New Mexico, at the desert base of the young mutant heroes known as X-Force. ‘It’s suicide. Even worse…it’s poor strategy!’ Shatterstar exclaims. James “Warpath” Proudstar tells him that he doesn’t see what choice they have, reminding him that they all saw Cable shoot down Xavier, so they have to go after him. Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie has his back turned from the rest of the team while this discussion occurs, and Tabitha “Boom-Boom” Smith watches Sam, while Shatterstar exclaims that there is no guarantee that Cable is still in New York. ‘But what there will be is a city crawling with X-Men looking for anyone connected with Cable…particularly X-Force!’ Shatterstar exclaims.
Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta and Julio “Rictor” Richter stand beside Theresa “Siryn” Rourke, who announces that her major concern is the IPAC, as it is being held together with spit and bailing wire. ‘Not a reliable getaway from a city that’s turning into a mutant shooting gallery!’ Siryn declares, while Sunspot asks Sam what he thinks, as he is the leader. Maria “Feral” Callasantos crouches nearby as Sam nervously tells his friends that they go. ‘We owe it to Cable to rein him in if he’s nuts. And if he’s hurt the Prof, we owe it to Xavier.
Sam tells Bobby that he is going to stay here, ‘No! You can’t leave me behind!’ Bobby exclaims, before losing his balance. Siryn grabs him and holds him up, while Cannonball tells him that he means no offense, but as he is hurt so bad and could barely get out of bed, much less be any use in a fight. Sam tells Theresa that she has twenty minutes to get one of the monitors out of the IPAC, and informs Boom-Boom, Rictor and Feral that they will be coming with him, while everyone else watches the news reports on the monitor. ‘If we’re nailed, it’ll be up to ya’ll to save our butts!’ Sam exclaims.
Elsewhere, Professor Charles Xavier is rushed into a hospital by a medical team. ‘Pulse rate dropping!’ one of them exclaims, while a doctor shouts ‘Prep him for surgery! State! Type him and cross match!’. They are followed by Dr Valerie Cooper, the United States’ expert on mutants, and two members of the Government team which she administrates - Alex “Havok” Summers and Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair of X-Factor. Valerie flashes her badge and introduces herself to the doctor, informing him that she wants to be kept appraised of Xavier’s status. ‘It’s none of your business’ the doctor replies, to which Valerie exclaims that Charles Xavier is a valued government consultant, which makes it her business. ‘Take your business elsewhere!’ the doctor exclaims, pushing Valerie’s badge out of her hand and telling her to get out of his way as he and the others rush past her.
But Wolfsbane runs after the medical team, despite being told to wait. ‘They went through there!’ Rahne exclaims, motioning to a room labelled “No admittance”. A member of the medical team stands in front of the door, and points to the sign. ‘Can’t ya read?’ he asks. ‘READ THIS!’ Wolfsbane shrieks at him, hair raised and fangs bared. The two medical staff hug each other and shake ‘Is…is she gone?’ one of them asks, while Havok and Valerie pull her away from the two men. ‘For crying out loud!’ Alex whispers. ‘You start freaking out about Xavier and someone’s gonna start putting two and two together about his being a mutant pretty blasted fast!’ he exclaims, telling her to get a grip.
Valerie, Alex and Rahne return to the waiting room, where two members of the X-Men are waiting for them. ‘Ororo’ Alex remarks, greeting Ororo “Storm” Munroe. ‘Alex’ Storm replies. Alex tells her that he wishes this could have been under better circumstances. ‘Seeing you, I mean’. Storm tells her former X-Men teammate that she knows what he means. ‘Ah. Um…who’s your friend?’ Alex asks. ‘This is Bishop. Bishop, this is Alex, Valerie and Rahne’ Storm remarks, making the introductions. Bishop stands up and asks what the Professor’s condition is. ‘He’s been brought into surgery. Where are the rest of your, uh, associates?’ someone replies.
Storm explains that she has been in touch with as many as she could contact quickly, and points out that the news will spread rapidly. ‘Bad news often does’ she points out. ‘Indeed’ Bishop agrees. ‘And your “associates”?’ Storm asks. Alex replies that most of them are upstairs with a young mutant who was beaten up yesterday. Storm remarks that she saw the videotape on the news and tells Alex that it was horrible. Alex agrees and reveals that Multiple Man rounded up the perps and that they are being charged with assault and battery. ‘Maybe we’ll finally see some justice’. Wolfsbane asks what they do about the Professor, to which Valerie replies ‘We wait’.
