Trish Tilby reports live from central Minnesota, where the band of terrorists known as the Acolytes struck once again last night. Their target this time was a genetic research laboratory; the fourth such incident in the last two days. This is in marked contrast to the Acolytes usual preference of isolation.
As an image of the Acolytes fills the screen, Trish continues on and says that the motives remain a mystery, but the pattern is now predictable, leaving only decimation in the wake.
The X-Men watch Trish’s report, but not without comments from the peanut gallery. Xavier tells Gambit and Marrow to hush. Alongside the three are Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Rogue. When Wolverine asks Xavier why they can’t track the Acolytes ship when it can be traced on camera, Xavier explains that Magneto’s technology has long eluded traditional scanners, just like how Cerebro is prevented from figuring out which Acolytes are actually in the ship. That’s just what I was going to say, jokes Marrow.
The air is tense in the Blackbird, that a hacksaw would be needed to cut through it. The X-Men know the score. If the Acolytes are acting like this, then that means Magneto must be directing them. How this is possible is unknown, as during their last encounter Xavier wiped the man’s mind clean. That act and its consequences have haunted Xavier ever since.
Storm, who flies the Blackbird, tells Xavier that there is a pattern to the movements of the Acolytes. Yes, replies Xavier. They are heading north. Wolverine wonders if there is any way to predict the next target, but Rogue reminds him that they cannot track the team. Marrow asks why they cannot just be at the next target before the Acolytes are. You mean narrow down the potential targets to a few dozen, asks Colossus. Storm admits that she would like to be more proactive in their approach. They have been three steps behind since the Acolytes attacked them at their home.
Wolverine proposes that they just skip the middle men and head for Magneto. Gambit tells the group to say, “I told you so,” if they were the first one to say they didn’t trust Joseph.
“I told you so,” says Gambit.
Marrow reflects on how, ever since she joined the team, all she has heard is how Magneto is dangerous to the dream. How are they doing their jobs if they let his Acolytes attack humans? Shadowcat smiles and tells Nightcrawler that the rookie asks the tough questions. Kurt agrees, but silence is inevitably their answer. Annoyed, Gambit asks Kurt if this is how he led Excalibur. Xavier intervenes and tells Remy that the remark was uncalled for. He is frustrated along with the rest of them. Arguing won’t solve anything. For now the X-Men shall follow the Acolytes and hope to catch them in the act. If Joseph really has reverted back to Magneto and is leading the Acolytes – then they will deal with that soon.
Arctic Circle – Angara Basin:
At Magneto’s base, the robotic Ferris asks Magneto if his food was satisfactory. Breakfast was fine, replies Magnus. Ferris is pleased, as even a human like Magneto requires sustenance. Human, questions Magneto. Ferris carries in Magnus’ helmet and apologizes for “daring to impugn the genetic superiority that is – Magneto, master of the electromagnetic fire!”
Magneto accepts the apology, but tells Ferris to save the flowery talk for the United Nations. Ferris replies that he is programmed with an inexhaustible supple of patter, much to Magneto’s chagrin. Magnus then asks for his helmet, which Ferris takes is a sure sign that he is ready for battle. The players are in place, says Magneto. Fear brews and decisions will be made in panic. It most certainly is time to strike!
Israel – South of Beersheva:
At a military bunker, which serves as a home for two special mutants, Ruth Bat-Seraph, better known as Sabra, watches over the man known simply as Joseph. Everyone, including Joseph, recently believed he was the one and only Magneto, though de-aged. Soon, they will all find out how wrong that assumption was.
Sabra thanks Joseph for his patience while tests are run on him. Joseph admits that several weeks serving as a guinea pig are worth finding out the truth about his existence. He has lived with too many questions for too long. Despite what Maggott and she have told he about his heritage, he still wonders if he is really Magneto, restored to youth. If so, how did that happen? If not, then who or what is he? Whatever the answer is, replies Sabra, it is only a reflection of which he was – not who he is. Joseph replies that with his time among the X-Men and in this Mossad facility, he thinks he has proven that.
Joseph finishes his tests for the time and the two heroes wait for the results. The lead scientist tells Joseph that it is an interesting conundrum. Heredity or environment: which are they by-products of? Joseph asks Dr. Hamal what the case is for him. Dr. Hamal looks at a print out and asks Joseph if he wants to know it in layman’s terms. Please, explain Joseph and Sabra in unison. Dr. Hamal reveals to Joseph that he is Magneto down to every strand of D.N.A. – but every strand is a meticulously crafted forgery!
Fort Severn – Hudson Bay:
The X-Men are lucky. The Acolytes have left their jet uncloaked at their latest target, which allowed Cerebro to easily find them. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police already reported an attack underway. This is the X-Men’s chance to attack the Acolytes before they leave.
