In a grocery store, the girl called Hope stands in the personal aisle and looks at the various hair care products. ‘Hope’ a voice calls out. Hope doesn’t answer. ‘HOPE!’ the mutant warrior called Cable snaps. ‘Hope, come on!’ Cable exclaims as he approaches Hope, weapon in hand. ‘I said we have to go! Now, dammit!’ Cable declares, grabbing Hope, while the store around them is in disarray - clerks are tied together nearby and several officers lie in pools of blood. ‘Okay! Okay - God -’ Hope mutters while Cable grabs her by her arm. ‘What were you -’ Cable begins, but Hope tells him that she was looking at nothing and to forget it. Hope turns from Cable, who sees a hair beauty set.
Soon, outside the store, Cable approaches a vehicle and exclaims ‘What the hell was that? You were supposed to be watching my flank’. Hope is hot-wiring a car and tells Cable that nothing was on his flank, that the zone was clean. ‘I spaced out for a second. No big deal’ she exclaims. Cable looks down at Hope and tells her that it was more than a second, and that she got a sloppy and went stupid. ‘Do not do it again, soldier’ Cable orders. Hope sits up in the drivers seat and asks Cable if he wants to keep yelling at her, or if he wants a ride. She adds that she stole some apples, before asking how much money they got. ‘I’m not done yelling at you, Hope’ Cable declares as he gets in the car, which suddenly speeds off, as Hope replies ‘Yeah, well. Maybe I’m done listening to you’.
Meanwhile, on a highway, Wolverine has a member of the Sapien League shoved up against a van, while Psylocke, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Angel, Magik and X-23 gather around. ‘I asked you a question, Logan. Very simple, very straight-forward’ Nightcrawler exclaims. Wolverine ignores his close friend, while the Sapien League member pleads with Wolverine, ‘I told you I don’t know how he’s tracking them, you don’t have to kill me -’ he exclaims. ‘Who is he talking about? What the hell is going on?’ Nightcrawler demands. Wolverine frowns as he declares ‘We’re at war, Elf. Plain and simple’ - before he skewers the Sapien League member with his adamantium claws.
Nightcrawler watches as the human slides down the van, leaving a trickle of blood, as Wolverine announces ‘Stryker. Lang. Trask. Hodge. Creed. And Bastion. They’ve been waiting for Hope and Cable just as long as we have. Standing near Angel and X-23, Wolverine reveals that some of them have been trying to stop the enemy as best they could - in ways that not everybody would be so thrilled about. Standing with Colossus, Psylocke and Magik, Nightcrawler asks if Cyclops knew and authorized this. ‘He…sanctioned this’ Nightcrawler exclaims, horrified.
Throwing her clawed hands into the air and motioning to the destruction and bodies around them, X-23 asks if it is not obvious. Nightcrawler turns from everyone, and announces that the Beast was right. ‘I quit!’ he exclaims. ‘I don’t know who it is we’ve become, but I don’t -’ he remarks, before Colossus grabs him, while Psylocke covers her face, in thought. Colossus tells Nightcrawler that, surely the longer the girl is in the world, unprotected by them, the more blood will be spilled. Nightcrawler pauses, before declaring that he wants to talk to Cyclops right now.
On Utopia, inside a monitor / control room, Cyclops and Emma Frost are overseeing events, while Rogue stands nearby, and the X-Club - Doctor Nemesis, Madison Jeffries and Kavita Rao - busy themselves. Nightcrawler’s thoughts radiate into the minds of Cyclops and the White Queen: ‘It’s your field operatives. The ones everyone knows about, anyway’ Cyclops informs Nightcrawler that they were just about to contact him for an update, while Emma adds that the entire squad has been radiating thoughts of intense violence so bright they could light up the Eastern Seaboard.
Wolverine’s thoughts are heard next, as he announces that they ran into some static, but nothing they could not handle. ‘Good’ Cyclops tells him, before announcing that Cable is going to be headed west-northwest from their position, just north of I-80. Cyclops explains that there are too many people in the cities to the south, so Cable will use the forests for cover - Delaware state, Loyalsock. Wolverine asks Cyclops how he figured that, to which Cyclops explains that is what he would do. ‘And I’m the guy that taught him how to run in the first place’. The White Queen tells Cyclops that Nightcrawler’s blood is about to boil, and that he is about to ask about X-Force.