Upstairs in a darkened room, five people stand around the bed where the young X-Patriot known as Lukas lies. James Madrox a.k.a. Multiple Man and Lorna “Polaris” Dane stand away from the other three, and Jamie tells Lorna that he doesn’t get this. ‘Why is Alex having us hang around here?’ he asks. Lorna replies that it is because he doesn’t want the downstairs waiting room crammed with mutants. ‘Besides, he wants us keeping on eye on the X-Patriots’ she whispers, assuring Jamie that as soon as there is word on Xavier, Alex will let them know.
Closer to the bed stands Lorna and Jamie’s X-Factor teammate Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff, along with Lukas and Prodigal of the X-Patriots. ‘This is some wonderful nation you have here…we fled Genosha to escape anti-mutant oppression’ Lukas remarks. Quicksilver tells him that this is the wrong country to come to. ‘Not only is young Taylor the victim of mindless anti-mutant hysteria, but all Xavier had to do was show up at a concert for “brotherhood” and he was shot!’ Pietro exclaims. Quicksilver adds that he was there when his father, Magneto and Xavier first butted heads over humanity. ‘How nauseating to think Magneto’s view seems borne out’.
‘Now come on, Pietro, you’re not saying Magneto is right?’ Lorna asks. ;The very thought of Magneto repels my, Lorna, but…’ his voice trails off as Lorna interrupts: ‘No “but”. It’s not humans versus mutants’ she exclaims. ‘After all there have been plenty of “norms” who have met with violence or death simply because of what they were or what they believed’ Lorna explains. ‘I see, Ms Dane. Human brutality towards mutants is acceptable because it is equitable’ Prodigal declares. But Lorna tells him that he is twisting it. ‘It’s not “acceptable”!’ she exclaims. ‘No, it’s not. And how much more do we take until we start letting people know that we’ll take no more?’ Prodigal asks.
Downstairs, the doors to the waiting room slam open as Guido “Strong Guy” Carosella enters, accompanied by Pirouette of the X-Patriots. Strong Guy calls out to Alex, announcing that he and Jo Beth just heard, and asks how Xavier is. ‘Just heard?’ Alex shouts. ‘It’s two AM: I’ve been trying to raise you all night on the headset! Why the blazes didn’t you respond, Guido? Where’ve you been?’ Alex demands. Guido replies that he had his headset turned off. ‘Turned off? That unit’s so we can get in touch with you: Why -?’ Valerie exclaims, to which Pirouette announces that it was at her request, that she did not want any interruptions. ‘Did I, cup-cake?’ she asks Guido, stroking his face. Guido smiles, and Alex and Valerie look at each other, smirking.
Suddenly, Rahne shouts ‘It’s been hours since they brought him in. I’m going daft here, Alex! All this…this…this just standing about and…and…’ her voice trails off and she drops to the floor as Havok tells her that it is okay, before instructing her to head out to the bandstand in Central Park where the Professor was shot. ‘See if you can pick up any clues as to Cable’s whereabouts’ Alex tells her. Havok turns to Guido and orders him to go with Wolfsbane. ‘Why me?’ Guido asks. ‘Because I ordered you to, “cupcake”!’ ‘Okay. So long as there’s a reason’ Guido mumbles.
Making their way through New York city, towards Central Park, Rahne thanks Guido for coming with her. ‘Hey, kid. What’re friends for, y’know?’ Guido replies, unaware, that high above, standing on a rooftop is Warren “Archangel” Worthington, silhouetted by the moonlight. ‘What’s it all for?’ he asks himself. ‘For the first time, these…these things on my back might’ve done some good. They might have saved the Professor. But the gun blew a whole right through them. Beautiful. I was counting on Apocalypse’s technology to save a life!’ Warren exclaims. Angrily, his wings move about as he shouts that he is not counting on anything besides himself from now on - himself and the X-Men. He declares that first they will nail Cable, and after they do, he is going after Apocalypse. ‘YOU and ME! And nothing will save you when that happens! NOTHING!’ Warren booms.
