‘Ro is wildly running through the Morlock tunnels, desperately trying to flee. She wanted to prove herself to the X-Men. Now, perhaps too late, she’s having second thoughts. She falls into the dirty water. Around the corner she sees a red energy blast and exploding charged-up objects. Soon, the two whose powers signatures she saw have found her: a horribly disfigured Gambit and Cyclops who are attacking her. Please don’t! she cries frightened. She runs again. Smart play would be manifesting some lighting. But with her control over her powers that could kill, and she won’t do that to her friends. So she runs. Into even more trouble, namely Masque and his crew.
Masque mocks that she can’t escape the Morlocks on their own ground. She can make them pay for what he did to her friends! she retorts, trying to blow him away. But she cannot generate enough wind. Now it’s his turn Masque leers, about to touch her face. But his hand phases through her thanks to Kitty Pryde who phases ‘Ro along with herself.
As the two begin to flee together, Masque angrily orders one of his people, Scarshriek, to let them scream. Scarshriek’s scream acts as a sonic pulse dazing Kitty. They’ll have to fight, she fears. Maybe not ‘Ro replies as Cyclops’ optic blast now hits the Morlocks. Cyclops and Gamit have regained control over their minds and bodies and warn Masque, to cease hostilities or be prepared for this tunnels to get really bloody.
Meanwhile, back at Xavier’s, the other X-Men are busy with their mysterious guest Mystique. Nightcrawler, Rogue and Nick Fury watch critically behind a glass window as Jean Grey is repeating her attempt to enter Mystique’s mind. Rogue fears it won’t do Jean much good. Mystique’s mind is a maze. Deeper you go, more likely you are to get lost!
As Jean stops, Mystique remarks that Rogue tried probing her once after she absorbed telepathic power. She came up empty and had a killer headache for over a week. Jean silently admits that she’s right. She hasn’t had this much trouble scanning anyone’s mind since Logan. And the memory of him hurts. No wonder she’s off her game, she figures.
Mystique smirks as she notices Jean is distracted and decides to play with her. Is her mind on something else? she asks. She takes on the likeness of Professor X, chiding Jean. He trained her better than that. Next she becomes Cyclops. “C’mon, red, you know how it’s done. Show no mercy!” Beast next: It’s a fascinating challenge, perhaps if she perceives the brain in its totality, cataloguing its strengths and weaknesses. And finally Wolverine who recommends she stop pushing so hard and take a break, find her center.
Stop it! Jean shouts. Just trying to help, is all, darlin’ “Logan” states. Jean goes ballistic. Surrounded by Phoenix fire, she orders Mystique to never call her that. She hasn’t the right! Has she struck a nerve? Mystique asks. She has no idea, Jean threatens. She’d listen if she were her. This is her only warning! And Mystique realizes Jean is serious. She’s never seen powerlevels like this. While the X-Men are not even reacting. Jean retorts that their exchange is totally private. But the consequences for Mystique will be very real… The fire stops, she turns to normal as she realizes what she is saying. She storms outside.
Still surprised, Mystique figures the rumors about Jean have a basis in fact. Now how can she turn this to her advantage? The other three outside wonder what just happened, as they saw nothing of the exchange. Fury orders Kurt to get Mystique’s memories the only way they can. With his help.
Back in the Morlock tunnels, X-Men and Morlocks are still fighting. Daisy frees Sabretooth who has to lean on her and is unable to coordinate his senses. She asks why they hurt him. Long ago a guy named Sinister got a sample of his genes, he replies, grew a copy of him which helped slaughter the Morlocks. They don’t want the explanation, just revenge, and he can’t blame them. But Sinister is dead, killed by Summers. He lost his chance to balance those scales…
Daisy fires her gun up in the air to get everyone’s attention. That’s enough! she orders and tells them to listen. Sabretooth admits he likes her style. There’s no need for this, she explains. The X-Men aren’t the Morlocks’ enemies. They are pretty much the only thing standing between them and annihilation! They need to stand together! Words are easy, Masque scoffs. They know better. The X-Men won’t weep to see the Morlocks gone. Considering their history, considering what he alone has done to hurt them, is that any surprise? Kitty points out angrily, but then concedes that Daisy is right. Burnout changes everything. They have to stand united and that has to begin with some basic trust.
They don’t trust a man who slaughtered children. It wasn’t him Daisy assures them. The creature they fought was a clone. Daisy asks them to show some brains. Even now the X-Men wouldn’t fight to defend the Sabretooth they are talking about. They are telling the truth. Moira gets into Masque’s face, telling him she is the only hope they have, but raw compassion only goes so far. Here are her terms. Set right what he’s done and bring his people back with them to the mansion. After that she’ll do everything she can to help. She wants them to trust her? he asks.
What’s his answer? she presses and Masque agrees, for the time being. Moira demands he set right what he did to her friends. But they look so sweet, he mocks. Just imagine what he could to her? She declines. Pity, he remarks as he restores Gambit and Cyclops, adding that a while ago he did wonders for dear Callisto. She didn’t appreciate his work either.
‘Ro runs to hug Remy. He assures her he is fine but tells her to listen next time. Now help Sabretooth, Daisy orders. Can’t be done, comes the curt reply. He made a new hand for him before but his body rejected it. Try again! Daisy urges. Masque scoffs that the first thing a mutant learns are limitation. Some barriers can’t be by-passed. He learned that the hard way. It’s how he got such a handsome face. Daisy aims her weapon at him. Masque taunts her, asking if they aren’t the good guys. He can’t help him. A shot is fired and Masque falls. She didn’t do that, Daisy announces. They have hostile company! Cyclops shouts.
