We're together again. Now we need a reason why.
'Thank God you're here... I'm so bored, Logan. Want to play me?' Alex Summers a.k.a. Havok asks Logan a.k.a. who enters Harry's Hideway to find Alex about to shoot a pool ball across the pool table. Alex then asks how come Logan is allowed to go in and out the front door. 'Because I don't look like an alien, and I'm not a known fugitive, Alex' Logan explains as he looks at Xi'an Coy Manh a.k.a. Karma and Danielle Moonstar, who are both currently infected with the Transmode Virus, giving them an alien appearance. 'That the perk of everyone thinking you're dead?' Alex asks. 'One of 'em' Logan remarks, while Illyana Rasputin a.k.a. Magik and Rahne Sinclair a.k.a. Wolfsbane sit at a table nearby, drink in hand. Alex turns away from the pool table and tells Logan that he knows things are rough right now, but that the X-Men living in the back of a bar is pretty embarrassing. Logan explains that Harry is an old friend, and that he told him they were in a tight spot, and he was willing to put himself at great personal risk by letting them use this space and stay upstairs. Logan adds that the world would be a better place with more folks like Harry. 'And yeah, it's pretty embarrassing' Logan admits.
Logan turns to Wolfsbane and asks her if there has been any sign of that eyeball kid they rescued, but Rahne reports that the girl just up and ran after they got her out of the O*N*E facility. Rahne adds that she isn't sure how O*N*E caught her in the first place, as she couldn't find any trace of her. 'Dammit. Not a good time for someone that looks like her to be out there' Logan points out, before going over to a fridge and getting himself a bottle of beer, asking about their fearless leader. One of the others reports that he is still upstairs, and that they think he is trying to figure out what the hell they are supposed to do now. 'He's probably gonna be a while' they add, when suddenly, No, I'm not' Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops announces as he enters the area where the others are, carrying a pad of paper. Wolverine drinks his beer, while Wolfsbane asks Cyclops what they are doing. 'We're the X-Men. We will do what we always do. Nothing has changed' Cyclops replies.
Alex tells his brother that he hates to disagree, but points out that a lot has changed – the X-Men are gone and are not coming back. 'Ye don't know that' Wolfsbane interjects. 'Yes, I do' Alex declares, reminding the others that after what Nate and Legion did, the world wishes all mutants went with them – not to mention this “anti-mutant vaccine” means that there aren't going to be future generations of mutants for the X-Men to protect and fight for. 'Which is fine, because the school is gone, too' Alex reminds the others. 'You done?' Cyclops asks. 'All our friends are dead. Everyone hates. No future... yeah, I think that's it' Alex replies, holding up three fingers and smiling.
The others gather around the pool table as Cyclops puts his pad down amongst the pool balls. 'What is this document?' Karma asks, noticing a list of names. 'It's the worst guest list I've ever seen' Havok declares as he reads the list to himself: Dark Beast, Mister Sinister, Cassandra Nova, Magneto, Apocalypse, the Shadow King, Omega Red, Legion, Vulcan, Nanny & Orphan Maker, Mortis, Proteus, the Marauders, the Externals, Children of the Vault, the Acolytes, Mutant Force, the Neyaphem, the Nasty Boys, Clan Akkaba, Gene Nation, the Mutant Liberation Front, the new Brotherhood, the Upstarts, Factor Three, the Neo, the Savage Land, the Morlocks, Krakoa, the New Mutants – and at the bottom of the list FIND THE X-MEN scrawled largely across the page.
'It's a suicide pact' Magik tells the others. 'It's a kill list' Wolverine explains. But Cyclops tells him that it isn't, and that they aren't solving things that way anymore. 'It's the best way to make sure they stay solved' Logan points out. Scott turns to Logan and tells him that they get it, that it looks like the solution to every problem is stabbing people for the guy with knives in his hands. 'And it looks like it isn't for the guy looking at the world through rose-colored glasses' Logan replies. 'You've been waiting to use that one for a while, haven't you?' Scott smiles. '... maybe' Logan admits.
