‘No. I can’t go to my editor with that, Stacy’ a blond man exclaims as he holds his phone between his shoulder and face, while holding up some papers, and dunking a tea bag into his cup, which sits on an element. He tells Stacy over the phone that Edmund wants to stay out of the Pakistan bickering, so his way to accomplish that is never allow a story to point a finger. He pulls the tea bag out and squeezes it, before throwing it to an overflowing trash can. He holds the phone in his hand now and tells Stacy that if he is going to write a piece with any political implications, he has to give equal real estate to both sides of the story. ‘Exactly. Even the nut jobs. Even if the dispute is between the angels…and the Devil himself’ the man remarks, before looking up, and seeing a large man, dressed in white, holding a cane in one hand, and a file under his other arm, standing in the doorway.
‘Harper Simmons?’ the new arrival calls out. ‘Stacy, let me call you in five’ Harper tells Stacy, before hanging up. Unbeknownst to Harper, the man is Amahl Farouk, better known as the Shadow King. Amahl asks Harper to forgive his unannounced visit, and claims that discretion is mandatory. He uses a handkerchief to dab his sweaty face as he declares ‘Warren Worthington, the man who owns the parent company of the newspaper your write for…do you know him?’ Harper replies that he knows of him, and remark that he is rich, a playboy, a physiotherapist and a super hero. ‘Add assassin to that list’ Amahl declares as he hands Harper a file.
Farouk informs Harper that using the codename Archangel, Worthington, and the Avenger, Wolverine direct a clandestine squad of killers. Farouk adjusts his glasses as he reveals that together, they assassinate rivals, dissidents and anyone they believe to be a threat to their agenda. ‘You appreciate what will happen when this story is broken?’ Farouk asks Harper. ‘Bad day to be a mutant. Won’t make the Avengers look great either. But to be honest -’ Harper begins, to which Amahl tells him not to fret, assuring him that all the evidence is inside. Farouk turns to leave, telling Harper that he is one of the few men in this city with any journalistic integrity. ‘I trust you to do the right thing’ Farouk declares as he walks away. Harper looks at the file, then opens it - a USB stick is the only thing inside, and it falls into his hand.
‘An Avenger and an X-Man running around with a hit squad. What a log of total bull - …’ Harper declares as he puts the USB into the computer, and then goes wide-eyed when he sees on screen, Archangel standing over the slain body of a soldier - his razor sharp wings stuck throughout the soldier’s body. Harper clicks to another image - Wolverine and the rest of the hit-squad - Psylocke, Fantomex and Deadpool, standing over the body also. ‘My God…’ Harper whispers.
Meanwhile, Uptown the rain beats down on the Guardian newspaper building. ‘It’s a hell of a scoop, Harper. The biggest story of the year, no question…which is why I don’t trust it’ Edmund tells Harper down the phone. ‘And this file you have. It proves, without a doubt, that our owner, Warren Worthington, is in fact -? Okay. Okay. Calm down’ Edmund declares, assuring Harper that he will be nothing if not discrete with the information. He adds that Mr Worthington is the public poster boy for mutant-human relations. ‘This news…right. Very bad. Did you consider that this could all be a smear campaign? Okay. I hear you’ Edmund remarks as he stares out the window, before asking Harper to send him what he has. ‘Why? Harper, you can trust - the system is secure, yes - fine’. Edmund begins to write down on a piece of paper as he asks Harper where he is, announcing that he will personally take possession of the files. ‘Fine. See you in an hour’.
Meanwhile, Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Archangel dives about over a battlefield, with soldiers waging war below. Suddenly, his cellular phone rings. ‘This is Warren’ he answers as he sets down on the ground. ‘Yes. My God…you did the right thing calling me’ Warren tells his caller, while a soldier seemingly freezes as he moves towards Warren and prepares to skewer him. ‘Of course it’s a smear campaign. Yes - by another corporation’ Warren declares, before pressing a red button on a wall, and the battlefield and the soldiers vanish - the Danger Room scenario ends, as Warren tells his caller to collect the material. ‘Tell now one. We don’t need the PR nightmare. I’ll be in touch’.
Elsewhere inside Cavern-X, Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock calls out to Warren as she sees him walking down a corridor. ‘Why are you avoiding me?’ Betsy asks as she rushes over to him. ‘Don’t be crazy. I’m just -’ Warren begins, but Betsy interrupts: ‘Lying all the time’ she tells him, before informing him that they are due for a session. Warren replies that there is no need, as he is keeping Archangel suppressed on his own. ‘Strange how you suddenly figured out how to manage him without help…’ Betsy remarks. ‘You could force your way into my head - see for yourself. No?’ Warren replies.
