Vancouver, Canada. One of the X-Men’s Blackbirds is parked in the middle of a street. ‘Professor Xavier? Is everything all right?’ Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast asks. Charles Xavier replies that it is not, and reveals that Wolverine is down, Monet is missing and Warren’s heart has stopped beating, while his maniacal stepbrother, the Juggernaut, is attacking.
Inside the Blackbird is a third person - a young mutant named Samuel Pare. He thinks to himself that nothing ever goes like it is supposed to, like, at his age, he should be nervous about zits, his voice changing and maybe growing some chest hair. Sammy tells himself that never in a million years he thought his nose would fall off, gills would grow, his fingers would web…and other stuff he would rather not mention.
The Beast informs Charles that he will get them to Scotland immediately, while Xavier telepathically contacts Stacy X, asking her if she can focus for a moment. Sammy watches Xavier intently and tells himself that he never expected Xavier to show up. ‘Who would? I never expected him to ask me to come to his school, I never expected my parents to say yes - and I never thought I’d be hanging out while the X-Men all got slaughtered!’ Sammy thinks to himself. Charles telepathically tells Stacy that she must keep Warren’s blood oxygenated and moving, before he announces to Hank that he has lost contact.
‘Juggernaut’s going to kill us all!’ Stacy X gasps as she holds up the unmoving body of Warren “Archangel” Worthington III. Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner goes wide-eyed, while Juggernaut a.k.a. Cain Marko looms over the body of Logan a.k.a. Wolverine - which has a large wooden stake shoved through his chest. ‘Not all of us, Stacy. You, maybe’ Bobby “Iceman” Drake calls out as he attacks the Juggernaut with a beam of ice as he emerges from the downed Blackbird. Cassidy Keep is partly damaged thanks to the X-Men’s arrival, and their associate, Monet St Croix of the X-Corporation, is nowhere to be seen.
Juggernaut puts his fist up to the ice, shattering the beam. ‘When has that ever worked?’ the villain asks as he grabs the wooden stake stuck in Logan’s chest. Bobby looks at his foe, before Juggernaut puts a foot on Logan’s chest as he shoves the piece of wood further into Logan. This causes the X-Man to wake, and he groans as the stake is pulled from him, before popping his claws. ‘And what are you gonna do, Wolverine? Trim my toenails?’ Juggernaut asks, before yanking the piece of wood from Logan’s chest. With Juggernaut distracted, Iceman blasts him with another beam of ice, knocking the villain backwards, where he slams through Cassidy Keep.
Iceman goes over to Wolverine and asks ‘How about that one, huh? That work a little better for ya, Juggy?’ Stacy X asks Nightcrawler what they do, to which Kurt tells her that if they do not keep Warren’s blood flowing his brain will die. Stacy looks down at Warren and tells him that she is so sorry. Suddenly, green vines rise up through the ground, and Stacy screams as Warren is wrapped up in the vines. Kurt tells Stacy to grab onto him and not to let him go - but it is too late, as Warren slips past them down into the earth. ‘Dammit! What the hell is going on here? And where is Monet?’ Nightcrawler shouts. ‘Who cares?’ Stacy replies, pointing out that they have to find Warren. ‘His brain will die, you said so!’ Stacy declares.
Iceman tells his teammates to get Wolverine to cover while he tries to slow the Juggernaut down. The Juggernaut emerges from the rubble, while Iceman throws up a massive ice-shield - but the Juggernaut just smashes his way through it with ease. ‘Um, guys? Cover’s back that way’ Bobby mutters, before he releases another beam of ice. Nightcrawler tells him to come along, stating that they do not leave one of their own behind. But Iceman ignores Kurt, instead he releases beam of ice after beam of ice - all of which gets broken down by Juggernaut, who shouts ‘This is getting so old!’ as he moves closer and closer to Iceman.
The unstoppable Juggernaut stands before the X-Men and asks ‘Is this how you treat people who call your eight-hundred number for help? God, you can tick a guy off. Follow me’. Bobby, Logan, Kurt and Stacy all look at each other confused. ‘You made the distress call? A real one?’ Nightcrawler asks. ‘Buncha rocket scientists’ Juggernaut mutters. ‘Who else do you see here?’ he asks, throwing his hands into the air. ‘But, you mean a genuine distress call?’ Bobby asks. ‘You’re asking for our help with something?’ he enquires. Juggernaut just frowns, annoyed. ‘Then why didn’t you just come out and say that? What’s with all the “clip my toenails” and tanking out the stake, and -?’ Bobby shouts.
