In the heart of Manhattan—surrounded by an ever-growing phalanx of high-rises—is Central Park, a glorious open space wherein a person can wander the meadows and hills, the lakes and woodlands, and pretend the towering city beyond simply doesn’t exist. Crowded by day, after dark—especially as the night makes its way toward morning—the park empties of its people, growing so still it’s easy to persuade yourself this is a true wilderness.
On its outskirts, an NYPD patrol car idles. Inside, two officers sit patiently as the radio reports on situations that may require their attention. The officer named Ahmed complains that his kid loves Latin, the bedrock foundation of European languages. Gary, the other officer, cracks a joke, but then recalls the kid in question is only in the sixth grade. Ahmed shrugs; he can’t even understand the math kids learn these days. It makes him feel old.
Suddenly, a blinding white light fills the sky and elicits a frightened gasp from the Ahmed. Gary leans out the window and it in to the station. He asks Ahmed what the heck he thinks it was. Maybe some kind of explosion, Ahmed says. The two cops head into the park, toward the source of the light. Gary asks Ahmed if he saw the trail it left; it looked like the sky was on fire!
Ahmed advises his partner to be careful as they near the source of the explosion. All of a sudden, they catch of whiff of an awful stench, and Ahmed lifts his flashlight and shines it at the source. The two officers gasp as they behold a smoldering metallic skeleton. Two claws protrude from skeleton’s right hand, and a scorched superhero mask remains on what used to be its face. “Allah have mercy!” shouts Ahmed.
Meanwhile, roughly an hour’s drive upstate from the city at Professor Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, all is quiet. The mansion’s sophisticated computers show blank screens. In fact, not a single light remains on anywhere in the entire school. In Professor Xavier’s office, Nick Fury, Cyclops and Jean Grey lie unconscious on the floor, while Professor X slumps over in his chair. Similarly, out near the lake on the school’s property, the fully clothed Rogue and Gambit lie limp and lifeless on the muddy shore.
Storm returns home and opens the front door. She calls out for an answer; can anyone hear her? She begins to doubt it. There are no lights, and she can’t hear even the slightest sound. What has happened here? As she passes by the kitchen, she recalls everything looked just fine in Salem Center. What she finds especially odd is how even the mansion’s backup systems seem affected by this blackout. What could have caused such a catastrophic failure? She decides to check Xavier’s office for answers. The office, however, provides her not with answers, but more questions. She sees Cyclops, Nick Fury, Professor X and Jean Grey lying unconscious. For some reason, Jean’s eyes are wide open.
Upon hearing Storm’s voice, Professor X stirs awake and moans. Storm rushes to his side. Is he all right? What happened here? As Charles struggles to regain his composure, he tells his pupil that he isn’t sure. The last image he saw before he passed out was of Logan dying. Impossible! Storm declares. Xavier prays that’s true. Storm asks him to verify; can he reach out to Logan telepathically? No, Xavier tells her; there was a link to Logan, but not through him. He recounts to Storm how they were in the middle of debriefing from the Cortez mission when Jean suddenly screamed. He’s never felt such unbearable pain, Xavier admits to Storm; he can only imagine how Jean must have felt. She must have held tight to him, protecting him and fighting for his life until the end. “Why didn’t she trust me—why didn’t Logan?!” Xavier asks. Fortunately, if he is correct about the link between Jean and Logan, then Jean may very well know exactly who struck him down. Storm arches an eyebrow at this.
Nick Fury wakes up and rubs his aching head. What hit them? Was it some sort of attack? Xavier tells him he fears as much, but that he considers all of them collateral damage. After Cyclops rises to his feet as well, Storm notices that the only one yet to recover is Jean. Cyclops rushes to her side and checks for signs of life. He feels a pulse, but a very weak one. They need to get her to the infirmary! he shouts. Fury asks what good that will do without lights or power for the medical equipment. He pulls out his cell phone to call for help, but it, too, is dead—and it was designed to survive an electromagnetic pulse! They were hit by something on a different scale altogether, Xavier says. If that’s the case, Fury asks, then how are they still alive?
