Many people believed that the emergence of mutants sounded the death knell for humanity. The reason being, mutants were born with an X-Factor in their genetic structure which endowed them with more-than-human abilities. The fear that this would lead to the destruction of humanity appeared well founded, for some mutants fell prey to unbridled aggression and greed. Yet others, like the X-Men, stood against these “evil mutants” to protect humanity, a humanity that was beginning to hate and fear all of their kind indiscriminately. Powerful as the mutants were, humans still enormously out-numbered them, and some malefactors, fearing a day of reckoning hastened to make deals with humanity’s power-brokers. And so, by the dawn’s early light, two young mutants are hunted by their own kind - Government-sanctioned bounty hunters known as Freedom Force!
In Central Park, Rusty Collins, surrounded by flame keeping Freedom Force at bay, holds onto Sally “Skids” Blevins, while the leader of Freedom Force Raven “Mystique” Darkholme shape-shifts into “Uncle Sam”, announcing that Freedom Force arrests Rusty Collins in the name of the United States Government, before she orders Fred Dukes a.k.a. the Blob to take the mutant kids down. ‘Keep back! I’m warning you!’ Rusty shouts, while numerous on-lookers watch the tense situation. Dominic “Avalanche” Petros, Irene “Destiny” Adler, St John “Pyro” Allerdyce and non-mutant Julia “Spider-Woman” Carpenter” round out the rest of the Freedom Force roster.
‘Flame yer flame as high as ya wanna, scum, ya ain’t even slowing me down!’ the obese Blob declares as he walks through the flame, moving in on Rusty and Skids. Rusty tells Skids that the Blob is right, and suggests they get out of here, while Sally exclaims that the are Government, and asks Rusty why they want him. As Rusty and Sally turn and run from Freedom Force, Rusty explains that he was in the Navy when his mutant power manifested, and he accidentally burned a woman, which caused him to freak and run away. He explains that the Feds came after him, but X-Factor saved him. He explains that he came to Central Park to warn X-Factor of trouble when Freedom Force showed up.
‘Avalanche - shake them off their feet!’ Mystique orders. Avalanche uses his powers to create a wave of earth, which slams into the two young mutants, but Sally exclaims that the buckling does not budge her through her force-field, and tells Rusty to grab her hand. Rusty tries, but he cannot, as he keeps slipping off. ‘What’s the matter, can’t you lower that thing?’ he asks. Sally replies that she can’t, as her force-field protects her, and noting can hurt her. ‘You couldn’t burn me if you wanted to!’ Sally adds, before reminding Rusty that he said X-Factor rescued him. ‘But they’re mutant hunters - aren’t they?’ Sally asks. ‘They sure are! But they hunt us for a reason! And they’re more, a whole lot more…’ Rusty exclaims as they continue to run for their lives.
Meanwhile, across the Park, Scott “Cyclops” Summers, Jean “Marvel Girl” Grey, Bobby “Iceman” Drake, Hank “the Beast” McCoy and Warren “Angel” Worthington III are on the look out for Rusty. Hank remarks that it seems they missed one mutant imbroglio, and fell head-long into another. ‘Yeah, Hank! That poor kid - chased by the likes of Freedom Force! Let’s hope we find him before they do!’ Warren exclaims. ‘No kidding! But the Park’s a big place! Where can he be?’ Bobby asks. Jean sees a crowd up ahead, and alerts her friends to it as they follow the crowd, with Cyclops declaring that he hopes Rusty is not there, as he has some control over his power, but if he is threatened… ‘I have fantasies of Fifth Avenue in flames!’ he exclaims.
Suddenly, various civilians and media representatives see X-Factor on Fifth Avenue, and begin to close in around them. ‘Hey, that’s X-Factor!’ someone calls out. ‘…the mutant hunters!’ another declares. ‘…mutant gang war!’ someone suggests. ‘…your comments on the battle…’ a reporter asks. ‘…mutant phenomenon’ another declares, before Trish Tilby of W-ARC Television approaches them, and sticking a microphone in Cyclops’ face, asks him if he can comment on X-Factor’s involvement in this morning’s developments. Bobby pushes some camera crew back as he tells Scott that they have more important things to do than hold a press conference, while Scott announces that a city official reported a battle in Central Park between two rival mutant factions and requested that X-Factor intervene.
