New Orleans: The French Quarter. ‘Then let me talk to someone else in the Guild, please!’ a man exclaims urgently to another on his phone while some sort of Mardi Gras goes on in the background. The man declares that he doesn’t care who he talks to, remarking that he did some favors for them a while back, he reveals his name is Bill and that he used to be called Quiet Bill. The person on the other end of the phone is clearly not being very helpful, so Bill declares ‘You need to tell them I called, it’s really important’ while looking over his shoulder, adding that they can reach him on this number.
Bill makes his way through a hotel lobby and enters an elevator with several other people in it. The door begins to close, until someone yells ‘Hold the door!’ and sticks his hand in, forcing it open. ‘Oops. Only just made it!’ remarks the man with long white hair. The door closes on the ground floor, and opens up on the top floor. The white-haired man, who some might recognize as the Marauder known as Riptide, exit’s the elevator, covered in blood. ‘One down. No complications’ he reports, leaving behind the brutally murdered bodies of everyone in the elevator.
Meanwhile, in Caldecott County, Mississippi, where a large old mansion suddenly has its doors blown open by a powerful burst of flame. Sensory weapons appear and aim at the door, but the X-Man known as Rogue takes them out as easy as she did the door. ‘Clear!’ she exclaims to her squad of X-Men, who follow her in. Rogue’s foster mother Raven Darkholme a.k.a. Mystique remarks that she could have deactivated the alarms and sensors from outside. ‘So?’ Rogue asks. ‘This is my house, Rogue. It was yours once, too. You didn’t tell me you intended to set it on fire!’ Raven remarks.
Regan Wyngarde a.k.a. Lady Mastermind suggests that, when Cable is done rebuilding Providence Island, he can give this place a makeover. Annoyed, Rogue snaps at her mother: ‘What did I tell you before? Didn’t I explain this to you?’ Raven looks at Rogue and replies ‘No. You just said that we were coming here instead of to the Institute’. Rogue exclaims ‘That’s right. And now we’re - this is the place. You understand?’ before reminding Mystique that she wanted to be on this team, so she needs to do as she is told and not second guess her.
Raven just frowns, until Bobby “Iceman” Drake puts a hand on her shoulder and reminds her that she said there is a secure comms rig here. Raven replies that it is upstairs and leads Bobby there. Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie tends to the demolished door, while Karima Shapandar a.k.a. Omega Sentinel remarks ‘So this is where you grew up? Explains a lot’, before asking Rogue if she wants her to recon the rest of the house. ‘Cable can do that’ Rogue replies as she walks away. Karima points out that Cable was left on Providence, to which Rogue frowns and replies ‘Okay, so you do it. Good thinking. Take - some of the others’.
Meanwhile, at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning in Westchester New York, Scott “Cyclops” Summers has Iceman on the communications monitor and asks him how serious it is. Bobby replies that he wouldn’t be talking to him if it wasn’t serious. ‘Rogue absorbed eight billion minds and her power is out of control!’ Scott asks in what sense, to which Bobby replies ‘In a “one-touch-and-you’re-stone-called-dead” sense’, before asking Scott if he remembers what Rogue was like when she first came to the X-Men after she absorbed Ms. Marvel, and remarks that it is like that, only worse. ‘She’s falling apart, Scott. I’m scared for her’.
Scott informs Bobby that they are on their way. Bobby asks who “we” are, to which Scott replies that he will bring the experts, the people Rogue needs to see. Scott asks Piotr Rasputin a.k.a. Colossus if he and Kitty can mind things here, to which Colossus complies. Scott then begins to as ask his lover Emma “the White Queen” Frost if she can call - but Emma interrupts, she is a telepath after all, and informs Scott that they are on their way.