On cue, Nightcrawler asks Cyclops if he sanctioned what Wolverine and his gang have been up to while no one else was looking. Cyclops turns to his girlfriend and remarks that he knew it was coming. ‘Darling, you’ve made your bed. It’s time to lie in it’ Emma declares. Cyclops pauses. ‘Well?’ Nightcrawler asks impatiently. Cyclops informs him that he sanctioned X-Force, gave them their missions, briefed them and monitored their accomplishments, all while covering up their existence. ‘And I would absolutely do it again if I had to’ Cyclops declares. As Nightcrawler turns to the dead Sapien League member, Cyclops suggests to him that if he has a problem with his leadership that he does not bring it up while in the field.
Nightcrawler reaches through the Sapien League member’s mask and pulls his eyelids down, while Cyclops orders him to get the girl here now. ‘You can tear my head off once you’re all home safe and sound’ Cyclops declares. Nightcrawler pauses, before replying that he understands. The White Queen puts a hand on Cyclops and tells him that it was inevitable. Cyclops rubs his forehead and replies that it will be better when they get the girl. ‘It would all be better if we just had the girl…’.
Suddenly, Cyclops receives another incoming call, via monitor, this time - it’s the New Mutants. ‘Utopia, come in, Utopia. Blackbird 2 is at the checkpoint with autopilot engaged’ Cannonball announces, adding that they are ready for their mission briefing - they being the rest of his squad - Mirage, Sunspot, Karma, Magma, Cypher and Warlock - A holographic projection of Cyclops appears inside the Blackbird and congratulates Cannonball for making excellent time. ‘Here’s the score: We’re up against Bastion and his goons. So that means an upgrade in tactics’ he announces.
Cyclops informs Cypher that he needs him to gather all the intel that he can and figure out what it means. ‘Bastion and his crew have tech coming and going, that means data streams, operating systems, line codes -’ Cyclops is cut off as Cypher casually remarks that it is all just language, and that he will watch every stream of data in and around Westchester radiating westward and see what it says. Cyclops announces that Bastion’s toady Cameron Hodge has a facility in St Louis where he produces his anti-mutant personnel weaponry. ‘Get out there and shut them down before he can turn them loose on -’ Cyclops begins, before Cypher interrupts, announcing that a camera feed from a Foodway outside of Sproul State Forest picked up a shot of a big guy and a redheaded teenager before it was disabled and the store was robbed. ‘Just north of I-80’ Cypher announces. ‘You don’t say’ Cyclops smiles.
Meanwhile, Cable and Hope enter a motel room. ‘Do we need to sweep the place? Do we need -’ Hope begins, but Cable tells her that is not how it works. ‘See, you pay money for the shelter, for the night and it -’ Cable remarks as he turns a light switch on. ‘Whoa. Oh…Nathan…’ Hope begins as she looks around the room - and instantly jumps onto the bed and begins bouncing up and down on it. ‘Keep it down. And calm down, dammit…’ Cable declares, before sitting down and reading a newspaper, he informs Hope that they will get some shut-eye and they will start moving again in the morning.
‘Where? How fast? Are we still being hunted? Are we -’ Hope asks, while Cable sees a headline in the newspaper that reads San Francisco welcomes mutants back “home”. ‘I’ll be dammed. California’ Cable remarks. ‘What?’ Hope asks. ‘San Francisco. We’re going to San Francisco, California’ Cable replies, before peering over his paper, where he sees Hope crouched beside the mini-bar, making her way through the various food items in it.
Elsewhere, the villainous Bastion stands before his “brothers” - fellow mutant haters Graydon Creed, Stephen Lang, Cameron Hodge, Bolivar Trask and the Rev William Stryker and declares ‘Our time is soon at hand. This plan - our plan - to slaughter this little mutant whelp is at long last in full swing’. Various monitors depicting Cable and Hope surround them, while Bastion looks down at his “brothers” and remarks that tracking them through conventional methods has proven fruitless - whether that is a technology Cable possesses or an ability the girl is manifesting is something they can determine later.
Bastion declares that for the time being, all of their mutant-hunting methodologies are functionally useless, just like the X-Men’s. ‘But we, unlike them, are not completely blind’. Bastion boasts that he has planned on absolutely everything - the techno-organic virus that allowed him to resurrect his “brothers” burns within Cable as well. Bastion grins wickedly as he announces that they will not track the X-Men, nor will they track the girl. ‘We won’t even track Cable, but rather, the virus itself. X marks the spot. You’ll pardon the irony, I’m sure’.
