Alex “Havok” Summers is at the counter of a small grocery store. He didn’t have time to change out of his costume before coming to the store. The shop assistant packs Havok’s bag and looks at him nervously. ‘That’ll be… um… that’ll be $17.49’ he tells Havok, who hands over some money and tells the assistant to keep the change.
Havok thinks to himself that the life of a super hero can lead to some unexpectedly embarrassing situations - but he knows it is not his uniform that has the assistant stammering. ‘He’s not tongue-tied due to the presence of Havok, semi famous Avenger’ Alex thinks to himself. As he goes to leave the store, he holds the door open for a young woman and her son. ‘Th-thank you…’ the woman utters, as she and the boy look at Havok in shock. ‘Same as mom here isn’t awestruck by my not-so-iconic concentric circles’ Alex tells himself.
‘It’s what’s left of my face. The price I paid to stop Kang - to save them all’ Alex thinks to himself as he walks down the sidewalk, one side of his face and neck horribly disfigured. ‘But no one knows that. Heroism isn’t the sort of thing one broadcasts to the public’ Alex thinks. ‘That’s like telling people how much you donated to charity - some things are best left private’. He knows that the reaction he receives from people is going to take some getting used to - or maybe not - perhaps that’s the kind of thing you never get used to?
Walking past a dark alleyway, Alex decides that Janet loves him either way, and that is all he needs to face the world. He fights the urge to retreat, to hide from the terrified glares, as Janet deserves some semblance of a normal life - she has earned at least that much. ‘Half a decade spent hiding in Beast’s laboratory, on a world that never existed. My daughter Katie loved that lab. It was like one big amusement park for her -’ Alex recalls.
Suddenly, his thoughts are interrupted, ‘Hey there, handsome’ a voice calls out. ‘Who’s there?’ Alex calls back, looking down an alleyway, where to long puddles of water have formed. ‘That some kind of joke?’ Alex asks. ‘Well, you’ve only got half a face - but you’re definitely the right guy’ the voice declares, as bands of water suddenly wash towards Alex, covering his face, ‘Don’t worry…your looks are about to become the least of your problems’ the voice warns Alex, as he drops his groceries, causing the bottle of wine to shatter.
Meanwhile, at Avengers Mansion, Wolverine a.k.a. Logan, Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch and Rogue are sitting around a table in the kitchen. Logan tells the women that they can’t know how good it is to see the two of them getting along. ‘I’ve seen what happens when you tussle… and it ain’t any kind pf pretty’ he adds. Rogue tells Logan that she still has a hard time believing she went through with it the way he says she did. ‘I don’t’ Wanda remarks. ‘Excuse me?’ Rogue asks, raising her voice. ‘You weren’t yourself after Charles passed, Rogue. When we found his mutilated corpse in the Red Skull’s morgue… I saw something change. A child who had lost her parent’ Wanda explains. Wanda adds that after M-Day and Dr Doom’s manipulations, after every tragedy she has been a part of, Rogue’s mistrust was understandable. ‘But not any more it ain’t. Time to leave the past where it lies’ Wolverine announces, adding that they have all learned some hard lessons. ‘Unity’s the name of the game, gals. And if we can’t get it together… there ain’t gonna be nothing left here to protect’ Wolverine declares.
Logan continues, telling Wanda and Rogue that this thing is, this whole mess falls on his shoulders, as he fed Rogue’s flames, he broke this team apart on account of his guilt. Logan opens the refrigerator and reminds Wanda and Rogue that his choices led to the birth of the Apocalypse Twins - he killed Daken and gave them a Horseman fueled by revenge. He adds that when they most needed to stick together, the truth of what he had done broke them apart. ‘I ain’t fit to carry on Xavier’s dream’ Wolverine admits. ‘Damn hypocrite is all I am’ he declares, using one of his claws to pop open the lid off a bottle of beer. ‘That’s why we need you two gals to get it together. To set an example’ Logan tells them. Rogue suggests to Wolverine that he is being too hard on himself. ‘After everything we’ve been through…’ her voice trails off. Wolverine tells Rogue that he appreciates it, but that it is not right. ‘All these years I’ve been using my claws to solve my problems, letting the psychopath have his taste and rationalizing it’.
