Muir Island, a place of genetic experimentation where mutants are drawn seeking a cure for the curse that makes them different. To the lab of Doctor Gottfried Adler, four superhumans have come ready to partake of the grand experiment. It has not gone exactly as they planned. Adler has disappeared, and in his place is a being of monumental power and evil. His name is Apocalypse. Figures stand in the shadows behind him as he announces that the seminal transformation is complete. 'You are mine now – body, mind and spirit – part of Apocalypse!' he declares. He reminds them that they came here craving normalcy, but instead he has altered them as he deemed fit – to become his soldiers and do his bidding in the brave new world they shall soon create. 'You, my four horsemen, are the harbingers of all that is to come!' he booms as the four figures move forward and Apocalypse introduces them all:
Abraham Lincoln Kieros, whose militaristic ways have made him the perfect War! Warren Worthington the Third, the millionaire youth whose fortune funded the departed Adler's research into the basis of life – has become Death! Autumn Rolfson, a fragile child whose touch withers is now Fame! And Plague, a former subterranean-dwelling Morlock has emerged as Pestilence! Apocalypse reveals that he has existed for millennia, secretly influencing humanity's clumsy progress, but now is the time to shed the shadows – and emerge fully into the light and to claim a long-delayed destiny. 'The time of Apocalypse is nigh! Let the age of chaos commence!' he booms.
A less ominous setting – the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters in New York's Westchester County, where four of the X-Men – Jean Grey, Rogue, Jubilee and Remy LeBeau a.k.a. Gambit – are in the recreation room. 'Go for it, gal! You ran the table, like awesome! This Gambit dude better call it a night!' Jubilee encourages Rogue, who leans over the pool table, lining up her shot. Gambit tells Jubilee that the night is still young. 'And dis femme still dans le petrin' Gambit smiles. 'That eightball's goin' in the pocket like it had eyes!' Rogue boys. Gambit leans into Rogue and tells her that she has such ravishing ones herself. 'Let them nnow fail you now when you need them most, non? De last shot – always de most complique, careful...' Gambit tells Rogue, who glances out the corner of her eyes at Gambit and tells him that she knows he is trying a psych-out, but she ain't falling for it.
Rogue shoots – and misses as the eightball hits the side of the pool table and bounces back into the center of the table. Jean Grey thinks to herself that was very slick of Remy, and wonders 'How about a bit of turnabout to the rescue?' as Gambit gives Rogue his condolescences and tells her to watch him in action. 'A small kinetic charge on de stick for luck...' Gambit thinks to himself as he uses his powers to charge the pool stick, while Rogue tells Gambit she will laugh until her belly aches if he misses. 'C'mon, smart aleck – screw it up so Ah get a yok' Rogue thinks to herself. Jean gives Gambit's pool stick a little telekinetic nudge, and Gambit looks surprised as he misses hitting the ball. Trouble, Gambit... hmmm? Oh – and now you've ripped the cloth. What will the Professor say?' Jean asks. 'De bille – by itself it move! Who – Jean! You use de powers to cheat ol' Remy?' Gambit asks. Jean looks at her fingernails as she replies 'Moi? Really, Gambit... accusing me of cheating? And what, pray tell, would I have to gain? I'm not in the game?' Jean points out. 'Oh, you play de game all right, cherie' Gambit mutters.
Storm suddenly enters the rec room and tells the others that she apologizes for interrupting their recreation time, but that there is something the Professor wants them to watch on television. 'And please see that the pool table is repaired. I assume it is your error, Gambit. What will the Professor say?' Storm asks. She then flicks a television monitor on and announces that this is occurring in Paris. 'Hopes are high as leaders from around the world meet here for the Conventional Weapons Department talks' a news reporter announces.
