The X-Diaspora, location classified. Members of the X-Men, New Mutants and residents of Utopia have gathered at the secret location, teleported in by Magik. Cyclops addresses the assemblage of mutants - the White Queen, Storm, Colossus, Magneto, Dazzler, Sunspot and Magma, Doctor Nemesis, Domino, Warpath, Danger, Boom-Boom, Psylocke and Hepzibah - announcing that they cannot wait for any more escape stragglers, they have to move. ‘And we have to be careful. It’s us versus the world now’ Cyclops adds, stating that their only advantage is that’s how it’s always been. ‘Some more than others. And fighting so-called super heroes? So many memories…’ Magneto remarks as he leans against a pillar. Cyclops tells Magneto that this is no time for jokes, and that the problem is finding Hope. ‘What about the children?’ Storm asks.
Cyclops explains that the children have been taken into custody, and although it’s not idea, they are safe. ‘And Heaven help the Avengers if they hurt them’ he adds. The White Queen touches Cyclops on his shoulder and announces that their sources have narrowed Hope’s possible location to five splendid holiday destinations. She adds that Magik will shuttle each team to a site. ‘Okay, everyone. Find Hope. Secure her’ Cyclops orders, warning them that they will most certainly encounter Avengers, and that they are to neutralize them.
Announcing the first team, Cyclops tells Magneto, Psylocke and Boom-Boom that they will be going to Wundagore. ‘OH GREAT!’ Boom-Boom exclaims excitedly. ‘Oh, great’ Psylocke mutters at having to work with Boom-Boom.
Ignoring the complaints, Cyclops tells Namor the Sub-Mariner, Sunspot and Hepzibah that they will be going to Tabula Rasa. ‘Let us leave’ Namor announces as he looks at Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta and the alien Hepzibah. Namor tells Hepzibah that her presence is appreciated, though this is not necessarily her fight. ‘Latveria…’ Cyclops begins, while Magik opens a portal to Tabula Rasa, and Hepzibah remarks ‘Oh, as if I could let you guys get stomped. My pleasure, really’, and suggests to Namor that after this is all over, they should kick back and relax for a little.
‘Would this relaxation involve nudity?’ Namor enquires. ‘It would involve nudity’ Hepzibah confirms, smiling. ‘Then this would be of interest’ Namor states as he walks towards the portal. Sunspot smiles and exclaims ‘You know, I’ve got a bit of a reputation, but you two are off the scale’. Bobby then adds ‘So putting aside you two being from crazy town…do we have a plan?’ The Sub-Mariner turns and declares that Tabula Rasa is far from unknown to them. ‘The mutants have many allies there. We should mobilize them…we will need every advantage we can get’.
At the Tabula Rasa, Montana, inside a hive which is attached to a large tree, the Savage of the Apex thinks to himself that being the sole protector of Tabula Rasa does mean responding to a sudden change in situation. ‘One second you’re trying to save a fellow Tabula-Rasa-ite. The next? Well…’ he thinks to himself, after ordering the bug to secrete more sedative to stop the lesser sentient’s squirming when he heard the impact. He wondered for a second if it was his unwife putting some manner of scheme into action, but then the chemosynthites changed texture. Whatever it was came from outside the dome, carrying the heady scent of micro-pollutants with them. He could have explained that if the patient had moved then the wounds he’d received from the predators would re-open and he’d die - but the Savage couldn’t be sure he would actually listen to him. ‘He’s not particularly smart’ he tells himself. He then leaps out of the hive window, he has to rush, wondering if perhaps these would be new non-Apex friends.
‘Or perhaps it would be otherwise’ the Savagerealizes, while down below amongst the colorful landscape, an Avengers Quinjet has landed, and She-Hulk, the Thing and Luke Cage begin to scout the area. ‘You’ve got the explorer thing nailed down, Luke. Arrive at the weird place? Check. Crash transport, check…’ the Thing calls out. Luke tells the Thing to leave it, and remarks that New York has its problems but that you don’t have to worry about bats flying into your engines. The Savage smells them, their scents marking them as significantly different from precious non-Apex friends - he can taste their genetic differences in the air.
‘Bats made of funky goo. Ugh’ Luke mutters as he looks at the remains of a creature stuck in the engine jets, adding that he is getting diaper duty flashbacks. ‘It’s not all that bad. I mean, look around…’ She-Hulk remarks.
