'My telepathy – my telekinesis – they're not working!' Jean Grey a.k.a. Marvel Girl exclaims. 'They're blocking me somehow!' Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops fires an optic blast, announcing that his powers are still going strong, for all the good they are doing. 'They're shaking off my best shots!' Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman looks tired and a pool of water has formed around him as he asks 'You think we can get a do-over? I feel like... we'd do better the second time around' Up above, Warren Worthington the Third hovers, then shields his eyes as he is blinded by a blast of light. Henry McCoy a.k.a. the Beast is trapped in some sort of force field, and tells his fellow time-displaced X-Men that they are closing in.
In Barcelona, Spain, five large Sentinels stand over the young mutants. One of them has grabbed hold of Angel, while the Beast is trapped in a force field, another releases a blast of heat at Iceman, the fourth blocks Cyclops' optic blast, and the Sentinel opposing Jean Grey tells addresses the X-Men as “fellow mutants” and tells the X-Men to desist, as this conflict serves no purpose, and they mean no harm. Jean asks the Sentinels why they are saying that - “fellow mutants” to which one of them explains 'Because we are like you'.
Several civilians are watching from nearby, and one of them suddenly calls out 'Please – stop this! These robots... they were trying to help. They were helping me!' she exclaims. Jean looks confused and points at the Sentinels, while asking the woman if she saying that they helped her. 'That is correct. We have been dispatched to aid emerging mutant 213345' one of the Sentinels reports. 'Emerging mutant?' Jean asks, before the Sentinel picks her up. 'Hey! Hands off!' Jean shouts. Standing on a demolished street with lava bubbling underneath, the woman introduces herself as Belen, and announces that all of this destruction is her fault. 'I couldn't stop myself. I couldn't control it' she adds, while Jean demands that the Sentinel put her down, but the Sentinel reports that it cannot do that, as new directives are streaming in. 'We are to show the X-Men that we are striving for the same goals – to save mutantkind'
The other X-Men are picked up by the Sentinels as the one holding Jean picks up Belen and instructs the other Sentinels to prepare the X-Men for transport. One of the Sentinels then encases the mutants in yellow bubbles and reports that their pobjective is not to harm, but to subdue, and adds that the force fields will keep them safe and comfortable during travel. 'Do not struggle, fellow mutants. Do not despair. Our mission... is to protect you' the Sentinel declares as they blast off.
At that moment, the time-displaced original X-Men's Blackbird jet which was stationary in the air in Barcelona springs to life, and begins to track the X-Men once it identifies that the X-Men have left the maximum safe distance away from the Blackbird. The autopilot parameters are updated as the jet pursues the X-Men.
Within the force field that surrounds her, Jean is accompanied by Belen, and Jean tells her that nothing is quite like it is supposed to be. 'So let's just back up a bit, okay? It was you who caused all the destruction we saw? It wasn't the Sentinels?' Jean asks. Belen hangs her head and admit that she did it, but that she didn't mean to, that she doesn't even know what happened. She explains that one minute she was minding her own business, and then she felt a strange headache, a sudden fever. The earth started shaking, cracking open, and she was causing it. Motioning to the Sentinels, Belen reveals that they stopped her before she hurt someone – they switched off her powers somehow. 'Mine, too' Jean adds, realizing that they have some sort of power dampening field. 'It's new. A new weapon against us' Jean decides. Belen tells Jean that she doesn't understand, so Jean asks her if she has watched the news before. 'Those are Sentinels. They're kind of famous for killing mutants. You are a mutant. And Sentinels like these were designed to murder you' Jean declares.
Jean's mind wanders back fighting the Sentinels alongside her fellow original X-Men and she informs Belen that the X-Men have been fighting Sentinels for years, and that she first saw them during a combat exercise – it wasn't supposed to be the first time she encountered them. 'But... you know... time travel. Long story'. Jean tells Belen that even though the Sentinels she fought weren't real, they were simulations, she could feel hate pouring out of them – hate because someone created them to kill her and anyone like her. 'Real or not, they terrified me'. Jean adds that she couldn't understand how anyone could build a Sentinel, and she doesn't understand why anyone would keep building them.