Kitty points out that Masque was hit with a knockout dart. This looks like SHIELD issue. So much for their secret, Gambit sighs as Trask’s SHIELD troops find they are still alive. However, at the moment they cannot pass that information on to the headquarters as their commlinks are blocked. Everyone open fire! their boss orders.
Sabretooth urges they kill them, whereas Cyclops decides they take them prisoner. A Morlock intervenes, telling them to get out, this is the Morlocks’ fight. Some of them remember Callisto’s rules and Storm’s. The X-Men have always proved themselves as friends. They tried to protect them from the Marauders. Consider this their chance to repay the debt.
Unhappy, the X-Men leave. ‘Ro looks back; she has a creepy sense of déjà vu about the tunnels, as if she’s been here before. And when that guy mentioned Callisto, the name sounded familiar. How can that be?
Meanwhile at Summers Cove, Corsair and his mother are talking to a potential client, Dr. Robyn Hanover, who tells them she is looking for adventure (and is single). Mrs. Summers remarks that flying will take some time with the weather coming up; however they invite Robyn to stay in one of their guestrooms. They can use the time to work out an itinerary and set the price. Robyn thanks them and assures Chris she’ll enjoy getting to know his family better. Especially his son…
Back at the X-Mansion, Kurt confronts Mystique. He figures she’s proud of herself. Is everything a game for her? It helps pass the time, she retorts, it also keeps her interrogators off-balance. To what end? he demands. She just likes to win? Depends on his definition of the term, she replies with a smile. What’s her goal? he insists. She needs to know what he wants so she can help him best. Kurt doesn’t believe her. So what comes next? she asks. He’ll absorb her powers and memory? She admires his courage. Then tell them what they need to know, he pleads. She told him the only thing that truly matters, she insists. She gave her word. He takes off his glove, it isn’t enough. “Then do what you believe you must, my son,” she states calmly.
Kurt decides not to. All his life he has trusted his own instincts. His body may have changed, but not his soul. People used to condemn him for his looks. His deeds didn’t matter. He will not paint her with the same brush.
Rogue teleports in. Is he crazy? she demands. Perhaps, but he also knows he is right. Can’t he see she is just playing him, same as she does everyone, Rogue shouts, till she gets her own way? Not today, Kurt insists. Sometimes instincts can be wrong, Rogue shoots back and grabs Mystique by the throat. Mystique gurgles that those words cut both ways. Maybe, Rogue agrees, but if she wants in here, then she owes them, owes her the truth!
The truth is she has seen everyone she loves die! Comes the reply. With Rogue and Kurt fate’s given her a second chance to set things right! She hugs Rogue, telling her in all their years together, neither Destiny nor she could ever touch Rogue before now. This moment alone is worth all the pain.
Cyclops’ team, back from the Morlock tunnels, enters. Moira announces that Mystique is immune to Burnout. As her son, so was Kurt. When they switched powers, that immunity transferred to Rogue. They need to find out what the resistant factor is in the family genome and whether it can be made into a vaccine. She isn’t a lab rat, Rogue protests. Right now, they are all lab rats, Moira retorts. She needs to run comparisons between the three of them.
She is asking quite a lot, Mystique announces. Sabretooth tells Daisy it’s only a matter of time before mystique takes what she wants, cuts and runs and leaving her sucker kids to pick up the pieces. Daisy retorts she thought he’d of all people would believe that even the worst can change.
Mystique continues that normally a gift like that comes with a commensurate price. How much to save an entire species? Kurt and Rogue silently look at her. Irene would be ashamed at such a thought, she sighs. She was such a dreamer and a far better soul than she. Whatever Moira requires, she is at her service. Moira orders the three of them to her lab.
Fury thanks Mystique. The least she could do for old friends, she replies. They look at each other coldly. That’s a look she remembers, she smirks. How nice. If they are in a generous mood, perhaps some new clothes might be in order. If she is to play the hero from now on, she should look the part.
In the Morlock tunnels, the SHIELD agents have captured the Morlocks, equipped them with powers cancelling devices and now roughly drive them upward. Still no link with the helicarrier though. One agents is about to torture a Morlock to get answers. A moment later, tentacles grab him from above. Other attackers help, taking down all SHIELD agents in the blink of an eye.
A newcomer informs Masque he was told to leave. She wanted to kill him for what he did to her. Ororo ruled with mercy. But now the windrider’s gone. So her rules apply, Masque calmly replies to Callisto. Does that mean he is dead? She warns him not to push his luck. As it turns out, she has need of him. He comes with her. His friends get scouted to Archangel’s custody. As they have learned, the tunnels aren’t safe anymore. Soon they will have Neo-Sentinels down here and it will be the massacre all over again, only worse.
So they are going to run? Masque protests. Give up everything they’ve built? Consider it evolution in action, she replies. They adapt, then change, then overcome!
Acquisition complete! she informs someone over a com-link. But she has a surprise. Guess who is not dead?
“Why am I not surprised?” the other person replies Said person stands on a roof in Hammerbay, Genosha, clad from head to toe in a silver panther armor, reminiscent of the Black Panther. Where the X-Men are concerned, that trick never works! “I should know, the Ghost Panther is simply following their lead!”