‘And the city wants to thank you guys for showing up!’ a Police Officer exclaims as he approaches Scott, remarking that he saw them on TV, fighting the radio-active mutants. ‘Saved the city, you did! Your organization’s tops in my book!’ he exclaims, adding that it makes him proud to be human. Scott frowns and remarks that it looks like they missed the fireworks here, though, before telling the Officer that that X-Factor appreciates the city’s vote of confidence, before asking why they didn’t contact the Avengers, as their headquarters is right down the street. ‘Well, we don’t exactly trust them, see? Between you and me, we’d rather count on our own kind!’ the Officer exclaims.
‘Your own kind? But the Avengers aren’t mutants! They’re as human as you are, despite their augmented powers!’ Jean declares angrily, causing Warren to hold her back, while the rude Officer doesn’t even look at her when he replies ‘Says you…little lady! Me -? I can’t tell the difference!’. Warren tells Jean to forget it, and that they should get out of here. ‘…your plans to prevent future attacks on the X-Factor complex?’ someone asks. ‘…restoration of the area damaged in battle?’ another declares. ‘…injuries and deaths caused by these mutant attacks?’. But Bobby announces that they are not answering any further questions.
Jean whispers to Scott that it Is easy to understand why mutants are feared, to which Bobby exclaims ‘No kidding, Jeannie! I’d like to smash the jerks who tore up the park! How can any group pull a stunt like that and make anybody’s top ten list!’. Hank reminds Bobby they have caused similar destruction in their time, and that they don’t know who was fighting, or why, so how can they judge the justice of their cause? He adds that the world has changed since they were children - X-Men - trained by Charles Xavier to use their in-born powers to defend humanity from evil mutants. Suddenly, voices begin to call out: ‘Hey, lookit! X-Factor!’. ‘They’ll trash those muties once and for all!’. ‘…hunt those inhuman monsters down and get rid of them!’.
Marvel Girl declares that their goals have changed as well. ‘We pass as humans - hunt down our own kind to save them from an evil humanity that -’ she begins, before interrupting herself when she sees someone across the road. ‘Scott - Scott, look!’ Jean exclaims urgently. ‘Magneto!’ Cyclops declares as he sees who Jean was looking at. ‘Scott…that building…’ Jean exclaims as they look at Magneto walking up the stairs to the infamous Hellfire Club. Magneto sees the former X-Men across the road, ‘Scott!’ he exclaims, surprised, before Jean begins to run towards him, until Warren grabs her hand, ‘No!’ he tells her, but Jean tells him to let her go. ‘Don’t you see? That’s Magneto! We’ve got to -’ she begins, exclaiming that the man is a criminal but he just walked past a squad of cops and they didn’t even blink. ‘That’s insane!’ Jean declares.
‘Of course it’s insane’ Cyclops agrees, asking Jean how she can expect anything else in a world where the former Brotherhood of Evil Mutants calls itself Freedom Force and works for the Government, and where Magneto, who once created the Brotherhood, has taken Xavier’s place as leader of the X-Men, and where the X-Men’s new leader has openly joined the villainous Hellfire Club. ‘I’m just glad that Professor Xavier isn’t here to witness this betrayal’ Scott remarks as the former X-Men watch Magneto enter the Hellfire Club building. Angel reminds everyone that they still have a job to do, as Rusty risked his life to warn them of the danger. ‘We’ve got to find him before they do! But how?’ he exclaims.
Meanwhile, back in Central Park, Rusty runs, while Skids glides, toward Fifth Avenue. ‘I don’t see them behind us…we lost them, I think!’ Rusty exclaims as he turns around, before asking Skids where they are going. Sally replies that they are going toward Madison Avenue, explaining that there is a grating on 67th Street that leads to the Morlocks’ Alley. ‘The what?’ Rusty asks as he and Sally hold hands. Sally explains that the Morlocks Alley is a huge tunnel almost a mile underground, where a bunch of mutants like them live. She explains that they call themselves the Morlocks, like in that HG Wells book, and they have given up on this society and made their own. Sally tells Rusty that she will take him there, as in the Alley they all live in peace. ‘No hassles from mutant hunters or -’ she begins, when suddenly, they find themselves caught in a very large spider web, strung up between two trees.