Betsy doesn’t answer him, so Warren declares that he has important things to attend to, and flies off. Betsy spins around, and sees the mercenary Fantomex standing next to EVA. ‘No shame in a spat. Listen, I’ve been there. Happens to everyone. If you want to get a drink and talk -’ Fantomex begins, but Betsy just strides past him, ignoring him. ‘Maybe another time’ Fantomex calls out. ‘We have a problem. It’s Warren’ Betsy tells Wolverine a.k.a. Logan as she bursts into his room, where he is lying on his bed, reading a book. ‘What kind of problem?’ Logan asks as he looks at his friend.
Uptown again, Edmund is leaving the Guardian newspaper building. He dashes from the building, through the rain into the car parking building. He reaches into his pocket for his keys, and drops them on the ground. As he leans over to pick them up, a shadow forms behind him - and he is startled as he looks around and sees a very stoic Warren Worthington, dressed in a blue suit, standing behind him. ‘Edmund. Do you have the files?’ Warren asks. Edmund explains that he is on his way to get them now, before telling Mr Worthington that he really scared him. ‘It gets worse, I’m afraid’ Warren replies blankly.
Downtown, the rain continues to beat down, and inside his hotel room, Harper Simmons checks his watch as he sits on the bed. The television is on, and a news reporter announces ‘…shocking the young couple that found the body. The deceased, a male in his late forties, was found murdered in the parking garage, his throat cut’. Suddenly, the reporter announces that he has received breaking news - that the victim is an editor at the Guardian located across the street from the parking building. ‘No - no - no’ Harper exclaims as he turns up the volume on the television. ‘Was he targeted or was this just a random encounter? You’ll know more as soon as we do’ the reporter declares.
‘Okay - quickly - upload the evidence - everyone on my contact list -’ Harper tells himself as he fumbles about - when suddenly, Archangel appears behind him, eyes glowing red. ‘Who gave you the information?’ Archangel asks, while thinking to himself ‘Torture him - to be sure. Stop - no - there are other options -’. ‘Who?’ Archangel asks once again. Harper leans back and replies that he doesn’t know who he was. ‘He was big - Egyptian -’ he reveals, before Archangel asks ‘Who else knows?’ as he grabs Harper by the collar.
Harper assures Archangel that no one else knows. ‘Please - I have a wife…a baby on the way!’ Archangel assures him that they will be well cared for, while inside his mind calls out ‘Stop it! Help me - please - stop me!’ - and as if on cue, Wolverine slices his way into the hotel room. Claws ready, Logan asks himself ‘How many years has he been among us? Let our love for him blind us’. Logan comes between Archangel and Harper, and remarks that he figured Betsy had him under control. ‘Never allow the guard to date the inmates, Logan’ Archangel replies. Logan sees that Archangel is calm, disconnected.
Archangel is backed up against a wall, and tells Wolverine that they were going to out X-Force. ‘You should be helping me’ he adds. ‘Help you? After what you done, boy…I gotta put you down!’ Wolverine exclaims. ‘I’m sorry, Logan’ Archangel replies as he unleashes a flurry of razor-sharp “feather” knives at Logan, which cause Wolverine to stumble backwards. Archangel declares that there is too much at stake. ‘You’ll understand soon’ he tells Harper as he turns to him - and fires several feather knives at him. But Harper ducks behind a desk. Logan recalls that the first day he met Warren he wanted to gut him. ‘Rich kid pretty boy. Didn’t think he’d hack the ugly times. Waited for him to crack. He never did’ Logan tells himself.
‘You won’t feel a thing’ Archangel promises as he hovers over Harper, throwing the desk to one side. But before Archangel can finish off Harper, Wolverine lunges at his teammate, and they both crash through a window, falling into the rainy night. ‘Never buckled. Showed real heart. Earned my respect. Became one of my friends’ Wolverine thinks to himself about Warren. Logan has his legs wrapped around Warren’s waist as they fall downwards - Logan readies his claws as glass falls around them - but when it comes to it, Logan cannot do it. ‘It’s better this way, Logan - there is so much more to look forward to’ Archangel declares as he swoops upwards while Wolverine slams onto the ground.
Meanwhile, Harper rushes down a staircase, and finds a door with an “exit” sign on it. He runs outside into the rain, where Archangel is waiting for him. ‘Running panicked is no way to die, Harper’ Archangel tells him. But inside, the voice of reason - the voice of Angel - exclaims ‘No - won’t let you do this. Won’t kill. Not again. I don’t want to hurt you. Do not do this’. Harper backs up, ‘Please…I won’t tell anyone’ he assures Archangel. ‘Won’t…after…I…I don’t want to hurt you…no…not going to do this…won’t do…’ Archangel utters, confused. ‘I won’t do this!’ the voice from within shouts, as Archangel falls to the ground. ‘I am not asking you - I’m telling you - stop - no - there is no fight left for you -’ Angel exclaims.
