‘Company life. Company funeral. Company hymn,’ exclaims a well-dressed woman as she strides towards an equally well-dressed man sitting at his desk. The blond man turns, ‘Huh? Oh. Hi, Sarah!’ he exclaims, smiling at the dark-haired woman. Sarah apologizes and tells Sam that he looked so serious sitting there, and asks if there is anything she can help with. Sam replies that, honestly, he doesn’t know, that he is not sure what is “eating” him. He remarks that he should be happy, as he has been working towards that promotion for two years now, but he just feels that something is missing.
Sarah tells Sam that he needs to get out more. ‘Oh yeah?’ Sam asks. ‘Yeah, flex those muscles you’re not using!’ Sarah exclaims. ‘Any particular muscles you had in mind?’ Sam asks, to which Sarah jokingly tells Sam not to get sassy with her. ‘Okay, no sass. I swear, this is a sass-free zone!’ Sam exclaims, before asking if they can talk about this over dinner. ‘Dinner? Oh, you think?’ Sarah replies. Sam replies that he does, to which Sarah remarks that she thinks he likes to move fast. Sam asks if that bothers her, to which Sarah replies “Not in the slightest”.
Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie lies sprawled on the Xavier Institute’s infirmary floor, with the deadly and powerful Serafina standing over him, hooked up to the unconscious Regan Wyngarde a.k.a. Lady Mastermind.
Meanwhile, in the basement of the Xavier Institute, the savage Victor “Sabretooth” Creed asks his fellow mutants surrounding him if they are sure they want to hear the whole thing – as it gets pretty nasty. Rogue tells Creed not to waste their time, and that if he wants sanctuary with the X-Men then he has to tell them what this is all about, otherwise they will hang him outside for the crows to peck at. ‘Sure Rogue, sure. Any chance of a beer to lube my throat a little?’ Creed asks. Rogue just glares back at Creed, as does Scott “Cyclops” Summers and his son from an alternate future Nathan Dayspring Summers a.k.a. Cable. Creed jokes that they can save the beer for later and that they can toss another log on the fire as “Grandpa Victor” will tell them a story….
(Shown with flashback images)
‘I was in Peru. And I was killing this guy’. Creed begins. Cable asks Creed what “guy” he is talking about, and who was paying him, whether he was working alone or now. ‘Give us some context!’ Cable exclaims. ‘Well pardon me, Cable. I forgot about “Once upon a time”!’ Creed snaps back, before revealing that he had a tail-gunner on this one, a real nut job by the name of Pasco, who had a mutant power, a force field, ‘Mostly he just carried my stuff’.
Creed reveals that they had a shopping list of about two dozen names and one real big commission, but it was a double-blind deal so he had no idea who wanted these guys whacked. Although it was easy money, Creed thought that it was a little dull, a most of the people he was murdering turned out to be scientists, not to mention senior citizens, so they didn’t exactly make a fight of it. Except for the last on, Casales, who turned out to be interesting. Bleeding to death, Casales pleaded with Creed ‘Please…let me tell you…let me tell you…’.
Turns out, Casales was the one that hired Creed and Pasco, and he wanted to die as he was on some kind of guilt trip, he and all the other scientists did something awful a long time ago and it kept preying on their mind. But staring death in the face, Casales didn’t like that, and he tried to bargain with Creed, going on about something incredible, something unique, sealed inside a vault. ‘He says it’s the most precious thing in the whole damn world’.
Creed and Pasco still killed Casales, and took a look at his files to find out what he was talking about. This “vault” was a ship named the Conquistador, a ULCC-type tanker with a Panamanian registry. It piqued Creed’s curiosity – half a million tons dead weight, and a hull beefed up to about eight feet thick. Creed regrets that he didn’t leave Casales to bleed out a little, as he could have got some more information from him.
‘What? That come across as cold? I keep forgetting how delicate you people are…how easy it is to get under your skin!’
Sam and Sarah date, have fun together, have their first kiss, get married, and have two children….’What – what is this?’ Sam exclaims one day to Sarah at the dinner table, their infant children with them. Sarah asks Sam what he means, ‘Aren’t you happy?’ she asks. Sam tells Sarah that she knows he loves her, but there seem to be holes in his head – things he ought to remember but cannot seem to focus in on them, and he is beginning to wonder if there is something wrong with him. Sarah scowls.
Later, at a hospital, the doctor holds up the scans of Sam’s brain and informs Sam and Sarah that they are perfectly normal, and assures him that he can come see him any time. Leaving the hospital, Sarah tells Sam that he will live until he is ninety. ‘Yeah, I guess’ Sam mutters in reply, before asking where the kids are. ‘The kids? Oh, I wrote them out. You’ll forget about them in a second. I liked it better when it was just the two of us!’
