San Francisco, specifically Mt Tamalpais, where the Master of Magnetism - Magneto - sits and concentrates hard. His eyes are closed, and blood drips from his nose as his power radiates around him. Suddenly, ‘You’re right. Here he is’ Scott “Cyclops” Summers tells Emma Frost a.k.a. the White Queen as they reach a nearby ridge and see Magneto. ‘Of course I’m right. I’m always right, darling’ Emma tells Scott as he pulls her up onto the next ridge. ‘Then why’d you think it was such a good idea to walk up a mountain in heels?’ Scott asks. ‘Shut up’ Emma tells her lover.
Scott and Emma walk over to Magneto, and Scott tells him that he has been out here all night. ‘You need a cup of coffee or a blanket or something?’ Scott asks. ‘Scott’ Emma exclaims, before announcing that there is something odd here. ‘Something in his mind is - wrong!’ she exclaims. Emma realizes that Magneto has shut them out, physically and mentally. ‘Whatever it is Magneto is doing here…he doesn’t want to be disturbed!’ Emma declares. ‘Why don’t I like the sound of that?’ Scott asks.
Meanwhile, in New York City, ‘This is where the scream starts, normally, isn’t it, Wolverine?’ Love asks, with Wolverine a.k.a. Logan’s claws stuck through his chest. ‘You dropped a gaggle of Predators on my people and turned my home into a damn all-you-can-eat buffet. Scream, don’t scream, I don’t care. What we got between us is bigger than all that’ Logan replies. Lobe’s companions - Verve, Thug, Bouncing Betty and Burst ready themselves while Love replies ‘Indeed it is, Wolverine, indeed it is’ before asking Logan if he has asked himself who they are and where they come from. ‘How is it possible that five mutants such as us could exist entirely off your radar?’
Lobe continues: ‘Or how is it possible for one to be impaled upon your claws and not bleed a drop? It’s your healing factor. And I stole it from you, thanks to our Predators. You see Logan, my friends and I were made special, not born’. Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock readies her psi-knife, while Logan grunts as he shoves his claws deeper through Lobe. ‘So go ahead, try to fight. We’ve been waiting…’ Lobe smirks. Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin rushes towards Bouncing Betty - who slams him back with surprising ease. Betsy takes on Verve, who has turned invisible. ‘Impossible. Even her thoughts become transparent!’ Betsy exclaims, before Verve attacks her. ‘C’mon, tough guy -’ Logan exclaims while Burst kicks him in the face. Logan turns his attention to Thug, who smacks him in the face. ‘Son of a -’ Logan shouts.
‘Yes, yes, that’s it. Fight. Again and again and again, X-Men. Don’t stop to think, just keep fighting!’ Lobe exclaims while watching various monitors. ‘And if you notice how we’re all seemingly trained to know you better than you know yourselves…well why ask questions? Just punch harder!’ he exclaims. Images of various X-Men, New Mutants and X-Men Students appear on the monitors, while Lobe smiles as he declares that the Predators they bought and modified because they knew the X-Men would do what they did to them. ‘We recorded you all .Viral play-loads recorded everything about you. Your genomes. How your powers work. How you fight’.
‘Some people want to stop you. Some people want to cure you. Some people want to kill you’ Lobe exclaims. ‘Not us. We want to be you. We want everyone to be able to be you. And the first step of that is learning everything about every single last one of you…’. Suddenly, a strange device is thrown at Lobe, and he is knocked off balance. ‘Who? What?’ he calls out. Standing before Lobe is a man dressed all in white. ‘First, my name is Fantomex and I hypnotized my way in here. It’s a thing I do’ he exclaims. ‘Second, I don’t care who you are but that allegedly French woman of yours is ridiculously phony. And I know from phony French’ Fantomex exclaims. ‘And lastly, you’re rich, dangerous, completely psychotic, and I’m pretty sure only a sociopath of the highest order would allow you to operate unimpeded’.
‘Is that how you super heroes talk?’ Fantomex asks the X-Men. ‘Impossible. We know every X-Man there is to know and yet you -’ Lobe shouts, before Fantomex interrupts: ‘Are not an X-Man. Now let’s try this for super hero talk: Anybody moves and I’ll kill you all!’ he announces, holding up two powerful weapons.
