The Hellfire Club, London Branch.
People are dressed in elaborate costumes, they laugh and smile as they enjoy the evening. Fantomex enters and after taking a glass of wine, he pulls his mask up above his mouth to drink it.
'Well... I wouldn't say you completely out of place... but you definitely seem more interesting than the rest of this crowd... these desperate dilettantes, so eager to rage against their own banality' a red-haired woman in a purple dress remarks. Fantomex turns to her. 'My apologies, Mademoiselle. I don't believe I caught your name'. 'Dance. As in, you should ask me to' the woman smiles. 'But of course. Where are my manners?' Fantomex replies as he takes her gloved hand.
They dance close together, and Fantomex asks her if they should continue to make small talk. 'Should we pretend we don't know one another?' 'You're no fun' the red-haired woman pouts. 'I hate to impugn your femme fatale shtick... but neither are you' Fantomex tells her. They dance across the floor, and as the woman is dipped, she throws off her mask, and her skin suddenly changes to blue. She is Raven Darkholme a.k.a. Mystique.
'Don't tell me you're still sore with me, Fantomex' Mystique asks. 'People in our line of work have to let bygones be bygones. Water under the bridge and all that'. Fantomex narrows his eyes and points out that that water is murky at best. 'And I'd hardly be satisfied... unless you were floating in it face down'. Mystique puts her fingers to her mouth, 'Poor thing. That pride of yours just can't seem to scab over, can it?' she remarks. Fantomex tells Mystique that he would love to continue this little tete-a-tete, but he has business with the Inner Circle. He has discovered something new in regards to their friends at Someday Corporation. He explains to Mystique that the mutants under their “protection” have become little more than lab rats – experimented upon, augmented with technology that he knows all too well.
Mystique starts to walk away from Fantomex and informs him that the Council doesn't have time for him right now, but they would like the two of them to work together to deal with Someday, to send them a message. 'Like it or not, I'm the best you're going to get. In more ways than one'. Fantomex hangs his head, closes his eyes and sighs. 'This is going to be simply lovely' he mumbles.
Under the darkened sky over Genosha, in amongst the ruins of the once heavily populated nation stand two lone figures. Max Eisenhardt a.k.a. Erik Lehnsherr a.k.a. Magneto, and the recently rescued Christopher “Triage” Muse, who asks: 'So, Magneto... you're sending your team after these Dark Riders'. Magneto replies that he is. 'And these Dark Riders are tough customers' Triage remarks. 'That is a matter of perspective' Magneto responds. Triage points out that they are Inhumans, at least some of them, chosen by Apocalypse to cull the weak from the Earth. 'Yes' Magneto confirms. 'Then I'll consider them to be tough' Triage announces. 'Suit yourself' Magneto tells him. A concerned look on his face, Triage explains to Magneto that what he is saying is that there is a good chance some of his crew is going to get jacked up. 'Yes' Magneto acknowledges. 'You remember I'm a healer, right?' Triage asks, adding that he has his uses in a fight, however Magneto kept him of the field, stranded here in Genosha with him. '... in this... graveyard' Triage declares, examining his surroundings. 'Yes' Magneto confirms.
'Okay... so... why?' Triage asks. Magneto points out that the Dark Riders view the current state of the world – the Terrigen Mists that are killing their people – as a kind of weaponized natural selection, and now the Dark Riders are targeting mutant healers in some bid to speed up their race on its way to extinction. 'Taking you on a mission that brings us into direct conflict with our enemies...' Magneto begins. 'Would be like serving me up on a silver platter' Triage completes the thought. Magneto pauses, before repeating himself with 'Yes'. 'But you must realize... you can't protect us all' Triage points out.