In Paris, the reporter adds that, despite that, delegates to the conference warn that much tough negotiation lies ahead. 'Wait – here's the conference chairman now' the reporter announces as a man takes the podium, where world leaders are gathered before him. He states that the leaders of the world recognize people's desire for peace, but that they must proceed carefully. 'Can we disarm humanity when mutants walk among us? This question must be answered – if we are to insure – what? Pieces of falling rock?' the chairman utters, as chunks of rock begin to fall from above – broken from the edge of the rooftop above, where the diabolical Apocalypse is perched! 'More than that will fall, human! The world you know will crumble around you! And in its place will stand the world according to Apocalypse! The Chaos-Bringer!' Apocalypse booms as the civilians and world leaders below start to scatter in fear.
'All opposition to me will succumb to – the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse!' Apocalypse booms as Death, War, Famine and Pestilence appear. Death flies above on his deadly metal wings, while the other Horsemen ride metal steeds. 'What can this mean?' a soldier asks as he starts firing at the Horsemen, as the Horsemen use their steeds to fire blasts of energy into the crowd. 'Our deaths if these creatures aren't stopped!' the chairman points out. At that moment, soldiers in a helicopter up above open fire on Archangel, who suddenly turns upwards as if to attack. 'But what possible damage can he do against an armored aircraft?' the soldier asks – before falling from the chopper, sorry he asked as Archangel slices the tail rotor off like paper with his razor-sharp wings. The soldier lands on a tower nearby, while Archangel flies back down towards the ground, and fires deadly projectiles from his bio-technic wings – two of which land either side of the chairman's head, against a brick will. They are neural disruptors, and with the chairman stuck between them, they release an energy that scrambles the circuitry of his central nervous system.
'Excellent, Mr Chairman. Precisely the look my master Apocalypse demands of all humans who will one day serve him!' Archangel exclaims, adding that it is a pity the disruptor's effects are merely temporary. Archangel decides that the chairman is a pathetic weakling and isn't worthy of being a slave, so tosses him into a nearby water fountain. 'I have come for you!' Pestilence exclaims as she strides towards a cameraman and boom operator. The man holding the boom tells the reporter to keep filming, as this is the story of the century. 'I've got no choice. I'm too scared to move!' the cameraman responds, before Pestilence touches them both, introducing them to the pleasures of the plague, both men start foaming at the mouth. Apocalypse stands over the camera, he remarks that the demonstration nears completion. 'Let one final image but itself into the collective mind of mankind! Let them see what they will soon feel' he declares as he then stands on the camera, ending the video feed.
In the X-Men's War Room, the team is gathered, and Professor X tells his X-Men that he has feared this for years – a mutant possessing perhaps as much raw power as Magneto himself, and lacking even Magneto's restraint, has openly declared war on the human race – the consequences of which may be too terrible to contemplate. Jean asks the Professor what they should do, to which Jubilee exclaims 'Like, we're gonna kick some big-time tail, Jean! What else is new?' to which the Professor tells her that her candor is refreshing, and informs the team that they must put a stop to the senseless slaughter, that they will take the Blackbird to Paris and track down Apocalypse and his followers. Cyclops reports that the ship is fuelled and ready. 'Just gimme a minute to pack a box lunch, Bub' Wolverine remarks. 'Yeah, me too' Jubilee adds. 'That was a joke, squirt' Wolverine tells Jubilee, while the Professor informs Jubilee that she will not be going, Rogue neither, as he has other duties for them.
The Professor informs Jubilee that he needs her here to help him supervision the reconstruction of the Mansion. 'Ahh, shoot' Jubilee mutters. 'And me, Professor?' Rogue asks. Professor X tells Rogue that he recognized those with Apocalypse – they were all on Muir Isle hoping for the cure. He hands Rogue a photo of Death, and tells her that this is the mutant who claimed that Dr Adler cured him. 'You must return to Muir Island and see Adler. He may hold the key we need' Xavier declares. Rogue understands, and reports that if there is something fishy going on, she is getting to the bottom of it, and isn't coming back until she does!
