Wolverine visits Storm in Africa. Ororo is quite upset after a young mutant was crucified by a group calling themselves freedom fighters. She was protecting a village before her powers disappeared on M-Day. These ‘freedom fighters’ came across the border for food, medicine and to steal children as recruits.
After they bury the former mutant in a grave they dug together, Ororo explains that their protector was made an example of, and her villagers killed. She is infuriated, and summons a lightning blast to burn the cross her friend was taken from. She tells Logan that mutants are no longer to be respected, or feared… only slaughtered. Logan asks if she figures to teach them different. No, she replies, she means to kill them.
(The Xavier Institute for Higher Learning)
Rachel Grey is feeling down at the thought of being caged. The Sentinels protect the Institute’s residents, but she compares them to the Nazis that kept Captain Hilts captive in The Great Escape. No matter what they did to him, they couldn’t break his spirit. She readies herself for her morning shower, watched as always by the all-seeing eyes of the Sentinel O*N*E Project.
She steps into the shower and, as she bathes, her body disappears. Rachel is a rebellious sort, you see, and she also has a friend called Forge who is a genius inventor. He’s provided Rachel with an image-inducer that not only generates a solid light representation of Rachel; it also comes with a heat signature. The possibilities for mischief are positively delicious.
Outside, Psylocke is exercising, getting back into shape after spending a little time recovering from her injuries. Val Cooper appears with hot drinks and donuts for her, as well as Bishop and Nightcrawler. She wonders if Bishop might like a game of chess. He agrees, but doesn’t think Val will be up to his game. Val replies that none of her colleagues are on her level either. Bishop tells her that he doesn’t play with pieces - the game’s all in his head. Val is up for that. Betsy asks how they keep from cheating. Bishop tells her that one pays attention. Val kicks off with king’s bishop to KB4.
Rachel is on a clock. The image-inducer is programmed to activate morning and evening to convince the Sentinels that she’s sleeping in her room through the night. She wonders how long it’ll take for them to realize she is gone, and then how long ‘til they find her. She has traveled to Chicago to meet with a Dr. Maureen Lyszinski, a psychiatrist respected by Kitty Pryde. Rachel’s nervous about talking to her, but feels she needs to speak to someone.
Introductions are carried out, and Maureen enquires as to Kitty’s well being. Rachel assures her she is fine, and wasn’t affected by M-Day. Maureen asks Rachel if she was affected. Rachel loses herself in a thought momentarily, before realizing where she is. “What?” she asks. Maureen tells her that she and Kitty are very alike. Rachel informs her that they’re roommates. Maureen presumes they are veterans of the same war, as they both have the same haunted look in their eyes.
Rachel informs Dr. Lyszinski that people are all ghosts to her. Within the doctor’s lifetime, almost everyone she knows; everyone she sees around her, dies! She came to this time to ensure that future never happens. She wanders to the window and looks out into the street. She knows her task is a difficult one. No matter how much they seem to change, history still repeats itself. First time out, she informs the doctor, Sentinels destroyed the Grey family. This time it’s the Shi’ar. They’re still dead. She can’t seem to break the wheel of time. It just keeps turning. Maureen asks what Rachel wants from her. What does she want from herself?
(The Xavier Institute for Higher Learning)
Val and Bishop’s chess game ends with Val conceding. Bishop is happy with their game. He feels Val is on a par with Charles Xavier himself. Val suggests that next time they play poker. She informs him that his excursion to Manhattan has been approved, and she thanks him for following the rules. She asks him to check on the Shi’ar Commandos while he’s there, to make sure they’re snugly incarcerated. “Don’t trust their jailors?” asks Bishop. Val doesn’t trust anyone.
Suddenly, Cannonball flies overhead and Val covers her ears. Sam is being hotly pursued by one of the giant Sentinels. He’s playing with it, practicing his movement and agility. The Sentinel is improving too. Val’s idea is that the Sentinel learns to adapt to what it learns, and the pilot provides the inspiration to cope with the unknown. At this stage, the robot isn’t quite up to Cannonball’s standards. Val doesn’t think the nation needs to depend on the kindness of the X-Men as far as national security is concerned. Strange as it sounds, Bishop agrees with her.