Tibet, a lone temple in the side of snow-covered mountain, where Shen Xorn sits in a meditative state. A figure can be seen standing behind a pillar, and Xorn calls out 'Please. I know you are there. There is no need to hide'. A large weapon, connected to the arm of the Dark Rider called Barrage is placed at the back of Xorn's head. 'Who's hiding?' Barrage asks. 'The coming storm has no need to skulk. Ill winds are blowing, mutant... and your kind will be cleansed from the Earth' Barrage declares. 'What do you say to that?' Barrage asks, leaning in close to Xorns's helmet-covered head. 'Would you care for a cup of tea?' Xorn asks him. A pot of tea and some tea cups float around in the room, as Harddrive and Deadbolt move into view. 'He's unhinged, Barrage. Just like we thought. Been in exile too long. He's lost touch with reality' Deadbolt declares. Barrage looks over at his teammate and remarks 'What you're saying, Deadbolt, is that we're putting this place of garbage out of his brain-addled misery'.
Seemingly unfazed, Xorn remarks that it is strange. 'You talk about the death of the mutant race... but you have mutants among you'. Deadbolt tells Xorn that mutant or not, he honors the code, only the strong survive – it is the natural order. Xorn states that mutation is part of the natural order, change, the foundation of mutation, is natural. 'You might exterminate every mutant healer on Earth. But what if the last mutant healer hasn't been born? What if a secondary mutation occurs within the existing population?' Xorn asks. He admits that “if” is a small word, but frightening to those who deal in absolutes. 'And it makes mutantkind an enemy you can never -' he begins, when suddenly, Barrage fires his weapon, 'Sorry, friend. We're on a tight schedule here. And you've had more than your fair share of last words'.
However, there is a flare of energy from Xorn, and Barrage is sent careening backwards as energy radiates around him. 'Get us out of here, Harddrive! Teleport us -' Deadbolt calls out in a state of panic. Harddrive grabs Deadbolt, as Xorn turns to them, and energy pours from his eyes at them, but they vanish, teleported away. 'Hmm. They should have accepted the tea' Xorn smiles.
Egypt, where the Dark Riders have their hideout. Harddrive and Deadbolt materialize, and Gauntlet, Hurricane, Psynapse, Tusk and Spyne gather around them. 'Everyone! All of you! Gather up! We're going back! He can't get away with that! We're going to murder that bastard for what he did!' Deadbolt exclaims.
'What the hell happened?' Gauntlet asks. Harddrive reports that Shen Xorn was more formidable than they expected. 'His powers are not as diminished as we believed' he states, adding that Barrage did not survive. 'This isn't right! We're strong! Barrage was strong! He wasn't meant to fall... not to some pacifist monk!' Deadbolt exclaims in hysterics. 'Somebody shut him up before I put a bullet in his head' Gauntlet orders. Psynapse tells him that there is no need for that, and places a hand on Deadbolt's head while announcing that he is erasing Deadbolt's fear, his doubt, replacing it with the true gospel'. Psynapse explains that Deadbolt can still strong, still be of use to them. Flanked by Spyne and Tusk, Gauntlet replies 'Good... because evolution's ringing the dinner bell'.
At that moment, the X-Men's Blackbird streaks through sky above a desert, towards a pyramid. Inside, Monet St Croix asks Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock if she is sure this is the place, because scanners are not even picking up any entrances. 'It's sealed up tight' Monet remarks. Victor “Sabretooth” Creed stands behind his two powerful teammates as Betsy informs them that when she scanned the minds of the Dark Riders, this is the place she saw. 'They're here' Betsy declares. 'Well... let's dig them out' Creed suggests.
In the back of the jet, Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Archangel stands in some sort of holding station, when Betsy contacts him telepathically and instructs him to knock on the door. Archangel streaks out of the Blackbird, immediately down towards the pyramid – entering one side of it, and bursting out the other! 'Now I'm detecting an entrance' Monet smiles. Psylocke engages autopilot and pulls out her sword, 'Let's show these buggers who they're dealing with' she declares as the three of them prepare to leave the Blackbird. 'Jumping out of planes without a parachute... always shows your enemies how buck wild you are!' Creed declares as he follows Psylocke out the hatch, the two of them dropping to the pyramid below as Monet flies behind them, and Archangel joins them in the air.