The Sentinels fly towards a mountainous area and descend into a cavern, possibly a volcano. The X-Men and Belen are lowered to the ground, and one of the Sentinels tells its “fellow mutants” that they are safe here and that there is no need for hostility, as their master awaits. The mutants are released from the force fields and Jean telepathically contacts her teammates, reporting that the Sentinels' power-dampening field is wearing off. 'You can hear me, right?' she asks. Cyclops responds by telling Jean to give the word and that they will blast their way out of here. 'Not yet' Jean tells the others, suggesting that they may as well see what it is that made these hunter-killers suddenly join the We Love Mutants Club. The young X-Men go wide-eyed as a large door opens in front of them, and a voice calls out 'Greetings, X-Men. And welcome'.
On a platform in the next room, connected to all sorts of wires and cables is the Nimrod / Master Mold fusion called Bastion. He introduces himself to the X-Men and tells them that he recognizes some of their faces, although they are a bit younger than he remembers. He adds that he must assume thanks to some paradox, that they have never met. He suggests that perhaps a fresh start is for the best, and claims that he has brought them before him, in hopes that they might become friends.
'Who is this guy? Robot with a soul maybe? Definitely robot with a soul patch, which is blowing my mind a little bit' Iceman tells the others via Jean's telepathic link. 'You never study' Jean replies, before telling Bastion that they may not have met him, but they know who he is. 'Except Bobby' someone points out, while Jean informs Bastion that they know he hs a history of trying to exterminate their people. Bastion confirms that Jean is right, and tells the mutants that he hopes they will realize that his operating structures have changed.
Shown with flashback images:
Bastion informs the X-Men that not long ago he attempted to kill the mutant called Hope, who represented the rebirth of sorts of for the X-gene, as he believed he could destroy her before she brought her namesake to mutantkind, but she proved to be more dangerous than he anticipated, and he was destroyed. Surely Hope thought him obliterated in the conflict. However, at the last second, he was able to activate his temporal drives and shunted himself into the future. Bastion had suffered catastrophic damage, and the time-shift corrupted and compromised his systems. It was there that he saw mutants had not been saved – in fact, thanks to Terrigen poisoning, their numbers were dwindling faster than ever before.
Bobby steps forward and begins to inform Bastion that that is behind them now. 'The Terrigen -' he starts to say, before Jean shushes him, and telling Bobby to let Bastion give them the information. 'We don't need to tell him anything' she remarks. Bastion agrees that the mutant population is no longer threatened by the Terrigen Mists, but points out that their numbers are dangerously low. 'You are an endangered species' he declares.
'Shouldn't a Sentinel be... I dunno... happy about that?' Angel asks his teammates. The Beast explains that Bastion appears corrupted, and adds that Bastion said it himself, essentially, he has gone mad.
Bastion announces that he could not allow mutants to vanish from the Earth, and so he reprogrammed a group of Sentinels to follow new instructions – to aid mutantkind. 'That is why we refer to ourselves as mutants. Our programming is an aberration' one of the Sentinels explains.
Bastion informs the X-Men that is why he has brought them here, as he needs mutants to help him in this mission.
'Tell me you're not buying into this, Jean?' Scott asks. Jean assures him that she is not, to which Scott adds 'How many of our enemies are we going to make allegiances with?' 'I said I'm not!' Jean exclaims.
Belen walks towards Bastion, telling him that she is not an X-Man, but that she will help if she can. Jean tells her to wait, but Belen turns back to Jean and tells her that she knows what she said – she knows what Sentinels are supposed to be. 'But don't you believe people can change?' Belen asks. Jean goes wide-eyed, and remembers Magneto recently telling her that Charles Xavier dreamed of a world where human and mutant could co-exist in peace. He told her that once he challenged that idea, but that now, he believes that if mutants are to survive, they must do so alongside humans.
With Belen standing at his side, Bastion asks ther X-Men to join him, and claims that together they can save their species. The Beast, still connected to the others via Jean's telepathy, tells his teammates that what Bastion is talking about is a utility function. 'We're talking about the guidelines that defines a robot's every action'. He proposes to his teammates that, for example, a robot's utility function is to clean a house, so once it has cleaned a house, completely, that robot no longer serves a purpose, but that some believe the robot would then make a new mess, going so far as knocking down walls, so that it can continue doing its job. 'Bastion's utility function is to kill mutants' the Beast reminds his friends.