Meanwhile, throughout the continent of Europe, the monstrous minions of Apocalypse wreak havoc of an awesome and unprecedented kind. At a vineyard in the south of France, Famine honors her namesake as she flies over crops and uses her powers to destroy them, exclaiming that men shall starve as their crops wither and die. In the Swiss alps, the Archangel of Death demolishes an electrical generating station, leaving thousands without power. 'Let the purification begin – and mankind purged of its arrogant pretensions of advancement!' Archangel exclaims as he uses the projectiles from his deadly wings, they blast the facility apart. At an air base outside of Berlin, Germany, where War deals harshly with his kin. 'The only weapons of destruction on this planet will belong to the master – Apocalypse!' War boasts as he destroys jet fighter planes. Finally, in Trafalgar Square, where Pestilence greets Londoners in her own unique and fatal fashion – blasting them with a green energy, she exclaims 'Let your agonizing deaths through disease serve notice to all that the day of man is over!' Apocalypse revels in this chaos, 'Strike, my Horsemen! Strike in the name of Apocalypse!' he roars.
While the horrors continue in Europe, an angry X-Man arrives at Muir Isle, dropping down over the damaged lab where Dr Adler was conducting his diabolical schemes. Rogue didn't think she would see this place again for a while, and supposes the doctor didn't have a chance to fix that hole in the roof yet. She jokes that there may be another when she is through. 'Doctor Adler – Ah hope you heah because Ah wanna have a little sit-down with yuh. Right now!' Rogue calls out as she drops down into the lab. Behind some equipment lurks the mysterious Mystique, who hears Rogue and quickly shapeshifts back into the guise of Dr Adler. 'There yuh are! Let's talk, Doctor! I wanna know what yoh “cure” did tuh these mutants rampagin' all ovah with that Apocalypse bozo!' Rogue declares. 'Whatever are you talking about? I -' Adler begins, but Rogue tells him not to play dumb with her.
'Ah was gonna be one'a yoh subjects, too! Would yuh have turned me into some kind freak like them Four Horsemen? Answer me!' Rogue shouts. Adler claims that he hasn't the slightest idea what this is all about, so Rogue tells him she is through wasting her time and breath, and slams Adler into the table that the mutants were strapped to as they underwent the transformation procedure. 'Now you come clean and tell me what's really up heah – and where Apocalypse fits in the mix – or else!' Rogue warns Adler, who asks her to stop. 'What are you doing?' Adler asks. Rogue goes over to the control panel and tells Adler that she is giving him a taste of his own medicine. 'Yuh wanna take the cure yohself – or you wanna start fessing up?' she asks.
Suddenly: 'Very well. You win. I am Mystique – the shape-shifter. The so-called cure is a hoax – designed to bring mutants here so that I can transform them into slaves of Apocalypse...part of his plan of world domination' Mystique explains as she shifts back into her blue-skinned form. 'So that's the lowdown! Yoh the monster – not them poor guinea pigs yuh screwed up!' Rogue gasps. She tells Mystique that she wants to know where Apocalypse is hiding out. 'He got a headquarters or something Ah can track him to?' she asks, suggesting that Mystique better talk, as her fingers are getting itchy. 'No – please!' Mystique exclaims, before revealing that Apocalypse is currently using a hidden command center under Stonehenge in England. 'He sure is gonna be starched that his li'l lady ratted him out' Rogue remarks. Wide-eyed, Mystique asks Rogue not to tell him, as she doesn't know what she is dealing with. 'Just let me go into hiding...' Mystique pleads. Rogue tells her to skedaddle and declares that her doctoring days are over. Rogue announces that she has a hunk of machinery to trash, and then it is Mystique's boss she wants!
'Lousy stinkin' piece o' junk! Giving us false hope! Lettin' us believe there's a way out – some kinda choice we could make!' Rogue shouts as she begins to tear the machinery apart, trashing the lab. 'Ain't nothing but a lie. A rotten lie' Rogue utters, dropping to her knees. She looks determined as she decides that Mister Big Bad Mutant Mastermind has got himself one angry woman on his tail. She has never wanted nobody's hide this much. 'And Ah'm gonna have it! APOCALYPSE – YOH MINE!' Rogue shouts as she flies up through the hole in the lab roof and heads towards England.