‘This time my energy web will hold them, Destiny’ Spider-Woman exclaims, thanking Destiny for suggesting the web’s placement. Destiny replies that she should be pleased, but that she senses this success will lead them into great peril. ‘Yet, try as I might I cannot read clearly what lies before us! The skeins of the future become twisted when X-Factor is involved!’ Destiny exclaims. Skids tries to pull Rusty free from the psionic web, reminding him she tackled him free last time, she is confused as to why he is stuck now. Rusty tells Skids to leave him, ‘I’m not worth it! Go on!’ he tells her. But Sally continues to yank Rusty free, telling him ‘No way! They can’t hurt me and you’re in this mess ‘cause you tried to save me! Nobody’s cared what happens to me in ages and -’ she exclaims, before the Blob interrupts, exclaiming that Rusty is not going anywhere, and that Uncle Sam has something special planned for him.
‘You got the right to remain silent…you got the right ta -’ the Blob exclaims as he reaches through the webs to pull Rusty out of them, while he exclaims ‘Hey, Pyro, you pansy! Light up my life a little! The girls interfering with Rusty’s arrest. Burn her!’ the Blob declares. Pyro complies, releasing flame to engulf Skids, it does nothing. ‘As we noted earlier, the girl doesn’t burn!’ Pyro exclaims, while nearby, a crowd of civilians has gathered on the Fifth Avenue side of the Park: ‘Hey look! Muties!’ one of them calls out. ‘Attacking some humans!’ another exclaims, referring to Rusty and Skids who are dressed in regular clothing as opposed to the colorful costumes of Freedom Force.
‘Stop that! Leave them alone!’ someone shouts. ‘Where’s X-Factor!’ another calls out, before the civilians begin throwing rubbish at Freedom Force. A rock hits Pyro in the head, while bottles and cans continue to be thrown. ‘They were here a second ago’ someone calls out. ‘We don’t have time to get ‘em now!’ another remarks. ‘We can’t let those muties get away with it!’. ‘Stop ‘em now or they’ll be running New York!’. ‘Hey, they ain’t all bad - look at the Fantastic Four!’ another civilian exclaims. ‘The Fantastic Four ain’t muties, jerk!’ someone corrects him. ‘Says who? I don’t trust any of ‘em!’ the Police Officer shouts as he raises his gun, and calls out to Freedom Force, ‘Stop! Get back, muties! Get away from those kids - or I’ll shoot!’. Bullets begin slinging around, but the Blob drops Rusty and tells the Officer that his crummy bullets don’t even scratch him. ‘Next time bring an A-bomb!’ the Blob jokes.
Nearby, X-Factor hear the gun-fire, and Cyclops tells his friends that they will check it out. Moments later, they arrive at the Fifth Avenue entrance to Central Park, where the crowd is still throwing things at Freedom Force. ‘Cut it out, creeps, or I’ll tear ya apart!’ the Blob snarls, but Mystique, still in disguise as “Uncle Sam” tells the Blob that he will not, as he is a Federal Officer and will behace accordingly. ‘…mutie creeps!’ someone calls out. ‘They stopped! They’re scared! Get ‘em!’ someone exclaims. ‘…attacking kids’ another remarks. ‘Take that!’ someone shouts as they throw something. Cyclops motions to Freedom Force, and tells the others that Rusty is caught in Spider-Woman’s web. ‘But…who’s the girl?’ Jean asks.
Suddenly, Mystique shifts back to her default form, raising her hands, she orders the crowd to cease and desist immediately as she introduces herself as a Federal Officer and explains that they are making a legal arrest of a felon. Destiny tells Mystique that the crowd is too loud. ‘They can’t hear you! They wouldn’t listen if they -’ Destiny begins, before she suddenly lunges at Mystique, ‘Get down!’ she shouts, pushing her dear friend aside. ‘Thank Heaven! I…I saw an image…you on the ground…your skull cracked open…’ Destiny exclaims.