Back in Mississippi, Bobby tells Raven that it is done, that they are coming. ‘I heard’ Mystique replies solemnly. Bobby assures Mystique that Rogue is in good hands, exclaiming that the X-Men take care of their own. ‘And that say’s it all, doesn’t it?’ Raven remarks. ‘She was mine once. My daughter. Now she belongs to the X-Men’. Bobby replies that Rogue doesn’t belong to anyone, as she is their friend. Mystique replies that she is aware of that, and admits that she would have hated them for it, once, for having Rogue’s love and trust, after she lost it.
However, Mystique tells Iceman that Rogue has got reason enough to mistrust her, to think of her as the enemy. ‘There’s a perfect symmetry to all this’ she remarks, before declaring that all the things they built are falling down, and asks Bobby if he feels it. ‘What things?’ Bobby asks. ‘The Brotherhood. Xavier’s Academy. They’ve all become irrelevant now. Or been rendered into ash and tallow - like Genosha’. Raven turns away from Bobby as she asks him if this was his last night on Earth, how he would like to spend it. ‘With someone I care about’ Bobby replies as he puts a hand on Raven’s shoulder. Raven remarks that, on the last night, you’d care about everyone - every scrap of human contact would seem precious. Bobby shifts his form from ice to human. ‘Pretend’ Raven exclaims looking at Bobby, before they look into each other’s eyes, and lie down on the bed together….
In the Pacific Island, specifically Providence Island, Nathan Summers a.k.a. Cable is rummaging through the wreckage, ‘Wake up, Professor!’ he exclaims while remarking that he is reinstating electrical conduits in what was Fountainhead Plaza, and he needs Professor to verify the connections. ‘Affirmative, Nathan’ Professor replies, before remarking that his internal chronometer indicates an extensive period off-line. Cable plugs a large conduct together and replies ‘You’re only a partial copy of the original A.I. Construct designated” Professor”, explaining that he has woken him now because he doesn’t have any other infrastructure to fall back on, adding that the Island, and the Ship as it used to be, have been completely evacuated.
‘Negative’ Professor replies. Cable tells Professor to take his word for it and update his files. ‘Negative’ Professor replies again. Cable tells his companion that there is no point arguing about it, as he is all alone here. Professor states Providence Island’s location, before announcing ‘Current population - two’. Indeed, someone else is standing nearby and watching Cable….
Back in Mississippi, ‘Bingo! I knew there had to be booze around here somewhere’ the sultry Lady Mastermind remarks as she pulls a bottle of Absolute Vodka from a cupboard and exclaims that it is party time, before asking Karima if she is going to join her. Wired up to a laptop, Omega Sentinel thanks Regan, but passes, explaining that her body is immune to alcohol and drugs, as she doesn’t metabolize them. ‘Bummer. How come you’re scooping your insides out onto the table?’ Regan asks.
Karima glances at Lady Mastermind as she explains that she is running diagnostics, as Hecatomb did a lot of low-level damage to her systems, and this is the first chance she has had to do any repairs. ‘Well, have fun’ Regan replies as she pour herself some vodka. ‘Thank you. Enjoy damaging your meningeal wall and leeching your natural electrolytes’ Omega Sentinel replies as Regan leaves the kitchen. Suddenly, an urgent message appears on the laptop screen. Karima opens it, wide-eyed, she urgently tries to detach herself from the computer, before being engulfed by some energy back-lash. Karima now has some menacing choker around her neck…’Never open anything with attachments, sweetheart. It’s just not safe!’.
Back in New Orleans, a large muscular man and a stylish woman enter a house. ‘Well now. Look what the cat dragged in’ an elderly man in the house remarks, barely looking at them though, he puts a shotgun on a table. ‘A shotgun, old man? Seriously, against us?’ the large man sniggers. ‘You see me reaching for it?’ the old man asks as he winds a clock and places it on the table, remarking that her has seen how this plays out. Some would recognize these two intruders as Scalphunter and Vertigo - the deadliest of the Marauders! Vertigo tells the man that if he has seen how this plays out, then she imagines that this will come as no surprise as she uses her powers on the man, he falls to the floor while Scalphunter goes over and puts his the shotgun to the man’s head, telling Vertigo that it is like they have never been away.