Back down below, Guido and Wolfsbane cross the area of Central Park surrounded by a Police barrier. ‘So?’ Guido asks. ‘So…there’s a lot mingles together. A lot overlaying. I’ve singled out the Professor’s scent…and Lila’s’ Rahne replies, adding that she has separated them from the paramedics. ‘What about Cable?’ Guido asks. Rahne replies that she cannot seem to sort him out. ‘Something seems familiar. But with all the spores, I…’ her voice trails off as lights shine down on them by an approaching vessel. ‘Company’s coming!’ Guido exclaims as he leads Rahne away from the vessel.
Rahne asks why they are running, to which Guido replies that he didn’t bake a cake and is embarrassed to show his face. The IPAC lands, and Shatterstar and Feral step from it. Shatterstar tells Maria to get behind him, that he shall go first. ‘You’re giving orders pretty readily, Shatterstar…considering that you didn’t even want to go on this little junket’ Maria tells him. Shatterstar replies that once Cannonball made his intentions clear he had little choice but to volunteer. ‘Sending teammates into such a hazardous situation unescorted would hardly be honorable’ Shatterstar adds.
Hiding behind the stage, Guido peers around and sees Shatterstar and Feral and exclaims ‘Aw, man, it’s those X-Force blorks! Now they show up!’, before he contacts Alex: ‘You won’t believe who just dropped in!’ he exclaims. ‘X-Force? Guido, if this is a joke…’ Alex declares over the head-set. Valerie looks shocked, while Alex mutters ‘Oh, brother! I send Rahne out to do some dead-end busy work and she lucks into X-Force’, before asking if Cable is with them. ‘If he is then Bishop and I are…’ Storm begins, but Alex tells Storm that she and Bishop are to stay put, no matter what. ‘We need people on station here in case there’s another attack on Xavier. He’ll need protection’.
Wolfsbane peers around the stage, while Guido informs Alex that he hasn’t seen Cable. ‘Do we attack if he’s there?’ he asks. Alex tells Guido that under no circumstances do they let themselves be seen, as X-Force are dangerous and Guido and Rahne are outnumbered. ‘We’ll grab a cab over or something’ Alex tells him. ‘Got it. We’ll stay out of si-’ Guido begins, but he doesn’t get to finish his sentence, as Wolfsbane sees her former New Mutants teammate Cannonball. ‘SAM!’ she shouts as she bounds towards him. ‘Alex? Uh…change in plans…’ Guido mumbles.
But as Rahne approaches Sam, Feral steps in front of him. Sam tells her to let Rahne pass, and declares ‘Somehow Ah had a feeling if we ran into anyone, it’d be here’. ’I don’t like her smell’ Feral snarls. ’I don’t like your face. Now move it, sister!’ Wolfsbane retorts, before shifting to a less lupine form and telling Sam that she cannot believe he is here, as she thought he was dead. ’Well Ah was…but Ah got better’ Sam replies. Boom-Boom grabs her former teammate and spins around, telling her that her new hairdo looks good on her. ’Tabitha! It’s like a New Mutants reunion!’ Rahne exclaims, while Boom-Boom pulls Rictor towards them. ’I hear you don’t think about me anymore’ Rictor tells Rahne.
‘Wha -? Rictor!’ Rahne exclaims, before they embrace and kiss passionately - for some time, before Rictor yells ’OWW! You…you bit me!’ as he pulls away, blood tricking from his mouth. A somewhat surprised Rahne tells Rictor that she is sorry, claiming that she lost her head. ’Ye got me too worked up…’ she tells him. ’Rahne…getting worked up? What’s next? Mother Theresa working at a strip joint?’ Boom-Boom asks. Feral declares that they are wasting time and announces she will try to pick up Cable’s scent so they can get out of here.
Suddenly, Strong Guy appears and pointing at X-Force he tells them that the only place they are getting is up against the IPAC. ‘C’mon! Spread ‘em!’ he orders, informing them that he is a Government rep, and that they are wanted big-time. ‘How nice. Mutant-as-Government-stooge. Betraying his own kind’ Shatterstar snarls. ‘How’d ya like to learn the fine art of sword-swallowing, sonny?’ Guido replies. Wolfsbane exclaims that they don’t have to argue, and tells Sam that this outlaw life of his is not what they dreamed of in their student days. ‘It’s madness!’ she exclaims, asking Sam to turn X-Force in and reveal what they know about Cable.