Back in the crowd, ‘Hey, look! I got something here for you freaks!’ someone calls out as he carries a bag full of eggs to the fence. ‘Hit the ugly fat one!’ someone exclaims. ‘No problem, m’man. It’ll be like hitting the side of a barn!’ the first man declares as several of them begin throwing eggs at Freedom Force. ‘Hey, Destiny, ya didn’t warn me, did ya!’ the Blob mutters as eggs crack all over him, leaving the sticky egg on him. ‘Hey! Stop that!’ Julia calls out as she dodges the assault.
The Blob, covered in yolk, shouts ‘That does it! I’m gonna break yer heads!’ as he smacks Rusty out of the way, attempting to walk towards the crowd, until Mystique tells him to stop it, reminding him that their deal with the Government says they play by the rules. ‘If one of us steps out of line, it’s all off!’ Mystique exclaims, to which the Blob asks her what they do - ‘Let ‘em bury us in eggs?’. Skids ducks down beside Rusty while Freedom Force are preoccupied. She asks him if he is okay. ‘Yeah, sure! How -?’ Rusty replies, to which Sally explains that Spider-Woman got hit by an egg, and when she did her web disappeared. ‘It’s psionic, probably depends on her concentration’ Sally remarks, before telling Rusty to try and walk, as they have to get away.
‘Would you look at that? They’re stoning those goons’ Bobby exclaims as X-Factor make their way to the fence at the front of the crowd. Jean tells Scott that they cannot let this go on, to which Bobby asks ‘Why not? They’re doing a good deed’. The Beast points out that they cannot condone attacks on mutants - even those mutants in Freedom Force. ‘It would be too dangers a habit to encourage’ he remarks, adding that if they don’t put a stop to this now, someone will get hurt, probably one of the civilians, he remarks as he grabs a man’s arm as he was about to throw an egg. ‘Hey, X-Factor! What gives, man? Jealous we’re doing your jobs for you?’ the civilian asks. ‘Yeah, why should you mutant hunters get all the fun? Ha! Watch me peg that tin head!’ another civilian exclaims as he prepares to throw an egg at Avalanche.
Cyclops quietly tells Jen to throw a telekinetic bubble around the Freedom Force, although he call them by their prior name, the Brotherhood, before telling X-Factor that it is time to move in. ‘Hey, our junk ain’t hitting ‘em anymore!’ a civilian shouts as the rubbish and eggs bounce off the telekinetic shield. ‘What’s going on?’ another asks. Unable to reveal the fact that X-Factor are also mutants, Scott tells the crowd that X-Factor has encased the mutants in a high-tech force screen for their own protection. ‘Look! It’s X-Factor!’ someone exclaims. ‘…real mutant hunters!’ another remarks. ‘No we’re gonna see some action!’ someone shouts. ‘More action than you bargained for, perhaps!’ Mystique declares, before holding up her identification badge, announcing that they are Federal Officers, and that everyone has intervened in their attempt to apprehend a known felon. ‘An offense that could land you all in a Federal Prison!’
Meanwhile, on 67th Street of Fifth Avenue, ‘Got it loose, Rusty?’ Skids asks. ‘Yeah!’ Rusty exclaims as he removes the grate, before Sally tells him to hurry down the ladder and pull back the grate. He does so, and as the two young mutants move down the ladder, Rusty asks ‘What now?’. Sally explains that a side tunnel opens off the bottom of this shaft, but warns Rusty to be careful. ‘My force field makes this climb tricky but it protects me, maybe even from a four-story fall!’ she exclaims.
Meanwhile, with egg on their faces (literally), Freedom Force storms off. ‘…could trashed ‘em? Why’d they let ‘em go?’ one of the many civilians wonders. ‘…no choice, they’re working for the Government!’ someone explains. ‘…makes sense for the Feds to have tame muties…the Ruskies do!’. ‘…conservative administration!’ one of the civilians exclaims. ‘Tame or not, muties is freaks…no matter who they work for!’ another declares.
