The X-Men are having a relaxing day in the grounds, enjoying a friendly game of baseball. It’s Moira MacTaggert’s last day in New York and the X-Men want to make it a day to remember. Colossus is at bat with Nightcrawler pitching. They are focused on the game and even Professor Xavier finds himself drawn into the excitement. After hitting two home runs in his first two goes, Piotr again hits the ball clean and it takes Jean’s telekinesis to prevent another accident. The last time, he hit a ball that hard, he broke the windshield of a light plane flying at one thousand feet.
Piotr runs for base and Wolverine tells Jean to stop babbling and throw the ball so he can tag Piotr. She does as she is asked and Wolverine spreads himself wide and extends his adamantium claws as Piotr sprints towards him. He transforms himself into his steel form and asks Wolverine if he thinks to frighten him. “Keep on comin’ pal, an’ I may do more than scare ya!” replies Wolverine. Colossus dives towards the base and a thick cloud of dust envelops them both upon impact. As the dust clears, courtesy of Storm, Piotr is shown to be sitting on Wolverine, looking smug. “You were saying, Wolverine,” he says as his comrade tells him to get off. Piotr says he won’t until he sheathes his claws. This is a game, he adds, not war. Wolverine wonders what the difference is but concedes the point and retracts his claws.
Once upright, it is clear that Wolverine has taken this a little personally and declines Scott’s invite to take a break. He isn’t interested and he ain’t tired. Jean puts her arms around him and asks if anyone ever told him he’s got one heckuva chip on his shoulders. Not to my face, he replies, not twice. She says he can’t be a loner all his life, before turning towards Scott, who holds her hand. Wolverine watches them. He liked being a loner. No hassles, no complications, no grief. He lived his whole life not knowing what love is and not caring either; till he met Jean.
Moira checks her watch and says it’s almost four o’clock. The man from the telephone company should arrive any minute, so she heads back to the mansion, asking Sean to save her some lemonade. Hurry back, he replies. His words are soft, colored by his love for Moira, who he has known only a few short months. She means the world to him, as he does to her. More and more these days, Banshee finds himself thinking of settling down. He’d be surprised to know that Moira has been thinking along those same lines.
She races through the mansion, her thoughts twisting back to days long past. She recalls the dreams she’d shared with Charles Xavier and the nightmare they became. That is a story for another time, though, and, for now, she answers the door. Standing there is a stocky man, wearing a cap. His facial appearance shocks Moira. He asks if something is wrong and she stutters an excuse, saying she was just thinking of something else. She asks him to follow her and she’ll show him the main junction box. As they walk, she thinks to herself that she’s seen plastic surgery before and then feels guilty, thinking he must get that reaction a lot. She says that she can’t understand what’s wrong. The phones were working fine yesterday. As she opens the door to the junction box, the man pulls out a gun. “Oh my god!” she cries, but, before she can react further, he shoots her in the chest. “I’m afraid he can’t help you Dr. MacTaggert; no one can.”
Moira falls to the floor and the man bends down and checks her. The drug worked as well as his master said it would. By the time she regains consciousness, it’ll be all over. He removes his work clothes to reveal a costume underneath. He wonders why a woman with a worldwide reputation in genetics and biophysics is playing housekeeper to a bunch of kids. He guesses that’s partly why he’s here. His master has a lot of questions to ask about Xavier and his school for gifted youngsters. He takes his tool box and heads to the mansion’s computer center. He has to find answers fast, as there’s no telling when someone might come looking for her.
He enters the computer room and finds a large monitor, which he can use to check if any of them are heading his way. It’s a pretty simple layout, so it won’t take him long to realign the primary programming, he thinks. Suddenly, he reels from a mental attack. However, it doesn’t come from Charles Xavier but from elsewhere. His ‘master’ calls him Warhawk and tells him that the pain will pass. It is merely a reminder of his power. He also reminds him that he saved him from certain death and made him a sane man once more. All he requires in return is that Warhawk serves him. He warns Warhawk that if he fails him, then retribution will be swift, agonizing… and final. Warhawk understands but curses his nameless, faceless soul. He continues with his work, swearing to be free of him someday.
Meanwhile, back on the improvised playing field, Jean telekinetically pushes Charles along in his wheelchair. She thinks that she should get out to Westchester more often. Living in Greenwich Village makes her lose track of things like green grass and fresh air. Wolverine asks Jean if she’s up for some nine-ball and beer. Scott thinks his request is unusual, as he’s never asked for company before. Why Jean? Scott wonders. He says he hates to spoil his afternoon, but the X-Men have a date with the Danger Room. Wolverine isn’t really up for a session and asks Scott if their taking a day off bothers him. Scott replies that he can think that if he likes, but asks everyone to get into costume. He’ll brief them inside.
