Xinjiang Province, China, where EVA hovers over some farmland. ‘He’s running. We can’t let him get away’ Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde declares. Fantomex pilots EVA and mocks Kitty: “Can’t kill him”. “Can’t let him get away”. ‘You, Miss Pryde, are a fickle creature. And he’s not running, he’s a runner’. Fantomex adds. Emma Frost a.k.a. the White Queen tells Fantomex to save his clever-cleverness for a time when he has done something clever and not, for example, set one of the most dangerous men in all creation free. Emma announces that Shaw is somewhere in the quaint village below, and using every single anti-telepathy drill some foolish woman with a taste for high fashion, cutting put-downs and emotionally closed-off men taught him. ‘I need to get an eensy bit closer to slice through’.
But as EVA approaches the wooden buildings below, Sebastian Shaw suddenly bursts up through one of them - and lands on EVA, tearing his way through it. ‘Ms Frost and company?’ Shaw calls out. ‘Meet terra firma’ he exclaims as EVA begins to plummet. ‘Pull up!’ Frost orders. ‘Lock him down!’ Fantomex shouts, while Shaw continues to tear EVA apart. ‘Can we all agree that he wasn’t running? I’d like everyone to confirm I was right’ Fantomex exclaims, while Emma asks him if he is going to crack jokes or if he is going to pull up, and calls him a hateful little man. Fantomex explains that Shaw has punched EVA’s lights out, and she won’t respond. ‘So why not make jokes, eh?’ Fantomex remarks, before they crash into the ground below.
Meanwhile, in Chinatown, San Francisco, the communist hero turned gangland leader known as the Collective Man is being targeted by the only available X-Men. He dodges a lightning bolt courtesy of Ororo T’Challa a.k.a. Storm, and splits into five beings. ‘He’s scattering. Northstar. Mark him. One on one’ Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Angel orders from above. ‘On…it!’ the Canadian speedster mutant Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier exclaims as he races after his opponent, slamming him into the ground - before being knocked back thanks to the Collective Man’s “strength of five”. ‘Who’s next?’ the Collective Man smirks - he has an ego of five, as well.
Suddenly, ‘We’re next!’ exclaims “Cyclops” as he and his colleagues - four other young faux-mutants - “Marvel Girl”, “Angel”, “Iceman” and “Beast” all appear. ‘You are?’ the Collective Man asks as he approaches the youngsters, before splitting into five, each of whom kicks each one of the “X-Men” in the face, knocking them backwards. ‘So you are’ the Collective Man mocks. ‘Noobs’ Megan “Pixie” Gwynn mutters as she looks at the downed “X-Men”, while Alison Blair a.k.a. Dazzler stands nearby, and the Collective Man begins to surround them. ‘Duet?’ Alison asks. ‘Tidy!’ Pixie exclaims, before Dazzler lights up the space around them, while Pixie casts a spell - and the two of them, as well as the five Collective Men are teleported up high into the air. ‘Tidy?’ Alison asks. ‘Tidy!’ Pixie exclaims as she hovers in the air, carrying Dazzler, while the five Collective Men plummet below. ‘Falling. We. Won’t. Make. This’ they exclaim, before they glow, becoming one again. ‘But I can’ he boasts, while Angel flies towards him: ‘And…thank you!’ Warren exclaims as he smashes the Collective Man in the face with a two-hand punch.
‘And to think you were worried about the lack of a “big gun”. Teamwork is a rather big gun’ Storm remarks as she lands by the others, who are standing over the fallen “X-Men”. Ororo tells her companions that they worked magnificently together. Alison smiles at Pixie and asks her what “Tidy” means. ‘Except what your room never is’ she adds. ‘It means tidy!’ Megan exclaims. ‘If you’re this out of touch, no wonder your last album flopped’ Megan adds, walking away. ‘Hey! Totally not fair!’ Dazzler protests. Her dear friend Northstar tells her to relax, ‘The heartless teen demographic has spoken’ he points out. ‘It was great material. It was just marketed badly’ Dazzler mutters, while Angel asks Jean-Paul if he is okay. Northstar replies that he thinks a rib has gone, but better than a jaw, before asking ‘Now what?’
‘For truckers, super villain and wannabes: hospital, prison and…I don’t know, respectively’ Warren replies. Looking at “Marvel Girl”, Storm points out that Scott will want a word with these “X-Men”, and she feels that the “X-Men” would not be adverse to a daytrip to Utopia. ‘Like Trekkies wouldn’t be adverse to a trip to the Enterprise’ Warren jokes.
Meanwhile, at Graymalkin Industries in Marin County, Kate Kildaire, PR expert, is holding a press conference, announcing that the out-of-quarantine X-Men detained the Collective Man who was engaged in gang activities in Chinatown, and he is not in San Francisco police custody. ‘Even though the majority of the X-Men are confined to Utopia, we continue to protect and…’ Kate begins, before a reporter stands up and shouts ‘BULL!’ Kate knows who he is and declares ‘Protocol, please, Rufus. Name, organization, question’. ‘Rufus Wood, Metahuman Herald. This is bull, Kate. Unimportant bull. What about the mutant plague?’ the reporter demands.
Kate smiles and thanks Rufus, telling him that he makes her next point beautifully, and declares that it is a mutant plague, artificially designed to target mutants. Kate announces that she is glad to reveal that research has shown that it is entirely inert to anyone lacking the mutant gene. Rufus asks how they can know that for sure, to which Kate explains she took the liberty of preparing a little demonstration. Dr Kavita Rao steps forward, carrying a syringe. Kate explains that this is a purified sample of the virus, so if it was household salt, it would kill her. Kavita injects the contents of the syringe into Kate’s neck, and Kate smiles, announcing ‘This is how sure we are that the mutant plague is a mutant problem. But, in this matter, we hope for human kindness and understanding’ Kate then thanks the press for their time.