Hours later, the Blackbird descends near Stonehenge. Cyclops tells the others that this is where they have tracked Apocalypse's four agents, and points out that as this is their turf, he suggests they use stealth in making their approach. 'Suggestion noted' Wolverine replies as he exits the Blackbird, suggesting to Cyclops that he fix his peepers on what has just popped up from the ground! Indeed, Apocalypse and his Horsemen have emerged from beneath Stonehenge, and Apocalypse boasts that he cannot be taken unaware, and that their landing was monitored and presence confirmed. 'Gaze at the old order, my Horsemen...gaze at that which will soon be swept away in the tide of terror and strife I will unleash!' Apocalypse tells the X-Men that he knows of them, as little escapes his notice. Cyclops sees that Apocalypse has captured Rogue, the behemoth then throws Rogue towards them. 'I believe this belongs to you!' he exclaims. Jean uses telekinesis to slow Rogue's flight, while Wolverine snarls 'This one's mine! Nobody interfere!'
Storm looks after Rogue, telling her to take it easy, as the X-Men are here. 'How did you come to arrive here before us?' Storm enquires. Rogue explains that she went to Muir and found out about Apocalypse's hideout, so flew here, tried to stop him, but they ganged up on her. 'Ah'll get him. Ah swear... Ah'll get him!' Rogue boasts. Cyclops tells Gambit that they have got to even this up, and suggests he goes for those mechanical horses. 'Your wish, mon ami – is dis obeissant Cajun's command!' Gambit replies as he throws his kinetically-charged playing cards at the mechanical steeds, destroying them. 'Now that's teamwork, gentlemen' Jean Grey exclaims as she uses War's staff as a restraint, telekinetically wrapping it around War, Pestilence and Famine, trapping them.
'Fools! You gloat over the capture of three Horsemen – forgetting there is a fourth... Death! And the penalty for failure – is pain by neural disruptor!' Archangel exclaims as he uses his neural disruptors on Cyclops and Gambit, who keel over in pain, clutching their heads.
Rogue looks ready to get back into the fight, but Storm points out that she has undergone an ordeal, and must gather her strength and let the others carry this battle. Rogue tells Storm that she appreciates the sentiment, but X-Men are getting hurt, so the gloves are off. She removes her gloves and flies towards Archangel. 'Surrender or die!' Archangel booms, too busy grandstanding to notice Rogue sneaking up behind him. She plans to use her bare hands to make contact with his mind and absorb all the negative emotions Apocalypse unleashed. She hopes she doesn't get overloaded, because then it is goodbye to her!
Below, Wolverine confronts Apocalypse directly, his adamantium claws clang against Apocalypse's hand, which the powerful mutant transformed into a shield. 'How about making yer noggin' into a head o' lettuce – so I can shred it?' Wolverine suggests. 'You speak bravely for one so small' Apocalypse points out, suggesting that he should make Wolverine even smaller, and starts punching him into the ground. 'Ferget it! I'm taking you out, buttercup!' Wolverine snarls. 'You are the one who will be taken out – animal...with the trash!' Apocalypse boasts.
Back up in the air, Rogue places her bare hands against Archangel's head, she can feel it, drawing all the ugliness into herself. She tells Archangel not to fight it, as she is taking the poison out of his body, so he needs to stop squirming, as this is for his own good. 'I am Death! All tremble at my approach!' Archangel responds, before going wide-eyed, he realizes that this is not who he is – he is Warren Worthington. 'What have I done?' Warren wonders, while Rogue looks angry and exclaims 'I'll slay them all and parade their bodies through the streets as an example! Death is here!' Archangel tells her that there will be no slaughter. He sees Apocalypse battling Wolverine and remembers him from Adler's lab – the one who did this to him. 'And it's time for payback!'