Bobby tells his friends that it burns him that those creeps can just walk away, to which Hank explains it is the best of two bad choices. ‘At least Rusty has escaped’ Scott points out. ‘For no!’ Bobby mutters. Nearby, Destiny informs Mystique that Rusty has entered the tunnels beneath Manhattan, though she is unable to predict the outcome should they follow, ‘All I see there is death!’ she reveals. Mystique declares that they must follow, reminding her friend that their pardon is contingent upon performance. ‘It doesn’t take precognition to foresee a bad time ahead for mutants. I’ve made what deals I can to protect us, but we have to deliver!’ Mystique declares.
Suddenly, ‘Tell me something - how can X-Factor sponsor a mutant smear campaign, then champion them? What does X-Factor really stand for?’ Trish Tilby asks Hank as she comes up behind him. Hank points out that Trish has been covering X-Factor regularly, so asks her to tell him if this hysteria was really a result of media hype. ‘The kind of “reporting” that you’re so good at?’. Trish ignores the comment, instead asking Hank if simply reporting their exploits is so bad, then how much worse are the mutant hunters. ‘How can you even pretend you’re against vigilantism and violence?’ Trish calls out as X-Factor leave Central Park when Cyclops tells them that this is pointless and that they should go home.
Meanwhile, the morning sunlight shines on the X-Factor complex, and on the young mutant boy within. His name is Artie Maddicks. He cannot speak or write, but the X-Factor in his genetic structure allows him to “pick up” images of events that happen elsewhere and project them for all to see. Right now, he watches, concerned as his best friend and hero Rusty Collins clambers through tunnels underground, and Artie worries because as bad as the people are who chase him, before him in the tunnels are beings who are much, much worse. Artie drops his toys and runs out of his room, he knows he must tell Cameron Hodge, X-Factor’s public relations director, as he will know what to do.
Artie bursts into Cameron’s office, and starts projecting images of the goings-ons in the tunnel. ‘One moment, sir! We have a little problem developing here’ Cameron remarks to the person he is speaking to on the phone. ‘No, sir! Nothing I can’t handle!’ Cameron declares as he gets up and ushers Artie out of his office, ‘What’s going on here? Can’t you see I’m busy!’ Cameron tells Artie, ordering him to get out as he tells him ‘Go have your nasty little fit somewhere else!’. The door slams and a dejected Artie falls to the floor. The images continue to display - Freedom Force, still following Rusty - and the other things down there, too. Artie knows that he has to warn Rusty, to save him, but he cannot do it alone. He wonders how X-Factor will know where Rusty has gone, and where he has to go if he is to save his friend, before pulling out some markers from his pocket.
Later, inside the X-Factor complex, Scott, Jean, Bobby, Warren and Hank have returned. ‘Rusty escaped! We saw him! Surely he’d come back here!’ Warren remarks. ‘I hope! If anything’s happened to him…’ Cyclops begins, his voice trailing off, while Jean calls out to Rusty. Suddenly, Bobby calls everyone to outside Hodge’s office. ‘A drawing - in marker - looks like Artie…and Rusty and that girl! But why -’ Hank begins. ‘Artie did it!’ Warren exclaims. ‘What?’ Marvel Girl asks. ‘He projected what he “saw” and traced it! It’s the only kind of message he can leave! I think he’s followed Rusty into the Morlock Tunnels!’ Angel exclaims.
Meanwhile, in a secret tunnel beneath the X-Factor complex, Artie, wearing one of Rusty’s jackets, follows the track through a series of twists and turns to the Morlocks domain, beneath Manhattan. He has never been here before, but his mental link to Rusty leads him on, until suddenly, the image above him vanishes - and standing before Artie is a mysterious being, about the same size and height as he.