The Savage decides that the interlopers are here for a reason, and hopes with further observation he can ascertain what that is.
‘This place is crazy. Look at the pretty…’ She-Hulk begins as she approaches what appears to be some flowers - only for creatures to rise from the dirt, shrieking, they flee. ‘Wow. Something has turned the local wildlife off people. Or they’ve got some serious big green lady hate’ She-Hulk mutters. ‘Don’t beat yourself up, She-Hulk. Maybe they just hate bricks’ the Thing suggests as he walks behind the She-Hulk, who thanks him, before bringing up the reason they are here: ‘Okay, the mutant girl…’ she begins. Luke remarks that the signal seems to be centralized, and motions to a cave. ‘So she’s hiding in the scary cave?’ She-Hulk asks. As the trio enter the cave, Thing declares that this is a mistake.
The Savage remains fascinated, and wonders who these people are, as they appear to be sentient, or at least as sentient as his non-Apex friends. He notes that they are similar in many ways, including appearing to be incapable of ascertaining when they were stepping into incredible danger. ‘I have no idea how this form of sentience managed to evolve. It seems to be highly self-destructive’ he thinks to himself.
Elsewhere in Tabula Rasa, Sunspot and Hepzibah wait beside a river. ‘I hope Namor gets back soon. This place is creepy’ Sunspot remarks, while Hepzibah tells him to shush, when suddenly, Namor, and a strange sea creature rise. Namor introduces the creature as “his friend the queen” and explains that she has promised her people’s assistance. ‘They will scour the land. If Hope is here, they will find her’ he declares. ‘“Friend”. Riiiight’ Hepzibah replies, suspicious. ‘Wait, do you mean -’ Sunspot begins, looking sideways at the strange creature. ‘Namor does not speak of his conquests’ the Sub-Mariner states. ‘That’s good to know’ Hepzibah smiles, while Namor adds that he perfectly understands that others often wish to spread word of his prowess.
‘I’m telling ya. Forget what the fancy technology is saying. Speaking as a veteran of following crazy gizmos around - this ain’t Hope Summers!’ the Thing exclaims as a large worm-like creature with huge teeth and slobbering mouth emerges from the tunnel. The Thing is on the creature’s back, but he is tossed aside with ease. ‘I’m not saying it is!’ the She-Hulk exclaims. ‘Really? I was thinking maybe her cosmic powers let her transform into a centipede. Or maybe it ate her’ the Thing mutters, before Luke Cage tells him to stop grousing and he and the Thing grab the tail end of the creature. ’It’s not yabbering time’ Luke remarks, as they slam the creature against the ground, tearing it apart - only a number of smaller creatures emerge from it.
’Oh, great’ the Thing mutters, while the Savage continues to watch them, deciding that releasing the larvae was a poor move, it did show that the interlopers are as physically formidable as his non-Apex friends. The Savage is especially pleased to see that the interlopers appear to be bleeding, as that means whatever happens, he can collect samples later. But he is confused still as to what is going on.
‘I’ll tell you what…this is the way to travel’ Sunspot remarks as he, Hepzibah and the Sub-Mariner stand on a platform that carries the queen. Namor thanks the queen for her assistance, and suggests that her people continue on without them, for it appears they have a small matter to deal with up ahead. Thing and Luke Cage are tearing the larvae apart, stomping on them, while Sunspot and Namor fly toward them. Hepzibah grins at the queen and asks ‘So, what’s he like? You can tell me. Just girl talk’. The queen replies something in her native tongue, to which Hepzibah exclaims ‘Ooooh, yeah’. As he flies towards the Avengers, Namor remarks that he feels he is being talked about. ‘This is only correct’ he decides.
Still observing the situation, the Savage becomes excited as he sees the Sub-Mariner dive down through the air towards Luke Cage. Cage radios Captain America, announcing that they are drawing a blank here so far - but he doesn’t finish his sentence, as the Sub-Mariner strikes him, smashing him into the ground. ‘At Utopia, you surprised me. How do you like it?’ Namor declares as he then picks Luke up and tosses him so far away that he lands in the river. The Savage is pleased to see his old non-Apex friends - it is a joy for him to see a known quantity interact with an unknown, he knows the data would be priceless, watching something of profound importance.