Back on Providence, Professor alerts Cable to the exact location of the other person. Cable thanks Professor as he readies a large weapon, before spinning around and aiming it at the intruder, declaring ‘I don’t know who you are and I don’t much care. Come out and show yourself or I’ll bring that building down on your head!’ The intruder picks up a doll, and with a thick accent, replies ‘That’s a cold thing to say to a comrade in arms, Cable. Sounds like overkill too, but you called it - so I’m happy to lend a hand!’ he exclaims as he charges the doll with kinetic energy and tosses it at Cable.
Cable leaps out of the way just in time, landing hard on the ground nearby, he gets to his feet as the intruder comes into the light, revealing himself as the former X-Man Gambit! ‘Pick a card, my friend’ Gambit, dressed in his classic outfit complete with trench coat exclaims, holding several charged cards in his hand. ‘For old time’s sake!’.
In Mississippi, Rogue enters a room and a scene from her past flashes in her mind where she didn’t want to go to bed, and Raven joked ‘I’ll turn into a monster and eat you all up!’ the young Rogue exclaimed ‘No, you won’t! I taste horrible - I’m poisonous!’. Rogue’s thoughts are interrupted by Cannonball, ‘Penny for ‘em?’ he asks. ‘What?’ snaps Rogue. ‘Your thoughts. Usual market price’ Sam jokes. Rogue remarks that this is where she lived, that’s all she is thinking. ‘This is somewhere Rogue thought of as home’. Sam asks if she doesn’t think of herself as being Rogue. ‘Sometimes. Sometimes not. She’s in here. Somewhere’ comes the reply.
Rogue puts a hand to her face as she exclaims ‘She can barely make herself heard. Too many voices. Most of them shrieking or pleading. She’s trying - but she’s not holding together all that well’. Sam puts a hand on Rogue’s shoulder, but she tells him that he shouldn’t do that. ‘If I turn my head too quickly - if my skin touches yours - you’re dead!’. Sam replies that he knows, before telling Rogue that she is not alone, that they are not going to stop coming at this thing until they fix it. He gives her his word on that, before informing her that Cyclops and the others are downstairs, but that she can take her time, as they will wait.
Back on Providence, Gambit smirks as he asks if there is more joy in Heaven for a sinner that repents. ‘Well, here I am, and you can see I dropped that whole new look’. Cable doesn’t lower his weapon as he asks Remy LeBeau how he managed to do that exactly. ‘With a little help from my friends, Cable’ Gambit replies, before assuring him that he did not come here to fight. He remarks that they can make this quick and easy, cause easy is his watchword, and adds that he just wants to throw a couple of questions at that computer of Cable’s.
‘About what?’ Cable asks. ‘About the time. We’re thinking it’s one minute before dawn’ Gambit remarks. ‘What? What did you just say?’ Cable asks. ‘Never mind. I’ll show you a card trick instead!’ Gambit replies as he tosses several playing cards towards Cable. ‘Not going to happen, Gambit!’ Cable exclaims. Gambit just smiles and reminds Cable that he did say it was a card trick. ‘You just keep watching my hands!’ Remy exclaims, when suddenly Shiro “Sunfire” Yoshida appears above Cable and sets fire to the surrounding area.
Sunfire remarks that Cable is supposed to be the great strategist, before remarking that he supposes they all become complacent on their home ground and start to miss the obvious. ‘And to forget the fine detail’ Gambit smirks, before counting down, as a couple of cards blow up in Cable’s face, sending the powerful mutant careening backwards. Cable is left with little to do but run. Gambit and Sunfire watch him flee, and Remy suggests they let him go. ‘The only hand we got to win is the last one!’