Magik steps between them, 'Okay. It's not a kill list. So what now?' she asks. Scott reports that it is a list of their biggest problems – X-Men problems. He tells the others that if they have no future, as his brother so gently put it, then this is what they leave behind – they make this a better place for everyone, better than anyone ever made it for them. 'We're going to show the world what the X-Men meant' Scott explains. 'So... I was right. It is a suicide pact' Magik mutters.
Scott tells Magik that he wouldn't call it that, but he doesn't want to lie to them – these are some of their most dangerous foes, and their most difficult problems. 'And it's just us out here, it seems. So if anyone wants out now, I understand. No judgment. But if these are the last days of the X-Men, I'm going to set things right. Or die trying' Scott tells the others, before asking if any of them are with him.
'I'm in' Magik responds first. 'Me too' Wolfsbane agrees. 'Of course' Alex announces, before both Dani and Karma state 'Yes'. Everyone then looks to Logan, 'What?' he asks wide-eyed. 'I'm still a damn X-Man, aren't I?' Logan asks, to which Alex tells everyone that this is great and all, but they have no money, no base, no plane, they don't even have uniforms. Logan then reveals that he went to see what he could salvage from the tunnels under the school before anyone realized they were there and started to dig them up. 'I took what I could' Logan announces, as he opens a duffel bag. 'What year do you think it is?' Alex asks with surprise, looking in the bag.
A warehouse in Long Island City sits in darkness, which light up slightly when a blue stepping disk cuts through the dark and the X-Men emerge. 'Looks abandoned' Cyclops, wearing his 1990s blue and gold costume, reports. He adds that Wolverine said this was definitely a working lab, and asks Magik if she is sure she brought them to the right place. 'Yes. Is he?' Magik, wearing the standard gold and black X-Men costume with eldritch armor across her shoulders, replies, while Wolverine sniffs the air, and reports that there is something out there. 'Somebody get us some light' Wolverine asks, before Magik holds her Soulsword up above her head, and a glow emanates from it. 'Incoming, X-Men! Look sharp!' someone calls out as dozens of strange cyborg creatures rush towards them. Wolverine, who wears his old brown costume, lunges towards one of them, shoving his claws through the creature's head, while Cyclops fires an optic blast into their midst, and Dani, wearing the standard black and gold costume, readies a psionic arrow, as Havok, who wears a more modern black costume with blue lines across his chest, leading to a large blue circle, and also clunky boots and gloves, blasts some of the cyborgs with his plasma powers.
'Question: What are these?' Karma, who also wears the old black and gold costume, asks as she knocks one of the creatures aside. 'Practice' Wolverine tells her as he slices through another. Magik kicks one of the creatures in the face, while Havok fires another surge of energy at one of them, who suddenly screams. Magik stops and turns to Havok, asking him if her opponent just screamed. 'Yeah... I...;' Havok starts to reply as the X-Men start to gather around the strange cyborg-like being, and Wolfsbane suddenly realizes that it is Jamie Madrox. 'Oh, c'mon! No!' Havok exclaims. 'What did you do?' a voice in the shadows calls out, and the X-Men turn to see Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man push his way past them, to the cyborg creature, 'Lemme through!' he exclaims, while Magik raises her sword to him, Cyclops tells her to take it easy, as that is the real Madrox. Cyclops stands over Madrox and asks him to tell them what is going on here.
Holding the cyborg dupe in his arms, Madrox reveals that Dark Beast captured some of his dupes and has been experimenting on them, doing experiments on him – same as everyone these days. Cyclops asks where the Dark Beast went, to which Madrox reports that he doesn't know, that he tracked him here, same as they did. 'This was my last lead. Everything else has been coming up dead ends' Madrox explains. 'What about him?' Wolfsbane asks, referring to the dupe. 'You got a psychic? Because he can't seem to speak... and he doesn't have much time left' Madrox points out. 'But you have other ways of getting information out of him, don't you?' Cyclops asks. Madrox looks down at his dupe and replies that he is going to die, that he can't save him – even if he reabsorbs him, it won't save him now.