‘Ye owe that killer nothing! Ye’ll be well-treated, I promise’ Rahne assures Sam. But Sam replies ‘Cable’s one of us, and we watch out for our own, no matter how it looks. But tell me…Rahne…what if Ah said I’d have X-Force surrender…if you agreed to leave X-Factor…and join us instead. If we’re kicked loose later?’. Rahne tells Sam that she cannot doe that. ‘We’ve been through this. I -’ she begins, but Sam interrupts: ‘Right. Ah know. Alex’ he tells her. ‘What about “Alex”?’ Rictor asks. ‘She’s hung up on him’ Sam explains. ‘I hate him already’ Julio mumbles.
A tear falls from Rahne’s eye as she replies ‘It’s not just that: It’s that…that…I…’ her voice trails off, but Sam knows what she is going to say: ‘You don’t trust us, is what it is. And trust has gotta work both ways, Rahne. Otherwise, it’s nothing!’. Sam notices Feral moving away and asks her where she is going. ‘Away. I’m not picking up Cable’s scent. Let’s get out of here’ she replies. Strong Guy exclaims that if X-Force asked him about Cable’s scent, then he could have told them that. ‘And if ya’d asked about leaving, we could’ve answered that, too’ he exclaims as he grabs Feral’s tail.
‘OWWWW!’ Maria shrieks, spinning herself around, she tells Strong Guy that he has made his last mistake. ‘Won’t be the first time’ Guido mutters, telling Feral to watch it with the claws. But Shatterstar lunges at Guido, kicking him in the head as he tells him that he has far greater cause for concern than Feral’s claws. ‘Mutant traitor!’ he exclaims. Guido is kicked in the head, which causes him to fling Feral up in the air. ‘Guido!’ shouts Rahne, while Guido smacks Shatterstar back. ‘Nice slice, kid! Takes a heck of a lot to hurt me. Most things on this planet can’t do it!’ Guido boasts, pointing out that Shatterstar looks a lot less sturdy though. ‘Looks can be deceiving. Although since you look like a fool, you would be an exception’ Shatterstar replies.
‘Get out of muh way!’ Wolfsbane snarls at Feral. ‘Make me!’ Maria retorts. Sam and Tabitha watch in horror, and Sam tells Feral not to hurt Wolfsbane - but it is Rahne who lashes out at Feral, scratching her face, causing Maria to scream. ‘Jeez! You were worried about Feral hurting Rahne?’ Boom-Boom asks.
Shatterstar kicks Strong Guy in the face once more. ‘You’re quick, kid. I’ll give ya that…’ Guido tells him. ‘And I regret, massive one, that I must give you…this!’ Shatterstar exclaims as he raises his sword - and slams it into Strong Guy’s chest. Guido cries out in pain, before grinning as he feels his chest. ‘My…my sword? What happened to -?’ Shatterstar asks. ‘Looking for this?’ Quicksilver exclaims, holding Shatterstar’s sword, which he swiped moments before Shatterstar was to plunge it into Guido. ‘How…dare...you?’ Shatterstar booms, reaching for another sword. Shatterstar lunges towards Quicksilver, who remarks that Guido was right, he is fast. ‘But let’s see how you fare against someone for whom speed is not merely an attribute…but a lifestyle!’
Have ye had enough? Or do I…’ Rahne exclaims as she holds Feral in a vice-like grip around her neck, but Feral bites down on Rahne’s arm, causing her to scream. Wolfsbane retaliates by biting down on Feral’s neck and growling. ‘Holy crow! Rahne’s gonna kill her! I gotta -’ Sam begins as he blasts towards Wolfsbane and Feral - only to be blasted away himself but the arrival of Alex and Lorna. ‘What you “gotta” do is surrender, boy!’ Havok orders. ‘You’re not going to be given a free pass, like you were last time!’ Havok announces, to which Lorna thanks Alex for rubbing her nose in that.