Back in Mississippi, Cyclops and the White Queen have arrived with Wolverine a.k.a. Logan and Dr. Henry “the Beast” McCoy. Emma puts Rogue into a deep sleep, telling her to sleep without dreaming, without any sense of time passing, and to feel peace, feel calm. ‘Can I add a few stipulations about her accent and choice in men?’ Emma asks. Scott tells Emma to stick to the script, and Emma agrees, before announcing that she is going in: Emma hovers as countless souls scream before her. ‘Scott? It could be worse than we thought!’ Emma announces telepathically to her lover.
Scott asks for specifics, to which Emma explains that the alien minds have not been integrated at all, that they are all still in Rogue’s mind, separate, complete and mostly terrified. The Beast, who is examining something in a microscope informs Cyclops that he has isolated the viral agent that sent Rogue’s absorption power out of control - Strain 88. Hank remarks that it is spectacularly robust and so far he cannot find a drug or phage that will touch it. ‘Keep trying’ replies Scott. ‘Obviously’ Hank replies, before suggesting that if there is no medical solution, their only option may be brute force - skin contact with Logan. ‘whenever you’re ready, bub!’ Logan replies, but Cyclops declares that is a last resort, remarking that they know Rogue would absorb Logan’s healing factor, but they don’t know if Logan would survive, so they will do it when they have exhausted all other avenues.
Suddenly, Emma moans, so Scott quickly asks her if she is all right. ‘No. This is like sifting a desert for a single grain of sand. Except that sand doesn’t scream!’ she replies, before informing the others that Rogue’s consciousness - as far as she can tell - is intact, but that it is being backed into a corner by these countless other minds, and her sense of identity is breaking down under the strain. ‘You mean she’s going insane?’ Mystique snaps. Emma replies that Rogue could easily drift into psychosis, then catatonia or amnesiac fugue. ‘Then do something! Don’t just stand there and talk about it!’ Mystique shouts.
Scott asks Emma if she can do anything, to which Emma replies that she can try to build some psychic flood-walls, but that it won’t be easy. ‘To extend the metaphor, there’s no dry ground left to build on’. Karima and Regan enter the room as Scott asks Emma if she can do it here and now. Emma replies that she can’t, as she will need to prepare herself, get her tools ready in advance. Scott declares that he is calling a break then, and asks the White Queen to let them know when she is ready, before telling everyone else that in the meantime, they can let Rogue sleep. Everyone leaves the room, with Scott remarking that it is probably the best thing they can do for her, as nobody can keep running on empty.
Back on Providence, Cable reaches a facility and places his hand on the identification pad, gaining entrance, he orders Professor to seal and lock this compound then run a search. ‘Nathan, you’re hurt’ Professor replies. Cable replies that it will keep, before ordering Professor to suspend all other assigned tasks and chase something down for him. ‘A phrase. Four words: “One minute before dawn”!’. Suddenly, the wall of the compound explodes in a burst of flames, and Sunfire enters, sarcastically thanking Cable for being such a hospitable host, remarking that it would have taken them a lot longer to find this place unaided.
Sunfire approaches Cable, who exclaims ‘You don’t understand what you’re doing. What you’re going to destroy!’. Sunfire replies that, on the last score at least, he can reassure Cable: ‘You die, because that door needs to be closed, but all the knowledge you’ve amassed will serve a greater purpose’. Desperate, Cable calls out to Professor. ‘Requiem!’ he exclaims. There is a humming noise, and Sunfire and Gambit realize what is about to occur, they make a quick exit - before the entire complex explodes.
Back in Mississippi, ‘You pay your money. You make your choice’ Wolverine remarks as he cracks open a beer. The other X-Men are all gathered in the kitchen too, and Sam remarks that he never really thought of it like that, and being honest, doesn’t think Rogue did either. ‘She came to the X-Men because she had to. Cause she was desperate’. Wolverine swigs his beer and declares that what you do when you’re desperate is what defines who you are. Suddenly, Raven enters and apologizes to Cyclops for interrupting, before announcing that they have trouble.