Bishop is taking a tour of the area. It’s changed enormously since M-Day. They stand outside Wannabes, which is no longer a viable business. After M-Day, there were much fewer mutants, and even less public interest in playing mutant. Charlotte says it seems to fall somewhere between dressing up as a terrorist or a victim of the holocaust. She looks up and asks Bishop if the Sentinel standing nearby goes everywhere with him. He replies that it does when they’re off-campus. It’s for their own protection.
Charlotte is a little skeptical, but Bishop says they did okay with them against the Shi’ar. Charlotte has heard what happened to the Grey family. Anything new? she asks. Bishop informs her that the feds are holding the Shi’ar Death Commandos in the Metropolitan Correctional Facility. That’s his next stop.
(O*N*E Mobile Operations Command)
Val looks at a computer monitor. She’s impressed with Rachel’s deception. Nightcrawler teleports in, having been given the exact coordinates by Val, and asks why she has requested such a clandestine meeting. Val says she worked with Forge for years and she can tell the difference between what’s real, and what’s the product of an image-inducer. She turns the screen to show Kurt the image of Rachel Grey, and asks him where she is.
(Manhattan - the Metropolitan Correctional Facility)
The Shi’ar Death Commandos are in their cells, kept there by lasers. Offset informs Black Cloak that they have a positive lock on their target thanks to the deathmark. She is a significant distance from the X-Men, and she is alone. Black Cloak figures they’ve waited long enough. He orders the gaseous Sega to neutralize their captors. Sega knocks out the guards and everyone else at the facility. Black Cloak then orders Colony to take care of the doors. Colony, which consists of thousands of tiny bug-like creatures, eats away at the supporting columns that house the lasers. They disintegrate, and the Commandos are free.
Elsewhere in Manhattan, Bishop receives a phone call from Nightcrawler. He informs her that Rachel’s gone missing and they’ve scrambled the Blackbird. Their E.T.A to pick him up is five minutes. Bishop asks him to hold on as police cars race past him. He knows something’s wrong.
As the Shi’ar Death Commandos exit the facility, Black Cloak warns his comrades not to underestimate their target or the X-Men. Their window for action is small, and their margin for error, non-existent. Suddenly, Bishop appears and punches Krait. “Actually people, that window just closed!” A second punch sends Krait flying into Black Cloak, and then both he and Detective Jones open fire. Jones orders them to surrender, whilst questioning herself as to why she always seems to follow the X-Men into these fights.
Devo erects a forcefield to protect himself, cutting himself off from Colony. Warshot opens fire, hitting Detective Jones, whilst Hypernova hurls her energy daggers at Bishop. Fortunately, he can absorb energy, and he redirects this, and more, back at both Warshot and the Skrull, Flaw. Offset is about to devour Charlotte when she pulls a pistol from nowhere and shoots her in the throat. However, Black Cloak then grabs her and takes pulls her to his chest.
Above them, Bishop’s protector, one of the giant O*N*E Sentinels, tears the roof off the facility and neutralizes Sega immediately by freezing it. Black Cloak realizes that he has a clear signal, and teleports his team away, along with Charlotte Jones. Bishop asks the Sentinel’s pilot if they can track them, and if there’s any sign of Charlotte. They reply that it’s negative to both, but the point of origin of the transmit beam is orbital. He then informs Bishop that the Blackbird has arrived. Nightcrawler teleports to his side, and tells him that they know where they’re going. He teleports Bishop to the plane, hoping they aren’t too late.
Maureen asks Rachel how what she’s been telling her feels. Helpless, comes the response. Maureen is surprised that she feels like this with all her powers. Rachel tells her that her powers couldn’t stop M-Day. They couldn’t save her family. She hasn’t stopped her future from coming true. In fact, everything’s turning out worse. Again, Maureen asks how that makes her feel. Rachel wipes a tear from her eye. She’s tired. She wants to give up.
Suddenly, the phoenix symbol appears over her left eye, and she then thinks about how her mom never gave up. She wants the Shi’ar to be afraid. She wants them dead. She screams it out loud. “I want all Shi’ar to burn!” Suddenly, the windows shatter and the Shi’ar Death Commandos pour through into the office. Krait takes the lead. “Death Commando’s. We have the target. Kill her!”