The X-Men race to Alaska aboard their Blackbird jet. The team inside consists of Emma Frost, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Wolverine and Angel. Scott turns to Emma and asks if she’s picking anything up yet. She tells him that she senses nothing and this is troubling. Nightcrawler asks what she means and Logan points out the obvious: it’s a town full of people and Emma can’t pick up any of their thoughts. Angel states the obvious answer, “It’s a trap.” Cyclops tells Warren that they don’t know what it is yet.
Logan takes Warren’s side on this and points out that they know nothing about this town that they have sped across the country to at break-neck speeds. He says that the lack of psionic activity means that someone’s blocking Emma’s telepathy or everyone living in the town is now dead. Both scenarios sound like a trap. Emma suggests that there is a third option and Scott says that they don’t even want to think about that.
As they near the town, Nightcrawler peers out the window. He is horrified by what he sees and tells Cyclops that they may not have a choice in the matter. The entire town is ablaze. At that moment, Emma begins to pick up the thoughts of the terrified people below. Cyclops orders Kurt and Logan to get down to the ground immediately. The pair of X-Men disappears in a puff of purplish smoke courtesy of Nightcrawler’s teleportation power. Cyclops then orders Angel to provide aerial coverage and look for those responsible. Warren takes to the skies. Emma asks if he has orders for her as well. Scott replies that they’re going to discover the truth here and he prays that the carnage below is not the work of a mutant.
A few hours earlier at the Xavier Institute…
Inside the Cerebra chamber, Professor Xavier tells the Beast how jarring it is to use Cerebra now that there are so few mutants left for it to detect. He notes that each time he uses it he still expects to see something new. Hank adds, “But you don’t.” Xavier sadly notes that rather than using this device to detect new mutants he now relies on it to keep track of their dwindling numbers. He explains that it always represented new hope to him when a mutant registered on Cerebra for the first time. Now he dreads entering this room. He looks around at the sparse lights on the huge world map that represents mutantkind and notes that there are only a few hundred. Hank tells Charles that it is not like him to be so fatalistic. The professor points out that they are dying off and that the next generation has been wiped away. At that moment, Charles cries out in agony as he is hit by a surge of power from the Cerebra unit. He grabs his head as his nose begins to bleed. Hank reaches out to help him as Charles yanks the helmet from his head and tosses it away.
At that exact moment, Wolverine and Nightcrawler’s boxing match is disrupted as energy arcs through the Danger Room, shattering the glass windows surrounding them. Emma Frost’s lessons are interrupted as she cries out in pain. Anole asks if she is okay while Rockslide wonders if they are once again under attack. In the garage, an electrical surge interrupts Cyclops’ repairs on his vintage Mustang. Beast helps Charles to his feet and asks if he’s alright. He replies that he is and Hank asks what fried Cerebra’s systems. Charles replies that it may have been the “rebirth of hope”. He tells Hank to get Cerebra fixed as quickly as possible while he starts the auxiliary power. As he leaves the Cerebra chamber, Charles smiles as he sends a telepathic message asking Scott and Emma to assemble a field team in the hangar.
The Present – Cooperstown, Alaska
Nightcrawler is rapidly teleporting survivors of the attack to safety. Cyclops and Emma Frost are assisting in the effort. Scott asks if she can think of an alternative source for the blaze, other than the new mutant they came to look for. He mentions that this is the first new mutant since M-Day. Emma replies that if it is indeed the new mutant responsible that it must have been an accident that resulted from the initial manifestation of the mutant’s powers.
Cyclops notes that blowing up the town could be the mutant’s power and reminds Emma that he nearly killed people when his own volatile mutant power emerged. Logan tells them that this was no accident and that there was a battle here. He gazes across the blaze at a body on the ground and tells them that a mutant was responsible, just not the one they had in mind. Emma looks at the massive form of the fallen mutant and asks if he was one of the Marauders. Logan confirms that he was indeed the Marauder called Blockbuster. He suggests that whatever destroyed the town killed Blockbuster as well.
