Arlington Museum of Science
Nighttime, X-Factor takes position outside the museum. Iceman for some reason is hanging out up in a tree. He spots an armed security guard patrolling the grounds. The team starts to question why a museum would have an armed guard.
Marvel Girl and Caliban discuss how to take out the guard. Jean wants to do it without hurting him, but Caliban doesn’t think it’s a big deal since he’s a member of the Right. Cyclops ends the debate, saying that it’s not their style to hurt humans.
Then Cyke orders Iceman to toss a giant ice ball at the security fence. The guard hears the crash and turns his head. Cyclops nails him with a thin and well-aimed optic blast to the temple. The guard goes down, losing his hat in the process.
Cyclops tells Marvel Girl to transport them to the roof. While en route Cyke asks Caliban if he can still locate the children. Caliban admits they’re now blocked from his perception. Cyclops says they’ll have to do it the hard way and go in through the skylight. He cautions everyone to take it slow and steady.
One of the night watchmen hears a crunching sound and gets up from his desk. Beast snatches him into the air. The guard yells out, “X-Factor!” Beast jokes that their PR campaign is working. Hank starts yelling at the guard to tell him where the children are being kept. The guard starts freaking out and tells Beast to get away. Then his chest explodes and he falls limp to the floor.
Cyclops kneels down to check on the guy. Marvel Girl wonders why he would kill himself. Scott thinks the guard might have had an implant that went off before he could divulge any secrets. Behind them Beast picks up the guard’s desk and tosses it through the door. Scott chastises him for his rash actions and that’s when the alarms start blaring.
More security guards arrive on scene. They begin blasting away with their handguns. X-Factor does their best to avoid the maelstrom. Dodging bullets, Beast begins questioning his newfound strength. He doesn’t understand how every time he exerts himself it gets harder to think.
While many levels below, Rusty and the rest of the kids are held dangling above the ground by large arm restraints. Each child is also outfitted with a power-dampening helmet. The Right’s Commander, Cameron Hodge, is also in the room.
Rusty demands to know what Hodge intends to do with them. Hodge scolds him for speaking to him without permission and then calls all the kids “genetic monsters.” He answers them anyway explaining they need to be studied so that he can exploit them. He looks over at Rictor, a former victim of his tests, and tells them to ask him about it.
Rusty yells at Hodge to leave them alone. He receives a swift beating across the belly with Hodge’s riding crop. Hodge coolly tells him mutants don’t give orders. They either obey or die. Hodge launches into a rhetoric about a war that’s starting. Rusty asks what war he’s talking about. Hodge says it’s a war against mutants. Hodge then grabs a dial and turns it. Rusty lets out a wail of agony as electricity caresses every nerve in his body.
A security guard approaches Hodge and tells him they have intruders in Sector 412. They both turn around and look up at the security screen and see X-Factor rushing down the hallway. Hodge is please to see that they have arrived because he has prepared for it so elaborately.
Rictor voices his thoughts to the rest of the gang that maybe X-Factor has come to rescue them. Hodge overhears this and mocks them. He tells them it’s hopeless. Then he orders the guard to man the doorway and to kill any unauthorized personnel. As Hodge walks out he tells the guard to kill the kids if he’s not back in ten minutes.
Skids says she’s doubtful X-Factor would even know they were there. Boom-Boom thinks Caliban might’ve survived and maybe he led them there. Rictor asks the group if they remember the chess game they were playing with Hank and reminds them of Hank’s advice when they thought they were beat, “Use your heads.” Rusty says they better get to work then because they only have ten minutes.
Several levels above, X-Factor has stopped for a moment to check their surroundings. Unfortunately there’s no rest for the weary as a group of Right soldiers bust through the wall across from them. Cyclops orders Iceman to throw up an ice shield.
The Right decide to retreat so X-Factor gives chase. Beast tells the group to keep up, but Cyclops tells him to wait, that it might be a trap. But he never gets that last word out because four giant walls sprout up all around them, boxing them in.
Beast tries smashing through, but the walls won’t budge. Cyclops tries an optic blast, but it ricochets all over. Marvel Girl tries moving the walls and the equipment, but they won’t even nudge. She wonders what the walls are made of.
“Ruby quartz” Hodge tells her, magically appearing in the middle of the room. Scott flips out at Cameron for engineering the amputation of Warren’s wings, which led to his suicide. With a smile Hodge tells Scott he’s also guilty of, “threatening”, “kidnapping” and “killing” and adds that all of it has been blamed on mutants. Cyke gets so angry he fires a blast at Hodge’s head. His attack passes harmlessly through because as it turns out he’s only a hologram.
Hodge mocks Cyclop for his bad temper. He explains that’s the reason Warren left him the money instead. Then he tells Cyclops he’s fired, which is a bit ironic as Cyclops said the same exact thing to him not long ago. Beast, head in his hands, tells Scott he feels dizzy.
