Eight days after the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters opened its doors to the next generation of mutants... the X-Men find themselves up against the Russian super-team known as the People's Protectorate!
The X-Men are born with powers and abilities that set them apart from the rest of humanity. They are Wolverine a.k.a. Logan – best there is at what he does, with healing factor, razor-sharp adamantium claws and enhanced senses. Ororo Munroe a.k.a. Storm, team leader and goddess at large who controls and manipulates the forces of nature. Rogue who is tough as nails and twice as strong, with power absorption through skin-to-skin contact. Gambit a.k.a. Remy LeBeau, part-time thief and full-time scoundrel who charges objects with kinetic energy and makes them go boom. The two newest recruits are Psylocke a.k.a. Betsy Braddock a telepathic ninja from across the pond who manifests power as a psychic knife, and Bishop, a mutant lawman from the future who converts energy into powerful blasts. In a world that hates and fears their kind, the X-Men have defied the odds to become Earth's most popular super-heroes. Still, despite global fame, not everyone is a fan....
Earlier that day:
Outside the front gate to the Xavier School, Trish Tilby is making a live news report. 'Mutants. Heroes. Television stars. All words that describe Westchester's own Uncanny X-Men. And today we add one more to that list – teachers!' Trish reports that founder of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, Charles Xavier surprised the world recently when he announced the school would accept new students, not to be trained by him, but by the X-Men themselves. Trish adds that this is another exciting step towards acceptance by America's favorite mutants; one everyone is anxious to watch unfold. 'Reporting live from Salem Center, Trish Tilby, NPR-TV news'.
Inside the halls of the Xavier Institute, Professor Charles Xavier is in his hoverchair, alongside Henry McCoy a.k.a. the Beast, X-Men member and Dean of Students. 'It feels good to have students at the school again' Charles remarks as several students including Husk, Blink, Artie Maddicks, Doop, Chamber and U-Go Girl walk down the corridor, too. Henry agrees, before remarking that he doesn't recall being quite so boisterous in his younger days. “Boisterous”?' Charles Xavier grins. 'I seem to remember a student of mine who insisted he could only do homework while hanging upside-down from the rafters' he reminds Henry. 'Sounds like a highly inventive pupil to me' Henry replies, as the student called Spike races down the corridor.
'Slow down, Mr Elliott!' the Beast calls out, before turning back to the Professor and asking him if he is sure he won't consider taking a class of his own. Charles tells Henry to relax, and explains that he would prefer to serve in an advisory role from now, what with his mutant gifts still weakened from the psychic battle against the Shadow Queen, it is a fitting time for the next generation to take over. 'Of course. And after all, it's the first day. How much trouble can there be?' Henry asks, when suddenly, there is a loud BOOOM which rattles the corridor.
'Mebee next time you dodge like Gambit and not get hit so hard, chere' Gambit suggests to Rogue, who is sprawled on the floor in the corridor and looks back through the gaping hole in the wall, 'Dang! Ya’ll weren't kiddin’ about those new Danger Room levels!' Rogue retorts, announcing that those new kids are gonna have it rougher than a hickory switch.
The bell sounds, and Henry looks at the Professor, who sighs and tells him to go. 'It seems like a headmaster's work is never done' Charles mutters, as the Beast rushes down the corridor, holding several files, he declares that it is the first day of teaching and he is already late. 'I've had nightmares like -' he begins, when suddenly a voice shouts, 'Incoming!', and Wolverine collides with the Beast, sending his files flying into the air.
'Sorry, McCoy. When Jubilee told me she wanted to do some training with blades, I didn't think she meant these blasted things' Wolverine snarls, motioning to the roller blades on his feet. 'Quite all right, Logan' the Beast replies, rubbing is head. 'It's really our fault for building out classrooms on a roller derby track' the Beast mutters. 'Hiya, Beastie! Aren't you late for class?' Jubilee grins as she skates over to Wolverine. 'Yes, Jubilation. Now, please... keep it out of the hallways, hmm?' the Beast suggests.
The Beast rushes into a classroom, with “X-Men 101” written on the blackboard. Professor Henry McCoy, MD, PhD, MRs written on the blackboard, too, which has been crossed out by someone who has written “Beast” underneath.