‘That’s Alex, isn’t it?’ Julio asks Tabitha, who replies ‘Yup, that’s Alex’. On the hovercraft they are standing on, Alex and Lorna start to lose their balance. Alex tells Madrox to keep flying it steady, but Madrox replies that it isn’t him. ‘Something’s shaking us up!’ he exclaims, before the craft does a nose-dive to the ground. ‘Lorna! Some magnetic waves for cushioning would go really nicely about now!’ Alex exclaims, before the craft lands and Havok, Polaris and Madrox are thrown from it. ‘Wow, you really showed them’ Guido tells Rictor. ‘Yeah, you said I -’ Rictor begins, before spinning around, he uses his vibro-powers on Guido. ‘Oh no you don’t!’ Julio exclaims. ‘Oh yes I do!’ Guido replies as he throws Rictor aside with ease. ‘I’m the wrong one to hit with vibro waves, sonny…leastways if you don’t want ‘em right back at ya!’ Guido declares.
‘Coward! You dodge around because you’re afraid to face me!’ Shatterstar shouts at Quicksilver, who replies ‘Not at all. I dodge around to make you feel as stupid as you look!’. ‘I was right. You are without honor!’ Shatterstar exclaims as their swords clang together. ‘You obnoxious punk! The worst thing you could do is merit my full attention!’ Pietro replies. The speedster adds that his entire life consists of finding ways to east the boredom, which Shatterstar is presently doing. ‘But you’re coming dangerously close to crossing the line into the realm of being an annoyance’ Pietro warns him.
Meanwhile, in the operating theater, Xavier is being operated on. The doctor tells a nurse to swab an area. ‘I’m not getting a good look at…dear God…what the blazes is that?’ the doctor asks, wide-eyed.
Back in Central Park, Sam has gathered himself, and blasts back towards the others. He tells himself that Havok is the most dangerous because he can attack from long distances with devastating force, but after the crash he is woozy, so is Polaris, so he thinks this is his chance to take them down - ‘Uh-oh. Not as woozy as I thought’ Sam thinks to himself as Lorna unleashes a magnetic blast, holding him in place. Alex tells Lorna to hold Sam steady, as he just needs another few seconds to get his head together.
‘I got yer seconds right here…four…three…two…one!’ Boom-Boom shouts as one of her plasma time-bombs explodes near Polaris, knocking Lorna backwards and releasing Sam from her magnetic hold. ‘Nice bail out!’ Sam tells Tabitha. ‘Yeah, real nice, Boom-Boom. Attacking from behind. Cable taught you some of the best tricks of the trade, huh?’ Madrox asks as he runs towards her. ‘Aw, suck a time-bomb, you X-Factor low li - Madrox? You? Aw nuts!’ Tabitha exclaims as her time-bomb strikes him, creating duplicates. ‘That’s right’. ‘Boom-Boom’. ‘You just made’. ‘More trouble for yourself’ the dupes exclaim as they gather around her.
Sam lands and tells himself that this whole thing is going down the outhouse chute, so he has to wrap it up, and fast. He blasts into the air once more. Nearby, Quicksilver mocks Shatterstar: ‘My muscles are starting to ache from moving so slowly…’ and declares that it is time to end this. ‘First, I’ll give you a richly deserved haircut’ Pietro remarks, referring to Shatterstar’s long pony-tail - but he doesn’t get the chance to cut it off, as Cannonball blasts between them, knocking Quicksilver back. Shatterstar is not happy at Cannonball’s help though: ‘Cannonball! Blast you! He was my opponent!’
Nearby, Wolfsbane roars, and Feral screams as Wolfsbane bites down on Feral, though Feral does manage to chomp down on Rahne’s wrist - until Feral flips backwards, freeing herself. ‘Feral! Fall back!’ Sam calls out. ‘No argument here!’ Maria mumbles, while Cannonball blasts through the pack of Multiple Men - picking up Boom-Boom, who tells him that he just made five more. ‘Don’t matter. X-Force we are leaving!’ Sam orders. ‘But we can take these guys!’ Tabitha tells him. ‘No we can’t. We’ve been lucky so far, but inside of another minute they’re gonna clobber us’ Sam declares, announcing that they are getting out while the getting is good, as he flies past Strong Guy, and drops down by the IPAC, where Feral and Shatterstar carrying Rictor have gathered. Sam asks if Rictor is okay, to which Shatterstar replies that he will live. ‘Feral?’ Sam asks. ‘Nothing forty, fifty stitches won’t take care of’ Maria tells him. ‘Good. Get in the IPAC. Move!’ Sam orders.
