Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, Salem Center, Westchester, New York. ‘I can’t feel my legs…I…I can’t feel - damn - who are you?’ gasps Syndicate, tears streaming from his eyes, his face covered in blood as he lies on the grass on the grounds of the school. A couple dozen armored men and women stand over him, armed with various weapons, their armor resembles that of Sentinels! One of them stares down at Luke, whose brother, Matt, was blown to pieces. ‘You killed him - I can’t believe you killed Matt and he’s - I’m dying. I’m gonna die…why’re you doing this?’ Luke asks.
The humans stare back at him, ‘You’re not a Sentinel!’ Syndicate exclaims. ‘What? What are…what the hell are you?’ he shouts. ‘Angels’ one of the attackers replies quietly, as everyone aims their weapons at Luke. Reverend William Stryker looks at Syndicate and asks ‘What do you do?’. ‘What?’ Luke asks. ‘What do you do?’ Stryker asks again, before Luke nervously replies ‘Telepathy’. ‘Telepathy? Like mind reading?’ Stryker asks. ‘Yeah’ Luke confirms. ‘Can you read my thoughts?’ Stryker asks, before he shoves his gun against Luke’s face.
‘My son was killed in the tidal wave. My wife. Drowned. Murdered. All of us here, we all lost our loved ones in the flood. Can you? Can any of you…you mutants - bring them back? Save them?’. ‘No’ Luke replies, eyes fixed on the gun against his face. ‘Someone has to pay!’ Stryker exclaims, to which Syndicate tells him that there are just kids here. ‘Are you going to kill children? Are you so changed?’ Luke asks him after delving into his mind. ‘You…? You don’t know me!’ Stryker snaps back. ‘You’re a man of God, William Stryker Jr. Aren’t we all God’s children? Aren’t we - uhhh…’ with that Syndicate says no more. ‘Is he…?’ Stryker asks. ‘Dead. Yeah. The mutie was trying to get into your head, William. Don’t let him. You know - this is God’s work. They have to suffer. They have to die. You know that!’ an elderly member of Stryker’s contingent exclaims. ‘Yes. I know’ Stryker replies.
Meanwhile, inside a holding cell at Department H, 50 miles outside of Montreal, Canada. Victor Creed, better known as Sabretooth, likes slumped in a corner, while the X-Woman known as Rogue stands nearby, her appearance changed to resemble his after absorbing his power. ‘Again, Creed. What’s Magneto planning?’ Rogue demands to know. When she gets no answer though, she lashes out, using her newfound claws to gut Creed, who screams as the claws Rogue stole from him pierce his stomach, and blood flies everywhere, as he falls onto his side. ‘…like I’d ever tell!’ Creed snarls. ‘Like you have a choice!’ Rogue retorts.
‘I just want you thinking about it. Get that plan right in the front of your tiny lil’ brain - so when I touch you…’ Rogue begins, before touching Creed again, and images flash into her mind:
(flashback images, transferred from Sabretooth to Rogue)
A younger looking Creed sits at a table, a dinner party had been going on around him - now all of the guests have been slaughtered, except one, who stares at Creed, in amongst the blood and carnage. ‘Now that is a beautiful necklace - where’d you get something like that?’ Creed asked the woman as he munches on a drumstick. ‘Is that what you want? Money? I have money’ the woman told him. ‘Honestly, no, I was just - you know - it’s Sunday and I was hungry and bored and…that is a damn fine necklace’ Creed remarked. ‘Take it - just take it…it’s gold. Just take it!’ the woman exclaimed urgently. ‘Actually, I have something else in mind. I’m not into gold!’ Creed snarled as he lunged across the table, claws ready, eyeing the woman up.
Creed smiles, telling Rogue that he is better trained, and that if she digs any deeper all she will get is nightmare after nightmare. ‘You want my memories - take ‘em. Take ‘em all!’ Creed exclaims. Rogue puts her hand over Creed’s face, telling him that she is not afraid of him and that she will find it. ‘You can’t hide it from me!’ Rogue shouts.
(flashback images, transferred from Sabretooth to Rogue)
A teenage Creed holds a sharp knife up to a frightened pig. A slightly older Creed battles the man who will become Wolverine. An even younger Creed sits across an older man’s knee and is spanked with a paddle, while a teenage Creed hides behind a tree and aims a rifle at a bunch of protesters.