Juggernaut turns to Wolverine and tells him that he is sorry, that what he did was awful. ‘You didn’t like that wooden spike jammed through your lung?’ Juggernaut asks. ‘Sure. Loved it’ Wolverine snarls, claws ready. ‘Then I’ll be sure to put it back when we’re all done’ Juggernaut snaps, before turning his back to the mutants and telling them that at the moment he needs them whole. ‘So heal up, animal because now that he’s got bird-boy and the girl, he’s going to get a lot stronger, fast’ Cain declares. ‘Who’s gonna get a lot stronger -?’ Iceman begins, when, suddenly, more thick green vines burst up through the ground. Several vines yank at Juggernaut, while another wraps itself around Stacy X.
Pieces of earth are thrown into the air, with Wolverine and Nightcrawler clinging to them. ‘What is this? Iceman asks as a vine wraps around his wrist. He releases two beams of ice that propel him upwards on an ice-platform, while Nightcrawler teleports onto a nearby rooftop. ‘Verdammter Mist!’ he gasps.
Meantime, at the Rosy Manor Convalescent Hospital in Upstate New York. A nurse is dressing a mute patient who stares blankly forward, a scar over his eye. ‘I was thinking about getting him one of those Razor scooters, and then, suddenly, they’re out of style…no one’s riding ‘em anymore’ the nurse remarks, adding that you just can’t stay up with trends these days. ‘It’s like buying a computer, you know?’ she tells her handsome patient as she puts his shirt on and does the buttons up. ‘You walk out one door and the newest model is going in the other’ the nurse tells him.
She struggles slightly as she lifts her patient into his wheelchair, and tells him that he doesn’t strike her as a computer man. ‘You seem more the rugged, outdoorsy type to me’ the nurse decides, adding ‘Not that you couldn’t be good with technology, but I’m betting you preferred happy trails to hard drives’. The nurse smiles as she calls her patient “Mr Doe” and asks him if he is ready to go out and get a little sun. But he offers no response, and the nurse frowns.
Leaving the hospital room she wheels her patient into a corridor where other patients and staff are going about their business. The nurse tells her patient that she brought the usual assortment of magazines today - some news, some smut and a little gossip, all of her favourites. ‘I’d bring stuff you liked if you’d just speak up and tell me what you wanted, but nooo…you’re the strong, silent type’ she remarks, before telling him that she is assuming he speaks English. ‘Maybe that’s the problem?’ she decides, before asking him if he speaks German. ‘If you do, we’re screwed, because that’s all the German I know’ she exclaims.
Two female nurses stand nearby and watch their colleague. ‘Annie will never give up on him, will she?’ one of them asks. ‘Yeah, well, he’s a handsome man, and she’s a single mother who doesn’t get out much’ the other points out. ‘Oh, don’t make this into something ugly’ the first tells her. The second nurse replies that she isn’t, and adds that if Annie takes better care of him because she secretly wishes he would come out of it and carry her off into the sunset, that it is probably good for both of them. ‘Sometimes the only thing that keeps us going - is hope’ the second nurse adds as they watch Annie push her mystery man outside.
They approach a fountain and the mystery man mutters ‘Nnnnhh…’ while Annie tells him that they are in the sun now, adding that in the year she has known him, that has been his one given, that the sun really seems to charge him up. ‘Hi, mommy’ a boy sitting beside the fountain calls out as he waves at Annie. ‘Hi, sweetie’ Annie replies as she sits down next to her son and holds up some newspapers, asking what they should read to Mr Doe today. ‘Tragedy or smut?’ she suggests. ‘News’ Carter replies. ‘You sure you wouldn’t rather read smut? It’s good for you’ Annie tells her son, motioning to a monkey-boy on the cover. ‘That stuff’s for kids’ Carter tells his mother. ‘As opposed to what you are’ Annie replies, before opening the newspaper and mutters ‘Boring old news it is’ as she sees an article that has more information on the school in Westchester that nearly got destroyed. ‘That mutant hideaway -’ Annie gasps, before going wide-eyed.
‘What, mommy? What’s the matter?’ Carter asks. Annie replies that she doesn’t know, and holds the newspaper up next to her mystery man. ‘Hey - he looks sort of like Mr Doe’ Carter declares as he looks at the photo his mother was looking at. There is a photo of two men, and an article underneath it. Carter asks his mother what it says, and Annie replies that it says he saved a bunch of people by detonating a plane loaded with explosives - and that he is a mutant!
Back at Cassidy Keep, Wolverine, Stacy X and Juggernaut are pulled down below the ground by the vines. Archangel and Monet are tangled up in vines, their forms withered. Other bodies are tangled amongst the vines also, as are some small animals. ‘What the hell is happening here?’ Stacy X shouts. Juggernaut announces that it is Black Tom, that he is changing, mutating further, only he is fighting it. ‘What does that mean? Who’s Black Tom?’ Stacy asks. ‘The big guy’s boyfriend’ Wolverine jokes as he slices his way through the vines. ‘Bite me, dog-boy! He’s my partner!’ Juggernaut retorts, while Stacy asks who the dead people are up there. A figure covered in vines moves towards the Juggernaut - it is Black Tom, mutated further. Juggernaut sees his partner and calls out to him, telling him ‘Don’t please! I brought them here to help!’