At that moment, ‘Artie’s down there alone! Good grief! We better get after him!’ Bobby exclaims, before Warren reminds everyone that there are hundreds of Morlocks down there, all of the mutants. ‘If we go as X-Factor, they’ll slaughter us!’ he exclaims. ‘And who should blame them? Though in our freedom fighter personas, we should have no problem’ Marvel Girl remarks, before Angel asks her to remove his back-pack. ‘Easy as pie’ Jean exclaims as she lifts it off Warren’s back with her telekinesis, freeing Angel’s wings. ‘Great! I’ve had it with being goody-two-shoes mutant hunters anyway!’ Iceman exclaims as he ices up, while the others are now dressed in their colorful costumes also. ‘Let’s get down and get funky!’ Warren exclaims as he flies down into the tunnels beneath the complex. ‘It’s the X-Terminators to the rescue!’ the Beast shouts.
Elsewhere in the tunnels. ‘Who -?’ asks a young green-skinned mutant as he steps out of the shadows and stands next to Artie. ‘Talk? Not talk?’ the green skinned mutant asks. Artie touches the green-skinned mutants face, and they both smile. ‘Come!’ the green-skinned one exclaims as he takes Artie’s hand, and they walk past a rat. ‘Caliban…?’ the green-skinned child calls out as they enter a room off the side of the tunnel. ‘Leech?’ Caliban calls out, turning around, asking who he has there. ‘Who did you bring to Caliban?’
Leech and Artie stand before Caliban, who remarks that this must be another young mutant, and asks him what his name is. ‘No talk!’ Leech declares. ‘Ah - but you have magic eyes, Caliban thinks! He we test them soon when you are out of range, Leech’ Caliban remarks. Caliban calls Artie “Big Eyes” and explains to him that Leech is a mutant and that his power is to block the power of others, while explaining that his own power is to locate mutants. Caliban remarks that with Leech nearby, Caliban would not know where to find a mutant if he stumbled over one, when suddenly, he hears a loud SCREEECH. ‘What was that?’ Caliban wonders nervously.
Elsewhere in the tunnels, ‘That’s a body! I tripped over a -’ Rusty exclaims, before Sally covers his mouth with her hand, telling him to be quiet. ‘What kind of place is this, anyway?’ Rusty asks, still looking at the body lying before them. Sally assures Rusty that it is not normally like this, and remarks that something is wrong, somebody murdered that girl. ‘But who? Freedom Force?’ she wonders, before hearing some people approaching. ‘Into the water! Hide!’ Sally exclaims as she and Rusty slink into the waist-high water. ‘Destiny? Are they close?’ Mystique calls out, while Spider-Woman seals up the tunnel Freedom Force just emerged from with a psionic web. Destiny replies that she cannot tell. ‘The possibility of death surrounds us - grows stronger every second we remain!’ Destiny exclaims, adding that all other precognition is overwhelmed and lost.
Suddenly, Blob sneaks up behind Rusty and Skids, ‘Hey, Mystique! It don’t take no precognition to nail this sewer rat…does it, scum?’ Blob declares as he lifts Rusty from the water. The Blob begins bashing Rusty against the side of the tunnel, ‘Like I wuz saying earlier - ya got the right ta remain silent - ya got the right ta a lawyer -’ the Blob exclaims, while Mystique and Spider-Woman rush towards him, telling him to stop that. ‘Our orders were to deliver him alive!’ Mystique declares, while Sally tries to intervene, ‘Stop! Please you’ll kill him!’ she tells the Blob, who just knocks her back as he continues to smack Rusty against the wall.
Suddenly, the Blob cries out in pain, and drops Rusty as a blast of optic energy hits his hand. ‘The lady said stop!’ Cyclops calls out as he and the rest of “the X-Terminators” appear. ‘I pulled my punch, Blob! You’re lucky! My eye-beam could have taken off your arm!’ Cyclops declares. ‘You might be Federal Officers, but you’re as rotten as ever! Leopards don’t change their spots, do they?’ Cyclops exclaims. Skids holds Rusty’s unconscious body up in the water, while the Blob exclaims ‘Maybe not! Maybe so! First time I saw you clowns you were X-Men - whey faced little hero brats! Now you’re famous evil mutants…we saw you on TV…and we’re the Feds! Wonderful ain’t it!’ the Blob exclaims.