Outside the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, a deranged old man approaches the gates, his eyes black, several teeth missing from his mouth, and wearing dirty, tattered clothing. He puts his hands up to the gate, so one of the O*N*E* soldiers asks him if he wants to move along. ‘Quiet! Quiet!...are you even there, my pretty one?’ the old man exclaims. The second solider informs the old man that this is private property under the jurisdiction of the Office of National Emergency.
‘Yes, yes. I’m here! I saw you from so far away and I came to find you!’ the old man declares, ignoring the soldiers, then keeling over to the ground. The two soldier’s stand over him. ‘I didn’t even touch him, Callister! You saw me not touch him’. Callister replies ‘Yeah, I saw’ and tells Donnie not to worry about it, ‘From the state he’s in and the smell – I’m surprised he made it this far!’
Back in the basement, Sabretooth reveals that after finding out about that ship, he couldn’t get it out of his head, he wanted to know what was on it.
(Shown with flashback images)
Creed and Pasco “borrowed” themselves a speed boat and headed out from Callao, and although it was a hell of a trip, the previous owner of the small boat was a drug runner, so the speed boat was fast. They found the Conquistador, exactly where Casale’s files said it would be – where the ship had been for the past thirty years with no crew and an unlisted cargo. The Conquistador was out in international waters, where no one would like twice at her and no one would have the authority to inspect her either.
Creed asks the X-Men and Cable if he mentioned what day it was that he and Pasco boarded the Conquistador. ‘It was November 2nd – maybe that rings some bells with you’. After boarding, Creed and Pasco began pulling hatches open, banging on walls, trying any thing they could to find a way into the ship.
Suddenly, there was a flash, like someone took a photo, and Pasco gives a yell. Creed thought Pasco might have found something, but instead he just cut up his knuckles banging on the door. Creed was going to tell him to stop snivelling, when he realized what that meant. ‘November 2nd, 3.00pm in the afternoon, and Pasco had just joined the biggest club in the world. Homo Sapiens’.
The deck began to hum under their feet, and big, powerful engines somewhere came to life. The sky went a funny read color, and it was around then that Sabretooth realized that, perhaps he and Pasco had worn out their welcome. Several begins emerge from panel on the ship and hover above Creed and Pasco. One of them spoke, and for once, Creed’s gutter Spanish came in handy for something besides ordering beer.
The mysterious super begins begin attacking Creed and Pasco, so Creed attacked back, gutting the skinny one that spoke, but it was pretty clear that Sabretooth was wasting his time. ‘You know how we’re supposed to be 98% water? Well, he was a couple of shots over the limit!’
The next thing Creed knew, the world’s the wrong way up and he is falling side-ways towards a big wall of a guy who is smiling like it is Christmas. The big muscular guy hit Creed harder than he had ever been hit in his life, breaking his jaw, neck and even part of his shoulder. What saved Creed from them, was Pasco, who they set on fire. As Pasco no longer had his force field, he was carrying all of their indecencies, and as everything goes up in flames, Creed manages to dive off the ship and into the water.
‘And that’s all she wrote. Motherless sons ’ve been on my back ever since’ Creed concludes, explaining that every time he thought he lost them – Bolivia, Mexico, Arizona – they keep popping up again and trying to gut him. Creed reveals that one time he went to ground and they walked right by him, close enough that he could hear them talking, and announces that they call themselves something that translates to “The Children of the Vault”.
‘November 2nd’ Cable remarks. ‘M-Day!’ Rogue exclaims. ‘Sure, why do you think Pasco lost his ring of confidence?’ Creed remarks. Cable leans towards Creed and exclaims ‘A million mutants lost their powers and you keep yours. What was God thinking?!’ Creed tells Cable to look around him, ‘You see how the world works? If there’s a God, he looks like me!’ Cable tells Rogue and Cyclops that they need to check this out, and they need to do it now. ‘The longer we leave this, the worse it’s going to get!’
Sam sits alone on a couch, pensive; his thoughts are interrupted by the arrival of Sarah who asks him if he is okay. Sam replies that, if he had to guess, then he would say that no, he is not okay. Sarah asks him what the matter is, to which Sam replies ‘Everything is the matter! Our whole life, it doesn’t hold together!’ He asks Sarah where he met her, as sometimes he remembers it one way, and sometimes another way, before mentioning that he has this vivid picture in his head of her being seven months pregnant.
Sarah exclaims that they are hallucinations, but Sam declares ‘No, Sarah!’ before asking her if she is somehow hypnotizing him. ‘Of course not!’ Sarah claims, to which Sam asks if he is schizophrenic or delusional, lying in a hospital somewhere drooling down his chin? “Sarah” tells Sam that he shouldn’t be able to think around her blocks, although Regan Wyngarde’s powers are new to her, so she tries to adjust the interface a little….
‘Oh…’ Serafina exclaims. ‘These yours?’ Logan a.k.a. Wolverine asks her, holding up the wires that connected her to Lady Mastermind. Claws bared, Logan remarks that, to be honest, he is relieved Serafina exists, as he was beginning to think he was going crazy, like there was a dead zone all around Serafina, a moving blind spot. ‘”Going crazy”? I know all about you, Wolverine. I believe that would have been a very short trip!’ Serafina replies as she tosses some devices at the powerful X-Man.