‘First you come crawling back, Cain - useless to me - your powers a din shadow of what they once were. And now you do this?’ Black Tom Cassidy snarls. ‘My worst enemies…and you shame me by asking for their help?!’ Juggernaut tells Tom that this change is killing him, but Tom in his new plant-like form replies ‘No. It’s killing you’ and a series of vines crawl through Juggernaut’s helmet. Wolverine moves towards Juggernaut and slices the vines away, before he punches Black Tom in the face. ‘My eyes will grow back, little ferret. But will your limbs once torn from their sockets do the same? Will the girl’s?’ Black Tom asks. Black Tom scurries away, and noises can be heard. ‘Stop struggling or I’ll indulge my curiosity!’ Black Tom can be heard saying. ‘TOMMM!’ the Juggernaut shouts.
‘What the hell’s going on, Cain?’ Wolverine asks. Juggernaut replies that he doesn’t know, adding that Tom is changing, taking root or something. ‘He’s growing faster’ Cain adds. ‘Prettier’ Logan mutters. ‘Laugh it up, scruffy. That man was my friend when no one else would be. I would do anything for him. Anything’ Cain replies. ‘Like die?’ Wolverine asks. Stacy X struggles in the vines, and Wolverine tells her to take it easy, while Juggernaut remarks ‘Like call Xavier for help? The useless piece of $#%!’ Stacy’s form begins to shuck and she utters that she cannot breathe, that she is choking.
‘You mean the Xavier who - in spite of everything you’ve ever done or tried to do to him over the years - in spite of what a piece of garbage you are - sent us her to help someone - not caring whether they were human or mutant…or miserable, lying, ungrateful stepbrother’s like you’ Logan declares as he does his best to cut away the vines, only more and more grow back. Cain’s eyes roll back in his head as vines crawl through his helmets, and Wolverine adds ‘While the man you’d do anything for drains you like a spider on a fly’. ‘I’m so glad your lung healed’ Cain mutters. ‘Yeah, me too’ Wolverine replies, while Stacy cries out in pain.
At that moment, ‘Lord above, did you hear that?’ Nightcrawler asks as he and Iceman make their way through a tunnel in the keep. ‘We’ve got to find them, Kurt’ Bobby declares. ‘We’ve got to find them now!’ Kurt replies that he knows, and points out that the castle is enormous, suggesting they should split up. Bobby replies that there has to be a faster way, and suddenly grabs one of the vines hanging against a wall. Kurt asks him what he is doing, to which Bobby explains that water is the core component of anything organic. ‘And I have a unique relationship with water’ Bobby points out. There is a FSSHAAA as the ice spreads along the vines. ‘Now. Shall we see what the main trunk looks like?’ Bobby suggests.
Meanwhile, Annie stands in a kitchen while Carter sits in the living room watching TV. Annie is on the telephone, getting no response, before a voice message announces that Xavier’s School for the Gifted is currently closed. ‘Oh, hello. I’m trying to reach -’ Annie begins, before realizing it is a message. ‘If you’d like to leave a message, press “one”. If this is an emergency -’ the recording states, before Annie presses one. There is a beep, before Annie introduces herself as Annie Ghazikhanian, a nurse in a convalescent hospital in Upstate New York. ‘It’s a hospital that, well…we handle, ummm…you know, homeless or unidentified patients that have been warded to the state, because - you know - they have no family…’.
At the Xavier Institute, ‘What time did this message come in?’ Jean “Phoenix” Grey asks as she stands in a doorway, hidden in the shadows. ‘Shhh’ Scott “Cyclops” Summers tells his wife. The message continues: ‘Anyway…what I’m getting at is - ummm, well - I was hoping that someone could get a message to Scott Summers that - ummm - that I think we have his brother Alex and he’s alive’. ‘Oh my God’ Jean utters, while Scott looks shocked.
Back at Cassidy Keep, Bobby and Kurt follow the trail of iced vines. Bobby stops when he finds a crack in the floor, and fills it with ice. This causes the crack to expand, and the mutants slide down through the floor on an ice-sled. ‘Think you used enough dynamite there?’ Kurt asks. Bobby replies that he knows what he is doing. ‘How many years have I been an X-Man?’ he remarks. ‘You mean consecutive years? Is this a quiz?’ Kurt asks, before pointing out that the roof and the wall don’t look too stable now. They arrive on a lower level, where someone - something - covered in vines utters something almost incomprehensible. ‘What - what’s it saying?’ Iceman asks. Kurt replies that he thinks it is saying “get out - don’t look at me”.
Suddenly, there is a rumble, ‘The wall!’ Kurt shouts. ‘I see it!’ Bobby replies. Up above, Wolverine, Warren, Stacy and Juggernaut all cry out through the vines stuck in their mouths, and Black Tom utters ‘Guuuhhhooooo!’….