‘So Cyclops has turned to evil! I foresaw the possibility - remote…and yet…’ Destiny begins. ‘X-Men or X-Terminators - it doesn’t matter what you call yourself - you’re under arrest! Take them!’ Mystique declares, ordering Freedom Force into action. Spider-Woman is first into action, sending psi-webs all over the tunnel, while Mystique moves Destiny into a corner of the tunnel, telling her to stay out of the fight. ‘Without your precognition you’re truly blind!’ Raven declares. ‘I can see nothing here but death’ Destiny replies, before Mystique orders Avalanche to shake the X-Terminators up a bit, and to throw them into Spider-Woman’s psi-webs. Avalanche does so, and the X-Terminators are thrown about: ‘I’m caught!’ Cyclops exclaims as he gets stuck in the webs.
Iceman and the Beast falls off Bobby’s ice-sled, and Pyro aims his flame-thrower at them. Skids exclaims that the ceiling is falling, and tells the unconscious Rusty not to worry, as she lies over him, remarking that her force-field will protect both of them. ‘I hope’ she whispers, while Angel swoops down by Marvel Girl, who announces that she is holding the ceiling up with her telekinesis. ‘Great!’ Angel declares, remarking that Avalanche is the problem, and that he knows just how to deal with him. Angel flies towards Avalanche, and knocks him in the side, but Angel falls to the ground.
Iceman puts up a ice-cove around Warren as he runs over to his good friend, while Pyro remarks that as he said before, he controls open flame, and as Rusty can no longer provide any, he has brought his own, and uses the flame thrower, sending flame towards Bobby. ‘Two can play the power game, Pyro!’ Bobby exclaims, suggesting they see what Pyro can do encased in a block of ice. Bobby then uses his powers to surround Pyro, trapping him. Cyclops exclaims that Bobby has blocked Pyro’s flame thrower, but the flame that he created has not yet faded. ‘It’ll melt him free to turn his flame against us’ Scott adds, before opening an optic blast right at Pyro’s flame-thrower, shattering the ice, but rendering Pyro unable to use his powers. ‘My flame thrower!’ he complains. ‘The fire’s out, pal….and so are you!’ the Beast declares as he bounds in towards Pyro and kicks him in the chest.
‘Yer gonna have a tough time doin’ that one again, One Eye, without any head’ the Blob declares as he picks up a large chunk of ice. ‘What are you, Blob - stupid? Cyke could pulverize you!’ Iceman declares. ‘Not that he’ll get the chance’ Marvel Girl exclaims as she releases her hold on the ceiling above Blob, causing it to fall on him, trapping him. ‘Good thinking! It won’t stop him, he’s practically invulnerable. But it might slow him down’ Angel tells Jean, while above them, Spider-Woman moves across her psionic-webs and sees Marvel Girl below her, dropping down on her, Julia kicks her in the neck. ‘Marvel Girl! No!’ Angel exclaims, but suddenly, “Marvel Girl” shifts back into her true form - Mystique. ‘But I thought -’ Spider-Woman begins, before the Beast tackles her. ‘You thought wrong!’ Hank exclaims, before telling Angel, who is behind him, to get back as he is hurt. ‘I’ve got her!’ Hank adds. ‘Don’t count on it, Ape-Man!’ Spider-Woman exclaims, breaking free of the Beast’s hold, they begin exchanging punches.
Destiny rushes over to Mystique and tells her that they must leave now. ‘You made a deal to preserve our lives! Why are we now throwing them away?’ Destiny asks, exclaiming that if they stay here, the two of them, and most of the others, will die, just as sure as Rusty Collins is as good as dead already. ‘You’re certain…?’ Raven asks. ‘I have never been more certain!’ Destiny exclaims, just as the Blob breaks free of the rubble, ‘Awright, suckers! Now ya got me mad!’ he declares, while Mystique tells Freedom Force that they are leaving here, right now. ‘Leaving? No way! I’m gonna slaughter them!’ Blob snarls. Spider-Woman dodges the Beast, to meet up with her teammates, while Avalanche asks ‘What about them?’, referring to the former X-Men. ‘I…cannot say’ Destiny replies. ‘Yet, we may provide death with an assist, eh, Avalanche?’ Pyro remarks. ‘Yeah! Any of you X-Terminators live through the next few hours, remember - Freedom Force’ll see you get what’s coming to you!’ Avalanche exclaims as he creates a seismic shock, knocking Iceman and the Beast backwards, and sending rubble and water flying everywhere.
