Utopia, off the Western US seaboard, at 8:00 am, a helicopter flits towards the home of mutantkind. ‘I’m going to get drinks off the story forever. Forget Gaga. Forget Kanye. Today I’m shooting the actual X-Men!’ a young photographer called Donald Evans exclaims. ‘Hated! Feared! Highly photogenic!’ Checking her mobile phone as she sits in the seat next to him, Kate Kildare, the X-Men’s public relations manager, tells the photographer to be thankful for his gift, and reminds him that this is delicate. She remarks that if Donald’s portraits were even an inch less instant-classic than they are, he would never be aboard this chopper. ‘Sadly, I need the best, and the best is you’ Kate mutters. ‘Or at least the best that’ll answer your calls, Kate?’ Donald suggests.
Donald points out that they are nearly at Utopia, and announces he is turning off his Blackberry phone. ‘Spill. What’s the enormous life-threatening secret PR problem?’ he asks Kate. ‘Erik Lehnsherr is an X-Man’ Kate announces. ‘Erik who?’ Donald replies. ‘Magneto’ Kate tells him, and a moment later, the boy’s Blackberry falls from his hand. ‘And now you understand’ Kate declares. ‘Well, crap’ Donald mutters.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco at 8:05 am. Two well-dressed men stand behind a desk in some sort of warehouse office. ‘You’re late. We were w-’ one of them begins as two men in yellow AIM outfits enter. ‘We arrive in our own good time’ one of the AIM operatives replies, before asking the men in suits if they have the money, in unordered, unmarked bills with no primitive tracing devices. ‘As requested’ one of the men replies. One of the AIM operatives calls the other “Brother Copernicus XIV” and tells him to activate the marked bill detector. The operative opens a small casket where a device is kept, and one of the men in suits exclaims ‘Wait. John, give them the other -’, but the AIM interrupt, ‘Your petty deceit is predictable and easily countered by the uber-intellect of AIM’ one of the operatives exclaims.
‘Then you’ll…’ one of the men begins, to which the AIM operative replies that they will do what thy promised, and exclaims ‘Hail AIM!’ and raises one hand into the air, while the other takes a briefcase. But soon, in an abandoned car parking lot, the two operatives approach a vehicle. “Marked bill detector” one of them remarks. ‘Idiots!’ he exclaims, before the other declares ‘Look who’s talking. Hydra does the “hail” thing, not AIM! And I almost cracked up when you dropped the “Brother Copernicus” line’ he adds. Entering the car, they remove their helmets, ‘A little style never hurt’ the other declares. ‘Now, we’ve played the blame AIM game. Let’s get the Hell out of town before it comes falling down!’ the other suggests.
Utopia, at 8:12 am, the chopper has landed, and Kate and Donald are greeted by Scott “Cyclops” Summers and Emma Frost a.k.a. the White Queen. Cyclops welcomes them to Utopia, and Emma announces ‘He’s clean’. ‘Huh?’ Donald asks. Scott replies that these are precautions, and informs Donald that there are only about 175 mutants left, and the vast majority live on the island, so they have to be careful. ‘Emma’s a telepath’ he explains. Emma assures Donald that she did a surface scan only, that she has not memorized his pin. ‘Just the first three digits’ she tells him. Kate tells Scott that she is sorry for the rush here, but that they need to do this ASAP, adding that she did say they needed to keep Magneto on the down-low. ‘And we have’ Scott replies.
But Kate tells Scott that helping with reconstruction work on a San Francisco building site is not strictly speaking “on the down-low”. Kate adds that she is not even going to mention India, that instead she is just going to roll her eyes. But Scott tells Kate that he does not recall seeing any stories. ‘Thanks a lot to yours truly’ Kate replies, while Donald takes some photos of the surrounding area. Kate explains that someone sold shaky cam-phone footage to one of the papers, but she managed to get them to kill the story, in exchange for exclusive on a better reveal. ‘Lots more access, lots more material. And a big X-Men story down the line’ Kate adds. Walking past the large meeting room, Scott asks if that was necessary.