Xavier explains Jean bore the brunt of the impact. He suspects she diverted the shockwave into the mansion’s electronic systems, sacrificing them in order to protect the X-Men. Storm asks how that could even be possible. Cyclops, while lifting Jean’s limp body, reminds Storm that telepathy and telekinesis are merely forms of energy manipulation. One of the first things Jean ever learned was how to tap into power grids.
Scott asks the professor to find Hank and wake him up if he’s still unconscious. “Let’s move, people,” he says to the dumbfounded Storm, Xavier and Nick Fury. “What the devil are you all looking at?!” He fails to notice them paying attention to the doorway directly behind him, through which Gambit now emerges with the unconscious Rogue in his arms. Gambit explains he and Rogue were down by the lake when they were suddenly hit by what felt like a sledgehammer. He just got clipped, though; Rogue took the brunt of the hit.
Before Scott can leave the room with Jean, Professor X asks him to wait a moment while he reaches into Jean’s mind. Hopefully he can get a clear sense of what happened; he’s never before seen her manifest such intense defenses. His efforts fail. Jean seems to have erected a wall around herself even he cannot penetrate. Their questions will have to wait until she recovers. He gives Cyclops the go-ahead to take the two unconscious women to the infirmary, while asking Storm to light the way for them. “What happened, professor? You forget to pay the bill?” Gambit asks with a grin on his face.
Cyclops bursts into the infirmary with Jean in his arms. To his relief, he finds Beast conscious, but barely; he just woke up and has a beaut of a headache. Nightcrawler, also in the infirmary, advises everyone to watch their step; Kitty rigged the room with emergency lights, but nothing else works. They’ve got casualties, Cyclops explains. He and Gambit set Rogue and Jean on the infirmary tables. As Beast prepares to examine the victims, he asks if anyone minds telling him what happened. They don’t know yet, Xavier states—that’s why they need Jean awake. He fears something terrible has happened and needs answers. Nightcrawler suggests that if they’re truly under attack, they should call for help. Beast concurs; although the X-Men are scattered across the globe, he still has a valid Avengers I.D. Gambit, however, presumes Nick Fury is already taking care of it.
Sure enough, in the back of the room, Fury—whose phone just came back online—checks in with S.H.I.E.L.D. He requests an active combat sweep of his current location, including full spectrum surveillance for biological assets and enhanced weaponry. He also requests a sit-rep on Wolverine. At this, the agent on the other line transfers Fury to Agent Gabe Jones. When Gabe gets on the line, he asks for clarification: is Fury calling about Wolverine? Fury repeats his question: where is Wolverine and what’s his status?
On the other end of the line, Gabe crouches over the remains of Wolverine while a trio of forensics experts in hazmat suits examines the scorched skeleton. “Sorry, boss,” Gabe says. “I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news.” Fury asks if he’s sure it’s Wolverine.
Biologically, they may never know for sure; whatever fire consumed him destroyed everything. However, because of the adamantium interlaced with his skeletal structure, as well as the claws, the identification appears accurate. Gabe does ask for clarification on one thing, though: didn’t Wolverine have six claws? Fury confirms that, yes, he had three claws on each hand. Gabe informs him that one of the claws is missing. Fury suggests that maybe it isn’t Wolverine. He asks him to check again—and be one hundred percent certain. As Gabe heads back to his jet, he assures Fury he’s already done that, but says he will follow his lead—just like his father did before him.
Near the S.H.I.E.L.D. jet, an officer named Morelli converses with a hooded civilian. He asks the little girl to quit bothering him. Besides, isn’t it past her bedtime? He advises she do them both a favor and head home. As Gabe approaches, he asks Morelli if he’s talking to himself. Morelli says he was just talking with a civilian who won’t quit pestering him. Gabe asks Morelli if he ever stopped to consider whether the girl might actually know something. He wants to see her and ask her a few questions himself. Where is she? Morelli turns around to point her out, but finds she has vanished. Great, he says; the girl pesters him from the moment she arrived, and now she decides to take a hike!