'Ah, good morning, class' Henry huffs as he drops his books onto the teacher's desk at the front of the room. Several students are slumped at their desks, 'You're late, Professor. We're not allowed to be late' M declares, unimpressed. Chamber, Dead Girl, Vivisector, Kid Sensitive, Leech, Mondo, Synch, Penance and Blink are also in the class. The Beast tells Ms St Croix that he is well aware of his tardiness, and explains that being part of the faculty affords certain privileges. He tells the students that if they are ready to begin, they can finally start talking about what it means to be an X-Man. He states that lesson number one is, as mutants, they will experience the worst side of humanity, but the truth is, and he doesn't mean to frighten them, is that their worst days as a mutant will likely be their best day as an X-Man. 'You will learn a great deal in this class, but nothing I say can prepare you for -' the Beast begins, when suddenly, 'X-Men! They're coming for you!' shouts Maverick as he bursts through the window, startling Blink and Penance as glass shards fall towards them.
'Beast, they're... it's all... a game -' Maverick utters, before he passes out. The Beast sighs and announces that class is dismissed. 'So, uh... this sort of thing happens a lot, then?' Chamber asks as he, U-Go Girl, Vivisector and Doop gather around.
Deep beneath the classrooms of the Xavier School lies the heart of the X-Men's operations center: Cerebro, the mutant-detecting supercomputer, the hangar for their SR-70 Blackbird stealth jet, and a fully functional medical bay that can handle any injury – or worse.
'This is most disturbing' Professor X remarks as Maverick is laid on a table before him. The Beast, Wolverine, Storm, Psylocke and Bishop are in attendance. 'You're telling me, Chuck. I worked with Maverick back in my Weapon X days. Anything that could knock him around like this is trouble. Big trouble' Wolverine points out. Storm tells Wolverine that she is sorry about his friend, and gives him her word as leader of the X-Men that they will find who did this. Wolverine informs Storm that he ain't seen Maverick in years, so it is hard to call him a “friend”, but as Maverick came to him when he needed help, he doesn't plan on letting him down. 'He said something about a game, Beast?' Wolverine asks. The Beast tells Wolverine that just before Maverick lost consciousness, he did. 'Though if there's a game that results in multiple fractures, I'm fairly certain I don't want to play it' the Beast remarks. 'Any clues in his gear?' Bishop asks as he looks through Maverick's uniform and accessories. 'Nothing I could find, but you are our resident detective, Bishop. Feel free to plunder' the Beast tells him.
“Book of Sins?” Bishop quotes as he holds up a CD and announces that he will run it through Cerebro and see if he can't turn up something useful. Psylocke readies a psychic knife and points out that if worst comes to worst, they can always get the information directly. 'I'm not sure I fancy waiting around with something as ominous as “they're coming” hanging over our heads' she adds. 'Let's hope that won't be necessary, Elizabeth' the Beast remarks as he marks something on a clipboard. 'Uh, Professor' a voice calls out over the intercom. 'Yes, Ms St Croix' the Beast and Professor X respond in unison. 'I think you're going to want to see this. There's a bear on the lawn... and it looks like he brought friends' M reports.
Darkstar! Red Guardian! Ursa Major! Vostok! Omega Red! - the People's Protectorate stand before the X-Men. Omega Red greets the X-Men, eyes glowing red, he tells the X-Men that they have something that belongs to them. 'You are giving it back, yes?' Omega Red declares. 'OMEGA RED?!' Wolverine shouts, claws ready. 'Didn't know the Russian army was so desperate for recruits that they'd take a slimeball like you!' Wolverine snarls, while Gambit asks Wolverine if it is time for another trip to his mysterious past. 'I'm starting to think we need a chart to keep up with' Psylocke remarks.
'In exchange for pardon, I am now commander -' Omega Red begins, before Red Guardian clears his throat. 'Co-commander of People's Protectorate' Omega Red corrects himself. Red Guardian explains that they are not “Russian army”, but super heroes like the X-Men, and that they don't want trouble. Red Guardian informs the X-Men that a fugitive mercenary has stolen secrets from their government. 'Yes, very stubborn. Would not die like proper soldier and ran here instead' Omega Red adds. Psi-knife at the ready, Psylocke tells the People's Protectorate to correct her if she is wrong, but that she believes their jurisdiction stops a few thousand miles east of here. 'Or did World War III start while I wasn't looking?' she frowns.
'Is new era of international cooperation, yes?' Omega Red grins, shrugging his shoulders. Red Guardian explains that their state department would rather not house an international criminal, and assures the X-Men that the mission has been authorized. 'There's no need for violence, if you will only -' he begins, before Omega Red interrupts him, 'We know he is here. Now are you giving...or are we taking?' Omega Red asks, his coils extending towards the X-Men, who leap forward into action.
