The Danger Room:
He’s bored, Iceman announces, as he freezes the Brood attacking him. Why are they playing with these lame CGI Alien rip-offs, when they could be looking for the whackjob who’s killing mutants, he complains. From the observation booth, Professor Xavier announces that their adversaries aren’t computer generated images, they are solid-light holo-ponents. And Bobby is not hunting for Sinister with his elder classmates precisely because of the flip attitude with which he approaches these exercises.
While Iceman keeps on arguing, Rogue, who is captured by several tentacles, announces if she got her hands on the guy, she’d drain every last drop of life from his hide. Flying above the Brood, Angel protests that they wouldn’t better than the murderer, if they killed. Oh, please, Rogue scoffs. He doesn’t really buy that tired old line, does he? Some folks are so awful you can just put them in the dirt and hope they won’t crawl out. Says the chick who used to work for Magneto, Kitty Pryde retorts. Rogue protests that that isn’t fair. She was just a dumb kid then. Besides, even Magneto never hurt his own kind.
The computer informs them that Dazzler is entering the room. Drunk, high, still carrying a bottle and aglow, Alison Blaire informs the others that she is back from the party of the @#*&ing millenium and she is lit! Get it? He forgot they started accepting losers on the team, Iceman remarks sarcastically. She smells like her grandfather, Rogue complains. Is her grandfather dead, Angel inquires. The entire day is beginning to smell like that, Kitty announces.
Back in his apartment, his weapons all laid out, Sinister holds a rat before his face, intending to gut it. The voice of Apocalypse orders him to let it go. He has bigger game this evening. Of cuh- cuh-course, Lord Apocalypse, the killer stutters. His master orders him to stop stammering. This mission requires a fierce horseman, not a stuttering man-child. The square on Sinister’s eyes start to glow red, as he thanks his lord for giving him strength. He bows before Apocalypse and promises he will kill the final six mutants for him tonight.
On a roof stand the six senior members of the X-Men. Cyclops repeats the mission parameters. He and Colossus will be searching for Sinister in midtown Manhattan. Wolverine and Storm will work street-level downtown. And Nightcrawler and Marvel Girl are staying here in Harlem for the uptown detail. Are they really still going with “Marvel Girl?” Jean jokes. She outgrew that handle two bra-sizes ago. At least she isn’t named after a worm, Nightcrawler states comfortingly.
Cyclops orders them to knock it off and reminds them that Jean uploaded Sinister’s visual she got from Beaubier into all of their occipital lobes. They are to contact the Professor if they spot anything. Sinister’s got some kind of hypnotic stare so they are not to engage him alone. That means especially Logan. Wolverine grunts non-commitingly.
If they come up empty, they are to rendezvous at the X-Wing at sunrise for further instructions. He also reminds them that Sinister is supposedly invisible to everything but the naked eye.
Hugging Jean, Nightcrawler teleports himself and her away to reappear on another roof.
If there is a man alive whose buttons are easier to push than her boyfriend’s, he has yet to meet him, he jokes. Jean tells him not to be too hard. After what happened to Beast, she can’t blame Scott for being a little uptight. Kurt apologizes but it surprises him that a fiery young woman such as she would be drawn to so dour a boy. Take it from a telepath and Cosmo subscriber, men are never what they seem, Jean states with a smile. After all, who’d guess that a guy like Kurt would constantly daydream about Pirates of the Caribbean? Kurt begins to swoon about Kiera Knightley before asking whether Jean is spying on his fantasies. She can’t help overhearing Jean explains. If she tried to block out every dirty thought the boy ever had, she’d never get any work done.
Getting back to business, she tells him to keep his eyes peeled. According to Cerebro, Harlem has the densest concentration of mutants in all of Manhattan. Hey, a voice shots and a shape crackling with black energy appears behind them. He’s been waiting for them to show themselves on his turf, he announces, before letting loose an energy blast at Kurt.
Jean’s eyes begin to flare dangerously. Ashes, she pronounces. A moment later, a Phoenix shape rises behind her and she telekinetically attacks the young man, who turns to his normal shape of a handsome young Brazilian black man. What … what are they? he inquires. What is he? Jean shoots back annoyed. Still angry, he introduces himself as Roberto DaCosta, a member of neighborhood watch. He’s been on patrol ever since they started putting holes in mutants like him.