At the entrance that Archangel created, Sabretooth enters first, and Psylocke instructs Archangel to hang back .'If anyone tries to escape... cut them down' she tells him, as the silent Archangel hovers above the pyramid. Sabretooth leads the way through the dark tunnels within the pyramid, and informs Monet and Betsy that the Dark Riders are squatting here, he can smell them, adding that the whole place reeks of something older, though. 'Apocalypse' Monet remarks. But Betsy reminds her teammates that the Dark Riders don't serve him anymore. 'Just the same... there's a reason you wanted the Angel to stay outside. You don't want him anywhere near this stench...in case is triggers the killer inside' Creed tells Betsy, who turns to him and asks 'That's something you would know quite a bit about, isn't it, Creed?' before declaring that if that happens, she promises to kill Archangel. 'Just like I'll put you down. But I'll only enjoy one of those scenarios' Betsy adds. Sabretooth tells Betsy not to worry. 'I go feral, there's no shortage of volunteers to kill me... not among this crew... but I'll give you the first -' Sabretooth begins, but as he rounds a corner, an explosion sends him flying backwards.
Monet and Betsy rush over to Creed, as a voice calls out 'Sorry for the rude welcome, but this is a holy place. We don't take kindly to infidels at our door!' Gauntlet holds his weapon towards the X-Men, as Tusk, Psynapse and Harddrive stand behind him. 'Come on in, though. Let's get this over with. And we'll say our “amens” over your carcasses' Monet rushes over to Gauntlet, 'You're the one who killed Elixir! I'm going to make you pay for that! I'm going to make you suffer!' she warns him, dodging his weapon as he fires it.
Psylocke's sword clashes against Deadbolt's, and she warns Monet to be careful. 'Don't let your anger get the best of you' she adds, while Sabretooth roars as Tusk's underlings lunge at him, and Spyne lashes out, his jagged-tooth mouth reaching for Sabretooth's face. Suddenly, Tusk slams his fist into Monet, knocking her backwards. But Monet is quick to recover: 'You want to cut in, big guy? Suits me. I don't care who falls first. I'm tired of mutants dying. I'm tired of my friends getting killed... by people like you!' Monet shouts as she flies over and slams her own powerful fist into Tusk's face. But then, Monet falls victim to a psychic assault from Psynapse. 'All that pain... all that rage... how does it feel... amplified a thousand times over in that pretty little skull of yours?' the Dark Rider asks.
'You want to play mental games with someone, Psynapse... why don't you play with me?' Betsy asks as she kicks Deadbolt backwards, while striking Psynapse with a telepathic surge. Wind whirls around the Dark Rider called Hurricane as Sabretooth moves towards him. 'You. You're a mutant. But you threw in with the Dark Riders against your own kind. Believe me... I know how much you must hate yourself to do something like that' Sabretooth tells him, while Harddrive looks at a monitor, and sees Archangel hovering outside. Gauntlet tells Harddrive to keep his head in the game, and remarks that the healer and Magneto are not here. 'No. But I have eyes on them' Harddrive replies, and an instant later, the Dark Riders teleport away.
'They teleported out' Monet remarks as she, Sabretooth and Psylocke regroup. 'I think this fight was pointless for them. We aren't their targets' Psylocke points out, when suddenly, 'The door!' Monet cries out as sand and rubble collapse over the entrance way. 'They're sealing us in!' Sabretooth exclaims, as the door is blocked with a THOOOM. 'They lured us in...trapped us here' Sabretooth remarks. 'They can't possibly believe this will hold us. Not for long, anyway' Monet tells the others as she readies her fists. Betsy tells her teammates that the Dark Riders are not trying to imprison them, they just want to slow them down while they go after Magneto. 'Erik...please tell me you've left a psychic channel open... because they're coming for you!' Betsy calls out telepathically. 'The Dark Riders are coming for you!' Betsy urgently tells Magneto again.
'Yes' Magneto replies as he and Triage look up .'I know' he announces, as the Dark Riders materializes on Genosha!