The X-Men leap out of the Blackbird and Nightcrawler orders them to keep a tight formation until the Acolytes are located. Shouldn’t be too hard, replies Wolverine. They can just follow the trail of smoke and debris. Nightcrawler agrees that the Acolytes are not subtle, as the team enters the chemical processing lab. Shadowcat tells Kurt that the fires are pretty bad. Should they split up? Rogue asks if one team should put out the fires and the other find the Acolytes.
Suddenly, Cargill leaps out and punches Rogue into Gambit, telling her that finding the Acolytes won’t be necessary. Enraged, Gambit throws a few cards at Cargill, telling her that if Rogue is hurt by the sucker-punch then she is dead. However, the charged cards easily pass through Cargill, thanks to Neophyte, who phases her. Cargill then uses and upper-kick to take out Gambit, telling him that the X-Men aren’t the only ones who understand teamwork.
Nightcrawler teleports to the two Acolytes, surprising Neophyte so he staggers back. Nightcrawler kicks Cargill in the gut, telling her that it is a shame she uses her teamwork for terrorism. Katu charges up to Nightcrawler and punches him in the back of the head. Kurt falls to the ground, very disoriented and hallucinating.
Unuscione arrives on scene and gathers the three Acolytes, using her powers to lift them and bring them onto the top of the building. Katu calls over to the unseen Kamal and tells him to cover them. Kamal tells Katu that the deed is taken care of.
The X-Men look up to see Kamal up on the pipes. Wolverine realizes that there are coolant pipes going into a holding tank with them at the bottom. Can anyone say trap? Marrow realizes that the team was so eager to stop the Acolytes that they walked right into the trap. Let the trap be sprung, says Colossus. Shadowcat asks Colossus if he is thinking what she is thinking, to which Colossus replies yes. The fastest way to save the innocents and to put out the fires is to allow Kamal to topple the fire retardant liquids in the tanks!
Kamal does as planned and topples over the liquids, which floods the area below! As he bobs in the rapid moving liquid, Nightcrawler asks if his team is ok. Sure, says Rogue. There is noting a southern belle likes more than taking a bath in Windex.
By the time the team gets out of the liquid, the Acolytes have boarded their jet and fly away. Nightcrawler watches the jet go and tells his friends that the Acolytes were ready for them. It was as if fighting the X-Men was more important to the villains than their other objective. Angry, Wolverine tells Nightcrawler that it wasn’t a fight. The Acolytes made fools of them! Question is, asks Marrow, why?
The being known as Ferris arrives at the Manhattan complex, explaining outside that he comes as a duly appointed representative of Magneto. He thanks the guards for their attention as they shoot him. He then suggests that he officers stop firing at him unless they wish to cause ricochet, which will harm a bystander. The security stops firing, and one orders someone to call the Avengers. And tell them what, asks the other man. A polite robot walked into the United Nations?
Over Fox Basin – Heading North:
The X-Men ride in their Blackbird, and Storm asks if they have maintained a visual on the Acolytes’ ship. Yes, replies Xavier. While the villains have a sizeable lead, their long range camera systems are keeping track of them. But they’ve maintained a consistent speed, asks Nightcrawler. Realizing that they might catch up, Marrow says that if the Acolytes are asking to be caught, the X-Men should oblige. Xavier tells Marrow to control her need to fight, at least until her earlier question is answered. Why do the Acolytes want the X-Men to follow?
Gambit tells the Professor that there are two reasons to bait someone. First, it is to lead them into something. Second, says Marrow, is to lead them away from something. Wolverine agrees with Gambit. He then smiles and tells Xavier that there is only one way to find out. Indeed, agrees Xavier. He then orders his students into their crash-harnesses. This game ends!
Finally, says Magneto, the time has come to end this game.
Magneto stands amidst a massive machine, with two conductors at the ends. Suddenly, the area in the room fills with energy, which bleeds out of his every pore. He sees electrons scatter from atoms. He hears the planet breath. He smells air burn. He touches magnetic winds. Most importantly, he tastes victory.
“It is time,” says Magnus, as his electromagnetic powers coalesce into something more.
Outside, the large tower seems normal. A ray of electromagnetic energy shoots out peacefully from the top into the sky. However, it is searching for something – something to connect to.
Inside, Magneto screams that this is for every mutant who has been scorned for their genetic gifts. It is for every close-minded shortsighted fool who has deterred his lifelong quest for peace. It is most especially for Charles Xavier, who said it was not the way. It is time!
Suddenly, the entire tower is enveloped in energy, and ripples of power are unleashes and explode out of the Circle. The ray shooting into the sky expands drastically. The planet groans as an electromagnetic rock is dropped on the magnetosphere. The ripples from the tower tug at the invisible fabric of the planet’s energy sheath.
