Heat metal white-hot, then subject it to near absolute zero cold, and that metal blisters, cracks ultimately shatters. That is what just happened to Colossus in this construction site on the Westside of Manhattan. For a man composed of organic steel, the process would surely seem to mean certain death. He kneels, frozen in agony, while Kitty Pryde stares at him, eyes wide in horror.
She’s about to break down, then tries to pull herself together. She can cry when she knows there is no hope left. Till then, she has to do everything to save him and warn the others. She contacts Professor X through the psychic link he shares with all the X-Men.
Xavier is sitting in the mansion’s den along with Rogue, who is listening to music on her walkman while he reads a letter Scott and Madelyne sent him from their honeymoon. He learns that Scott intends to join Madelyne as a pilot for his grandparents airline.
That moment, Kitty contacts him. Quickly, she tells him what’s going on and adds that the Brotherhood is likely to attack Nightcrawler at the Lincoln Center. He promises to alert Nightcrawler and send Wolverine and Storm for help. He decides not to let Rogue know anything is amiss. She used to belong to the Brotherhood after all.
Thirty meters below, Storm and Wolverine are practicing in the Danger Room. Storm is wearing one of her old capes, which, as she quickly flies past Wolverine, he slashes part of it off her without touching her.
Piece ‘o cake, he tells her. Then she’ll fly faster next time, she retorts. A lady could get hurt that way, he points out as he lights a cigar. That’s what makes it fun, Ororo retorts. That’s Yukio’s line; usually when she’s playing chicken with a two hundred mile an hour train. One could have worse role models, she challenges him.
Xavier calls them telepathically and alerts them to the situation. Storm transports Wolverine with her and asks about Rogue. However, Xavier quickly explains his reasoning for keeping her out of the loop. He further explains that he is receiving no thought patterns from Colossus, but that could mean he is in deep shock.
Suddenly, Xavier is hit by a bolt of psionic force, smashing through his defenses. Rogue asks if he is all right and offers to get him some aspirin. Xavier realizes this wasn’t an attack, but a scanning wave of sorts. But where did it come from? What is it looking for?
Meanwhile, a desperate Kitty tries to figure out what to do. Her phasing power won’t be much help to the others in a fight against the Brotherhood. The other X-Men will be too busy looking out for her to look after themselves. But she can’t just stay here and do nothing. Suddenly, she has an idea. Scientific American published an article last month by Reed Richards about a high intensity heat source he designed to thaw organic matter without causing it any harm. That could be precisely what Colossus needs. She tries to push aside her doubts about how he could survive his injuries all those cracks in his armor will translate into.
She runs to a payphone and calls the Baxter Building, only to find that the robot receptionist Roberta answers the phone. The FF aren’t in residence. She decides to get a hold of the gizmo herself, stops a taxi, phases into it (scaring the poor driver) and asks him to take her to the Baxter Building.
Crosstown on the lower East Side, the body of a young girl lies cold and still in an alley. She had a name, but no one’ll ever know it. Family too, though she fled them years ago, seeking a better life in the Big Apple. The gauntness of her features, the needle tracks on her arms are mute testament to the way she lived and died.
A dog shouldn’t end up like that, much less a kid, the Morlock strongman Sunder observes. If the world were fair, they wouldn’t be Morlocks, Callisto replies. Masque snorts that this could be Utopia, they’d still be rebels. With a smirk Callisto agrees. They are outcasts as much because they want to be as because they are mutants. And before tonight’s over, their number’s going to increase by one.
Can Masque work with the material? Just watch him, he replies and touches the girl’s face. As it changes he promises that when he’s done PrettyKitty’s own parents won’t be able to tell ‘em apart.
In front of Lincoln Center, Kurt Wagner and his girlfriend Amanda Sefton are kissing. She breaks it off, reminding him they came to see the ballet, not get arrested for public naughtiness. She checks the watch. The plaza is already deserted It’s late. What’s keeping Peter and Kitty? They’ve already missed the opening.
Suddenly, they scream out as above them there’s a giant fire dragon. The moment the flame beast fires – its breath turning the water in the fountain into steam – Nightcrawler grabs his lady and teleports them away to what he hopes is the relative safety of the New York State Theatre.
Unfortunately, Avalanche is waiting for them there. At the villain’s mental command concrete and steel flow like water at them. As they fall off the roof, Kurt shouts at Amanda to relax, he’ll catch her. But what then? he wonders. The Brotherhood’s precog Destiny will be able to foresee his every move. He grabs Amanda, explaining it must be the Brotherhood, presumably to settle old scores. Unless, he thinks, this has to do with Rogue.
That moment, Xavier warns him of danger. Wryly Kurt thinks he wishes that warning had come a minute earlier.
The fire dragon attacks again. This time, Amanda steps in, using her magic to cast protective spells.