Meanwhile, back in Xavier’s School, Fury finds he has several questions after he wraps up his phone call. How is it possible to incinerate all of someone’s biological material, even down to the molecular level? What about the missing claw? Maybe it isn’t Wolverine, he says aloud. He acknowledges it’s a thin strand upon which to hang his hopes. Then again, Logan has survived everything thrown at him in the past. Why would this situation be any different? The real question, though, is who did this to Logan? Fury hopes Ms. Grey can shed some light on the answer. He bets whoever nailed Logan will soon come after Jean. As good as these X-Men are, can even they take on that kind of adversary?
“Someone else is down here!” Fury suddenly shouts. He casts a suspicious glance down the corridor and draws his gun. However, he heard not a sound nor felt the slightest shift in the air. He is totally alone—so what caused him to react?
He heads back into the infirmary and finds Xavier. Can his telepathy sense anything strange on the estate? Charles asks what’s wrong; Fury tells him it’s just a feeling at the moment. However, long ago, he learned to trust feelings like this.
After a quick psi-scan, Xavier reports that the only thoughts he senses are the ten of theirs. His skills are not infallible, he adds. Wolverine, for example, excelled at evading contact. When he mentions Wolverine’s name, Xavier senses a spike in Fury’s thoughts. What has he learned? Fury reports to the group that the news he has is not good. His agents found a body—but nothing remained except adamantium bones and claws. Xavier’s face grows stern. He has known Logan for so long and been through so much that he doesn’t want to believe it. He may have no choice, Fury says.
Suddenly, Fury notices Storm’s absence and asks Xavier where she went. Xavier informs him she went to jumpstart the generators, a move Fury deems gutsy, considering Storm’s claustrophobia.
At that moment, Storm enters an even deeper sub-basement and illuminates the darkness with a concentrated ball of electrical energy in her hand. I hate this, she thinks. The deeper into the complex she goes, the more anxious she feels. Her power binds her to the sky. That is where she feels she belongs. Down here, she feels like the world itself is waiting for a chance to crush her. However, Storm refuses to yield to her fear. She’s better than that. The sooner she restores the grid, the sooner she will be free. Plus, she needs privacy—away from Charles and the others—to think. When Fabian Cortez attacked them in Spain, Rogue absorbed Storm’s powers—and her memories. While she claims she remembers nothing, what if Rogue is not being truthful?
While Storm ponders these questions, someone observes her from a shaded crevice. Storm wonders what Jean learned from Logan before he died. She decides the risk is too great. She’ll have to take care of it. Suddenly, she senses the intruder. “Who’s there?!” she asks. “Kitten?”
“Not even CLOSE!” shouts Sabretooth as he leaps out from the shadows. Storm gasps; how did he get in the complex? “Woman, there’s no place on Earth that can lock me out,” he says as he closes in on his target. “An’ as to why I’m payin’ a visit—it’s to kill you!” He takes a swipe at her, cutting a gash into her arm. His claws may not be adamantium like Logan’s, but, despite being only bone, they cut just as deep. He looks at Storm as she tries to contain the pain. Sabretooth hopes it hurts. He promises there is more to come.
Storm lashes out at him with a surge of electricity. She hates to disappoint him, but she is not that easy! The force of her attack sends Sabretooth flying through a metal door and leaves a trail of smoke from his smoldering flesh. Storm marches into the darkened room and tells her assailant that while he may have stood a chance cornering her in the hallway—tight spaces limit her ability to manifest weather, after all—in this room, things are different. “Do tell,” Sabretooth says. With electrical energy simmering in her hand, Storm informs him she did not throw him through these particular doors by accident.