Charles asks Jean if she’s joining them, as he worries she may lose her combat edge. Without constant training, she becomes vulnerable to attack. On the other hand, he points out, how vulnerable can a woman be who has matched Firelord’s power and then saved the universe. “Not very, I suppose,” comes the reply. Jean thinks about how her roommate, Misty Knight, calls her, her ‘kozmic roomie.’ If only she could laugh about it so easily. So much has happened to her since she became Phoenix; she hasn’t been able to sort things out. She’s scared; as she never wanted the Phoenix power, yet using it feels so good. She is still not sure she can handle it. She remembers a saying. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. She is lost inside, and no one can help her find her way.
Suddenly, Warhawk rounds a corner and points his weapon at the both of them. In an instant, both Jean and Charles suffer the same fate as Moira MacTaggert. Jean’s powers fail her, though she takes several shots, just one of which could have decked an elephant. Another shot will probably kill her, thinks Warhawk, but that’s her problem. He fires again.
(The Danger Room)
Oblivious to the danger elsewhere in the mansion, Cyclops instructs everyone on their training run. He suddenly receives feedback from both Jean and Charles and he knows they’ve been attacked. Behind them, the door to the Danger Room is slammed shut. Cyclops somehow expected that. Colossus takes matters into his own hands and pummels the door, trying to hammer his way through. Unexpectedly, he is hurled backwards by an energy backlash. Cyclops thinks that maybe the safety interlocks have been sabotaged.
The Danger Room then shows why it is thus named, as lasers cut their way through the room at full power, forcing the X-Men to scatter. Kurt knows they’ve been ambushed, but fails to react to a pile-driver which slams him towards the far wall. Luckily for him, Storm is on hand to pull him away from certain death. She is worried, as the Danger Room is programmed to know all there is about them and their powers. Whoever planned the attack did so brilliantly. She flies around the room carrying Kurt, but they are both enveloped in an unbreakable woven steel mesh. The harder they struggle, the tighter the net draws around them, as they fall the thirty feet to the floor.
Wolverine notices Colossus getting to his feet and, thinking quickly, calls for a fastball special, going upwards. He hurls Wolverine above him and he slashes at the net with his claws with amazing precision, avoiding cutting his teammates but cutting deep enough to tear the mesh. Storm thanks him but Wolverine has noticed laser cutters heading Scott’s way. He hasn’t spotted them. Wolverine momentarily thinks that if he just butts out, he’ll have a clear track with Jeannie. The trouble is, back-shootin’ ain’t his style, so he leaps at Cyclops and pushes him clear of the danger. Cyclops owes him one and slams the panic button on the wall to shut the Danger Room down. This should freeze the main program but, unfortunately, the safety circuits have also been bypassed. The program continues to run.
At the mercy of the room, Scott calls for Nightcrawler. In a race against time, sooner or later, one of them is going to make a mistake. They have to shift the odds their way. He informs Nightcrawler that outside the entrance is the Danger Room’s primary power terminal. He wants Kurt to teleport there and shut it down. Kurt replies that he’ll try and do it, and Scott suggests he take Wolverine with him, just in case there’s a reception committee. Kurt grabs hold of Wolverine and warns him that this may hurt. He tried this stunt once before with Princess Lilandra and barely survived. Wolverine is bigger than she was and he worries that the strain could tear them apart. Regardless of the danger, he teleports and, with a crack of flame and a stench of brimstone, they are gone. Wolverine and Nightcrawler reappear six feet away but on the other side of the separating wall. Wolverine collapses from the strain and Kurt quickly follows, passing out.
Storm, meanwhile, avoids the Danger Room’s traps and blasts, but thinks it’s ironic that they managed to survive on a world millions of light years from Earth, only to be cut down in their home. She is finally caught with a stun bolt, which frazzles her nerves. She falls and a metal platform catches her, folding up on impact, trapping her. Immediately, Storm realizes she is trapped. Although she knows she shouldn’t panic, she finds herself unable to stop her claustrophobia creeping up on her. Banshee notices the danger quickly and informs Scott of Ororo’s predicament. He lifts Scott towards the box. Scott says it’s hard to imagine Storm having a weakness and Banshee agrees. It’s not something she talks about. He wouldn’t have believed it had he not seen her go to pieces when they fought his cousin, Black Tom and the Juggernaut.