Suddenly, ‘Sleep!’ Betsy orders as she shoves her psi-knife into Warren’s head. Fantomex stands next to Betsy in the pouring rain, while Harper looks up at Betsy: ‘You - you’re one of them -’ he exclaims. ‘You’re going to be fine’ Betsy tells him, as she uses her power on him, while Fantomex picks up the unconscious Warren and carries him away. ‘Close your eyes. Take a deep breath…’ Betsy tells Harper. An instant later, Harper looks up into the rain as he lies on the pavement. ‘What the hell…where am I?’ he wonders.
Later, at Cavern X, Archangel is chained inside a cell. ‘Will that hold him?’ Wade “Deadpool” Wilson asks as he, Logan, Betsy, Fantomex, and their associate Deathlok stand and look at Archangel. Wolverine replies that he thinks it will, but he doesn’t like leaving Archangel awake. Betsy points out that Warren emerged dominant long enough for her to get in and shut him down. Betsy explains that when Archangel is back in control, he has psionic armor as resistant as Apocalypse’s. Deathlok announces that his tachyon transmitter can no longer generate maps of tomorrow. He adds that the future is fluctuating wildly, that something is happening that will forever alter life on Earth. ‘The prudent maneuver would be to kill him’ he declares.
Betsy states that she is not ready for that degree of prudence and suggests that there has to be another way, as there is a science at work here. ‘If we could find one of Apocalypse’s servants, someone who understands what is happening here -’ she begins. ‘Yeah. Was hoping one of you would have another idea…unfortunately, I know someone who fits that bill’ Logan replies.
In New Jersey, an armored vehicle drives down a street. ‘I mean, what worse jobs could I have possibly picked? Best thing that can possibly happen today - we get him to the raft without some of his super villain friends trying to kill them. It’s just no way to spend your life’ one of the security officers mutters as he stares out the window. ‘What do you expect? Brazil women’s soccer squad stuck on the side of the road with a flat…tire?’ the driver asks as they look at the women up ahead on the side of the road. The armored vehicle slows down, and one of the women leans over, ‘Hi, we’re stuck without a spare. Can you help us, please?’ she asks. ‘You have no idea how truly sorry I am, ma’am, truly’ the passenger officer replies, explaining that they have dangerous cargo and should not have even slowed down. The vehicle then drives off, leaving the women confused.
Nearby, slightly back on the road, X-Force, minus Archangel, stand beside their transport, EVA, after liberating the armored vehicle’s passenger - McCoy a.k.a. the Dark Beast. ‘Sprung by the same man who caught me. I can only imagine the profound dilemma you’re in if I am your best choice of aid’ McCoy declares. ‘Shall we get down to the inevitable Faustian pact?’ McCoy asks. Wolverine replies that he has not go much to offer in return. McCoy claims that he is not a complicated man. ‘We’ll keep it broad. I’ll help you…and you’ll owe me one’ he states, before EVA takes off.
Shortly, back at Cavern-X, ‘Mmhmm…I see’ McCoy mutters as he looks at Archangel. He turns back to X-Force and asks ‘You’ve killed Apocalypse, haven’t you?’ But looking at Betsy, McCoy tells her that there is no need to answer, as the fact that Worthington is in his ascension is evidence enough. ‘Ascension?’ Betsy asks. ‘Into his rightful position - the heir of Apocalypse!’ McCoy announces, before explaining that Apocalypse is one in a long line of beings selected by the Celestials, charged with ensuring that evolution takes its natural course. ‘A hollow task. There are too few mutants’ Fantomex points out. ‘Yes…you should’ve allowed the man to do his job’ McCoy states, explaining that in his home dimension, they made way for homo superior to flourish.
‘Whereas you masterminds and your beatnik messiah Xavier have reaped what you worked so hard to sow…extinction’ McCoy declares. Fantomex asks how they reverse Archangel’s “ascension”, McCoy reveals that the Death seed that Apocalypse planted in Warren can only be cleansed by a life seed, created by Celestial gardeners every few thousand years. McCoy informs X-Force that there will not be a life seed created here for centuries. ‘You wouldn’t have mentioned it if you didn’t know of a place to get one’ Betsy points out. ‘You read the last chapter of a book first? I was making my way there’ McCoy replies. McCoy reveals that he has a life seed in his laboratory in his home dimension. He grins as he tells X-Force that in order to acquire it, and save their friend, they must journey to the Age of Apocalypse!