Scott tells Raven to go ahead, and Mystique reveals that some of her alarm sensors have just been tripped, that there are multiple movement signatures a hundred yards from the house, with no clear visuals. Mystique adds that whoever it is, if they’re cloaked, then she is assuming they are probably hostile. Scott turns to Emma, who replies that she senses nothing outside. ‘I’m telling you -’ Mystique exclaims, but Emma interrupts, ‘Too much nothing. No frogs. No birds. No insects. That means a psi-shield!’ Scott tells Beast and Wolverine to secure the Blackbird and tells Iceman to take his team and establish a perimeter.
As everyone leaves the kitchen to get to their positions, Karima asks Emma if there is something wrong. Emma replies that there is, that the null zone extends a lot closer than she thought. ‘It’s as though -’ Emma doesn’t get to finish her sentence as Karima looks at her, before blasting the wide-eyed Emma over. The White Queen lands hard on the ground and Karima stands over her body, remarking that she couldn’t use a plasma burst, as that is too noisy, though assuring Emma that she will finish her later, before exclaiming ‘Check out the new look. Malice moves with the times. I’m digital now!’.
‘Logan, is it just me, or -’ begins the Beast, ‘No. They ain’t a hundred yards away, nothing like’ Logan replies, remarking that their scent is disguised with stealth suits, but that they are right here in the house. Logan turns to Iceman and tells him to “ice-up”, but Bobby only gets part way, and exclaims that something is wrong. Cannonball asks why they can’t see the intruders, when, suddenly, ‘Oh, sorry. That’d be me!’ Lady Mastermind exclaims, snapping her fingers, the illusion of non-visible intruders vanishes, and the intruders are revealed - the Marauders! Scalphunter! Vertigo! Arclight! Riptide! Prism! Blockbuster! Scrambler! Harpoon!
Scalphunter tells the X-Men that it has been a long time. ‘Did you miss us as much as we missed you?’ he jokes. Lady Mastermind goes over to the Marauders side while Cyclops exclaims ‘X-Men - fire at will!’ The battle begins, and Karima - Malice - exclaims ‘Thought you’d never ask!’ as she blasts Cyclops and Wolverine. Riptide makes his way over to Cannonball, while Scalphunter shoots Iceman. Bobby drops to the floor, clutching his wound which has blood gushing out of it, he asks how this could be happening.
Upstairs, Rogue sits up when she hears shots being fired. She flies through the house, a trail of flame behind her, she blasts Blockbuster while telling the X-Men to rally on her in pentangle formation. A full on battle rages, when suddenly, Scalphunter shoots raises a weapon to Rogue. ‘You don’t shoot my daughter!’ exclaims Mystique as she rushes up and smacks Scalphunter over. Taking his weapon, Mystique exclaims ‘Nobody else can do that for me!’ and shoots Rogue, square in the chest. Rogue falls to the ground, and Mystique stands over her motionless body. ‘Mission parameters stand, Marauders. Kill them all!’
‘You have to understand that this was - a unique situation. Another country doesn’t even begin to cover it. Another world. Another time. Another existence…we were fighting for our lives!’ exclaims Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy a.k.a. the brilliant Beast in a secure lab. ‘Because our lives had been stolen from us, by Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch. Recalling moments in that other existence, Hank remarks that some of them didn’t care what got lost or broken or burned in putting this thing right.
‘If what you’re saying is true, then why don’t I remember any of this?’ a voice on a monitor asks. Hank replies that as far as the situation went, they won, and they reset the world for everyone else so that none of this ever happened. Beast explains that there was an army - ‘But we would have gone through a hundred armies’ - and remarks that they escaped overwhelming odds, all of which is banal though.
Hank reveals though that Quicksilver and Magneto - the Scarlet Witch’s brother and father - were a very different proposition, and might have even beaten them in other circumstances, if they hadn’t been fighting each other, also. The Beast declares that their vanguard won through, and they faced the Scarlet Witch at last. ‘They were prepared - they thought they were prepared - to kill her’. The Beast explains that was because they all believed killing her was the only way to save the world.