Meanwhile, beneath Utopia, in the underwater civilization known as New Atlantis. An aquatic mutant greets some new arrivals to Atlantis. ‘I know how you must be feeling but, trust me, this is all starting to come together. It can be overwhelming at first, huh?’ he exclaims to them. ‘It’s just that - we’ve come so very far and -’ one of the new arrivals remarks. ‘Sure, sure. You were expecting, well - Atlantis. Home. Not so much this work in progress. But home’s what you make of it, right?’ the mutant remarks, motioning to the citadel behind them. The mutant tells the refugees to swim to the citizen intake center, which is in the first finished building. ‘You’ll find on the pillar’s south side. Trust me, you can’t miss it. And welcome home!’ he exclaims.
Suddenly, ‘Excuse us…’ asks a voice from inside an underwater vessel. ‘Whoa’ the mutant utters. ‘Who the hell is in charge down here and where can I find them and yell at them?’ Doctor Nemesis asks from within the vessel. ‘That would be King Namor…but I would not recommend yelling at him’ the mutant replies, adding ‘As sovereign leader of the seven seas, all land-dwellers are guests in his realm and thus -’ but the boy is interrupted by Madison Jeffries, who tells him that they are here to help build the pillar. ‘As we live on top of the thing it seems the least we can do!’ he exclaims. ‘I gotta go get Namor!’ the boy exclaims. ‘Yes. Do that’ Doctor Nemesis tells him as the mutant swims away.
Back in New York, Lobe and his associates are cornered in one part of the room, while the X-Men stand with Fantomex. ‘We have…quite a thorough database, Mr Fantomex, of all the X-Men’s powers and fighting techniques. Counterattacks and strategies are fed to us by a super-computer so fast it gives the NSA wet dreams’ Lobe boasts, adding that even if they do not know who he is or what he is capable of, he still likes his odds. ‘Yeah, about that - notice that swirling bit of metal goo I had with me? The thing that blew up your fancy slide show there? That was EVA. She’s my spaceship and sometimes she lives in my mouth’ Fantomex exclaims, as Lobe and his allies look around, while EVA latches on to the super computer and blows it up. ‘Let’s see how good you are after EVA shuts that computer of yours off’ Fantomex suggests.
‘Switch it up and bring ‘em down!’ Wolverine orders as he engages Bouncing Betty, while Psylocke takes on Thug. ‘You’re all insane!’ Lobe shouts. ‘Oops’ the invisible Verve remarks as she tries to hit Colossus with her whip. ‘Nice try’ Colossus tells her, before smashing the floor she stands on, knocking her over. ‘No - no no no!’ Lobe exclaims. ‘It’s gone - it’s all gone!’. Fantomex stands in front of him, weapon aimed in Lobe’s face, Fantomex exclaims ‘That’s the problem with being built-to-order, tactically augmented, whatever-the-hell-you-ares. Someone comes along and cuts you off from that augmentation and you’re just clowns’. With that, Fantomex shoots Lobe in the head. The battle rages on with the X-Men seemingly getting the upper hand. ‘We didn’t make it this far to go out like regular chumps, you arrogant mutant monsters…’ Lobe declares, clutching his wound as blood pours from his head.
Back in San Francisco, ‘People normally don’t get nose bleeds when they meditate, right?’ Cyclops asks. ‘He’s not meditating, darling. He’s…looking for something’ Emma declares. ‘You can tell?’ Scott asks. Emma replies that she cannot read his mind. ‘But…well, without sounding like some dreadful hippie, there’s a…vibe…he’s radiating’. ‘And the vibe is that he’s looking for something?’ Scott asks. Emma replies that there is a lack, an absence and that Magneto is here to fill it somehow. Scott points out that Magneto has been here almost twenty-four hours, and is, for all intents and purposes, catatonic. ‘His nose is bleeding, he’s sweating, we can’t touch him, and I swear to God the old man looks like he’s lost weight’ Scott exclaims. One of them suggests they get the X-Club in the loop. ‘We might not be able to get to Magneto but maybe we can figure out what he hopes to accomplish’.
Back In New York, ‘What’s…what’s going on? Where’d that hairy little bastard go?’ Bouncing Betty asks, her body covered in cuts and bruises as she lies on the floor - only for Colossus to loom over her, holding something very heavy which he prepares to smash down on her. Bouncing Betty can only raise a hand. Psylocke takes on Burst, while Fantomex follows Lobe, who is crawling away from the battle into another room. ‘Hm. What do you think you’re doing? You’ve just lost. Just take it an we can all get on with our days’ Fantomex tells him. ‘Come on, come on, come on -’ Lobe tells himself. ‘You’re coming off as profoundly undignified’ Fantomex exclaims. ‘I don’t lose!’ Lobe shouts, grabbing a small remote, he presses a button.