Suddenly, the Blob lands behind them, the impact making them lose their balance. He grabs Amanda by the throat and tries to do the same to Kurt, who teleports away. Gloating, the villain shouts at Nightcrawler to get his fuzzy blue carcass back “onna double” or he’ll snap his skirt’s pretty little neck.
Nightcrawler teleports back surrendering and asks him to let Amanda go. He lied, the Blob replies, now intent on throttling them both.
Suddenly lightning hits him in a very sensitive area, courtesy of Storm, who comes flying with Wolverine. She orders him to release them if he values his life. Wolverine asks her to drop him, the fat slob’s his. Storm curtly tells him she will place him where he’ll do the most good and, at the moment, she thinks best.
As Blob dropped them when he was hit, Kurt uses the opportunity to teleport himself and Amanda away. Blob shouts up to a rooftop where Destiny is standing why she didn’t warn him of the X-Men arriving. Pyro, standing next to her, remarks that he has a point. Destiny defends herself that not all timelines are clear and certain. Sometimes it is better to be silent than to be wrong. What she was actually after was Nightcrawler’s safety and she secretly believes that Mystique won’t fault her for that.
Blob shouts up at her to remember which side she’s on, as he hurls a heavy chunk of concrete at Storm. Yet as easily as he hefts and hurls it, Storm’s wind hurls it back at him. But the force has not yet been found which can move or truly harm the Blob if he doesn’t wish it. The impact is an annoyance, nothing more.
Meanwhile in midtown. A very doubtful Kitty Pryde phases through the taxi after handing the driver some money. She doesn’t like what she’s about to do, but Peter’s life is at stake. As she enters the lobby of the Baxter Building, she hopes that Professor X can contact the Fantastic Four and help.
She tries to reach him telepathically, but he isn’t answering. Or can’t, she wonders. They worried from the start that Rogue would turn out to be a Judas. Has she shown her true colors at last? There’s nothing she can do abut it, Kitty decides as she phases into the elevator that can take her to the floor beneath the FF’s section. She’ll phase the rest of the way.
She phases inside the section to find their robot receptionist. Now things get hairy, she figures. Roberta informs her that she is making an unauthorized entry onto the premises of Fantastic Four Incorporated. Please state your business and then leave or appropriate security measures will be taken.
Kitty introduces herself and states what she needs, adding she really hates to do this, as she phases through Roberta, but she hasn’t got the time.
She phases upwards to the lab, hoping that shocking the receptionist’s computer brain gave her the time she needed. The lab is on the third level. But she’s got to be really careful now. The last things she can afford is unintentionally crashing some ultra-important device or experiment.
Roberta gathers herself, after her temporal dysfunction which caused her to forget Kitty’s identity and stated purpose. She only knows there is an intruder at large, presumed hostile. She presses a button, initiating stage one security alert.
On the Plaza at Lincoln Center, the X-Men and Amanda are neck deep in battle with the Brotherhood with Destiny doing her best to anticipate the X-Men’s moves. Unfortunately, it’s one thing to warn Avalanche that Nightcrawler is about to teleport away from his punch and something else again for him to react fast enough.
Blob fends off Wolverine and reminds him that even the Hulk can’t flatten him. What makes him think he can do better? How about he falls on Wolverine? They’ll see how good his fancy bones are then.
Up in the air, Storm has to fend off Pyro who is directly trying to attack her with a blast of fire. She cannot shatter it with her winds as she would a flame beast. Instead, she decides to drown it with a monsoon.
Pyro is impressed. He’d never have thought Storm could pull a stunt like this. It’s raining so hard he can barely stand. Lightning and thunder make it impossible for him to concentrate.
In the Baxter Building, Kitty phases through Mr. Fantastic’s machinery, yearning for a guided tour of this place. She wonders if Dr. Richards would like an apprentice. That’ll be the day: “Excuse me, Sir, I burgled your headquarters last week. Could I please have a job as your assistant?” Any second now she’s gonna get zapped she fears.
Suddenly, she hits jackpot. Self-contained, portable and easy to operate. Just like the article said. She grabs it and heads for the roof, deciding she can’t return the way she came. That’ll be asking for trouble. She hopes the professor understands why she did this and can square things with the FF. She’ll make amends by babysitting. Nevertheless she’s troubled, still feeling like a criminal.
She comes to the edge of the roof, fearing the tricky part. Phase, then walk on air to a building a cross the street. If her concentration is broken, while she’s phasing, she’ll fall. But if she stays, she’ll get captured. She tells herself to relax, when suddenly she is hears a sound. She turns around, screams out and is thrown off the roof.
Meanwhile, Avalanche is unimpressed by the rain. He figures even if he misses the teleporting Nightcrawler, he can still bury Wolverine and Amanda. Right idea, wrong target, Kurt announces as he ‘ports in, grabs him and ‘ports him in front of Blob. With the tidal effect already triggered, it now turns against Blob who falls.
