The Xavier Institute… ‘Serafina? What are you doing?’ Perro asks the enigmatic and powerful woman. Serafina replies to her well-built companion that she is watching through the X-Men’s own security cameras. She reminds Perro of Sangre’s orders - to cover their tracks by killing Sabretooth - so they can then move on, at their own pace, with the grand design. Serafina adds that, so far, she thinks it is going very well. Serafina points out that the X-Men couldn’t anticipate the enhanced powers they gave to the Beaubier twins, so the X-Men think they know what they’re dealing with - which is a fatal mistake.
Jean-Paul and Jeanne-Marie Beaubier a.k.a. Northstar and Aurora respectively. They are founding and long-serving members of Canada’s premiere super hero team, Alpha Flight. Long separated since Northstar joined the X-Men and Aurora was captured by Weapon X, the mutant twins have recently been reunited - to kill the X-Men. A mighty explosion destroys a room at the Xavier Institute - a room with two members of the X-Men in it - Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie and Bobby “Iceman” Drake. Not only is Iceman Northstar’s former teammate whom he had a not-so-secret crush on, but Iceman is currently being blown apart.
Serafina confirms to Perro that Iceman is down, but Cannonball has escaped by using his powers to shield himself from the explosion as he blasts into open air above the Institute. However, Serafina isn’t concerned by this, as she doesn’t believe Cannonball represents any real threat.
Back inside the mansion, Wolverine a.k.a. Logan, Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin, Scott “Cyclops” Summers and Emma Frost, the White Queen, have gathered and march down a hallway. Logan asks Cyclops what is going on, to which the X-Men’s mighty leader explains that the perimeter has been breached, there was a twelve second power black out and a scream that sounded like Bobby. Scott is about to tell his teammates to keep the students back until they know what is going on, when Cannonball comes careening through the window and crashes into Colossus.
His clothes torn by the explosion, Cannonball informs his teammates that it is Northstar and Aurora and that they seem to be out for blood! ‘Don’t ask me how he’s not dead or what they’re doing here!’ Cannonball suggests to Emma that she lock onto the twins before they move, but that means Emma has to switch out of her diamond-hard form to use her telepathy. All witnessed by Serafina, Emma’s body responds to her will within a hundredth of a second - but to the Beaubier twins, at their current power levels - that is a window as wide as the world, and they race into the hallway and knock the White Queen to her feet. The speed of light is 186000 miles per second. The speed of the servos in Cyclops’ visor is considerably slower. Northstar steps into the gab and exploits it elegantly, causing Cyclops’ optic blast to ricochet all around the hallway.
Standing outside, near the Institute, Serafina remarks to Perro that it has been twenty-seven seconds since they sent the twins in, and that she was expecting better, before seeing on the cameras that, at last, Northstar is moving to the primary target while Aurora mops up the last of the remaining opposition.
Back inside, ‘Mr Beaubier! Wait!’ exclaims the student Victor Borokowski a.k.a. “Anole,” extremely surprised to see the man he once admired, Anole explains that he was coming to see what all the noise was about, ‘I can’t believe this! You’re alive!’ Excited, Victor asks if what happened to Northstar was all part of some plan or something. Jean-Paul stops in his tracks outside a secure room. ‘Victor,’ Jean-Paul says. ‘You were working undercover? You could have told me!’ Anole exclaims. Jean-Paul tells Victor that it is good to see him, but that he must leave him, as there is danger. Victor puts a hand on Northstar’s back, only for the confused Northstar to elbow Anole in the face, causing his former pupil to fall to the ground unconscious.
‘Focus!’ exclaims Jean-Paul, clutching his head before ripping open the doors to the vaulted room. But before he can get much further, ‘Sorry about the bare knuckles, Jean-Paul!’ Rogue exclaims as her gloveless fists punch him in the face. Jean-Paul falls to the ground as Rogue remarks that if the power goes out, someone has to come down here and evacuate the cells. ‘Guess you forgot that’ Rogue mutters before telling her former teammate to not bother getting up, for even if he can, she has taken all his speed. Northstar does get to his feet and reveals to Rogue that the angel that sent him here gave him more than enough power to finish the job. ‘And she promised me the joys of Heaven when I’ve killed you all!’ Rogue replies by telling Jean-Paul that he will sure as Hell have to earn them.
Back outside, Perro asks Serafina what is happening, reminding her that he cannot splice his consciousness into machines like she can. Serafina replies that Northstar has engaged Rogue, while Aurora is finishing off the others and the Sentinels still haven’t reacted, as their size prevents them from entering the mansion.
Aurora draws X-23 in close, slowing down on purpose, because as Aurora carries no weapons, X-23 senses no danger. But at twice the speed of sound, weapons are irrelevant when your fingertips will pierce steel - like Aurora does to X-23. Aurora turns her attention to Cessily Kincaid a.k.a. Mercury, and as the young mutant approaches Aurora, who has been trained in combat by none other than Wolverine, Aurora uses her speed to separate Cessily’s liquid-metal body. Serafina remarks that it is all clear now, when, suddenly - ‘Jeanne-Marie. We can’t do this anymore!’ exclaims a second Aurora as she appears behind Jeanne-Marie.