‘Hey! Jerk of Atlantis! You quit with your little wing thing and come down here right -’ She-Hulk calls out to her former teammate, but the Thing tells her to leave him, as they have problems of their own. ‘You sure do!” Hepzibah declares as she leaps past them, firing weapons. ‘Hm’ the Thing mutters, while Sunspot flies towards him from behind. ‘Fool us once…’ the Thing smiles, as he spins around and smacks Sunspot backwards. Bobby bounces along the ground. ‘…shame on you’ the Thing declares as he rubs his fist.
Namor has followed Luke down into the river, and Namor remarks that underwater Luke can’t breathe or speak, and that he is weakening. Luke responds with a punch, sending Namor reeling backwards. ‘Yet still you fight. You are an admirable man, Luke Cage’ Namor replies as he rubs his bleeding lip, before lunging back towards Luke and shouting ‘IMPERIUS REX!’ There is then a massive spout of water that emerges from the river.
‘At last. I thought she was never going to go down’ She-Hulk mutters as she stands over the motionless body of Hepzibah. ‘Yeah, that’s a thing with the X-Men. We keep on - uh-oh’ Sunspot begins as he approaches She-Hulk, before the Thing slams a tree trunk down on Bobby. ‘And that’s how you sneak up on someone!’ he boasts, before asking ‘Where’s Fishpaste?’, referring to Namor, of course. ‘A man with steel hard skin? A excellent bludgeon!’ Namor declares as he appears, and swings Luke’s body into She-Hulk. ‘And now. I believe we have business to finish’ Namor tells the Thing. ‘Isn’t that right, “Avenger”?’ Namor asks. ‘Guess we do, “X-Man”!’ the Thing responds. ‘Touché’ Namor tells him. ‘Whatever’ the Thing mutters.
The Savage searches for meaning in the battle, looking for it as intensely as he was able. Namor flies towards the Thing, who readies his fists. There is a shockwave as the powerful men clash, and the Savage does what he can to stay conscious through it. ‘Such power. Such passion. What could explain this?’ he wonders. ‘You know the only good thing about this whole mess?’ the Thing enquires. ‘I get to do this’ he exclaims as he punches Namor in the face. ‘As long as this damn thing lasts’ he adds as he punches Namor again. ‘For once, Grimm - we agree’ Namor replies as he lunges at the Thing, knocking him backwards.
Finally, the moment of insight comes to theSavage and he understands everything. ‘What would bring species to a strange isolated locale like this? What would cause such displays, with a passion and violence that stunned my civilized taste? There was only one explanation’ he tells himself. The Savage suddenly drops down before the battling brutes, ‘Who the -’ Thing exclaims, while Namor tells the Savage to be gone, as it is not safe here. The Savage replies that he will retreat to a safe distance, but that he has to be able to watch, he must. ‘Our superior Apex science requires it. I would not miss the climax’ he explains. ‘What’s the bug-headed freak going on about?’ the Thing asks. Namor tells the Savage to speak clearly, pointing out that he is confusing the Thing.
‘After this display, you copulate, yes?’ the Savage enquires. Thing goes wide-eyed, while Namor looks sideways at him. ‘I must record this. It would advance Apex science. We’ve never seen a mating of your species’ the Savage announces.
Suddenly, Magik’s portal opens, and Magik appears, announcing that they have found Hope. ‘You’re needed, immediately’ she tells Namor, who smiles and informs the young mutant that her arrival is most timely. They then vanish. ‘What ya staring at, fella?’ the Thing enquires. The Savage asks him if he is going to try and mate with anything else. ‘I’ll follow you if you do, but if you’re going to just stand around and pine, I have other research that needs my attention’ the Savage tells him.
An instant later, at an abandoned Hellfire Club safe house, Magik teleports herself and the Sub-Mariner in. Colossus, the White Queen and Cyclops are waiting, and Cyclops announces that the goose chase is over, for Hope split her signal, but now they know her real destination. ‘The girl shows wisdom’ Namor remarks, before asking where she is. ‘The moon’ Scott reveals. ‘The Phoenix. The moon. Familiar…’ Colossus remarks. Magik opens a portal, and as the five X-Men enter, Cyclops replies that he knows, and that it scares him. ‘I don’t like the echoes, either. But you know what? It’s a second chance’ he states. And as the Phoenix Force hovers over the moon, Cyclops declares ‘This time we write a happy ending’.