Banshee prepares to combine his sonic scream with Scott’s optic blasts, but sonic mufflers suddenly appear from the wall, covering every surface. Without his sonic powers, Banshee cannot fly and he begins to fall, dropping Cyclops as he does so. Scott manages to break his fall by grabbing a piece of machinery but Sean isn’t so lucky and hits the ground hard. As if they didn’t have enough problems, a large robot called Colosso emerges from a concealed closet and attacks Cyclops and Colossus. He passes on metal-crushing duties to Colossus, who is happy to assist. He launches a hefty blow at Colosso but it has little effect, other than covering him in a kind of glue. The paste seems almost alive and spreads all over his body. Try as he might, he cannot tear free of it, rendering him helpless.
Wolverine, meanwhile, is made of stern stuff and he recovers quickly. Though severely weakened, he decides to skrag the whole control panel to ensure the room is switched off. A small explosion shuts off the Danger Room’s power and he decides to lever the doors open. Before he can do that, however, Wolverine is punched from behind by Warhawk. He informs Wolverine that he shouldn’t worry about his friends; he has enough troubles of his own.
Wolverine readies himself for a fight, popping his claws and turning to face Warhawk. He’s been getting stomped on by everyone of late and, quite frankly, he’s getting sick of it. He warns Warhawk that if he wants to roughhouse, he’s ready to oblige. Warhawk points his weapon at him and Wolverine recognizes the design. It’s a flechette pistol which fires rocket-powered darts. He asks him his name. Warhawk gives him one and says he is the ultimate soldier. His claws aren’t going to be of much use against his weapon and he fires a dart at him. Astonishingly, Wolverine slices the dart in mid-air, using cobra-fast reactions, and heads straight for his opponent. Like his namesake, he tells Warhawk he is fast and he’s mean when he gets mad. People get hurt. He slashes at Warhawk’s chest, but his claws bounce off his skin like it was steel.
Warhawk tosses him away, admitting that he underestimated him, but that changes nothing. His skin and bones are a form of organic metal, tougher than steel and impervious to harm. All Wolverine can do is annoy him. Wolverine has another go but once again finds himself falling short. He likens Warhawk’s fighting style to Iron Fist’s, whom he fought a few weeks back. As he is thrown once again, Warhawk explains that his orders were to observe them, to find out what makes them so special and then test them to the furthest of their abilities. If he can possibly avoid killing them, he will. However, in Wolverine’s case, he thinks he’ll make an exception.
Wolverine hits the door to the Danger Room and finds that it actually burns him. It then begins to glow white hot and, suddenly, Colossus bursts through it. Wolverine tells them who their assailant is and Warhawk knows that, against five of them, he doesn’t stand a chance. He remembers a gas bomb his master gave him, an aerosol variant on the dart toxin. He’s immune to it, but the X-Men will drop like flies. He reaches down for it, only to discover his belt is missing. “Looking for this, Herr Krieghabicht?” asks Nightcrawler, standing behind him juggling the bomb. He says he took it from his belt in the confusion and hopes he doesn’t mind. That said, he punches Warhawk in the face but it hurts him more than it does his foe. Colossus tries his luck and is more successful, knocking Warhawk out cold.
After the four unconscious victims are revived, the police arrive and remove Warhawk. Captain Delaney does however wish to know how they managed to stop him. According to the federal flyer, Warhawk is supposed to be unstoppable. “Luck, Captain Delaney,” replies Cyclops. Delaney wasn’t expecting a straight answer, but lets it go. The X-Men and Moira head back inside and Charles explains that he can understand the captain being upset. His school has a reputation, which isn’t surprising considering what occasionally goes on there. The constant frustration makes Delaney a little irritable.
Jean, however, is concerned that, although Warhawk is no more than a second-rate Colossus, he managed to take her out as easily as he did Moira. She couldn’t stop him. Her powers failed her when she needed them most and she wants to know why. She then tells Charles that she’s changed her mind about leaving. For as long as he’ll have her, he has himself another X-Man. Scott knows that there’s more to this than meets the eye. Jean’s voice almost sounded scared and he wants to help, but wonders why she won‘t talk to him anymore.
He asks Charles if he has any idea where Warhawk came from, or why he attacked them. Charles doesn’t know. He appears to be just another super-villain with a grudge. However, he was totally shielded against his and Jean’s telepathic probes. His pattern of attack indicates that they faced someone who knows as much about the mansion as do they. The fact that Warhawk or whoever sent him knows about them at all, is a cause for alarm. He looks at his X-Men and says that he senses great and powerful forces gathering all around them. He fears they may destroy them before they’re through. Wolverine pops his claws again. “Yeah?” he says, defiantly, “We ain’t exactly pushover’s y’know Prof,” he adds. They’ve beaten some pretty rough customers, and they’ll do so again. They’ll be ready for anyone who wants to skrag the X-Men. The others salute his fighting spirit.