Bastion announces that Cable and the girl have stopped moving for the night. A platoon of Purifiers enters the room, and Bastion tells Stryker to take his Purifiers and crush Cable and the girl in their sleep. ‘Be prepared for the X-Men to find you’ he warns him. Bastion orders Stryker to oversee the completion of the mission and to take no prisoners. ‘With pleasure’ Stryker grins. Cameron Hodge suddenly excuses himself as he asks Bastion if the zealot and his goon squad are going to get the job done. ‘Do you really think it’s going to be that easy?’ Hodge asks. Bastion suggests Hodge concerns himself not with Stryker, but with marshalling his own forces. ‘We’ll need your assault units in the field soon enough if he fails’ Bastion points out, before adding ‘Speaking of contingencies…update me on the construction of my towers’.
Back at the motel, ‘Hope’ Cable calls out, while Hope stands in front of a mirror after a shower, wrapped in a towel, she runs her fingers through her hair. ‘Yeah’ Hope mutters. Cable enters the bathroom and tells her that he knows he yelled a lot earlier. Hope frowns. ‘Here’ Cable announces, handing Hope something wrapped up. ‘Nathan, I - I -’ Hope utter when the gift is opened - it is the hair beauty set from the store. Shortly, Hope returns to the main part of the hotel room, where Cable has covered the table in all sorts of mechanical pieces. ‘Cable. That brush if for babies’ Hope smiles as she stands, wearing a green and yellow outfit’.
‘Okay’ Cable smiles. Hope runs a finger along her hair as she asks if she did it right. ‘I don’t even know if I did the stupid thing right’ she remarks, before asking Cable what he is doing. Cable explains to Hope that this era has a kind of rudimentary data network. ‘I can’t get any signals so I’m hacking into the landlines to give us a little omniscient view on our locale. Traffic signals, security camera feeds, law enforcement communications, crap like that -’ Cable begins, before gasping ‘Oh no -’. ‘How far our? How many?’ Hope asks. Cable peers out the window and exclaims that they cut everything off. ‘It’s a black hole. If I was them, next I’d -’ he remarks, before telling Hope to kill the lights. ‘They’re here. Get ready’.
Outside, Stryker points to the motel room and tells the purifiers to cut off the traffic arteries in and out. ‘Anyone tries to flee - kill them. Collateral damage is the name of the cause’ he declares.
At that moment, ‘Uh-oh. I have them’ Cypher announces. ‘Are you sure?’ Cyclops asks. Cypher explains that there is a 1.5 kilometer-wide data dead zone in a concentric circle that starts with a roadside motel. ‘It’s a perfect circle, with no power, phones, data lines - even the traffic lights are shut off’ he announces. Tapping a small screen, Cyclops declares ‘We got ‘em. About three klicks from your current location - a motel off the interstate’ Cyclops informs Wolverine. ‘remind me never try an’ hide from you, Slim. We’ll be in touch once all the dyin’ stops’ Wolverine replies as his squad runs towards the motel.
‘The future of humankind is written tonight!’ Stryker booms as several of his men move towards the door to Cable and Hope’s room. ‘Three - two -’ Cable begins, before they begin firing - right through the door, sending one of the Purifiers careening backwards off the balcony. Cable and Hope burst through the remainder of the door. ‘- on your nine -’ Cable exclaims. ‘- watch your two -’ Hope declares. ‘Laying down some cover’ Cable remarks as he peers through his weapon-piece and fires at a diesel tank attached to a nearby truck - causing it to explode, sending fire around some of the Purifiers, who run.
‘Put them down! They cannot get out of that room alive!’ Stryker declares. Back in the room, Hope and Cable fire through the windows. ‘They’ll snuff us if we don’t scramble’ Cable exclaims. ‘One - two -’ Hope exclaims, before they leap out into the open. ‘Oh my God -’ one of the Purifiers gasps as two of them cower behind a car. ‘Be ready. Be brave’ the other utters. Up above, the X-Men, Magik and X-23 arrive - and Colossus throws Wolverine down into the battle, where he instantly shreds his way through the Purifiers. ‘Whoa, old man. Take a deep breath’ Wolverine mutters. ‘The good guys are here to save your ass yet again’ Wolverine tells Cable, who stands back-to-back with Hope, while a dozen or so Purifiers surround them.
Inside Blackbird 2, Cypher announces that the alpha team has arrived. ‘This is it. De-cloak and descend’ Cyclops orders the New Mutants via communicator. ‘Orders received, Sir. We won’t let you down!’ Cannonball announces as he blasts downwards, carrying Karma. Sunspot and Magma fly down on their own, Warlock carries Cypher inside him, and Mirage parachutes down to the anti-mutant personnel weaponry production facility below….