‘Yes, it was’ Kate replies. ‘If they break it, they get to define the story. They define the story, and it’s pitchforks on a national scale’ Kate exclaims, pointing out that if the X-Men define the story and maybe they can just sell the world’s most infamous mutant terrorist sitting on an island off San Francisco as the sort of thing only crazies would get their pitchforks out over. Scott tells Kate that he understands, and informs her that he has talked Erik into sitting for her, but warns her that it will not be easy, as Magneto is old school. Cyclops opens a door and tells Donald to go straight in, as Magneto is waiting. Donald hesitates, and Kate calls back to him, ‘Professionalism, remember’ she calls back, assuring him that Magneto is not going to kill him. ‘Tell that to New York’ Donald mumbles.
City Hall, San Francisco at 8:57 am. Mayor of San Francisco Sadie Sinclair is having a conference call with someone. ‘Yes, there was a shake ten minutes back. A tiny one. You’re in California. It barely coun…you did what?’ she exclaims. Muffin in one hand, coffee in the other, Sadie looks at her watch and exclaims ‘…and we have an hour and change. No, this doesn’t go to the Avengers. This is the West Coast. We support the local community. I’ve got to get on this. Bye’. Sadie picks up her cellular and tells herself that with corporate heads like this anarcho-syndicalism just looks better and better. ‘Scott. Are you doing anything for the next hour, or do you feel like earning the unending gratitude of the Western Seaboard’s first civic center?’ Sadie exclaims.
Sadie tells Cyclops that AIM scientists have been extorting money directly from San Francisco corporations, and say that unless they pay, they will precipitate an enormous earthquake at 10:00 am today. Sadie informs Scott that the AIM demonstrated the technology with a few small quakes over the last few days, and adds that governments are reluctant to make deals, but corporations, however look at the graphs and she figured it would be prudent.
On Utopia, Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde waves goodbye to her teammates as Cyclops and the White Queen, accompanied by Wolverine a.k.a. Logan and Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin race to the Blackbird jet. Inside, Scott finishes relaying the information to his teammates, explaining that they paid, and now the AIM agents have disappeared, so it is only now that the authorities hear about it, and hand it over to the X-Men. Scott declares that they have an hour to find these lunatics and their device, before they cause enough havoc to make whatever insane point they are trying to articulate. ‘A whole hour? You interrupted my breakfast for this, Slim? Do you think we’re slowing down or something?’ Logan asks casually as the Blackbird takes flight.
‘No, I think it’s highly unlikely that I’ll “smile for the camera”!’ Magneto exclaims as he sits on a sofa as if it were a throne, while his helmet hovers at his side and a piece of metal is tossed about around him. ‘Take a break, Donald’ Kate tells the young man as he tries to photograph Magneto. Donald goes over to his bag, while Kate looks at the metal and asks ‘So…what is that?’ Magneto replies that it is a fragment of the Breakworld bullet which he destroyed, and remarks that it fascinates him. Kate reveals that she has read the file, and sits opposite Magneto, ‘So - a weapon of mass destruction that threatened everyone on the Earth stopped by the force of your will and now can be anything you want it to be? That’s an interesting idea’ Kate exclaims.
Magneto says nothing, he just stares at the bullet fragment, using his power to alter its shape. ‘Hint-hint’ Kate exclaims. Magneto smiles and tells Kate that she is clever, for a human. ‘That’s -’ Kate begins, ‘A joke!’ Magneto assures her. Kate replies that she knows, but that it is the sort of joke that they are going to have to dial back on for a while. ‘There’s ways to make this work. We just need to prepare’ she tells Magneto. ‘Very well. What do you have in mind?’ Magneto asks.
At the meeting place, 9:10 am, Logan is on the ground and calls back to the Blackbird which hovers overhead, announcing that he has a scent. ‘Try to keep up’ he exclaims.
Shortly, at the abandoned base, 9:27 am, the four X-Men enter, and Cyclops announces that it has been cleared out. ‘They’ll have left in a vehicle’ he tells Emma, who tells her lover that she is ahead of him, and using her vast psychic power, announces that she has picked an image of the vehicle from an unfortunate homeless gentleman who has been across the street all morning, and has traced it all across town via observant traffic police. Emma adds that according to a delightful old lady sitting on her porch, the vehicle is heading into a private airport across the bay.