Jean and Kurt correct him: they are the X-Men. Roberto still isn’t impressed. He’s heard of their little club. So they’ve finally decided to climb down from their ivory tower to grace the “second-class” muties with their presence? They just want to help, Jean protests. Where were they when some bigots torched down his apartment because of what Magneto did to the president, Roberto asks. Where were they when his friend Anglo was beaten wiring an inch of his life simply because of the texture of his skin? The have learned to live just fine without their charity. Whatever they are offering now is much too little, much too late. Até logo, “X-Men” he tells them and leaves. Kurt hopes their comrades are receiving a warmer welcome.
Kill them both, Boris orders his henchmen of the Russian mafia and they start shooting at Colossus and Cyclops. Firing his optic blasts, Cyclops asks if Colossus didn’t say that those guys were his friends. They used to be, Colossus explains. But Russian arms dealers are notoriously temperamental. Except when it comes to money. Here, their love is unwavering. He grabs one of the men and adds that they would happily sell an unregistered .45 to some lunatic and not lose any sleep when he starts murdering young men and women with it.
He is wrong, Boris announces. They stopped selling .45s years ago. Three is much more profit to be made in a nice TEC-9, like the one he’s holding to Cyclops’ head. Colossus orders him to let Cyclops go. Boris refuses. The X-Men took his most valuable muscle from him. It’s only fair if he takes something from them in return. Colossus asks him to kill him instead. Suddenly, Cyclops fires his optic blast at him. Colossus’ steel form deflects it and it hits Boris in the head.
Amazing, Colossus marvel and asks how Cyclops knew that the blast would ricochet. He did know that, didn’t he? Cyclops just tells him to come. Sinister’s gunrunning is a dead end. They’ve got to start thinking outside the box.
Downtown. Storm breaks the silence between them by suddenly thanking Logan. He hasn’t said one word to her today, he replies. Exactly, she explains. Since Hank died, the rest of the team can’t stop trying to… fix her. Well, she lost her one and only, Logan shrugs. Who is he to judge if that makes her want to give herself a dumb haircut and start dressing like street trash. She’s not the first person life ever stomped on.
He points to some punk kids, explaining that all these people have been hurt so bad, they have to push the world away, just to make sure it doesn’t hurt them again. But the only thing worse than being in pain is being ignored, so they have to find a look that says everybody pay attention, just don’t get too close. They like to think they are loners. But check those get-ups. Looks more like an uniform that whatever fancy crap the Professor makes them wear. He is the oldest, grumpiest young man alive, Storm interrupts him. He touches her shoulder telling her that he truly is sorry. About everything. With a weak smile Ororo adds that she is not the only one around here with a stupid haircut…
As they pass a tattoo shop, Logan says wants to investigate there. He remembers the word written on Sinister’s arm in the mug shot Jean zapped into their brains. Looks like the kind of lettering they used to do in that joint. What does he know about tattoos; Ororo inquires. He’s gotten a few dozens in his days. He goes on to explain that like scars they basically fade after a few hours. There are a great way to impress new girlfriends, though. He figures they can get some leads from their client list. Isn’t that confidential, Storm asks. Logan shoots her a pitying glance.
Get bent, freak! the very pierced shop owner exclaims when Wolverine threatens him with his claws What’s he gonna do to him… pierce him? Has he seen his face? Storm calmly tells her teammate to let her handle things. The man mocks her as weather girl. A moment later, a ball lightning appears on Ororo’s outstretched hands. Has he heard of acid fog, she asks him. She wonders what would happen if she filled his lungs with a cloud of supersaturated nitrates. She continues threatening him with weather effects, finishing that mother nature is a mutant. And unless he gives her a name, she’ll show him what she thinks of man. The man gives in, telling them that a guy got the word “Sinister” tattooed on his arms a few weeks ago, but he doubts he has the stones to shoot anybody. He lives rightndown the street. Stuttering geek named Essex.
A short while later, Storm comes in through the window, while Wolverine crashes the door. Seeing something in the next room, Storm screams. Wolverine joins her to see what spooked her: an almost clown-like life-sized puppet with blue make-up and a prominent red “A” on its belt. While Storm makes fun of the puppet Logan looking at the wall is suddenly horrified. They gotta go back to Xavier’s, he announces. On the wall, there are pictures of Sinister’s victims as well as of Professor X and the five junior members of the X-Men. He ain’t in Manhattan anymore … Sinister’s at the school!