‘N-no!’ cries Jeanne-Marie, while the “reflection” of herself exclaims ‘We’re falling apart. Don’t you see? We’re killing ourself. Try to remember when we were only one mind. One pair of eyes.’ The real Jeanne-Marie begins to protest, ‘I’m not -’ she begins, until the “reflection” exclaims ‘You don’t know who you are. You never did!’ She leans down to the real Jeanne-Marie and tells her that she is leaving. ‘I think I’ll manage better on my own’. Aurora snaps and pushes the other away, ‘You can’t!’ she exclaims as she begins to punch her, ordering her to get back inside, when suddenly Aurora begins to weaken as a steam begins to appear around her and eventually make her pass out.
The “reflection” Jeanne-Marie reverts to her true form of Mystique and exclaims ‘Iceman? Is that you? If so, thank you for the very timely assistance!’ Bobby exclaims that he came back - ‘Steam to ice to -’ he begins to struggle, exclaiming that he cannot breathe, and passes out, half-ice half-man. Mystique goes over to Bobby and remarks that this will certainly count as a humanitarian gesture, but that it is a pity no one is here to see it, and with that, Raven Darkholme places her lips on Bobby’s and breathes life back into him.
Back in the vaulted section of the mansion, Rogue combats Northstar using his own speed against him. But the recently-deceased former X-Man tells Rogue that she cannot damage him, for the same force that shields him from friction takes the power from her blows. Rogue replies that it cuts both ways, pointing out that every time she gets through his guard, she steals a little bit more of what is keeping him moving. Jean-Paul declares that speed-dueling isn’t just about velocity, and adds that some things you only learn through experience.
Racing down a corridor with Rogue trailing behind him, Northstar exclaims that creating wind shear is one such thing, then, turning back to Rogue, he adds that turning momentum into power is another, and smashes Rogue to the ground. Jean-Paul exclaims that this wont hurt and remarks that he doesn’t have the time right now to make it hurt. ‘But dead is dead, right -’ suddenly, Jean-Paul is struck in the head by a blast, and in enters yet another former X-Man, the warrior Nathan Summers a.k.a. Cable who declares that he is really sorry to interrupt, but that the door was open so he just knocked and walked on in. Standing over Jean-Paul’s motionless body, Cable remarks that part of Jean-Paul is screaming at himself for what he just said about Rogue, ‘So I think you’ll probably thank me for this someday.’
‘No! It’s going wrong!’ Serafina exclaims. Perro asks how is it going wrong, to which the enigmatic young woman replies that an additional variable has entered - something they did not anticipate. Perro reminds Serafina that he told her they should have done this themselves, to which Serafina replies that he should tell Sangre that, because it was Sangre’s plan to hide their full power until it was too late for the X-Men to stop them. Serafina points out that, right now, the proxies have let them down, so she is going to go in. Perro is surprised, and as Serafina begins walking towards the mansion he calls out to her that she is exceeding the brief.
Serafina replies that the brief is to deal with Sabretooth and anyone he may have spoken to. She asks Perro to tell Sangre that is what she intends to do, before assuring him that she will stay cloaked, so nothing will see or sense her unless she wants them to. Approaching the security gates, Serafina exclaims ‘Voice identification Emma Frost. Accept and log new voice sample’. The computer beeps and the gates open, allowing the powerful young woman into the Xavier Institute.
Nearby, several O*N*E* soldiers are gathered, and one of them asks if they are going to go in. Another replies that he is unsure, as it sounded like a riot in there, but now there is no sound. Up inside two of the Sentinels which are supposed to protect the X-Men, students and The 198, one of the operators mutters that this is a thrilling detail, while the other replies that if something got past them and into the house then they will see “thrilling” when Rhodes finds out. Undetected by everyone and everything, Serafina slips into the X-Men’s home through a damaged wall.
Shortly, Serafina stands in amongst the X-Men who have all gathered together - Wolverine, Cyclops, the White Queen, Rogue, Iceman, Cannonball, Colossus and Shadowcat. Aurora lies on the ground, while Cable brings in the unconscious Northstar. Upon seeing his son, Cyclops asks Cable what he is doing here. Cable replies that the short answer is that he wants to know what is going on. ’Looks pretty obvious from here, bub’ Logan remarks while Cannonball tends to Iceman. Cable replies ’Does it?’ and informs the X-Men that they may not be aware that the sun went dark for three seconds - or that most of the energy - billions of joules - was siphoned off to a site only half a mile from the Xavier Institute.