On Utopia, in the X-Club lab at 9:31 am, Kitty communicates with Cyclops and the others, informing them that she skipped the bureaucracy and hacked straight into the airport’s systems, revealing that a private jet on the north most strip is “owned” by a fake corporation, and is cleared to take off in fifteen minutes - just in time to avoid their quake. ‘Good work, Kitty. We’re in transit’ comes the reply.
In the Blackbird, which is in transit, at 9:32 am, Scott asks Emma if there are any crew aboard the plane. ‘Not that I can sense’ Emma replies. ‘Good’ Scott declares, before contacting Namor, ‘You’ve got the coordinates, Namor. Activate’ Scott announces.
At 9:32 am, off the coast, Namor the Sub-Mariner activates.
Back on Utopia, ‘Okay, this is what I was thinking…’ Kate begins as she reaches into her bag, and pulls out some sort of electronic device, which has a mocked-up image of Magneto on it. ‘The helmet’s aggressive, but it’s so iconic it’s untouchable as far as I’m concerned. But I figured…a simple change, but obviously symbolic. Red screams blood, revolution. In the US, communism. White is traditionally the sign of peace, maturity…’ she begins, but Magneto look at the image of him in a mocked-up white costume, and exclaims ‘Surrender’. ‘Eri - Magneto. We’ve got to find a way to make you less scary’ Kate exclaims, adding that what they have on their side is that he was - is - so incendiary. ‘You scared people by what you said almost as much as what you did’ she remarks.
‘I mean, the Magneto Was Right t-shirts? Classic. You’re a revolutionary style icon. You’re Che Guevara. And you’re alive. And you’re now an X-Man. What does that mean?’ Kate asks. Magneto frowns and looks at Kate, who tells Magneto that the line she is thinking is that he has not gone back on anything he has said. ‘It’s America and the world that’s changed. We’re all mutants and humans both - making progress. Mutants aren’t as hated anymore’ she reminds him, touching his shoulder, Kate explains that by accepting him, they make themselves feel better about themselves. ‘They’re reasonable, accepting, nice people’ Kate exclaims/ Magneto gets up out of the chair and replies ‘That’s not true. I won’t say it’. Kate explains to Magneto that he doesn’t have to, as she is hired to lie for him. ‘What is wrong with them being petrified of me?’ Magneto asks, declaring that they should be afraid. ‘There’s scared and there’s scared. We’ve put it off for long enough. Let’s talk about New York’ Kate replies.
9:35 am, ‘Oh hell!’ one of the AIM operatives gasps as they drive towards their jet - which suddenly explodes before them. ‘Imperius Rex!’ Namor exclaims as he hovers over the wreckage. ‘Okay, plan B. Deep cover. Personality overwrites. We have to trust the Club to get us out of jail afterwards’ one of the men remarks, adding that he hopes the X-Men do not kill them when they find out what is really going on. ‘They may. But if we just surrender, the Club will’ the other points out. They put their AIM helmets on, ‘In science we trust!’ one of them exclaims. ‘The nanobrains will not defeat us!’ he adds.
Back on Utopia, ‘Okay, how are we going to explain this?’ Kate asks as she looks at footage of Magneto tearing up New York City. ‘It was an imposter. It wasn’t me’ Magneto replies matter-of-factly. Kate replies that she knows the whole story, but tells Magneto to listen to himself: “It wasn’t me” she quotes. ‘Even my mom didn’t fall for that one, and I practiced it a lot’ she remarks. Magneto asks how he could have done it, and declares that they know that, and should not forget it. ‘As I said, I have no problem in humans being afraid of me’ Magneto declares, before asking if it is better to be loved or feared. ‘Machiavelli knew the answer and so do I…’.
