A back alley in downtown Denver, Colorado…
The X-Men are surrounded. On all sides, Harry Palmer’s cadre of Brood gazes at them menacingly, blocking every means of escape. The Brood, taunting the X-Men, tells them they will soon join their hive, at which point they will be enemies no more. “Uh, guys,” Dazzler asks, “…are we in trouble?”
While Rogue compliments her teammate’s gift for understatement, the Brood makes the first strike. Surprisingly, these Brood specimens possess superhuman abilities, which one of them displays by breathing a forceful stream of fire into cluster of X-Men. They barely make it out of the way in time.
The Brood springs forward. Colossus, however, stands his ground. He hits one of the approaching monsters with an uppercut. To his surprise, it barely flinches. “Times change, Bunkie. New players, whole new ball game,” it says. “By the bye - the name’s Brickbat – ‘cause I hit like one!” The monster hits Colossus with a right hook that sends the armored X-Man flying. “Happy landings, Colossus!”
Storm, lifting off the ground, realizes the prime carrier Harry must have selected only hosts with mutant abilities for his crèche. To get an assessment of how many Brood they face, Storm soars up into the sky to get a bird’s-eye view. However, a pair of tentacles ensnares her feet and pulls her back down to the alley. “Surprise, sweetheart!” her captor says. “Tension’s the name! Once I grab you – no matter how hard you try to pull away – I’ll always bring you back!” He slams Storm onto the ground.
Before she can recover, Tension’s Brood-sister, Temptress, stands over Storm and douses her with a batch of pheromones. A blank expression washes over Storm’s face as the chemicals take effect. “Don’t you feel better now, dear?” Temptress asks. Although Storm struggles to not respond, she cannot help but say yes. “Don’t you just adore me?” Temptress asks. Again, Storm says yes, this time with sweat accumulating on her brow. “Won’t you do simply anything I ask to make me happy?” Temptress asks again. This time, Storm breaks free from her control and shouts NO! She summons a powerful gust of wind which sweeps her out of the alley and away from the battle.
Storm’s confused teammates watch as she seemingly abandons them. Not even Psylocke can reach her via telepathy. Dive-bomber, another of the Brood mutants, does not intend to let the “wind witch” escape so easily. After unsheathing his wings, he takes to the skies in pursuit. Havok watches impotently. Although he has a clear shot lined up at Dive-bomber, killing him would mean taking a life. He hesitates for too long; Dive-bomber escapes.
“Yo, Havok,” Rogue says as she tackles Temptress. “No sittin’ on the sidelines, sugar! Sleazoids mean business. If we’re gonna have a prayer against them, we gotta be the same!” Temptress acknowledges her opponent’s sentiments, but as she brushes Rogue’s cheek with one of her tentacles, she loses consciousness. Rogue absorbs both the Broods powers and psyche. Unfortunately, the alien mind proves too powerful and overrides Rogue’s own. Now in control of Rogue’s body, Temptress uses her tactical advantage wisely and captivates Psylocke with her pheromones. With Psylocke under her control, she approaches Wolverine, taps him on the shoulder, and decks him as soon as he turns around. Nighty-night, Rogue says as Wolverine crashes into some garbage cans. The entranced Psylocke is jealous; she wants a shot at Wolverine too!
As Wolverine recovers, he wonders how to subdue his two brainwashed teammates without causing them serious harm. Colossus, still grappling with Brickbat, asks himself the same question while he and his Brood opponent go crashing through a window. Are their foes fully Brood, or does some human element remain, he wonders? If they are innocent at heart, do the X-Men have the right to kill them? As Colossus considers these questions, Brickbat, untroubled by such scruples, recovers from the fall, picks up a nearby car, and smashes it over Colossus’s head.
Nearby, Rogue knocks Wolverine to the ground with a powerful, backhanded slap. Not even her enhanced strength, however, can break his adamantium bones. Still, her beating takes its toll on him, allowing Psylocke to catch him off-guard and seize control of his mind. With Wolverine disabled, the Temptress-imbued Rogue douses him in her pheromones and orders him to worship her.
Meanwhile, Harry Palmer and the rest of his Brood laugh at the foolishness of the X-Men. They know the X-Men will not kill them, as they believe the Brood to be innocent people underneath their corrupted exterior. This, Harry says, will be the X-Men’s undoing. Wolverine is the only exception: he will kill anyone if he needs to, including his teammates. The Warrior-Prime Lockup decides to put a stop the berserk X-Man’s determination. Grabbing Wolverine in his tentacles, he subdues him and paralyzes him using his host’s mutant ability. Wolverine falls to the ground, helpless as a baby. Harry Palmer smiles a hideous smile as he approaches. Wolverine should know what happens next, Harry says as he lifts his malformed hand.