'What do you think, bub?' Wolverine growls, while the students watch from inside the mansion. 'Yeah! Get 'em, Wolvie!' Jubilee calls out, while Chamber remarks that this place just keeps getting better. Wolverine claws slash against Red Guardian's shield. 'Ya picked the wrong fight – ain't a metal known to man my claws can't cut through' Wolverine tells Red Guardian, who points out that Wolverine is defending an international criminal. 'Maverick is a thief!' Red Guardian exclaims. Bishop and Gambit blast Omega Red, who tells Red Guardian to save his breath, and admits that he was hopeful this is how it would happen. 'The famous American X-Men defeated on their very own doorstep... humiliated for all world to see!' Omega Red declares as he slides one of his tendrils around Gambit's ankle.
Rogue throws Ursa Major over her shoulder, and tells Omega Red that he talks awful big for somebody who is about to get a bear upside the head. 'Aw, c'mon! Gambit mutters as Omega Red's tendril pulls him into the air. 'Eh? What does this mean, “upside”?' Omega Red asks, when suddenly, he finds out as Rogue drops Ursa Major on top of him.
'ENOUGH!' Storm shouts, as lightning crackles around her. She hovers above the others and declares that she will not see the sanctity of this school violated any further. She instructs the People's Protectorate to stand down or face the full wrath of the forces of nature. 'We only want -' Red Guardian begins, as a powerful wind sweeps towards him. He tries to deflect it with his shield, while Omega Red boasts that they will die before they surrender. 'Bozhe moi!' gasps Darkstar, when suddenly, 'Stop!' Maverick calls out as he stands in the doorway to the mansion. Addressing Red Guardian as Josef, he tells him to call his team off. 'I assume you've got your handler listening in, right?' Maverick remarks. 'Tell him I've got information on something that's going to be a whole lot worse for Mother Russia than a few missing documents, and I want to make a deal. Twenty-four hours and I'm yours' Maverick announces.
'Tell him I know all about your new commander's previous model' Maverick adds. 'Did you copy that, Dimitri?' Red Guardian asks in Russian, touching his earpiece. 'You are kidding with this. Such an obvious bluff is never working on -' Omega Red begins, before Red Guardian informs everyone that their handler says to stand down, and that Maverick has twenty four hours. 'Come on back if you get bored' Wolverine tells Omega Red, grinning and raising his claws.
The X-Men march through one of the corridors with Maverick. 'M, Skin, Leech and Mondo pop their heads out from one of the classrooms, but the Beast tells them that everything is fine and to get back to their studies. 'That's where you're wrong, Beast – you X-Men are a long way from fine' Maverick declares. Wolverine tells Maverick to level with them, and asks him what he stole that got the blasted Russian army on their doorstep. 'Information, Logan – only thing worth stealing these days' Maverick replies, revealing that someone found out about a long-lost Soviet super-weapon, and now they have got it pointed straight at the X-Men. 'I didn't know that at the start – didn't even know who I was working for until after the job was done and they stabbed me in the back to tie up loose ends' Maverick adds. Wolverine sits Maverick down on a sofa, as the other X-Men gather around, and Professor X joins them. 'They'll find us to be tougher prey than a single mercenary. No offense' Psylocke points out. 'None taken' Maverick tells her. 'But they're not the ones you have to worry about. My clients have a whole new nasty planned for you' Maverick reveals. Gambit tells Maverick that he knows it is tres gauche to ask this of another thief, but suggests that it might be time for him to put a name on those “clients” he has got so riled up. 'Tell me something, X-Men... what do you know about the von Strucker family?' Maverick asks.
'Welcome to Russia!' Andreas Strucker tells his sister, Andrea, as a chopper sets them down near a bunker in a desolate wasteland. Smog pollutes the area, where a few dead trees remain – and the ground is covered in bones. 'Honestly, Andreas, you tell me you have great plan to get ahead of Shaw and the others, and you come back with a piece of Siberian scrubland? How are we meant to score points with this? Lure them here with the promise of a ski weekend and then watch them die of boredom?' Andrea asks as they walk towards the bunker. Andreas explains to his sister that it is not the land, but what is on it. 'Although if you look down, you might start to realize why this little trip cost us so many millions. Do watch your step, hmm?' Andreas remarks as they walk across the skulls and bones littered across the ground. Approaching the bunker, Andreas announces that at great expense they have just become the first living beings to set foot on this miserable piece of land in almost fifty years. 'Ever since the Soviet Union decided that what they'd unleashed on this little patch of hell was – and you'll love this, Andrea - “far too deadly for use in war”' Andreas quotes, and Andrea laughs, before asking if that is where the money went – bribes to get them through restricted territory?