Soon, Kate and Kavita walk through Graymalkin Industries, and Kate asks if Kavita is sure that this is not going to kill her. ‘Absolutely. I did it and I’m standing here, aren’t I?’ Kavita replies, before pointing out that it is a nano-virus that is only increasing in virulence, so abstractly, it could have altered between her test and Kate’s. ‘No, no, no! Enough, Rao! Stop it!’ Kate exclaims, throwing her arms into the air, she declares that she does not want to think about it. ‘That little stunt has put a tight lid on the public panic. Now the only problem…’ she begins, ‘…is the actual power-sapping, mutant-killing problem. And unless the X-Club get ouir communal big brain in gear…the problem will come to a rather devastating conclusion on its own’ Rao concludes.
Meanwhile, on Utopia, Danger enters the room where Scott “Cyclops” Summers has a towel over his head and announces that there is a video call for him, from the Sublime Corporation. ‘Great’ Scott mutters, so Danger projects the video call against a back wall - where Lobe, Verre and Bouncing Betty appear on screen. ‘Wait, I know you. You’re Lobe. You were active in New York. You sent Predators here’ Scott exclaims. ‘Wolverine stabbed you. The Sublime Corporation…you work for Sublime’ Scott declares. ‘Not exactly. To quote the good book: It’s complicated’ Lobe replies, before explaining that he is not here to talk Cyclops through the company “about” page. ‘I’m here to talk business!’ he declares.
‘Signal trace: initialized’ Danger announces, while Lobe smiles as he remarks ‘Your gifts are a ntural resource, like any other. We at the Soblime Corporation are good capitalisis. Ine finds a resource, and then…? Oil? You pump it up. Rainforests? You cut ‘em down’. Lobe remarks that Cyclops is the custodian of the greatest untapped natural resource on Earth. ‘We want to exploit you’ he announces. ‘Exclusively’. Scott does not look impressed as Lobe continues, declaring that he understands mutantkind are suffering from a rather nasty flu, and states ‘In our work on the mutant genome, the Sublime Corporation has discovered what we assure you is a 100% guaranteed effective cure’.
Lobe informs Scott that the Sublime Corporation is willing to provide the cure in exchange to the commercial rights to the whole mutant genome. ‘Don’t worry about sequencing or anything like that. We’ve already done the hard work. We just need a signature to make it all legal’ Lobe smirks. ‘You’re picking a fight you’ll regret’ Scott replies. ‘We didn’t build the plague’ Lobe replies. ‘You did’ Scott exclaims, but Lobe tells him that he will never prove it, and adds that it doesn’t matter, as this is an opportunity. ‘Think about it, Scott. It’ll be a tragedy for any of your people to die from this disease. You’re all so special’. Lobe assures Scott that they don’t hate him, that they love him. ‘We love you like we love the Maldives, the south of France and the sex shops of Thailand’. Lobe grins wickedly and declares ‘You’re our favourite holiday destination. We’d love to visit. Get in touch’.
With that, the transmission ends. ‘I hate it when the bad guys call me Scott’ Cyclops mutters. ‘Makes me want to shower’ he adds, before asking Danger if she has had any luck on the trace, but Danger replies that she doesn’t. ‘They’ve got a pack of tame, half-bright AIS running static. Cyclops exclaims that they need the Sublime Corporation, and asks if the X-Men duplicates have been at all useful. ‘Extract anything?’ Danger replies that she hasn’t, and that they have some bespoke technology implants, so she can’t use any of her methods. ‘and when anyone tries to threaten them, they ask for autographs’ Danger adds. Head in his hands, Scott exclaims ‘They had to have got the powers from Lobe. It’s the only thing that makes sense. And they’re demented fan boys. Who’d scare them?’
Down in the brig, “Angel” exclaims ‘OMG. This is so cool. We’re in the brig. On Utopia. We’re x-villains. I’m the new Magneto!’ But “Beast” replies ‘You’re barely the new Toad’. Suddenly, the door opens, and Wolverine a.k.a. Lobe enters. ‘I need to talk to this Lobe guy. Blood poisoning? Hallucinations? Can’t even pop my claws. It’s enough to get you down’ Logan exclaims, before boasting that he is a resourceful kind of guy, and that he gets by, as he holds up two large knives.
Back in China, EVA is half-submerged into the dirt, while Fantomex lies, thrown from his vessel. ‘Urk’ he mutters, while something has happened to Kitty Pryde - she appears to have become intangible as she cannot be seen in her suit. “Urk”? Emma asks. ‘That’s not the Gallic daredevil charm which so endeared Fantomex to the cynical masses’. Fantomex gets up and tells Emma that he has had her evil ex punch his nervous system into pieces so he is prioritizing getting his wits up to speed before his wit. Fantomex then asks ‘Where is he?’ and gets his answer straight away as Shaw rushes up to him - ‘Good day to you, sir!’ Shaw shouts as he punches Fantomex up into the air.
‘Ah, Emma. Good to see - no, don’t do that’ he begins, before rushing her and slamming her against EVA. ‘Diamond form, I think. Without your bothersome telepathy. Stay like that, if you will’ Shaw declares as he puts a hand around Emma’s throat, while raising his other hand, kinetically charged, he forms a fist and tells Emma that he doesn’t like it when she changes….