West of Denver, at the Red Rocks amphitheater…
Meanwhile, the crew for Reverend William Connover’s Glory Day Crusade toils to complete the show’s set before sunrise. Construction workers carry beams and erect the stage, engineers double-check the plans, and the catering staff makes sure everyone gets something to eat. One assistant remarks the parking lot is already filling with people; her associate reminds her that the reverend is a good man and certainly worthy of his following. Nearby, although few of the workers hear it, the radio airs a news bulletin about a battle in downtown Denver between two groups of super-beings. The announcer reports extensive property damage, but notes no one has been injured. Josey Thomas, the paramedic on-hand for the event, also hears the broadcast, and also ignores it; she has other work to do.
Instead of stressing about his upcoming production, Reverend William Connover spends his time lying on a grassy hillside and gazing at the stars. His wife Hannah approaches. She is not at all surprised to see him out reclining under the night sky; after all, William never tires of “gazing up at God’s handiwork, the celestial vault of heaven.” It never fails to take his breath away, he says, or restore his sense of perspective about mankind’s place in the universe.
Hannah sits down, bearing a thermos of freshly brewed coffee. William is delighted. He asks his wife how things are going. Splendidly, she says, relaying that construction is going smoothly; some of the early arrivals even volunteered to help. However, she tells him about the news reports coming from downtown Denver. The radio says mutants are involved. “Might as well say blacks or midgets or women…or Martians,” William says. “The accusation would make as much sense.” Hannah pours him a cup of coffee. William reminds his wife he can pour; she reminds him she can too.
As Reverend William sips his cup of coffee, he remarks how similar mutants are to humans, and yet so wildly different. It’s so easy to fear them, and to think of them as a threat to mankind’s rule over the planet. Aren’t they, Hannah asks? “No more, I suspect, than children are to their parents,” William answers. “You love them when they’re young and growing – you marvel at the wonder of their existence – until you start to realize they’re young and you’re not. They’ll see and experience things you never will. They’re the future – and suddenly, you’re the past.” Hannah rests her head on her husband’s shoulder. He continues. “It hurts. You resent it. Resent them. And the love isn’t quite so absolute anymore. And for a few, sadly, it turns to something else.”
The reverend stands up, revealing his lanky frame, and holds Hannah’s hands in his own. Sometimes he wishes he were a mutant too, he says, if only so he could purge the arthritis from Hannah’s body. All his followers think of him as special, simply because he preaches the gospel. But how special can he truly be, if all of his words and prayers and faith cannot ease the torment of the woman he loves? “Silly man… by asking that question, you’ve answered the other,” Hannah tells him as tears pool in her eyes. “Which is why I love you… and why the rest doesn’t matter.”
Terrified civilians run for their lives as the fight continues. The news crews refuse to budge; they want to capture the whole thing on film. One cameraman named Rudy compares the fighting to the action he saw in Beirut, but adds that particular battle didn’t have a man made of steel fighting it out with a terrifying Lucasfilm reject. He asks his technical crew if they’re seeing his footage. His crew in the news van asks where the other combatant is; all they see is one of the Brood swinging an automobile at some empty space. Although Rudy has both Colossus and the monster in the shot, his camera fails to sense Colossus’s image. Just then, Colossus comes crashing through the side of the van like a torpedo.
Meanwhile, high overhead, Storm finally reaches some air fresh enough to clean the Brood pheromones out of her system. She is finally free of its influence. Unfortunately, another problem has followed her: Dive-bomber. In addition to flying as fast, and with as much control, as Storm, Dive-bomber is seemingly immune to Storm’s lightning attacks. She decides to flee instead of fighting him. Dive-bomber, however, knows how to get her attention. He spies a commercial airliner flying nearby, lands on its left wing, and rips out its engine. Storm watches in horror as he proceeds to the other wing and rips out that engine as well, leaving it with only one more. The throwaway engines fall out of the sky and toward the city below.
Storm knows she must do something. She first summons a gust powerful enough to blow the two engines as far away from the city as possible. Then, she propels herself like a bullet and knocks Dive-bomber off of the airplane’s wing, all the while wishing she possessed Wolverine’s claws so she could finish the monster permanently. Using her remaining strength, she then summons a gust of wind counter to the plane’s trajectory and slows its descent. It lands safely. Neither the passengers nor the control tower can believe it; they call it a miracle, and Storm, an angel. Suddenly, Dive-bomber reappears and hits Storm with a flying punch. “I like your style, babe. You’ll make an aces addition,” he says. “…to the Brood team.”
In her dream, Madelyne Pryor, the most beautiful daughter of God’s country, flies through the land on the feathered wings of an angel, her flowing, golden robes sashaying in her wake. She finally sets foot on the lush, green grass below. As much as she loves soaring through the skies, she would give it all up for the man she loves: Scott Summers. He waits for her on the ground with their newborn son. Madelyne walks over to him and they kiss. With him, she finally feels complete; it’s as though he was a missing piece of her soul. She finally feels fulfilled and happy, and the birth of their son only made the feelings better. Their future is one of infinite possibilities. Unfortunately, Madelyne never stopped to think any of those possibilities might be bad.