Kate replies that she knows that it is feared, because people who love you can hope for forgiveness if they betray you. ‘I’m PR. I’ve read Machiavelli, Erik. I’ve dated guys with Machiavelli tattoos. But remember the rest…it’s best to be loved and feared. That’s what I’m about’ she declares. Magneto holds up a hand and exclaims that this is not PR, that this is propaganda. ‘And it leaves a sour taste -’ he begins, but Kate interrupts, telling him that is what public relations is. Kate explains that “PR” was coined by Edward Bernays in the ‘20s, and “propaganda” had somehow picked up a bad reputation in the war, so he started calling it PR instead.
Kate goes over to Magneto and puts another hand on his shoulder, and exclaims ‘Plain brilliant rebranding: Something everyone with an ounce of sanity despises transformed into something just about palatable. Even necessary. That’s what we’ve got to do to you. We have to make this work. And if you don’t, you need to leave this island immediately’ Kate declares. Magneto grits his teeth, and Kate warns him that if he stays, everyone is dead. ‘Sooner or later, you’re going to attract something even you can’t stop’ she exclaims.
9:40 am, the battle at the airport has begun! ‘Ideas are indestructible!’ one of the AIM soldiers exclaims as they both fire weapons, but the blasts just bound off Colossus. ‘Perhaps. But men and their machines? Less so’ Piotr exclaims. ‘Precisely, Colossus’ Cyclops agrees as he unleashes a powerful optic blast at the agents. Colossus, Wolverine and Namor race toward them, ‘Your arrogance sickens me, beekeeper. Only Namor has the ability to make the Earth move!’ the Sub-Mariner boasts as he tosses his opponent about with ease. Namor adds that he reserves that privilege for one woman at a time, unless they have experimental friends. The agents are defeated and the X-Men stand over them, with Cyclops asking Emma to find out how to turn off the earthquake device, as they only have fifteen minutes.
Emma touches the head of one of the agents and announces that, surprisingly for such spoddy little men, they have telepathic shields. ‘Yes, and as brave servants of AIM, we will never talk. We will -’ he boasts, stopping mid-sentence as Wolverine unsheathes his claws. ‘The device. Turn it off’ Scott orders. ‘We…can’t the AIM operative replies. ‘Oh, you can’ Logan declares. Wide-eyed, the anxious operative declares that they can’t, as they never had an earthquake generator. ‘We had a limited prediction machine. It had divined a series of microshakes heralding a larger one. A huge one’ he explained, revealing that they just used the information to extort funding, and help their standing. ‘It doesn’t hurt to make people think you can cause earthquakes…’ he declares. Scott turns to Emma and urgently tells her to warn everyone.
On Utopia, Kate tells Magneto that this is not his style, but he needs to swallow it, as this is about mutants. ‘That’s all you care about, yeah? Let me lie for - am I the only one hearing Emma’s voice in my head?’ Kate exclaims. Magneto replies that his helmet prevents such intrusions and asks what Emma is saying. ‘A major earthquake hitting in minutes. Oh, God’ Kate exclaims. ‘I see’ Magneto remarks, before announcing that he will see what he can do. ‘Uh…earthquake. As in, the earth, quaking?’ Kate points out. ‘Surely you can’t do anything?’ she asks. Magneto heads to a window and points out that buildings have an underlying metallic structure, which he can support across the greater bay area. Magneto adds that there is enough ferrous deposits in the mantle that he thinks he can smooth the changes a little. ‘You can do that? Really?’ Kate asks as Magneto flies away from Utopia.
Over the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, 9:57 am. Magneto hovers over the bridge, several cars float around him as his power echoes out over the city in spectacular display.
Later, ‘Nice. And thank you’ Kate exclaims as Magneto soars back into the room on Utopia, where Kate and Donald are waiting for him. ‘For making your task just a little easier?’ Magneto asks. ‘I think I got my shot. I’ll go now’ Donald announces, while Kate tells Magneto that he made her job easier, and increased property values across the bay by several points. Kate informs Magneto that she just received her hundredth email requesting an interview with Magneto, and assures him that she is refusing them all, but they should work on a statement or press release. ‘Call me Erik. And do and say what you will. I trust you. Use your power, Kate. I will use mine. And I think everyone will understand…that was my press release’ Magneto announces.