Wolverine tells Serafina that it is obvious she doesn’t play well with others, and remarks that it is okay, because neither does he. He slices the devices that Serafina tossed at him, except one lands on one of his claws, causes them to grow, and forces Wolverine to the floor. Serafina informs Wolverine that adamantium has thirteen allotropic forms, unstable and short-lived, but virtually poisonous. ‘This is a brief taste of adamantium nine’.
Cannonball sits up, ‘Sarah! Don’t! Please don’t!’ he exclaims. Serafina introduces herself not as “Sarah” and tells Sam that she lied about her name, and species, before kicking him in the face and revealing that the Vault reproduction is asexual, but she wanted to try the other kind, admitting that she is weak and should have resisted, but asks when else she could have done it without actually touching him? Serafina tells Sam that she enjoyed their time together – all four minutes of it – and assures him that she will remember him when all of his kind is gone. With that, she vanishes. Sam and Logan gather themselves, and Logan asks Cannonball if he has been consorting with the enemy.
Cyclops, Rogue and Cable are joined by Emma “the White Queen” Frost, and Raven Darkholme a.k.a. Mystique. Cable informs them that this hologram projector will let them see what he sees, and since he lost his telepathic powers, he finds the global Info-Net a useful substitute. Cable announces that all of Creed’s targets were biologists, most of whom were researching global warming and eco-catastrophe, all except for Bella Pagan, who was a temporal physicist.
Cable reveals that Bella Pagan and the others began working together in 1970 and gave a demonstration of temporal acceleration, which is denounced as fraudulent. He adds that they also share a paper on parallel evolution which is ignored. Cable explains that the speed of evolution is set by the intergenerational gap to make evolution run faster – all that is needed is to bring more generations to maturity in a given time frame, and two years later they persuade the Chilean government to lease them the Conquistador, the scientists re-fit it and abscond – and the chaos surrounding the 1973 coup conveniently destroys most of the records.
Rogue asks Cable if he thinks the scientists succeeded in building an accelerator, then turned the Conquistador into some kind of time machine. Cable explains that the accelerator would not have let them travel through time, as it would be a sealed space, within which time moved more quickly by a factor of several hundred times. Cable remarks that in the three decades the Conquistador was at sea – assuming it was inhabited – the people inside it would have lived through six thousand years.
Emma asks Nathan if he is saying that the children are mutants, to which Cable explains that they aren’t, they are fully human, but that after so many centuries of genetic drift, they have to count as a separate species, and the technologies they have developed are as formidable and dangerous as any super power. ‘Yeah. You got that right!’ exclaims Wolverine as he helps Cannonball along, and joins the conference.
Rogue asks Sam what happened to him, to which Sam replies ‘I got married – it’s a long story!’ Scott asks Sam if he is okay, to which Sam replies ‘Not hardly’, and Wolverine explains that he was bushwhacked. Logan informs everyone that they had an intruder in the house and it fits the profile Cable is describing, as the intruder spliced herself into Lady Mastermind’s nervous system and did things with those illusion powers that Regan Wyngarde couldn’t do on her best day alive.
Cable declares that they do not have much choice, to which Mystique asks why they don’t just throw Sabretooth at these other species and apologize for the misunderstanding. Cable points out that it is not just Sabretooth that they want, reminding the X-Men that the Beaubier twins were unleashed on them and opened a black hole in the middle of Nogales, just to hide their very existence – not to mention they can draw enough energy out of the sun to make the sky turn dark at Noon. ‘So I think we need to know why exactly they’re so shy!’
Rogue agrees and suggests they go and ask them, to which Emma asks her if she thinks they will stay put and wait for her to come. Rogue points out that they are on an oil tanker, a big old ship that weighs half a million tons – ‘They’re not going anywhere!’
‘Serafina! We are not well pleased with you!’ exclaims Sangre. Perro and Fuego are also present, as Serafina exclaims that she is sorry, claiming she was led astray by her enthusiasm and admitting that she thought she could succeed where their puppets failed, but she was wrong. Sangre asks her if the X-Men saw her before she could kill Creed, to which Serafina replies they did, and since she was uncertain whether she could kill them all, she withdrew. ‘Hah! Wonderful!’ Perro exclaims sarcastically, remarking that one error leads to another, and having failed to kill Creed they have now announced themselves to the X-Men. ‘This is a farce!’
Sangre remarks that it does not matter, as it was inevitable really that they would clash with what is left of Homo Superior. He adds that the time for hiding is past, despite all of their efforts. The Conquistador floats in the air, high above the ocean, and as the sky reddens, Sangre announces that at the very least, this will serve as a dress rehearsal…for the greater carnage that is to come!