The lights suddenly come on, illuminating the room’s immense interior. Kitty must have jumpstarted the power, Storm chuckles. Sabretooth takes a look around and realizes Storm forced him into the X-Men’s Danger Room. The sheer size of the room dwarfs him. Storm approaches her assailant, and after welcoming him to the Danger Room, prepares to see how he will fare against the full force of her power.
Before the fight even begins, a ruby-colored optic blast knocks Sabretooth off his feet. Gambit, Rogue and Nightcrawler charge into the room, with Cyclops taking point. As they attack, Cyclops reminds his team that Sabretooth stands among their most dangerous adversaries ever. The only way to beat him is to work as a team, he says. Storm, meanwhile, gets a ferocious look on her face as she lifts her hands. A vortex of icy wind and snow swirls around her. Sabretooth came for her—he cut her and drew her blood—and she intends to pay him back in kind! Lifting her arms, she pummels Sabretooth with gale force winds and shards of ice.
Nightcrawler teleports into the center of the vortex and strikes Sabretooth across the face. They’re a team, he reminds Storm; they do this together. “Good moves, Nightcrawler, an’ a pretty decent hit,” Sabretooth says. “I can see why the boy called you his friend.” Before Sabretooth has a chance to return the blow, Nightcrawler teleports out of his way. He wonders what Sabretooth meant by his comment, though; by ‘boy’, did he mean Logan? He reappears directly behind Sabretooth to strike again, but the villain anticipates his attack and grabs him by the throat the moment he rematerializes. He reminds Nightcrawler that the boy was never his equal, and neither are any of his friends.
Before he can finish that thought, Rogue arrives and grabs Sabretooth by the hand, preventing his punch. The last time they tussled, Sabretooth used her as his punching bag! Now, it’s Rogue’s turn. She socks him across the jaw with a super-powered punch. He retaliates with alarming speed and smacks her to the ground. While stepping on her head, he informs her that as good as she thinks she is, she’s nowhere near his league.
A maelstrom of charged playing cards distracts Sabretooth and signals the arrival of Gambit. He reminds the brute to show some manners when he talks to a lady. Sabretooth hurls Rogue’s battered body into Gambit and informs him he doesn’t talk to children. Finally Cyclops strikes again, blasting Sabretooth in the back of the head. He should know better than to attack the X-Men on their home turf, Cyclops tells him.
With Sabretooth stunned, Cyclops orders Kurt to teleport him to the brig right away to end the fight. Before Kurt and act, however, Storm whips Sabretooth into the air in a jet-stream. This fight started with her, so she intends to finish it. Suspended in the air by Storm’s winds, Sabretooth tells her she cannot hold him there for long. Storm disagrees; she could hold him there forever should she wish. She begins channeling an electrical surge through his body.
At this moment, Shadowcat materializes through the ceiling of the Danger Room and witnesses Storm preparing to deliver the coup de grâce to Sabretooth. It’s obvious to her Storm has murder in her heart. She has no time to act before Storm fries her trapped victim with an overwhelming pulse of electricity. Sabretooth screams, goes limp and plummets to the Danger Room floor. My god! Kitty gasps. Did she just kill him?
Sabretooth hits the ground not far from the shocked X-Men. Cyclops tells Storm she nearly burned his head off! As she descends, Storm claims she had no choice. However, Sabretooth—who apparently survived the attack—lifts his head off the ground, and despite his struggle to speak, tells Storm she should have killed him when she had the chance. “If you insist,” Storm says, glaring at him. Cyclops tells them to shut up; he’s heard enough from both of them. Via his psi-link with Professor X, he asks first for Beast’s medical assistance, and second for a S.H.I.E.L.D. tactical unit to take Sabretooth into custody.
The rest of the X-Men keep their attention on Sabretooth. Nightcrawler’s eyes widen with pity, Rogue’s jaw drops and Gambit winces as they get a glimpse of Sabretooth’s face. He turns toward them, putting the burns on his face and the cavities where his eyes used to reside in full display. “You think just ‘cause Storm took my eyes, the fight’s over?” he asks them. “X-Men, it’s only just begun!”