A broken down home in Long Island, years ago:
A man with reptile-like skin threatens and chases a little girl, promising her that she is in for a world of hurt. He grabs his daughter, little Lydia Nance, roughly and tells her that she has been a bad little girl…
Hudson River, New York:
Held in a headlock by Pyro, her team lying unconscious, Kitty Pryde realizes she should have trusted her instincts and kept her team out of whatever beef Mesmero has with Lydia Nance.
Angrily, she mentally projects to Rachel, asking if she is finished napping, yet. Funny, is the reply, though Rachel still pretends to be out of it. Kitty mentally asks for a sitrep. Amara’s down, the others are playing possum, is the reply. Kitty orders Nightcrawler to teleport Magma to safety. To everyone else: Mesmero is the number one priority. What is the signal? Storm asks. She’ll figure it out, Kitty replies loudly, kicks Pyro and hits Avalanche at the same time.
The other X-Men spring into action. Mesmero is impressed that Rachel managed to shield their thoughts from him. She responds with a telekinetic blast.
Kitty warns Avalanche to stay down. He tells her that he isn’t like his predecessor. His power doesn’t just work on the ground. He can make anything in nature quake… like her insides. He proceeds to do so, earning himself a blow from Colossus.
Mesmero admits Rachel has got stronger. But he reminds her she is still in flux and therefore vulnerable. He presses the attack.
Pyro asks him what is going on here. They are here for Nance, not to fight the X-Men. Mesmero tells him all will be revealed. Now it is time for him to take his leave. He has a chopper coming in a few minutes. Pyro asks if he thinks the X-Men will let him leave. Mesmero replies they won’t even see him fly. He will simply disappear. Which is what happens to Avalanche mid-fight.
Mesmero, Kitty figures. Kurt teleports to Rachel’s side, asking if she is all right. Mesmero, she replies. Kurt tells her Kitty has him well in hand.
Kitty has phased her finger through Mesmero’s head and threatens to go solid. She asks where Nance and his friends are. Unimpressed, he points out she isn’t a killer… and as for his friends: here they are!
Suddenly, Sebastian Shaw, the X-cutioner, Omega Red and the Sentinel AI appear. Did she really think his new Brotherhood is limited to two? Mesmero gloats. She is painfully naïve. And her friends are simply going to be… in pain. He disappears. Kitty figures this can’t be right. She shouts at her team to stand down, but gets hit by Omega Red’s tentacles a moment later.
Enraged, Colossus hits his foe, the Sentinel AI. Nightcrawler teleports away with the X-cutioner. He teleports high up in the air with him and lets him go, so he will land in the Hudson. Storm keeps Shaw off-balance with her winds and expresses disappointment at his doing Mesmero’s bidding.
Rachel senses something wrong. It’s Mesmero! Kitty shouts, and suddenly the X-Men see they haven’t been fighting their enemies but members of the NYPD.
Kitty tries to explain but an armed cop orders her on the ground. As they are arrested, Kitty orders her team to stand down.
A little later, Mesmero, Pyro and Avalanche meet in a warehouse. Mesmero congratulates them on a job well done. Pyro is furious. This wasn’t about getting revenge from Nance! Mesmero smirks. It was about getting paid by Nance. He hands them sheets with info of bank accounts in their names. Filled with a tidy sum, courtesy of Ms. Nance. He sold out! Pyro accuses him. He made them sell out to a mutant-hating bigot! Mesmero chides him not to be naive. Her money is as green as everyone’s. And she got them out of the Box. She paid to have their collars be damaged.
Pyro stubbornly insists Nance got them into jail. And she is trying to get mutants out of the country. Mesmero scoffs the Mutant Deportation Act will never be signed. And if so, what does Pyro care? He is already a criminal. Not anymore, Pyro announces, drops the bank information and leaves. Avalanche gathers his sheets and asks if he can keep this.
Midtown North Precinct:
Wearing a power dampening collar, Kitty sits in an interrogation room and blames herself. She is joined by Jennifer Walters, her attorney. Kitty asks about the rest of the team and is told they are being processed. How soon can Jen get them out? Kitty asks. Jen admits she can’t. They are being transferred to the Box. Mesmero manipulated the memories of the hostages, but she is subpoenaing their cell phones. She has to believe someone caught him on video, but it’s going to take some time, and during that time they are going to be incarcerated.
Kitty demands who is going to protect their students. Who is going to protect the city in the meantime? The Avengers and Champions, she imagines, is the wry reply. Why? What is she afraid is going to happen?
In the Negative Zone, Annihilus’ scientists get some unusual readings. Something emerges. It is the god Scythian, who is burning with the desire for revenge against the X-Men…