'Some of it, yes' Andreas confirms as he taps some numbers into the keypad on the front of the bunker, adding that the rest made them the owners of Russia's first attempt at creating a soldier – 'Codename... Alpha Red!' The door hisses as it slides open, revealing a chamber filled with junk – and a gray-skinned humanoid whose face is hidden by cowl, but sharp teeth and red eyes can be seen in the darkness. 'How long has it been? How long have I slept?' Alpha Red asks, sniffing the new arrivals, he tells them that they have the stench of Germany in their blood, and asks the names of the Nazis who have come this far to die in a desolate land at the hands of Mother Russia's finest weapon. Andrea grins, 'Oh, this is delightful. You've done very well, Andreas' she smiles. Andreas greets Alpha Red, and introduces himself and his sister and explains that they are the new owners of this nightmarish piece of real estate, which makes them his new owners. 'That being the case, you have my permission to leave this prison' Andreas adds. Alpha Red makes his way to the bunker door, 'After so long...I am free?' he asks. 'My Russian's not so good... did he say “free”?' Andrea frowns.
Andreas tells Alpha Red that they said nothing about freedom, and explains that they have plans for him. He points out that Alpha Red has been out of circulation for quite a while and reveals that the world has changed a bit since his Soviet overlords locked him away in this bunker fifty years ago. 'Welcome to the '90s, comrade. I wonder, do you even know what a mutant is?' Andreas asks. Alpha Red grins, showing off his jagged teeth: 'Tell me more... comrade' he responds.
Back in Westchester, Storm, Wolverine, Rogue, Gambit, Beast, Psylocke, Bishop and Maverick have gathered, as Maverick explains that he is called Alpha Red, and was the Soviet Union's answer to Captain America, but there was one problem – they didn't have a Super-Soldier Serum, and they were a few years away from developing kind of tech that would allow them to create anything like their friend with the tendrils, so they went back to something older – combining Soviet science with a Russian monster, and it came back to bite them – literally. Maverick continues, revealing that Alpha Red's first mission was a massacre – they dropped him into a battle against the Germans and he took out everyone – both sides, and he was found four days later, still standing in the center of the carnage, and decided right then that the experiment was a failure, so the party quarantined the site and built a magic bunker just to house him. 'And let me guess: now that capitalism's back, somebody was looking to make a quick buck by selling off the surplus' Wolverine asks. 'Got it one' Maverick replies, revealing that Fenris, the von Struckers' company hired him to confirm Alpha Red's existence, then sold him out the second he knew too much.
'And you believe this is all part of some game, Maverick?' Storm asks. Maverick reveals that he overheard them talking about “scoring points” and how there were “other players” all after the same goal – the X-Men. 'Oh my stars. Something wicked comes this way!' the Beast exclaims. Maverick turns and starts to leave. Storm asks him where he is going, and Maverick turns back to the X-Men, remarking that Logan has saved his life ten times over, so he figured he owed the X-Men a warning, at least. He points out that he has a target on his back, and Omega Red and his friends are nothing if not committed. 'If I stick around, they'll be back, and you're better off not fighting enemies on two fronts' Maverick declares. 'Very well. We shall prepare to defend ourselves from whatever deadly game the von Struckers are playing' Storm announces. 'Prepare? Oh no, mein freund, you are mistaken. I've been running for weeks. Alpha Red is not coming to Westchester... he is already here!' Maverick reveals.
Salem Center, where Jubilee and Chamber are leaving the cinema, where movies like “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, “Dracula”, “Army of Darkness”, “Cronos” and “Interview with the Vampire” have been screening. 'So, not bad for a first date, huh?' Jubilee remarks. 'I mean...this was a date, right?' she adds. 'I mean, we made plans and got dinner before so it's gotta be, right?' Chamber laughs and tells her 'Course it was, luv'. Locals stop and stare at the young mutants, as they head down an alleyway, Chamber tells Jubilee that he didn't think she would be the type to sneak out and catch up a movie. 'Miss full-fledged X-Man' he jokes. 'What? Are you kidding? I'm a loner, man. I go where I wanna go. And if anybody tries to stop me – SNIKT! I mean, PSHEW!' Jubilee exclaims, making the sound her powers make. Chamber takes her hand, 'Oh right, I forgot, so nice of you to take a mere student on your solo adventures!' he jokes, as a figure emerges from the shadows. 'Haha, right! Stick with me, kiddo – you might learn something' Jubilee grins as Alpha Red reaches out for her....