Cyclops continues to pressure Madrox, telling him that the dupe may know something that could help them. 'He'll die inside of me. You have no idea what that feels like' Madrox utters. 'I don't' Cyclops acknowledges, before turning to leave along with Wolverine, Havok, Magik, Moonstar, Karma and Wolfsbane as Madrox asks them to give him some privacy. A moment later, there is a horrid sound as Madrox resorbs his dupe. Tears in his eyes, he walks over to the X-Men. 'Jamie, I'm sorry you -' Cyclops begins, before Madrox reveals that he knows where the Dark Beast is. 'Let's just go' he tells the others.
Elsewhere, a large truck moves through the night down a road nestled between a thick forest. Inside, some sort of cyborg drives the truck, while Dark Beast sits in the passenger seat, looking at a sandwich, 'I swear on everything I hold dear... if they put pickles on this sandwich, we're going to gturn around, and I will slowly skin every mouth-breathing, minimum-wage-earning Troglodyte in the building'. An instant later, a huge, powerful optic blast tears down the road, straight into the truck, splitting it open. The X-Men move towards the truck, 'Not sure you're not trying to kill him?' Magik asks Cyclops, who tells the first squad to move in, that they don't leave here without the Dark Beast. Robots emerge from the back of the truck, and Wolverine exclaims 'These ones aren't alive. Put them down fast'.
The X-Men engage the robots in battle, with Wolverine slicing his way through them, Cyclops firing optic blasts at them and Madrox bashing them with a baseball bat. 'Self finds your definition of “alive” myopic' Moonstar remarks as she creates a psionic arrow. Suddenly, there is a powerful surge of green energy and Wolverine and Moonstar are knocked backwards through the air, thanks to the Dark Beast, who emerges from the wreckage, and with some sort of energy weapon strapped to his wrist, he greets his fellow mutants and tells them that it has been a long time. Cyclops and Havok both open fire at the Dark Beast, but he uses a piece of the wreckage as a shield, so their energy blasts rebound away. Dark Beast announces that he was under the impression Cyclops had died. 'Although maybe you heard that I died as well. We'll have to compare notes' Dark Beast suggests, adding that his death was sadly short-lived, and thata friend of the room, Mister Sinister, saw fit to save his head and put it on this brand new body, so he is back to his old self – but with some improvements. Long tentacle-like cables suddenly energy and latch onto Madrox and Wolfsbane, before the Dark Beast moves clear of the rubble – revealing the large insect-like cyborg legs that he is now connected to.
The X-Men surround Dark Beast, and Cyclops tells his team that if they can get a shot, to take it – but not do damage his head. He opens fire, but his optic blast rebounds off off one of the Dark Beast's insect-like legs. Havok attempts an attack from the other side of the Dark Beast, firing his plasma blasts towards their foe. The Dark Beast declares that they have all spent their lives obsessing over genetic evolution, the whole world has, but when Sinister brought him back, he realized they are blind to the truth. The Dark Beast claims that technological evolution is their future, that their genes are elusive, hard to predict, hard to control, but technology can evolve them just as well – even better. Wolverine then leaps up onto the Dark Beast's back, roaring as he starts slicing away at the large tentacles connected to the Dark Beast. The Dark Beast points out that he is still a mutant, he would even say he is now more mutant than ever – but he controls his own evolution. 'Behold!' he exclaims as he releases a surge of energy that shocks Wolverine.
The Dark Beast narrows his eyes and tells Cyclops that he would love to show him the way he could bring the X-Men back to their glory, adding that some of Madrox's creations already volunteered. 'Well, not exactly volunteered' he admits, while Cyclops and Havok increase their energy assault against the Dark Beast.