Hey Tubbo, Wolverine asks, as he climbs on top of him, what use is being an immovable object if the ground turns to quicksand beneath your feet? He puts his fist under Blob’s chin. Want to call it quits? Either way is fine with him.
Hey, he gives up, the Blob replies with a nasty grin. He’s taking defeat awfully well, Nigtcrawler observes. He’s a practical man, comes the reply. You win some, you lose some; it all balances out inna end. Besides whoever said this was a defeat? They surrendered, they didn’t lose.
Storm feels this was too easy. Almost as if the Brotherhood didn’t care about the outcome. Wolverine recalls that part of Kitty’s mayday was Colossus being hurt. And where is Kitty?
Blob laughs. The girl didn’t matter. And her Russkie smooch was just icing onna cake. Ain’t they twigged things yet? They were never after their hides. This was a diversion. Go ahead, send them back to prison. They been there before, they’ll bust out. But the X-Men are gonna have to find themselves a new teacher . Or find a way to raise the old one from the dead!
Xavier still suffers from the interference which is stronger than ever. It kept him from contacting the X-Men since Storm and Wolverine engaged the Brotherhood. Initially, he assumed it was a psychic scanning wave but he no longer believes that’s the case. He’s encountered this jamming pattern before… but where, when?
Rogue enters with a tray, announcing she brought him some herbal tea. Xavier thanks her. Anything else she can do? Rogue asks. Not at the moment, Xavier replies, as he suddenly recalls why the pattern seems familiar. It was months ago in Washington. Mystique used it to inhibit his psi-probes, so she could get close enough to him to…
“Rogue” fires at him with the blaster hidden under the tray. At the last moment, Xavier twists aside. “Rogue” stares down at the unconscious Xavier, realizing that at the last moment he was able to make her shift her aim, so that shot meant to kill only wounded him. But he’s helpless now…
The real Rogue enters, having heard a scream and exclaims, when she sees her doppelganger standing over Xavier. The second Rogue turns into Mystique and tells her she has come to take her home. Rogue just asks after Xavier. Has she killed him? Not yet, comes the reply and the order to pack her things while Mystique finishes business here.
Why is she doing this? Rogue demands. For her , of course, comes her foster mother’s reply. Did she think she was going to let Xavier steal her daughter and get away with it?
He didn’t kidnap her, Rogue explains. Whatever gave Mystique that idea? She thought Mystique understood. She came there of her own free will. Mystique points out that Rogue can’t know that, Xavier could have telepathically influenced her. Rogue warns her that she won’t let her kill him. She’s wrong. Mystique orders her to stand aside.
Why won’t she ever listen to her? Rogue exclaims. Is she so little in Mystique’s eyes that rather than see her take responsibility for her own life she’d assume she was brainwashed? Why did she leave? Mystique demands. Doesn’t Rogue love her?
Course she does, comes the reply. She’s the mother Rogue never had. This has nothing to do with love, can she help Rogue? Her power’s out of control. She can’t touch anyone, because the slightest physical contact transfers that person’s memories and abilities to her. Calling her “mama,” she confides she can’t handle it anymore, it’s driving her crazy. She spent months trying to kill Dazzler. She hated her, because she was a mutant with all the things Rogue could never have. She had lovers. She had friends.
Xavier’s her last resort. If Mystique truly loves her, she’ll respect her decision and let her stay. And when she has to choose between X-men and the Brotherhood, Mystique demands, him and… her, what then? At least she’ll have a choice, Rogue replies. More than she has now. She was a kid, before she developed her power; she remembers Mystique holding her, protecting her from the badness and nightmares. She can’t do than anymore, she doesn’t dare. She wants to be normal. If nothing else, she wants a chance. Is that so much to ask? Mystique is deep in thought.
In Manhattan, a hologram of Mystique appears to the X-Men and Brotherhood members. She suggests an exchange: her colleagues’ freedom for their mentor’s life. How do they know he isn’t already dead, Kurt asks. What alternative do they have, Storm asks and agrees to Mystique’s terms.
Blob laughs. The X-Men won’t stop them and the cops can’t. Caught red-handed, they walk away. And the night wasn’t a total bust. They still nailed Colossus.
Furious, Amanda remarks that slime wouldn’t be gloating if her mother had taught her her death spells. Trying to calm her, Nightcrawler remarks he’s glad she didn’t. Wolverine tells Blob: a word to the wise. Get used to looking over your shoulder. Cause sooner or later, he’ll be there. Don’t expect to see much after that.
Destiny turns to the X-Men, warning them; she senses a chronic interface between Kitty Pryde and the Baxter Building. Timelines intersect, but do not proceed. She warns them to ignore her at their peril. In her mind, she sees the ultimate darkness, fear, suddenly silenced – oblivion.
The X-Men have but seconds to ponder why one of their foes would utter such a warning, before the cops are called to the Baxter Building. Investigate reports of a jumper, description as follows: Caucasian, female, age, indeterminate, but young. Probable fatality.