'Together, X-Men. It's the only way' Bastion declares. 'What are you -' Marvel Girl starts to ask the Beast, but he cuts her off, and tells her to ask Bastion why he is saving mutants.
Marvel Girl moves closer to Bastion and tells him that she gets it, she thinks that she understands he has changed, before asking him what his end goal is, why he is helping mutants. Bastion's eyes flash red, as he apologizes, and remarks that he thought it was obvious – he wants to save mutantkind, to see them flourish – so that he can destroy them. 'What did you -' Belen begins, pulling away from Bastion as the Sentinels loom over the X-Men, and Marvel Girl announces that settles it, as the X-Men start to battle Bastion. Jean throws a telekinetic shield around herself and instructs Cyclops to keep Bastion busy. He does so with an optic blast, while Jean tells the Beast that the Sentinel with green lights can shut their powers down, so he needs to do a little monkey-wrenching and return the favor. Jean tells Iceman and Angel that they are on chaos and mayhem duty. 'I'm chaos. He's mayhem' Iceman replies as he slides around on an ice-sled and then blasts one of the Sentinels with ice, as Angel darts between two of the other Sentinels, and the Beast starts ripping a panel off the Sentinel with the green lights. Belen ducks as Cyclops fires an optic blast that strikes Bastion, who throws up a force field.
Bastion informs the X-Men that this is unnecessary, and that based on their age and activities, according to his calculations, they will be long deceased before his action parameters are updated. 'We're not trying to protect ourselves. We're fighting to protect all mutants – including those wh won't be born for decades' Cyclops explains. 'Cease and desist! We do not wish to harm you!' the Sentinel that the Beast is attacking calls out. 'Yeah. Noty yet you don't' Jean remarks as she uses her telekinesis to slam one of the Sentinels to the ground. Bastion announces that this battle is pointless, and tells the X-Men that they struggle against their own survival, so he will not engage in senseless conflict. 'Transrelocation initiated' Bastion announces as he and the Sentinels suddenly vanish. 'They... ran. They just teleported away!' Angel exclaims. Beast explains that a fight with them at this stage of the game does not support the utility function.
Marvel Girl looks over at Belen and asks her if she is all right. Belen frowns and explains that she thought she could do some good and that they could help her. Jean tells Belen not to worry, and informs her that they know a great school and can drop her off there on their way home. 'A school?' Belen asks. 'Maybe not the best. But close' Jean tells her. Iceman turns to his teammates and tells them that he hates to be the wet blanket, but points out that they are stranded here. Angel offers to go get help, while Jean suggests she could send out a psychic distress call. The Beast remarks that he could possibly open a mystic portal. 'Through Hell!' Cyclops exclaims. 'You could stay here if you like' the Beast points out, when suddenly, Jean looks upwards, and reports that their ride is here, as the Blackbird descends down into the cavern.
Angel looks at the Beast and asks him if he programmed the Blackbird to do that. 'It wasn't me' the Beast replies, suggesting that they ask Magneto where he got this plane. Angel, the Beast, Iceman and Belen walk towards the Blackbird and Jean hangs her head. 'Penny for your thoughts?' Cyclops asks her. He walks over to Jean and asks her if she is doing okay. Jean tells Scott that she iis, but that Bastion is their enemy, and he is trying to save mutants – and they attacked him, but he didn't even fight back. 'It makes me wonder...' Jean's voice trails off, and Cyclops concludes Jean's comment by asking if their relationship with Magneto is any different. 'I don't know what to tell you, Jean. You know how I feel. Magneto's bad news. I don't trust him. But I trust you' Jean looks at Cyclops and tells him that maybe he shouldn't, pointing out that since they got to this time, she has used her powers with abandon, forced her will on others, read her friends' thoughts without permission. 'I've kind of been a -' Jean begins.
'You totally have' Cyclops smiles, before telling Jean that doesn't mean she is a super villain. 'You made some mistakes... sometimes some scary mistakes... but you're trying to fix it. And I'm here to help you' Cyclops assures her. They approach the Blackbird and Jean asks Scott if he thinks she is scary. 'I just threw that in there for dramatic effect' he claims. Jean points out that she could read his mind and find out. 'Careful, Dark Phoenix' Cyclops replies. 'I'm kidding!' Jean assures Scott, before thanking him.