Soon, the five members of X-Factor are lying on the ground unconscious. Hodge’s hologram orders the guards to get the power blockers on them and take them to lockup. After they’re analyzed they’ll be destroyed, he adds, and then he dissipates.
The guards approach slowly. Suddenly X-Factor takes up idefensive positions. Scott blasts one of the guards and thanks Jean for her quick thinking with the telekinetic field, which protected them from the knockout gas. Beast tosses the other guard into a junction box causing quite an explosion.
Meanwhile, Apocalypse’s ship floats miles above. From a nearby view screen En Sabah Nur watches X-Factor battle the Right. He admires Hodge’s group for unknowingly carrying out the will of Apocalypse; the testing of X-Factor. Then he turns to War, Pestilence and Famine and tells them they must also face a test. They must battle Death and whoever is left standing will be their leader.
Right on cue Death bursts through a door scattering debris everywhere. The other Horsemen decide to focus on Death and battle each other later. Death whips a hail of blades from his wings, hitting Plague with half a dozen. She goes down for a nap.
Death turns his attention to War. He grabs the U.S. veteran and lifts him up in the air then releases him, slicing through his armor with his metal wings. War hits the ground hard, all messed up.
Death moves quickly to face Famine and drops her like a sack of potatoes. Apocalypse watches the carnage with mild amusement. He announces Death as be the leader of his Four Horsemen.
Arlington Museum of Science
The power goes off in the complex, which frees the kidnapped mutants from their arm restraints. They drop to the ground a bit awkwardly. The door to the hallway opens and the kids hide. The guard enters with a flashlight in one hand and a gun in the other. He tells the kids their ten minutes are up.
Rictor leaps at the guard and bashes him under the chin with his helmet. He gives credit to Hank for that move because he used his head. With the guard out, the kids try taking off their helmets, but they don’t budge. Rictor says they’ll just have to do it the human’s way. He picks up the guard’s gun and starts blasting away at the “torture machines”. He declares no kids will be tortured with that stuff anymore. Rusty asks where he learned to fire a gun. Rictor tells him in Central America, where they couldn’t wait to make kids into soldiers.
The gang takes off through a maze of corridors and levels. They stop when they come across X-Factor and the Right battling it out. Rictor decides to help and starts firing away with his gun. Some of the soldiers decide to go after the kids, but Iceman puts the freeze on them. Distracted, however, one of the Right snaps a power-dampening belt on him. Bobby turns back to flesh and blood and is immediately lost amongst a sea of the Right.
Rictor runs out of bullets just as Cameron Hodge and one of his cronies in a Smiley suit sneak up behind him and the others. He smacks Rictor very hard and then tells the soldier to kill the kids if they try anything. Hodge jumps back into the brawl literally and lands right on Cyclops’ head. Cyke blasts at Hodge, but his ruby quartz armor deflects it.
Cyclops asks Hodge why he did it. Hodge answers with a few overhand rights to the face and then basically tells Scott that he grew up one of the elite, and mutants like Warren are taking that privilege from him. Scott argues you can’t stop progress. He tells Hodge that if it weren’t for evolution man would still be up in trees with the monkeys. Hodge counters that man now cages monkeys just like mutants will eventually cage humans. Cyke tells him he’s being ridiculous, that mutants only want to be left alone. Hodge laughs and promises him eternal peace.
Bobby starts panicking once he realizes Hodge is about to kill Scott. He focuses really hard and manages to return to ice form despite the power barrier placed on him. Cameron can’t believe it. Iceman lays his fingers on Hodge’s armor and tries icing him up. Hodge belts him across the face and Iceman is knocked back.
Hodge turns his attention back to Cyclops. Marvel Girl tells Cyke to run, but he refuses. Instead he zaps him right in the shoulder where Iceman laid his hand. The optic beam bursts through and starts pinging around inside the armor. Ricochet after ricochet and Hodge’s suit starts breaking apart. Cyke delivers one last powerful blast at his head. Hodge falls to the ground with a KA-THUNK.
Cyclops approaches Hodge who tells him it was an empty victory. Cyke bends over to check on him and discovers he’s actually a robot. “Robot Hodge” asks Scott if he actually thought he’d risk his real body against X-Factor. His parting words before self-destructing, “...I will teach you the meaning of hate!”
The building begins shaking. Marvel Girl wraps them all up telekinetically and lifts them up and away from the building. It explodes in a giant fireball. They all land nearby where Scott uses a focused beam to free each kid from their helmet. They discuss Hodge’s hatred for mutants and Scott adds that maybe Hodge was right, that mutants and humans can’t live together in peace as long as there are humans who don’t want it.
Apocalypse watches this conversation with disdain. He mocks peace, as it does nothing to increase mutants’ strength, their ability to survive. He turns to his Horsemen and tells them to get ready for it is time for X-Factor’s testing. Then he turns a lever.
Arlington Museum of Science, half-mile away
Scott, Jean, Bobby, Hank and Caliban disappear in a flash of bright light. The children stand around shocked. Rusty comments that it looked a lot like the lights the Horsemen of Apocalypse use to teleport around.