitted to leave institute grounds. Despite the X-Men’s shocked reactions, he continues that someone is targeting mutants and he refuses to put any of them in his crosshairs. Jean tells him she saw the man. He’s a psycho, not a Sentinel. They’ve fried bigger fish. And that’s why the threat should be left to the police, Xavier sternly replies. Most cops don’t want to find the killer, Chuck, a disrespectful voice points out. Wolverine has joined the assembly. And the few that do …won’t.
Does he have information, Xavier inquires. He has jack, Logan replies, which is the scary part. He visited the crime scenes and found nothing. No scent, no tracks, no nothing. Even the security cameras caught squat. That guy isn’t human. Seems like he is invisible to everything but the naked eye. Meaning they have to find him the old fashioned way… following leads, pounding pavement, knocking down doors. The more of them comb he city, the more kids they are likely to save.
Xavier thinks hard, then announces that this mission is strictly for the senior class. Angel, Shadowcat, Rogue and Iceman will remain here with him. This doesn’t sit well with Bobby, who loudly protests: why is he being lumped in with the new kids? He’s been holding himself with the others since day one! The Professor’s decisions are final, Cyclops sternly remarks. The others will split up in groups of two, Xavier continues. They’ll start searching Manhattan as all five shootings took place there.
Cyclops takes over deciding on the teams: he and Jean will search uptown, Storm and Colossus will take midtown and Wolverine and Nightcrawler will handle uptown. Xavier tells him he appreciates his recommendations, but the teams will be comprised of Cyclops and Colossus, Marvel Girl and Nightcrawler, Storm and Wolverine. Cyclops wants to protest, while Bobby gleefully reminds him that the Professor’s decisions are final. Once their target is found, Xavier announces, they are to report back to him. Sinister is not to be approached directly. Whatever they are dealing with is evil beyond the pale.
The man called Sinister sits in an apartment, his eyes glowing red. Four in one night, he mumbles, stutters even. A single slug in the left ventricle of each of their beating mutant hearts, just as he asked. A voice orders him to save his self-congratulatory muttering. Lord? Sinister asks. Were it not for his carelessness, he would have had five. A shadowy figure appears in the room and Sinister asks the shadow for forgiveness. The shadow continues that Sinister will only know his grace when he has delivered all ten innocent souls. He shall have the final six soon, Sinister promises, as he gets down on his knees and addresses the shadow as Lord Apocalypse.