Rogue looks horrified, ‘Care to go again? The more you touch - the more of me there is in you. You gonna risk that? You gonna become me, darling?’ a grinning Creed asks Rogue. Rogue ignores Creed and enters an adjoining room, informing Wraith a.k.a. Vindicator that she couldn’t get anything from Creed, assuring him that she dug as deep as she could, but she was beginning to lose herself. ‘Looks like you already have’ Wraith replies, referring to Rogue’s Creed-like appearance. ‘Yeah, well - yeah’, Rogue replies, before asking Wraith how he is doing.
Wraith, wearing his new armor, holds up a blood-covered fist as he stands in front of Juggernaut, chained to a wall and with blood across his face. Wraith replies that he is just getting started. ‘Rogue? Z’at you? You have to help me. Please. Please!’ Juggernaut exclaims, peering out at Rogue through bruised eyes. Juggernaut swears that he knows nothing about Magneto’s plans, exclaiming that no one tells him anything. ‘Big dumb, remember? If I did, I’d tell you…but if I don’t…tell him…Rogue. Come on. It’s me. I know we got stuff between us, but he’s gonna kill me. Please!’ Juggernaut exclaims.
Suddenly, ‘Where -?’, gasps Rogue. ‘Who -?’ exclaims Juggernaut, as a psychic image appears before them: ‘HELP!’ cries Psylocke as her image is projected. Psylocke is using Cerebro to amplify her powers, while Stryker and his follows march closer to the school buildings, marching past a blond man whom they have gunned down, while two children hide behind a tree. ‘Anyone - anyone who can hear this - any mutant with a…please…we need your help! Xavier’s school is under attack. It’s a massacre!’ Betsy exclaims, tears running down her face.
‘Psylocke?’ Rogue exclaims, before asking Juggernaut if he heard that also. ‘Yeah…yeah’ Cain replies, before Rogue announces that they need to go to Xavier’s. ‘They’re being slaughtered…they’re being…we have to go!’ she exclaims. Wraith asks Rogue if she is going to do that now, telling her that they can get to Magneto and break them. ‘We can’t’ Rogue replies, to which Wraith asks her if that is it, if she wants to give up. ‘No. It’s not. They need us. Now. They need help!’ Rogue exclaims, to which Wraith frowns and tells Rogue that someone always needs some help, somewhere, and that she is the one always giving up, changing sides, getting distracted. ‘Weak’ he exclaims.
‘They’re killing children’ Rogue exclaims, remarking that the X-Men are off doing who knows what or who knows where. ‘And it’s us - it’s Weapon X - this is what you trained us to do - you!’ she tells Wraith. Wraith adjusts his helmet and tells Rogue that he trained her for the big leagues. ‘Magneto killed millions. One man. Millions. Your friends included. You gonna let him get away with that? Are ya?’ Wraith asks. Rogue looks at him out of the corner of her eye and replies ‘I don’t know’ as she puts her head in her hands.
Meanwhile, at Xavier’s Firestar and Toad are in a darkened room while fire burns in the corridor nearby. Firestar tells Toad to stop moving as she uses a small flame on his upper arm. ‘I want you to cauterize the wound, Liz - not burn my arm off!’ Toad tells Firestar, who asks ‘Why? We’re all gonna die anyway. They killed everyone. They’re gonna kill us. They are!’. Another blast can be seen through the cracks in the door, ‘They’re here!’ toad exclaims. Firestar exclaims that this isn’t her, that she didn’t want to come here, that she doesn’t want any of this. ‘I don’t want to be a mutant!’ she exclaims, before Toad tells her that she is a mutant, and cannot change that. ‘I’m not pretty like you or powerful like you, but we gotta fight…’ Toad tells her. ‘No!’ Liz replies. ‘Yes!’ Toad exclaims. ‘No!’ Liz declares once more, before Toad tells her to give it everything. ‘Every last bit of thing’.
The door opens, and Stryker and his followers are confronted by a very angry Firestar, who unleashes blasts of powerful energy, ‘Okay. Okay. You wanna fight? I can fight. I can burn off your skin. You’re afraid of us. I’ll give you a reason. I’ll give you a damn good reason to have nightmares!’ Firestar exclaims as she casts her energy around Stryker and his followers - until suddenly, a single, but powerful, blast strikes down both Firestar and Toad in one blow. Stryker and his followers stand over the motionless bodies of Firestar and Toad as one of them asks ‘That the last of them?’