At that instant, Nightcrawler returns and tells his teammates that Blockbuster was not alone. He tells them that they need to come and see what he has found. He shows them the bodies of a pair of Purifiers and tells them there are four others around town. Emma comes across the shattered form of another Marauder, Prism and notes that the Purifiers should not have been able to destroy him in such a fashion. Wolverine adds that the battleground is fresh and they missed the fight by less than an hour and probably closer to 30 minutes.
Cyclops curses and asks how Sinister and the Purifiers both made it there before they did. Logan tells him that they clearly know something that the X-Men don’t. Kurt suggests that perhaps this was a trap set for them and that Sinister sprung it instead. He suggests that there may be no new mutant manifestation here at all. Emma realizes that there are no children in the town. She cannot hear the thoughts of a single child. She tells them that this wasn’t a trap, it was a massacre.
At that moment, a young mother emerges from the fire with the charred corpse of her daughter in her arms. Emma is shocked and Wolverine tells them that the kid is dead. Scott orders Emma to put the woman to sleep but Emma sees the chance to learn what has happened. She touches the young woman’s mind and gets her to place the child’s body on the ground. She then reaches into her mind to “see” just what has transpired here.
the woman’s memories
The Purifiers have attacked the town using guns and flame-throwers. Their mission is apparent: kill all the children. One of the Purifiers orders another not to use lethal force against the adults, since they are not the source of the threat. The young mother sees the Purifier with the flame-thrower targeting her daughter, Marlene. She cries out and dives for the girl, who is severely burned by the blast. She cradles her in her arms as the Purifiers turn their attention back to their detection devices as they attempt to locate their true target.
Before they can act, they themselves are burned to death by a fiery attack unleashed by Sunfire! The Marauders arrive on the scene and Sunfire announces that they are late. Malice adds that she hopes they are not too late as Blockbuster breaks the neck of the remaining Purifier. As he does so, he smiles and says “Let’s kill these sapiens and find out.”
Gambit leads the charge against the Purifiers and tells the others that if the Purifiers have the new mutant, they are in trouble. Malice suggests that if they had the child they’d be gone and that her Sentinel sensors can feel that the mutant is still there. She also detects that the child is not alone and they need to move quickly. Blockbuster stays to finish the Purifiers off as the other Marauders blaze a trail to the child.
The young mother watches as a huge explosion rocks the town and Blockbuster is caught in the path of the blast. The explosion originated at the hospital up the street.
Having seen all this, Emma breaks contact with the woman and tells the others that things are worse than they thought. She explains that the Purifiers were playing it safe by killing every child in sight. She telepathically calls for Angel and directs him to the hospital. She tells him to follow the path of destruction to its heart and clarifies that this was not a teenage manifestation of power, it was a mutant birth. Angel makes his way to the nursery and is horrified to see that the Purifiers have killed every baby there in an attempt to eliminate the mutant child. Kurt and Logan teleport into the nursery. Wolverine tries to catch a scent. Unfortunately there are too many chemicals in the air for him to isolate anything useful.
The X-Men see that the mutant child is gone and that there were three babies born the previous night and only two remain amidst the devastated nursery. It is obvious that this child was what brought the Purifiers and Marauders into direct conflict. They are left to wonder which of the two groups left with the child.
They make their way to the Blackbird and leave Cooperstown behind. Cyclops notes that this is as bad as what happened last year in Stamford. Logan says that they should take the dead Marauders’ bodies with them so that mutants don’t take the blame for what happened here. Cyclops tells him that the survivors will remember who it was that saved them. Logan replies that that’s not how it plays usually and that Scott knows it. He simply replies that they have bigger problems to worry about than the government if Sinister has the baby, given that it fried Cerebra just by being born!
As the X-Men leave the site of the battle, Predator X arrives. It has crossed the country under its own power, driven by the “scent” of this powerful mutant child. It has mutated and is hungry. But the child is no longer here, so it finds an alternative meal… the fallen Marauder, Blockbuster!