Back in the other room, green gas suddenly fills the room. A computer announcement states: ‘Warning - airborne contagion X released - all personnel initiate clean-breathing evacuation procedures’. Fantomex calls out to EVA, ‘Emergency isolation protocols now - save the X-Men!’ he orders, and with that, EVA covers the X-Men like a dome. ‘What the -’ Wolverine remarks, while Psylocke announces that Fantomex is talking to her, and explains that there is something deadly in the air.
‘What did you do? Fantomex asks Lobe, who is now flanked by his associates. ‘HX-N1. The mutant plague. Mutagenic biological warfare, tailor-made to affect at least 134 known mutants with a power-dampening influenza super-strain’ Lobe announces, very pleased with himself. ‘My God…’ Fantomex gasps. ‘One day, perhaps. For now, just a man with healthy aspirations’ Lobe gloats, revealing that it has been their sole purpose to map the surviving mutant genomes - to pick them apart and to reverse-engineer them. ‘We’d have been fools not to have developed defenses against them, yes? Against…all…of them!’
Through Psylocke, Fantomex tells the X-Men that they have to get them out of here, and tells EVA to keep purging the air while getting the X-Men out of here right now. ‘I’ve got nano-active blood, you knob’ Fantomex tells Lobe. ‘I don’t know what that means but I never get sick. Why do I care about your x-flu?’ Fantomex asks. ‘I can read you like a cheap novel on an airplane, you faux-French fop!’ Lobe declares, asking why Fantomex came to help the X-Men, why he is saving them now. ‘Your mercenary attitude is as much a put-on as that ridiculous accent!’. Lobe tells Fantomex to give them time and they will figure out a way to pick him apart too. ‘That’s all you people are to us: scrap materials to be recycled and repurposed for a better tomorrow. Courtesy of John Sublime!’
The X-Men can see an image of John Sublime appear on one of Lobe‘s monitors. ‘Sublime! Dammit, I shoulda known!’ Wolverine exclaims. ‘Who?’ Betsy asks, while Colossus remarks that Sublime just looks like a man. ‘This isn’t’ over!’ Fantomex exclaims as EVA brings him into safety with the X-Men. ‘This hasn’t even started’ Lobe replies, before EVA bursts through the apartment, sending green gas everywhere.
Soon, inside EVA moves swiftly across the sky, while Fantomex is communicating with Cyclops: ‘Some kind of influenza virus that only targets mutants. EVA lacks the facilities to really break the bug apart and get under the hood, so to speak, but it’s apparently been made to affect the entire extant mutant population. Fantomex adds that EVA retained active samples to the X-Men can study it and get to work on a cure. ‘Or just…I don’t know, let it out and see what happens’ Fantomex suggests. ‘Not bloody likely, Fantomex, but thanks’ Cyclops replies. ‘I’ll deliver it, along with your gang of reprobates - all the same’ Fantomex tells him. Cyclops tells Fantomex to take his time, explaining that they are dealing with weird stuff here, nothing urgent. ‘Aye-aye, Captain. X-Men, out’ Fantomex replies. ‘”X-Men”, huh?’ Wolverine asks. ‘Shut up’ Fantomex tells him.
On Utopia, in the X-Club laboratory, Madison Jeffries, Doctor Nemesis, Kavita Rao and Warren “Angel” Worthington have gathered. Pointing to a map of the solar system, Jeffries exclaims ‘There. That’s what he’s up to’. Doctor Nemesis asks him if he is sure, to which Jeffries replies ‘Pretty sure. I mean…it makes sense’. ‘Incredible!’ Kavita exclaims. ‘Are you - I mean, Box , we need…if what’s happening is what you say is happening, we need to get Scott in on this immediately!’. Jeffries tells Angel to go and get him, declaring that they are already too late to stop it.
At that moment, in the depths of space, a silver bullet shaped starship streaks across space. Inside the bullet, the one person preventing the bullet from destroying any planet is Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde. ‘I think I’m going crazy…because I swear to God this thing just changed direction…’.