Karma reports that the Dark Beast has psi-shields up, 'We aren't getting through his physical ones either' Havok points out. Noting that four of their team are down, Cyclops instructs Magik to prepare to teleport them out. 'No. I can get him' Magik responds from her position behind the Dark Beast. She runs towards him, her Soulsword poised and ready to strike. 'A pathetic attempt' the Dark Beast snarls as he turns and sees Magik, whoe then closes her eyes and the Soulsword disappears. 'Where did it just -' the Dark Beast asks, before the Soulsword rematerializes – right through his back and out his chest.
The Dark Beast screams, then drops motionless to the ground. 'Treacherous witch! I'm going to play around in your guts before -' the Dark Beast utters, before falling silent as Magik pulls the sword out of his back. Madrox approaches Magik and asks if he can see her sword. She gives it to him, and Madrox holds it up, over Dark Beast's body. 'This is for what you did to me -' he begins, ready to plunge the sword into Dark Beast again, until Cyclops holds him back. 'He tortured me' Madrox exclaims. 'And we have to be better than him' Cyclops reminds Madrox. 'I wasn't going to torture him...I was just gonna kill him' Madrox replies. Dark Beast looks up and tells Madrox that he can't kill him – because Scott needs him, he needs his big brain. 'I'm too valuable' the Dark Beast boasts. 'Wanna test that theory?' Wolverine asks as he pops his claws next to the surprised Dark Beast's head. 'N-no...' Dark Beast utters, nervously, so Logan suggests he listen to Scotty.
Later: 'Scott?' a voice calls out in the room where Scott is sleeping in a single bed. Scott looks up to see Alex standing in the doorway. Alex apologizes and tells his brother that he didn't mean to wake him. Scott tells him that it is okay, and asks what is wrong. 'Nothing...I'll come back later' Alex replies. Scott tells Alex to hang on while he grabs his glasses, and puts them on, before asking if everything is okay with Dark Beast. Alex tells him that the Dark Beast is chained up in the basement, and Dani and Shan are watching him. He supposes that they don't need to sleep anymore since whatever happened to them. Cyclops drinks some water and Alex informs him that he wanted to talk to him about Dark Beast. 'This isn't like old times. We can't be taking prisoners anymore'. But Scott tells Alex that they can't just let the Dark Beast go, as he is a very dangerous man, a fugitive. 'So are we' Alex reminds Scott.
Scott puts on a shirt as Alex tells him that the mission today, out in the open, if the world knew they were out here...his voice trails off to which Scott reminds Alex that there are still mutants out there, and maybe theyu should know he X-Men are here – maybe that would give them some hope. 'Or maybe everyone would start killing them faster to make sure things don't go back to the way they were' Alex suggests. 'What does that mean?' Cyclops asks. 'The way you were. What you made the X-Men. At the end. We can't go back to that I won't let you' Alex warns his brother. Cyclops doesn't get a chance to respond as Rahne enters his room, apologizing for interrupting, but she has something they might want to see.
Cyclops and Havok join Wolverine, Magik and Madrox at the bar, where they watch a reporter on a television stating that following the reappearance of Scott Summers last week, new evidence has emerged pointing to the fetgurn of the radical mutant group called the X-Men. The reporter announces that security cameras caught them attacking the Middle River Health Clinic in Danbury tonight. 'Well, $#%&' Havok mutters. An blurry image appears on the television of Forearm breaking into the clinic, as the reporter informs the audience that this is the fifth attack in as many days on facilities that are handling the now-mandatory VAXX injections, more commonly referred to as the “anti-mutant vaccine”. 'Those aren't X-Men! That's the Mutant Liberation Front! They can't even tell us apart anymore?!' Magik exclaims. Wolverine reminds her that the MLF was on their list, and decides that it looks like they have jumped up a few places. Suddenly, he asks someone to pause the TV, as he notices someone on the screen. 'Well, brother, you said the world needed Hope – there she is' Cyclops tells Havok. 'And Banshee' Havok utters, as they see Hope and Banshee alongside Forearm breaking into the clinic....