Evil thoughts, like a snake, twist around inside Rogue's head, spewing venom. She knows she has to get down there, get control before the pain overwhelms her and she loses control. 'Let him go, monster!' Archangel shouts as he fires his razor-sharp feather-blades at Apocalypse, several of which strike him in the back. Apocalypse lets go of Wolverine and drops to his knees. 'Get up! This isn't finished yet! I knew those feather darts couldn't really hurt you!' Archangel exclaims as Apocalypse turns to him and asks him what the meaning of this is. 'Of all those who serve me, you are my proudest creation... my most favored offspring. How can you betray me like this, my Archangel?' Apocalypse asks. 'Betray you! I'm the ravaged party here – not you! I financed a research project on Muir Island to change mutants into normal humans!' Archangel declares, pointing out that Apocalypse perverted that dream, used it to make innocents into unthinking slaves for him.
Archangel continues, declaring that he doesn't want power or conquest, he just wants to be a man amongst other men. 'Can you understand that through your delusions?' Archangel asks. 'So... I offer you the world and you throw it back in my face? Ignorant child!' Apocalypse replies. Apocalypse admits that even he can err, and warns Archangel that the sting of his words will remain long after the wounds in his back have healed. A ship appears overhead, and a beam drops down, engulfing Apocalypse, War, Famine and Pestilence, drawing them upwards towards the ship. Apocalypse announces that he takes his leave now, as the stench of inferiors can no longer be tolerated.
'The ground – shaking!' Jean calls out. 'Gotta make out move! He's taking a powder!' Wolverine exclaims, before the X-Men are all knocked to the ground. Apocalypse explains that the ground is rumbling because he has activated the self-destruct mechanisms in his underground command center. 'The secrets it contains are forever lost to you!' Apocalypse warns the X-Men, while Cyclops tells the others that he can't maintain his balanced enough to use his eyebeams. 'Save it fer yer memoirs, Cyke! Just hope nobody's video-taping this dance!' Wolverine mutters.
Then, after Apocalypse has fled, Rogue turns to Archangel and tells him that she knows deep inside what that madman did to him, explaining that she took the evil from him, absorbed it. 'Yer a good man. Don't evah think otherwise. Ah was even gonna be part of that experiment yuh was bank rollin'. But Ah did some rethinking... and realized being what we are ain't so bad maybe' Rogue adds. Archangel hangs his head and tells the X-Men that when you come from money, as he does, you believe it can solve every problem – if he hadn't begun this project, none of this would have happened – in a way, it is all his fault. Cyclops tells him that there is no need for recriminations. 'You wanted to do something good for others like yourself. The X-Men stand ready to help you. All you have to do is ask. We're friends' Cyclops adds.
The following day at the X-Mansion, Professor X tells Rogue that this has been a traumatic experience for her, plus the beating at the hands of Apocalypse. Rogue assures the Professor that she is healing up nice, and her mind has patched itself together, too. Rogue reminds the Professor that she has spent the better part of a lifetime feeling sorry for herself – but she doesn't believe anyone has ever been as alone as her. Rogue adds that she wants to be human, to touch and caress and love – but if that isn't in the cards, then she will make her stand here with the X-Men. 'Yoh right. We're a family. And when the hurt gets too much tuh bear...ah know yoah heah foh me. Keeps me from cracking up'. The Professor smiles and tells Rogue that they are all misfits in this world, but that this place isn't just about putting up a barricade and enduring their pain – it is about seizing the day and making their lives useful. 'I'm proud of you' Charles tells her, to which Rogue thanks him, and tells him that he is the real hero among them.
Meanwhile, at his Swiss chalet retreat, Warren Worthington has returned, he picks up a photo of how he used to look – and thinks that he is Warren Worthington the Third. 'Who's this blue-skinned impostor that's returned to his home?' Warren wonders. He then picks up a photo of Gisela – she has left him, and he is now more mutant than when this Muir Island debacle began. He frowns – he doesn't believe anyone has ever been as alone as him. He thinks that out there, this fiend that ruined his life is licking his wounds and waiting to strike. 'The world hasn't seen the last of Apocalypse. The horror may have just begun!'