Just outside of San Francisco, Thor, the God of Thunder, pounds away at the impenetrable red dome enveloping San Francisco. Although he hits it with the full force of Mjolnir, the dome doesn’t budge. Down below, Reed Richards—otherwise known as the Fantastic Four’s Mister Fantastic—converses with the X-Club about their status. According to Reed, energy levels are at 13.4 percent of the initial reading and falling, but the dome’s composition is…
Dr. Nemesis cuts him off and tells him to quit his prattling. Work, he commands! People are dying inside the dome!
Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch, hovers up above alongside Iron Man. Noticing an ever-expanding crowd of people amassed outside the perimeter of the dome bearing flowers, Johnny asks Iron Man what he supposes it means. There are eight hundred thousand people trapped inside that dome, Iron Man replies. Johnny wants to know what everyone is doing out there? Well, they’re hoping and praying that the X-Men save their loved ones.
Meanwhile, inside the dome on the Golden Gate Bridge, Hope stands awestruck at the chronal distortion at the center of the whole mess. She stands at a safe distance and watches as her father figure, Cable, emerges encased in the Techno-Organic Virus. Please, she whimpers at her father; come back to her.
Cable, resembling Atlas as he bears the incredible burden of a Techno-Organic tunnel running through time, hoists open the pathway to the future. The virus appears to infect every cell of his body.
Cyclops and the White Queen also observe this scene in awe. Scott asks Emma if she can detect Cable’s thoughts. She tells him she’s made contact; according to what Cable’s telling her, this was the only way to save the others. He let the Techno-Organic Virus out, she explains. His entire life, he fought this infection—but now, he’s stopped; he’s letting it take over his body.
Hope takes off running toward her dad. The X-Men try to restrain her, but she’s too quick. Meanwhile, a figure emerges from the portal carrying a body in its arms. As the figure hits the pavement, the others can see that it’s Domino, cradling the badly injured—but still living—body of X-23 in her arms. Surge lets out a relieved shout as her friend Laura emerges. She’s alive—they’re all alive, the White Queen confirms. She tells the X-Men that the rest are coming through at that moment.
Amidst another flash of bright light, the portal ejects Archangel, followed by Wolverine, who carries the limp body of Cypher in his arms. “We need a doctor here!” Logan shouts. “Now, dammit!” When the others rush to his side, Wolverine tells them to take Cypher. “He did it,” Logan tells them. “The kid shut it all down.”
Hope, meanwhile, watches Cable with dread. With tears welling up in her eyes, she asks him to say something. His metallic skin shimmering in the light from the portal, Cable just smiles at her. Then—he explodes. The eruption rends every cell of his body into pieces, sending shrapnel in all directions. His left arm, however, comes off largely intact. Hope screams in horror as she witnesses the death of the man who protected and cared for her throughout her entire young life.
Meanwhile, from the shores of the bay, Bastion and his two remaining minions watch as their link to the future erodes. Bastion reports to Steven Lang and Graydon Creed that the time sphere has collapsed; they no longer have any contact with Master Mold. Creed begins to freak. He proclaims that it’s over—that Bastion has failed and that they need to get out of there and regroup. He begs Lang to convince Bastion of this. Not surprisingly, Lang agrees with Creed; whatever the X-Men did, their Sentinels are down, their forces are scattered, and there are too many mutants for them to handle.
Bastion refuses to accept this. Overriding the T/O Virus technology in the bodies of Creed and Lang, he subverts their wills to his and tells the humans they will not fail. Do they understand? Can they understand this? The girl, Bastion states, must die—even if they have to tear her head from her body with their own hands. With that, he launches off the ground and toward the bridge.
How will I know?
The 31st century…
“Know what?” Cable asks a young Hope Summers.
“When I’m ready to go back. You keep saying I’ll know. How?” she asks. Cable simply tells her she’ll know. Again, she asks how she will know, but Cable responds this time by telling her she needs some sleep.
Hope begins to whine. Sitting before a campfire, she leans her head against Cable’s robotic left shoulder. Acquiescing, he tells her she’ll feel it when the time comes; it’ll feel like nothing she’s ever felt before. It’ll be like a switch turned on inside of her, like a fire. Once that fire’s lit, he adds—everything will change. Hope asks Cable if he’s ever felt this feeling. “I have,” he answers. When, she asks. “The moment I first held you.”
Cyclops approaches the grieving Hope. He tells her he’s sorry. She says nothing and remains kneeling on the ground, amidst Cable’s ashes and his disembodied left arm. She rebuffs Cyclops’ attempt to console her; in fact, she tells him that if he puts his hand on her shoulder, she swears to God he’ll lose it.
Cyclops, undeterred, tries to console her anyway. Hope turns around and glares at him. “You did this. This is all your fault,” she says. “I hate you. I hate—”
Suddenly, an object crashes through the center of the Golden Gate Bridge with meteoric force. It rends the bridge in two, and both ends begin plunging toward the bay. The X-Men—and everything else on the bridge, for that matter—tumble toward the icy water, dodging rubble and abandoned cars as they go.
While Domino dives in to retrieve the unconscious body of X-23, Hope swims to the submerged end of the bridge and pulls herself onto the asphalt. As she struggles for each inch, she encourages herself by repeating some of Cable’s motivational mantras. “Move,” she tells herself. “Survive...”
“No,” a voice says from above. Hope lifts her head and beholds Bastion, fully armored and accompanied by the Sentinel-powered Graydon Creed and Steven Lang. They hover in the air ominously. “Survival is not an option. The mutant species ends here. It ends with you,” Bastion tells Hope.