The Beast remarks to those listening to him that killing in cold blood is a skill one must practice, and supposes that those who were going to do it hesitated, which gave the Scarlet Witch a window. ‘And then she spoke’ The Beast examines some liquid in a tube, remarking that it wasn’t loud or dramatic, and you had to lean in close even to hear it. Beast remarks that it was just three words, ‘No More Mutants’, and the world, turned white hot, just for a second.
The Beast declares that when the world flowed back to how it was truly supposed to be, it flowed back with a slightly new shape - two hundred mutants were all that remained out of tens of millions. ‘Wanda Maximoff uninvented an entire species’. The Beast tells his audience that, as they know, mutant’s didn’t die, they just lost their powers, the effects of the x-gene suppressed at its source. Like the Blob, who just became a literal mass of skin folds. But for some, it did mean death, dependant on where you were at the time, and how your powers worked - like Magma’s boyfriend, Antonio, of similar abilities to her, his was depowered when they were surfing in a volcano.
The Beast remarks that, in the end, it came to seem like academic distinction - you can still technically live - even after you’ve lost the things that made you know that you were alive, like Danielle Moonstar, who was fired from the Xavier Institute because she was depowered. One of the Beast’s audience asks if they can dispense with the human interest stories and stick to the point. ‘Of course. After all, human interest stories are only of interest to - humans’ the Beast replies.
Hank goes on, revealing that he locked himself in his lab, away from the grief and the hysteria, as he believed that if only he could understand it, he could reverse it, so he worked on the problem for months, but everything he did, lead to a dead end. He declares that he was not deterred, as he numbers the greatest scientists in the world amongst his friends, so he went to them to see what could be done, and they were all generous with their time, and their genius.
Hank adds that his friends were as optimistic to begin with as he was, as they knew better than anyone what human reason, coupled to near-infinite resources can achieve. ‘But they still failed. We all failed’. Hank exclaims that it was as though there was a lock on the very building blocks of matter, as though DNA itself had declared war on them and refused to parley.
‘And so I find myself talking to you’ Hank declares, looking at the monitors. ‘Which ought to be a good indication in itself of how desperate I am’ Hank adds. ‘Is there an implied insult in that, Henry?’ someone asks. Hank replies that he apologizes if there is, as he meant the insult to be explicit. He remarks that he is not trying to appeal to their better nature, quite the contrary in fact. ‘You should help me out of self-interest’ he exclaims. One of the audience exclaims that is absurd, as they don’t see what profit or advantage can come out of this. ‘And yet, I notice you’re still listening’ Hank remarks. ‘Why not? It’s novel to see you beg!’ Hank frowns and replies that he is not begging.
Hank picks up a bit of paper and tells his audience that he can offer them something in exchange for their co-operation, assuming that the love of their fellow mutant isn’t enough to tip the scales. He remarks that while they were failing to stave off mutant extinction though, his friends and he made a number of other discoveries along the way - accidental insights - unlooked for epiphanies. Beast boasts that some of the discoveries were real big, and if he can put it like this, ‘Real road to Damascus stuff’.
Hank holds the piece of paper over a lit Bunsen burner and remarks that the thought of them getting their hands on this material, it would keep him awake at night. Hank holds up the burning paper and remarks that he has taken those things off the table so to speak. He tells his audience that if they agree to work with him on this, then they will get what is left, ‘Which, believe me, is plenty’. Hank narrows his eyes as he tells his audience to go ahead and say no and watch him close a deal with one of the others. ‘Over to you ladies and gentlmen. I’ve sold my soul!’ Hank exclaims. ‘Would any of you care to ransom yours?’ he asks the deadly individuals on the monitors - Dr. Doom! The High Evolutionary! Dr. Kavita Rao! Mojo! Modok! Spiral! Pandemic! Arnim Zola! And…Mr. Sinister!’