Wolverine sits back down and tells Wanda and Rogue that he can see the damage he has done - killing doesn’t make not kind of good difference. Rogue asks Wolverine what he is saying: ‘You’re done killing?’ she enquires. Logan drinks the beer in his hand, before slamming the bottle on the table and smiling: ‘Right after the Red Skull, darling’. Logan turns to get up and tells the women that Alex wants the Unity Squad assembled first thing tomorrow morning to begin the hunt for that red son of a bitch. ‘Reckon you gals might want to get some rest, go easy on those beers’ Logan suggests.
Logan makes his way out onto the rooftop of Avengers Mansion, where a jet is waiting for him. ‘Don’t know where you’re running off to…but without your healing factor, it might not be a bad idea to pull back a little bit - a little self-preservation, you know?’ Rogue suggests as she rushes after her friend. ‘Lot of things to set right, Anna Marie’ Logan replies, pointing out that Rogue has enough of her own problems, too much to be worrying about him. Logan puts a hand on Rogue’s shoulder and tells her that she has put on a good game face, but that he can see the sadness in her eyes. ‘All those years learning to control your powers, only to find yourself right back where you started. It’s a heavy burden, no doubt about it’. They hug as Wolverine reminds Rogue that she has climbed at hill before, and assures her she will do it again. ‘I can try’ Rogue smiles. Wolverine climbs the steps into the jet, ‘All any of us can do. See you tomorrow morning. We’re gonna find that grave robbing bastard’ Logan tells Rogue, who asks him to be careful. Logan glances back at Rogue and tells her that it wasn’t the healing factor keeping him alive all these years. ‘I’m too damn stubborn to die’ Logan boasts, as the jet takes off.
Rogue heads back down into the mansion, and walks over to a painting of Professor Charles Xavier. ‘Heya, Professor. Want you to know, I’m not done fighting, Sir. Not by a sight’ Rogue remarks. Rogue carries on through the mansion, ‘Wanda? Logan’s right, go easy on the beer’ she calls out, adding that they still have a couple of hours of trying to pry Simon out of her head tonight. ‘WANDA?’ Rogue gasps as she enters the kitchen to find it partly destroyed. ‘Hello again, bella mia…’ someone calls out. Standing before Rogue are four members of the S-Men - Dancing Water, Mzee, Dangerous Jinn and the Goat-Faced Girl. ‘We simply have to stop meeting each other like this’ Dancing Water smirks, before Rogue is knocked out.
Rogue moans, and sits up, finding herself in a cabin. ‘It’s not possible…back home?’ she utters as she walks out onto a porch. A dog barks, ‘What is it, Gus?’ Rogue asks. A figure approaches the fence surrounding the cabin, and calls out ‘Be calm, Anna Marie. I chose this memory of your childhood home to put you at ease… because I need you to trust me’. ‘CHARLES?’ Rogue calls out as she sees the Professor, the top of his head and brain missing, approach her. ‘What is left of me, even my astral form reflects how he remembers me’ Charles explains. Rogue falls backwards as Charles points out that there isn’t much remaining - that the Red Skull has cleansed most of his consciousness, but there are shards, pieces enough to remember who he was - enough to remember how much he loved Rogue. ‘I - I found your body…’ Rogue utters.
‘Yes. But there are things you need to know. And I wish you didn’t have to relive the horror of how he left me, Anna Marie’ Charles tells her, adding that he has done all he can to block Schmidt from his true power. ‘But…I’m almost gone. Soon he will have access to all of my abilities’ Charles reveals. ‘The things this man has done, the things he dreams of doing…you must get Wanda away from him’ Charles tells Rogue. They clasp hands, as Charles informs Rogue that the Red Skull has her inside one of his camps on Genosha right now, and that an inhibitor collar is around her neck. Charles explains that the collar will suppress what powers the Red Skull knows Rogue has. ‘But they’re not counting on me’ a voice calls out. Rogue turns to see a hazy vision of Simon “Wonder Man” Williams hovering nearby. ‘They don’t know ol’ Simon Williams can’t break himself free of your noggin’ Simon reminds Rogue. Charles tells Rogue that she is their secret weapon - the one thing the Red Skull is not prepared for. As Charles starts to fade away, he smiles and tells Rogue that she has grown strong and courageous, and that he is proud of her.