Undaunted, Hope glares at him, her eyes the embodiment of rage. From behind her, Cyclops pleads with her to get out of the way while he fires his optic blasts at the Sentinels. Bastion easily deflects the attacks. He orders Creed and Lang to exterminate every mutant they see. “We will deal with the girl,” Bastion says. Again, Cyclops begs Hope to escape, but Bastion fires an energy attack at his feet. He leaps out of the way. Hope, meanwhile, continues glaring at Bastion.
Just behind them, Domino, carrying X-23 over her shoulder, emerges from the water alongside Wolverine, Archangel and Armor. Domino asks what’s happening now; she thought they took all the Sentinels down! The rest of them wonder what Hope is doing—and why she isn’t running for her life.
Hope, snarling, threatens Bastion for what he did to Cable. Cable was all she had; he was her whole life. Bastion simply tells her to die and fires a plasma beam directly at her.
At that moment, a swirling, protective aura envelopes Hope, effectively deflecting Bastion’s attack. From within the whirl of flames, she keeps her eyes locked on her target. Bastion looks at her with confusion; his systems inform him that this is a new mutant power signature. Its classification, he states, is unknown; its power levels, incalculable. He continues firing at her anyway. Before long, however, an optic blast obliterates his left arm—an optic blast coming from the eyes of Hope Summers.
While repairing himself, Bastion tells Hope that their only purpose is to eliminate her: to end the chaos and death that she brings. Does she understand this?
How will I know?
Hope’s left arm suddenly turns into living steel. She plunges it through Bastion’s torso. They will end her, Bastion declares. Hope lunges backward and falls to the ground. While resting her armored hand on the asphalt, she coats the surrounding area with a light layer of ice.
You’ll feel it, Hope. Like nothing you’ve ever felt before.
A pillar of ice, under Hope’s control, suddenly surges upward and encases Bastion, immobilizing him. This moment is the beginning, Bastion snarls at her. They may look to her as a messiah, but she is not. She is the adversary, he states. He fires an array of rockets at her from his shoulder.
It’ll be like a switch turned on inside you.
As the rockets near, Hope erects a wall of molten asphalt in front of her as a shield. The rockets hit the wall and detonate harmlessly. Bastion, meanwhile, breaks free of the ice and continues outlining to Hope why she must die. Her death is the reason for their existence, he says, referring to himself and the Sentinels. And they will never quit. She must be killed in order to ensure that humanity lives. That, he says, is their purpose—for if she survives, nothing survives.
Hope begins levitating. Crimson flames swirl around her body; she glows bright-red with the light of a sun.
Like a fire. And once that fire’s lit…everything will change.
A beam of white energy, directed at Bastion, erupts from Hope’s eyes. Radiant fire springs from her back like a pair of wings.
Nearby, while fighting the two remaining Sentinels, X-23 asks Logan what’s happening. Logan doesn’t answer her; instead, he stares at the familiar energy aura surrounding Hope in awe. Emma, encased in diamond, appears to see the same thing. So does Scott; he watches as Hope takes to the sky encased in the fiery form of a bird. She turns to look at them for a moment and makes eye contact with Scott. He stares deeply into her green eyes, framed by her head of red hair.
He suddenly cries out at Logan and charges toward Hope and Bastion. Logan joins him—and tells Emma to stay. There’s nothing she can do now, he says. Emma gently shuts her eyes and lowers her head. “I know,” she says.
Hope and Bastion continue to grapple. As he closes his claw around Hope’s throat, she screams. It is beyond their capacity to hate her, Bastion says. It is beyond their capacity to enjoy murdering her. They have grown beyond their capacity, however; they DO hate her, and they WILL enjoy killing her.
An optic blast hits Bastion in the arm, knocking him away long enough for Hope to break free and for Wolverine to tackle him in mid-air. “You wanna enjoy something, you murdering son of a bitch?” Wolverine asks. “This is for Kurt!!” He sinks his claws into Bastion’s cranium.
On the ground, meanwhile, Hope’s eyes begin glowing as brightly as stars. Placing the palm of her hand on the ground, she tells Nathan she’s finally ready now. The asphalt glows white hot around her hand before erupting. A pillar of fire spews out of the ground directly beneath Bastion and surges toward the dome-covered sky. It knocks Wolverine clear of the most powerful part, while Cyclops and Hope fall backward and are mercifully spared. Bastion, however, is not so fortunate; the pillar of fire completely obliterates him. It even destroys the supposedly impenetrable red sphere surrounding the city of San Francisco.
Outside, the Avengers watch with puzzlement as the dome disintegrates. Thor could feel it weakening, but admits it was not he who shattered it. They’ll have to figure it out later, Iron Man says; he’s receiving transmissions from police and firefighters. At that moment, however, the two of them look toward the unveiled city and discover that the Golden Gate Bridge is not only destroyed, but that the X-Men are at ground zero.
From his viewpoint inside Mister Fantastic’s hovercar, Dr. Nemesis observes the scene unfolding on the bridge. Cyclops did it, he acknowledges. Reed doesn’t understand; what exactly did he do? “He kept his people alive,” Nemesis explains. “He survived.”
Meanwhile, on the bridge, enveloped by a ray of light seeming to stem directly from the heavens, the seemingly unconscious Hope Summers floats with her head thrown back, basking in its warmth. The rest of the X-Men stand around her unable to hide their expressions of sheer awe.