Cannonball picks Iceman up and remarks that it seems like what happened has to be connected to this attack. As Cable puts Northstar down beside Aurora, Emma points out that the Beaubier twins do not have solar-based powers, or a reason for doing this. Cable asks the X-Men if they are sure that Northstar and Aurora are the only enemies they are facing. Cannonball tells his former X-Force leader that, to be honest, they are not sure of anything. Adding that they didn’t even know Northstar was alive until five minutes ago. Carrying Iceman out of the room, Cannonball tells Cable that it is good to see him again and that he hopes he sticks around a while to help them figure this out. With that, Sam leaves the room informing everyone he is taking Bobby to the infirmary, unaware of course that Serafina is following him.
Colossus turns to Wolverine and asks him what the matter is, to which Logan replies that he isn’t sure, but that it is like he is smelling a hole in the air - something isn’t right here. Rogue exclaims that what isn’t right here is that Northstar knew about Sabretooth being here, adding that she thinks Creed might have been the main target. ’Creed is here?’ Cable asks. Rogue informs Cable that Sabretooth showed up yesterday, on the run from something but he will not say what.
Cable suggests that he might be able to help, to which Emma informs him that she has already tried to read him and failed. ’Do you even have your psi-powers anymore?’ Emma asks snidely. ’Yes and no,’ Cable replies, before explaining that he wasn’t planning on reading Sabretooth, just playing him. Cyclops kneels down by Northstar and Aurora and asks what they should do with them. Emma announces that the Beaubier twins’ minds are both full of broken glass, that they saw an angel, but she is quite sure that the angel was a post-production effect. ’You mean like your hair?’ Rogue asks, before informing Cable that Sabretooth is in the basement and that he can give it a shot, as she doesn’t see how much they have to lose now.
Shortly, Cable smirks at Victor “Sabretooth” Creed, telling him that it is his luck day, as he just had a narrow escape from a co-opted assassin. ‘And you’re about to have another one from me’. ‘Ya think so?’ Creed replies. Cable replies that he does, to which Creed asks why that would be. ‘Because you’re not stupid and this is a no-brainer’ Cable replies, before revealing to Creed that he knows he turned up here looking bruised and battered, and asks if his healing factor is giving him problems. Creed replies that it is fine now and asks Cable if he can cut him loose so they can spar a little.
Cable remarks that perhaps Creed needs an in-depth examination. ‘Maybe you need a shrink,’ he exclaims, pointing out that some believe your state of mind can affect your immune system. Cable puts a couple of fingers to Creed’s forehead and tells him that stress and exhaustion all takes its toll - it takes away that fine edge that makes one feel a little sick. ‘What are you trying to do to me, scar face?’ Creed asks. Cable replies ‘Nothing. Just putting ideas in your head’ Cable adds that he may not be able to read Creed’s mind, but he can write to it, planting suggestions that will slow him down or throw him off in a fight, brining him down to everyone else’s level. ‘I doubt you’d like it there’ Cable tells him.
Face-to-face, Creed goads Cable - ‘Try it, soldier-boy. Dive in. Deeper you go, harder it is to get out again!’ Cable doesn’t respond, so Sabretooth pulls back muttering that he was going to use this information to buy his way into the Xavier Institute anyway, just in case the X-chumps were feeling less noble than usual. Creed reveals that they are called the Children of the Vault. ‘They’re not mutants, but they’re not human either’ he reveals, adding that the reason they want to kill him is because he knows they exist. ‘So I guess you all just joined me on the endangered species list!’
Meanwhile, in the med-lab, the Beast stands by Bobby’s bed and tells him that evaporating then recondensing is an X-Men first, before asking him how it is done. Cannonball and Karima Shapandar stand by the bed also and Bobby replies that he doesn’t know how he did it, for although he was still conscious and still aware, he found that if he concentrated he could sort of coalesce - pull himself together again. Beast tells Bobby that they are all glad he did, before explaining that he is going to take a reading of his core-density, when Karima announces that it is eighteen percent down on normal mean values, and that salt and potassium are down by a quarter.
‘Almost suspiciously precise, Miss Shapandar’ Beast remarks, to which Karima replies that the Sentinel technology in her body makes analyzing mutant abilities a part of her core functionality. ‘Yes, of course’ Beast replies, before turning back to Iceman and prescribing bed rest and a bath of liquid hydrogen to have him feeling perky again in no time, adding that it will mean he will have to be sealed in the med-lab. ‘You’ll be fine, Bobby’ Sam remarks, to which Iceman replies that right now he feels like a slush puppy, and asking Sam to thank Mystique for him, as she kind of came through when he needed it.
Sam waves goodbye to Bobby as he and Beast leave the room in the med-lab where Bobby is sealed in, unaware that Serafina is watching them. Serafina follows Sam, then walks over to the bed where Lady Mastermind a.k.a. Regan Wyngarde is recuperating and reads her chart. ’Forgive me, Sangre. I can’t resist!’ Serafina remarks as she uses her powers to enter Lady Mastermind. Sam senses something wrong and calls out ’Hello? Somebody there?’, when suddenly, he finds himself in a strange place, dark, with photographs all around him. Serafina stands behind him and tells him that there is no point in struggling, that if he relaxes into this, his mind may even remain more or less intact. ’Now…what game shall we play first?’….