Moments later, Cyclops exclaims that the webs have dissolved, while Iceman asks what they can do next, as the Blob recognized them. ‘We should go after them and -’ he begins, to which Cyclops interrupts, ‘And what, Bobby? Kill them?’ he asks, moving over to where the Beast is checking Rusty’s vitals and Marvel Girl is standing with Skids. Cyclops exclaims that they are playing at being evil mutants - X-Terminators - but they haven’t changed their spots anymore than Freedom Force have. ‘And we have more important things to attend to!’ he adds, calling out to the Beast, who announces that Rusty has internal injuries and who knows what else. ‘He needs a doctor - fast!’
The Beast reminds everyone that Artie is still down here, alone, to which Cyclops tells Angel and Jean to fly Rusty back to the complex while he, Iceman and the Beast search for Artie. ‘I want to stay with Rusty! Please, can I come, too?’ Skids asks. Jean uses her telekinesis to lift herself and the unconscious Rusty off the ground, telling Scott that he may need her in the tunnels, but Cyclops exclaims that Rusty is in bad shape and only Jean can move him safely. ‘But Destiny said…’ Jean begins. ‘Save Rusty, Jean! We’ll save Artie!’ Scott calls out, while thinking that he blames himself, for he turned his back on Rusty, practically driving him down here, and then Artie followed to save his friend. ‘Maybe it would be better for all of us if I did die down here! My dreams…all of them…there’s so little left!’ Scott thinks to himself.
Angel takes flight, telling Skids to come on, as the sooner they get there - he stops himself, as Sally falls from his hands when he picks her up. ‘I can’t hold onto you!’ he calls out. ‘I know! That’s why they call me Skids!’ Sally explains, telling Angel not to worry, as she will keep up with them, she can skate on her force field nearly as fast as he can fly.
Scott, Bobby and Hank make their way through into another tunnel, and Bobby asks Scott if he remembers when they saved Freedom Force from the mob earlier. ‘I wish we’d let those people stone them’ Iceman declares. Before Cyclops can respond to Iceman’s comment, there is a scream, and another. ‘My Lord! What as that?’ Scott calls out, unaware that in the tunnels nearby mutants start to die - and Artie is huddled in a corner with Leech and Caliban.
Very shortly, in Washington, ‘You lost Rusty Collins to a pack of upstart evil mutants?’ Dr Valerie Cooper, Freedom Force’s handler and member of the Commission on Super Human Activity, calls out. ‘I was given the impression that I was employing professionals’ Valerie, dressed in a pink skirt and matching jacket exclaims, sitting at the head of a meeting table, with the six members of Freedom Force scattered around it. ‘These weren’t ordinary mutants, Valerie -’ Mystique begins, but Valerie tells her to be silent. ‘Not another word! There is no excuse!’ she shouts, telling Freedom Force that if there is one more mistake, they are off the payroll, before ordering them out of the meeting room.
Making their way through the corridors of the Pentagon, the Blob exclaims that the X-Terminators are not an upstart group, but the old X-Men. ‘I fought ‘em enough ta -’ he begins, but Mystique tells the Blob that she knows that and orders him to shut up, adding that she was going to tell Valerie that before Valerie told her to shut up. ‘Valerie Cooper doesn’t deserve to know the truth. We’ll get the X-Terminators, all right, but we’ll do it our way!’ Mystique exclaims. Rubbing her hands together, Raven exclaims that the Angel is Warren Worthington, the millionaire playboy. ’We’re going to tap into Uncle Sam’s computers and learn what he’s been up to lately - and then we’ll give that reporter, Trish Tilby, a call!’ Mystique exclaims, remarking that Trish is determined, courageous and crusading, and that they can count on her to tell the world that Warren Worthington is an evil mutant…!