In the X-Men’s headquarters in the Australian Outback, Madelyne Pryor lays unconscious on the laboratory floor. Standing next to her sleeping body is the team’s taciturn ally, Gateway. His astral form finds his way into Madelyne’s dreams, much to her surprise. “What are you doing here?” she asks the silent Aborigine. “You don’t exist! She calls him a creature from her dreams, curses him, and orders him to leave her family alone.
Gateway says nothing. Instead, he twirls his bull-roarer. Although the bull-roarer serves as a teleporter on the physical plane, in the dream world, its function is quite different. It destroys Scott and Madelyne’s house. Enraged, Scott drifts out of his civilian clothes and into those of his X-Men uniform, and hits Gateway with a high-powered optic blast.
Gateway seems to die. However, another figure rises from the ashes of the burning house: a faceless woman, bearing no features that could distinguish her even from a mannequin. The figure gently reaches out with open arms. To Madelyne’s horror, Cyclops approaches the featureless woman and embraces her. He kisses her with a fierce passion he never felt for Madelyne.
Cyclops turns to his wife. “Time to lose those wings, Maddie,” he says. “You’re not supposed to have them anyway. You can’t really fly – you’re not special like us – you’re only human.” He removes the wings and tosses them aside. “Can’t keep him, either,” he says as he rips Madelyne’s baby out of her arms. She screams in protest, but he does not listen. “He’s a mutant, sweetheart. He should be raised by his own kind.” He places the baby into the arms of the featureless mannequin. The baby smiles. “See how happy he looks. You couldn’t take that away from him, could you?” Maddie cries out to her husband as he lifts the hair off her head. How could he do this to her? She loves him! “I know, and I’m really sorry,” Cyclops says. “But I loved someone else first. And best. Her needs take the priority.” He sets Madelyne’s hair on top of the mannequin’s head. It fits perfectly. He reaches over and peels away Madelyne’s lips, nose, and eyes, and places them on his new bride’s face, which now clearly resembles Jean Grey. With the original restored, he no longer needs Madelyne.
“I love Jean Grey, Maddie. Always have, always will,” Cyclops tells his now-faceless wife. He adds that when he thought Jean died, it felt like someone ripped out his heart. It was wrong of him to turn to Madelyne in her place, he says. The beautiful, golden robes adorning Madelyne’s body now disappear, and transform into the shiny new X-Factor costumes for Scott and Jean. The once-scenic landscape disappears in a flash of white light. “I never meant to hurt you,” Scott tells Madelyne, “…but once I discovered Jean was alive, I had to go back to her. I’ll never lose her again.” Scott and Jean lift into the air, their bodies outlined by the glow of a bright star. The faceless Madelyne looks on their images as they disappear. She would scream, but she has no mouth. She is a nothing being, in a nowhere place, abandoned, and alone.
While Longshot and Dazzler fend off a trio of Brood, Havok berates himself for his uselessness in the battle. His mutant power can level mountains. However, he dare not use it, even on its weakest setting, lest he kill a living being. Suddenly, a lightning bolt splits the sky. Havok looks skyward and sees Dive-bomber barreling through the air with Storm pinned to the tips of his outstretched hands. He pushes her through a billboard advertising Reverend William Connover’s Glory Day Ministry, knocking Storm unconscious. Harry Palmer is pleased. He does not intend to implant Storm with a Warrior egg, as he did with Wolverine. “Oh, no – the leader of the X-Men,” Palmer says, “…will host for our Queen!”
Havok refuses to accept this and lashes out. He hits Dive-bomber with a concentrated plasma beam, killing him instantly. The Brood mutant drops Storm. The plasma beam, however, continues through its victim and levels the abandoned warehouse inside of which Colossus and Brickbat were fighting. Somehow, Colossus emerges from the dust and rubble completely intact. His foe, Brickbat, does not. Colossus carries the fallen Brood mutant’s corpse out of the rubble and tosses it on the ground.
Harry Palmer laments the loss of his two brethren. Although Rogue and Psylocke, both of whom are still under the influence of Temptress, think they can defeat the X-Men even with their decreased numbers, Harry insists they retreat. They will win the fight, but it will be on their ground, and on their terms. He orders the Brood to protect Wolverine and Temptress with its life as they escape. If the heroes want blood, the Brood will give them their own!
While the Brood escapes, Havok, Storm, and Colossus stand over the dead body of Dive-bomber. Havok regrets killing him, but could think of no other way to save Storm. Colossus asks him not to worry; he did the right thing. Suddenly, before their very eyes, Dive-bomber’s Brood features diminish, and he reverts back to his fully human form. Havok, kneeling over the corpse, is horrified; the poor guy never knew what hit him. This is what Havok has feared most since manifesting his power: using it to kill.
“And Dive-bomber appearing as Brood, rather than human, made that act more… palatable?” Storm asks. “Whoever he was, his life ended the moment he was implanted with a Brood egg.” She tells Alex he merely put the man out if his misery, and perhaps spared others from a similar fate. Although the man deserves to be mourned, it was Harry Palmer who killed him; not Alex.
Havok asks Storm what they will do about the rest of the Brood gang. If even one survives – especially the Queen host – then the Earth, Storm says, is doomed.