Outside, Joseph and Sabra walk, but the man takes a pause, much to the concern of Sabra. She realizes that Dr. Hamal’s findings must be unsettling. Joseph faces away from Ruth and tells her that it is all unsettling for him and he is upset. He wishes to be alone. As you wish, obliges Sabra.
As Joseph walks away, he cannot help but feel that Sabra doubts him. They are friends, but there is a sense of uncertainty beneath the interaction. This has been the same with all this relationships in his short life. It is part of the price of wearing the face of a man who has tried to destroy the world so many times. However, between the test results and his gut, Joseph feels that the man whose face he wears may be trying to destroy the world again!
Suddenly, a woman in a purple suit steps out of the shadows and asks Joseph what he is doing here. Apologetically, Joseph tells her that he didn’t realize he wandered into a restricted part of the base. Frustrated, the woman calls Joseph and idiot and tells him that he thinks too much and does little. Why has he ignored the job she required of him?
Joseph rubs his head and asks the woman what job she is talking about. Who is she? She isn’t part of the staff, is she? The woman mutters that she knew she should have spliced more intelligence into him.
Suddenly, Joseph has a flashback. He sees this same woman, except she is in a costume. He reaches out to her and tries to speak.
Joseph snaps back to reality, just in time for the woman to call him pathetic. With a flick of her wrist, Joseph is overpowered by a blast of energy. Does he not understand that she doesn’t have time to go back to the drawing board? As Joseph falls, the woman tells him that as far as he is concerned about her identity – Joey can call her mother!
At the National Geographic Atmosphere Monitoring Station, the workers there realize something is terribly wrong. Winds are at 210 k.p.h. There is a bipolar signature overlap north. The electromotive spectrum is in a state of flux. One worker wonders if it is an aurora borealis, but another incredulous worker tells him that maybe it is Santa Claus.
Suddenly, a man jumps up and says that they haven’t had readings like this in twenty-months. You mean – says another worker, nervous.
The power then goes out.
“Since the last time Magneto ripped the E-M field apart!”
As the X-Men catch up to the Acolytes in the Arctic Circle, the villains suddenly deploy a shield around their ship. Storm freaks out and tells the team that the very air screams inside of her. This storm around them is unnatural! Their ship operates on a gravimetric pulse, while their systems are hindered by electromagnetic interference. Kurt notices that the Acolytes are not affected at all by the magnetic storm.
Suddenly, the visual goes out as the team hits horrible turbulence. Gambit wonders how they will fly through this, so Wolverine tells him to try flapping his arms. The flight controls blow up in front of Storm. Marrow asks if their jet has an ejection button. Storm tells Nightcrawler to take the remaining controls. She then orders Colossus and Rogue to use their powers to support the forward end and aft fuselage struts. She will make a cross wind to brace the plane’s descent. Marrow asks what the rest of them shall do. Assume crash positions, says Storm.
Aw, not again, says Marrow.
Scanner, Neophyte, and Cargill watch as the Aurora sputters out of control. Scanner comments that the X-Men did not deserve and end like this. Cargill agrees, but they have both been too easy on the X-Men since Cyclops helped them out. Whether they like it or not, the Acolytes had a job to do and they did it.
Storm checks up on Nightcrawler, who tells her that the crosswind has helped a lot. The blackbird no longer handles like a rock. That is a relief says Storm. “Just like a rock with wings…” says Nightcrawler.
The Blackbird crashes hard into the snow below
Ferris addresses the terrified main conference room of the United Nations. They call themselves leaders of the world? They are the oppressors of the innocent! They confine themselves in these walls and bicker while millions starve and die from disease. They persecute those whose nationality, faith, skin color or genetics are different. All that ends now. The world will unite as one!
Ferris then displays a hologram of the world and its magnetosphere. He tells the United Nations delegates that an inevitable unity will come thanks to the shared terror over this day’s actions. The momentary power outage was Magneto’s way of saying hello. Ferris has been sent to deliver a message. Magneto has shown in the past that he is easily able to disrupt the Earth’s magnetosphere. The last time he did it was in retaliation against the Magneto Protocols. This time, Ferris admits, the act is out of aggression.
What does the madman want now, asks a delegate.
Ferris explains that since Magneto’s hope to have a haven above Earth was ruined by humanity, he wants to create heaven on Earth for those who prefer to live in peace. As they speak, a pulse wave is expanding across the electromagnetic spectrum. That wave will spread and negate mankind’s ability to retaliate – or even use a toaster. Unless they cede to Magneto the authority to create a new sanctuary, human civilization will grind to a standstill! Once begun, no one can stop it!
The Arctic Circle:
Colossus rips open the side of the Blackbird and the X-Men step out into the frigid air.
“Someone is gonna get hit a lot…” mutters Wolverine.