‘Oh no! You’re not just waltzing in here and waltzing back out…not so long as I’m here to cry…HAVOK!’ Alex shouts, unleashing a blast of energy at the IPAC, knocking off a thruster, the IPAC does a nose-dive towards the city. Havok helps Lorna off the ground, while the other members of X-Factor gather around. ‘Where is he?’ Pietro asks. ‘Gone. My plan worked perfectly. With the trail they’ll be leaving, they’ll lead us straight back to their hideout…and with any luck, their murderous leader’ Alex declares, before asking ‘Are you okay, sweetheart?’. ‘I’m fine, honey bunch. Why don’t you check on Lorna though?’ Guido jokes, before asking Rahne if everything is square with her. ‘Aye. I showed that two-bit copycat what-fer, didn’t I?’ Rahne replies.
‘Y’sure did’ Madrox tells her, while Lorna asks ‘Your “plan”, Alex? Now you’re saying you intended to let them go?’. ‘Well, it was my back-up plan, okay?’ Alex admits. ‘And a fine back-up plan it was, Alex’ a voice exclaims. ‘Eh?’ Alex asks, turning around, he sees several X-Men standing before him. ‘Mind if we come along to backup your back-up plan?’ Wolverine a.k.a. Logan asks, claws unsheathed. ‘Me, Psylocke, Gambit, Rogue and Beast…we got a little bit of experience in these kinds of scraps’ Logan declares. ‘Outstanding, Logan! You’re here to help bring in X-Force?’ Alex asks. ‘Most assuredly, Alex’ Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast tells him. ‘Because your hypothesis would seem to have merit. If we nail X-Force…then we get CABLE!’.
‘Oh, good! Including HBO? And maybe the Disney Channel for Rahne…’ Guido exclaims. ’Quiet you’re embarrassing me!’ Alex tells him. Logan announces that they are heading back to the hospital to see what the status with Xavier is. ’But the way people were flying in and out of the operating room…it don’t look so hot’ Logan adds. ’Terrific. I don’t see how things could get worse’ Alex remarks, before asking where his brother, Scott is. ’You would have to ask that…’ Logan replies, his voice trailing off.
Elsewhere, Scott “Cyclops” Summers and Jean Grey lie before the Horsemen of Apocalypse, restraints over their heads, while Caliban a.k.a. Death rests his hands on them, and War and Famine stare up at their master. ’You will be rewarded. Leave me now’ Apocalypse orders. The three Horsemen depart, leaving Scott and Jean lying before Apocalypse. ’So, Scott…Jean…kidnapped by the servants of Apocalypse…facing the might of Apocalypse…I’m sure you’d like to ask the great Apocalypse many questions. How unfortunate for you…that Apocalypse is nowhere remotely in the vicinity. What a sinister turn of events this is, eh?’ Mr Sinister smirks as he drops his Apocalypse disguise and reverts to his default form.
At the hospital, the doctor stands before Valerie, the prime Madrox, Storm and Bishop, who all look up at Xavier, being held in stasis inside a tank full of fluid. The doctor declares that they have him stabilized and place in the newest stasis equipment available. ‘But it doesn’t seem to be retarding the spread of his condition’ the doctor remarks, adding that this is out of his league. ‘You people are mutants…and you, Miss Cooper, work with mutants. If you have a clue…anything approaching a diagnosis…kindly share it with me’ the doctor asks. ‘What…is that on his chest?’ Valerie asks.
Madrox tells her that he knows, revealing that it is a technovirus, which transforms living tissue into a mechanical organism. Valerie asks how they can stop it, to which Madrox replies ‘That’s the problem, Val. We can’t’ and suggests they get him to the Mansion. ‘In a way. After all, a man should be allowed to die in his own home…’ Madrox adds, while Xavier floats in the tank, the technovirus spreading on his chest.