‘No - don’t go - CHARLES!’ Rogue screams as she wakes, to find herself chained to a wall by her wrists, waist and neck, as are Havok and the Scarlet Witch. ‘Rogue, calm down!’ Wanda exclaims. She informs Rogue that she took a nasty blow to the head. ‘You’ve been having nightmares, talking in your sleep’ Havok explains. But Rogue tells them that it was real, that it was Charles. Wanda and Alex look at her, doubtful, as Rogue tells Wanda that they are in bad trouble, that the Red Skull has plans for her - something awful. ‘Charles thinks I’m the one who can stop him’ Rogue adds as she suddenly breaks free of the chains, thanks to Wonder Man’s strength. She then tears the inhibitor collar off from around her neck and declares ‘That rotten bastard has no idea I’ve got Simon with me. He’s going to regret that oversight’. Rogue then frees Wanda and Havok, who asks ‘Are you sure? Xavier?’ Rogue explains that it is psychic residue, that he is doing everything he can to slow the Skull down. ‘And if he’s right about where we are…you both better be ready for the fight of your life’ Rogue adds.
Outside, a green cloudy haze surrounds the prison camp, where people amble past some of the buildings inside the camp perimeter. Spotlights shine down on them, and guards stand ready. ‘Do not deviate from the path. Do not approach the gates. Those who obey will be rewarded. The Red Skull is watching you always. There is nothing you think that he doesn’t know’ a voice calls out. Wanda, Havok and Rogue stand behind one of the buildings and look around. ‘Dear God…’ Wanda utters. ‘Place is crawling with his S-Men’ Havok points out. Rogue suggests that they get out and call the Avengers and the X-Me, when suddenly, they hear someone shout ‘Scream, damn you!’ ‘What the hell?’ Alex asks.
Inside the building the trio are next to, Magneto is restrained and held prisoner by Mzee, the tortoise-like member of the S-Men. ‘Did my family not scream for you, Magneto. Does Mzee not deserve the same satisfaction?’ Mzee asks. Magneto tells him that he doesn’t remember his family. ‘You would not. They were unimportant to you. Just another casualty of your war’ Mzee remarks as he moves closer to the restrained Magneto. Mzee declares that Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil killed them, while he lay helpless, listening to their screams. Magneto spits at Mzee’s face, causing the enraged mutant to wrap his large hands around Magneto’s head, ‘Screams you will duplicate for me now’ Mzee exclaims - before suddenly, Mzee finds himself somehow moved away from Magneto, as a crimson energy floats around him. ‘You think his killings justify your own? That you are somehow righteous?’ Wanda asks as she continues her hold over the surprised Mzee. Wanda tells Mzee that he is just perpetuating the cycle of hatred. ‘Fortunately for you, Mzee, I no longer have the taste for revenge’ Wanda adds, as she releases her hold of Mzee, and he topples backwards.
Wanda looks up at Magneto and asks ‘What have they done to you?’ ‘My daughter…’ Magneto begins, to which Wanda quickly tells him not to call her that, as she starts to remove the restraints. ‘But you still came for me? After everything, you and my dear Anna Marie -’ Magneto begins, ‘We were captured’ Rogue explains as she breaks one of the other restraints from her ex-lover. ‘Sorry, “pal” we didn’t come for you’ Havok announces. Rogue and Wanda help Magneto along, ‘Can you walk? We have to get out of here right now, we have to get help’ Rogue explains. But Magneto declares that he will not leave here - ‘I will fight’ he exclaims, as he uses his control over metal to levitate his helmet towards him. He puts it on, and Wanda and Rogue help him out of the building, while Havok looks around the corner. Wanda tells Magneto that he is in no condition to fight, so they must summon the Avengers.
‘Because they’ve always been such champions of our people -’ Magneto begins, but Rogue interrupts him: ‘Enough of that rhetoric, Erik. They’ll help - and from the looks of things, we’ll need ‘em’ Rogue declares. Havok announces that there is one patrol left, and then they will run for the far tower. ‘Forgive me, Rogue. I forgot you abandoned Charles’ dream. No longer an X-Man - merely another stooge of the human establishment’ Magneto remarks. ‘How dare you of all people -?’ Rogue begins, while Magneto turns to Wanda, ‘After all I’ve told you of the suffering of the past - look around you!’ Magneto tells her. ‘You would leave these people in this hell?’ Magneto shouts, as suddenly, it starts to rain. ‘We’ll come back with help - we’ll need it!’ Wanda replies. Magneto declares that he will not run. ‘I will free them. And then I will kill the man responsible’. Suddenly, ‘Well, old friend…you’re obviously welcome to try’ grins the Red Skull,flanked by Ahab and more of the S-Men - Dancing Water, Goat-Faced Gril, Tsar Sultan and Lei Fain, the Red Skull grins….