‘That’s all. Good work -’ Stryker begins, until he and his followers are knocked over by a powerful blast - courtesy of Wraith, who stands in a doorway with Rogue, Juggernaut and Sabretooth. ‘Don’t hang your mission accomplished banner yet’ Rogue remarks, before Firestar and Rogue sit up, and Toad asks her what she is doing. ‘It’s okay. Psylocke put out the 911. I came’ Rogue replies. ‘With them? What the hell’s going on here? Where’re the X-Men?’ Toad asks. ‘I guess…I guess we’re what passes for the X-Men now’ Rogue remarks, before Sabretooth announces that reinforcements are coming. ‘I know that smell. Smells like hate. A whole army of hate!’ he declares.
Moments later, more of Stryker’s followers burst into the school, only to be knocked back by a burst of energy from Wraith’s Vindicator armor. ‘Lay down cover. Take ‘em hard and fast. This is what you were trained for. No one gets out alive!’ he tells Weapon X, before Rogue touches Firestar’s bare shoulder and tells her that she and Toad have to get out of here. Moments later, a burst of flaming energy flares up in the room, courtesy of Rogue, and seconds later, Toad bounds out of the building, carrying Firestar.
‘Keep your faith, William. Fight’ Stryker tells himself. ‘They’re the monsters. The killers!’ he exclaims while Rogue uses Firestar’s flame power to destroy their weapons. Wraith blasts through the enemy quickly. ‘Do not be afraid’ Stryker exclaims, while Juggernaut bashes two of the enemy together. ‘Do not be afraid’ Stryker exclaims once more. ‘Do not be -’ he cannot finish his sentence as Sabretooth gets in his face. ‘Afraid?’ Creed asks, only to be blasted backwards by an energy beam from Stryker’s weapon.
Wraith approaches Stryker, exclaiming ‘I know you. Admiral Stryker’s boy. The preacher. Didn’t you hate your dad? Didn’t you call him a racist and a bigot?’ Wraith asks. ‘I…’ a hesitant Stryker replies, before Wraith smacks him in the chest, remarking that the apple can never fall far enough away from the tree - no matter how bad it wants to. Wraith tells Stryker to get out of here. ‘This doesn’t have to be you’ he tells him. ‘I know the anger. I get it. Just go home’ Wraith exclaims. But Stryker tells Wraith that he doesn’t understand. ‘I have no home to go back to!’ Stryker declares as he blasts Wraith at close range.
Nearby, Juggernaut plows through Stryker’s followers, boasting that he can do this all day, and that his doctor said he needed to get out some aggression. ‘And I’m gonna take it all out on you…’ he exclaims. ‘Come on! Come on! Come on!’ he booms as he smashes more of the followers aside. Suddenly though, a dart filled with a serum is shot at Juggernaut - right in the eye, causing him to scream.
A huge chunk of Creed’s arm is missing thanks to the blast fired at him by Stryker. ‘Okay, okay - now I’m angry’ Creed exclaims, when suddenly, a voice tells him to shut up, and that Magneto wants him, so it’s time to go. Creed turns around, and is confronted by James Madrox - the Multiple Man - and some of his dupes. Creed asks Madrox what he is doing here, to which Madrox explains ‘Magneto’s orders. Kill all mutants not loyal to him, but here the humans are doing our job for us. Now come on - unless you want to throw your lot in with theirs…’. Creed looks over at a flame-covered Rogue facing off one of Stryker’s followers and replies ‘Naw. I know a losing battle when I see one’.
Rogue sees Juggernaut and leaves her opponent as she flies over to Juggernaut, lying on the floor. Juggernaut tells Rogue that they did something to him, injected a poison into his eye. ‘It’s gonna…you need to…you need to take my power. All of it. It’s the only way to -’ he exclaims, until Rogue tells him to shut up, repeatedly. ‘I touch you. You die. It’ll - let me at least try to -’ Rogue begins, until Juggernaut pulls his helmet off and asks Rogue to just hold his hand. ‘One time. Just once’. Rogue does so, and Juggernaut smiles. ‘Thank you’ he whispers.
Moments later, a powered-up Rogue blasts her way through half a dozen of Stryker’s followers, until she reaches Stryker himself. ‘I’ll kill you. I’ll kill all of you!’ she screams. Putting her hand on Stryker’s exposed neck, Rogue asks him why he is doing this. ‘What’d we ever do to you?’ she asks. Images suddenly flood into her mind - a happy Stryker with his wife and young child. Then a desperate Stryker swimming in his flooded apartment, trying to find his family. ‘I…all this pain…revenge. I’m a good Christian. A good girl. Was it worth it? Was it?’ Rogue suddenly asks. ‘Yes’ Stryker tells her, adding that he wasn’t sure at first, but that she has now proved it. ‘We’re martyrs, and you…you deserve to be hated and feared - you’re a killer forever and ever. Amen’….