One year ago, the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning lay in ruins. The seasons changed. The state of the X-Mansion – now abandoned – did not. Nothing changed until one day energy crackles and two persons materialize. A tall built middle-aged man with many guns and a slim, redheaded teenage girl - Cable and his charge Hope, back from the future.
Immediately, Cable orders Hope to stay close and assess any threats. Looking around the ruins, Hope interrupts him. She knows the drill. It’s always the same. She guesses the past is just like future. Wrecked.
They are in the right time… right place, Cable muses, trying to figure things out, but something’s happened. No one’s been here in months. They have to move, find Cyclops and the X-Men, but Hope isn’t listening. She found a photograph in the ruins, depicting Professor X and the original X-Men. They are dead, aren’t they? she asks. The X-Men. Everywhere they go is just more death!
That’s enough, he orders strictly. She agrees but in a different way. It was supposed to be different this time. No more running, no more sitting around at the end of the world, eating rats. They beat Bishop, and nothing’s changed! He asks her to calm down. She is calm, she replies stubbornly.
Suddenly, he pushes her aside and tries to protect her with his body, as they are almost hit by artillery fire.
Is it Bishop? Hope asks agitated, but these are different enemies. Flying down from above are their attackers, men dressed in battle armor with smiley faces painted on their helmets – the mutant-hating organization called the RIGHT.
Meanwhile in Utopia:
Cyclops has gathered the senior X-Men as well Dr. Nemesis and Madison Jeffries, their chief scientists, to discuss the grim situation they are facing. Last night one of theirs, Meld, died. His body healed but he never woke up again. That brings the total casualties from Selene’s attack to three.
And this “Meld” is worth noting why? King Namor asks caustically. Because he was one of theirs, Scott shoots back. They all were. It was their job to protect them! And because those deaths represented one-and-a-half percent of the remaining mutant population. Imagine if a hundred million humans died. That’s what just happened to mutantkind, because they failed! Every single attack on them is one that could very easily wipe them out! They can’t afford a single mistake. They have to hold out!
They have to know it’s too late, Dr. Nemesis interjects. There are 181 mutants left on this planet at last count. And that’s not enough to perpetuate a species. It’s over. At the rate of death they are sustaining now, especially among the young ones, mutantkind has maybe seven years left, give or take the odd immortal or two.
Everyone falls silent at that grim bit of news. Finally, Scott Summers speaks up again. They’ve got work to do, he addresses everyone. The recent attacks have caused structural damage and they are still upgrading security and armaments. He asks Nemesis to keep him apprised of Magneto’s status. Any sign he’s coming out of his coma, inform him immediately. The rest know their assignments. Thank you, everyone.
The others leave; only Cyclops’ lover Emma Frost stays back. He’s fine, he assures her automatically. She should really teach him to properly lie one day. Come find her when he’s finished blaming himself, she states and leaves too.
Scott stays silent, then looks again at the faces of the dead on the screens. With a cry of rage, he fires his optic blast at them. Afterwards, as if nothing happened, he readjusts his visor.
The Stepford Cuckoos address him hesitantly. He should really come to Cerebra. They’ve found something.
In the Cerebra chamber, they explain they were doing the morning scan like he ordered when they saw it. A mutant signature showed up out of nowhere. A new signal? Scott asks. No, there is a match – Cable. Is he alone? is Cyclops’ only question. Cable’s is the only new signal, one Cuckoo replies. He’s alone. No, Cyclops decides. She’s with him. Now listen closely…
He orders them to send Domino and Vanisher to San Francisco. Tell Dom to sit tight and wait for orders. The rest of X-Force he needs somewhere else.
What are they waiting for exactly? Vanisher asks Domino. For him to shut up, she replies.
Cyclops continues: he wants Namor and Rogue to cover Utopia in case of attack. Namor won’t like that, the Cuckoos warn. Have Rogue tell him he is the most powerful X-Man and they need him here to save them. (that reasoning Namor agrees with). Cyclops adds as an afterthought that Ariel should be ready, in case they need to move people off this island fast.
Next, he wants Cannonball’s team in the Blackbird and put them in a holding pattern over the Midwest. They’ll be able to go anywhere in North America in minutes. However, Magik is held back. Cyclops wants she and Pixie to go with his Alpha roster (in this case: Cyclops himself, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Psylocke, Archangel and X-23). They are moving out in five minutes.
At the abandoned Westchester mansion, Cable warns Hope to move to cover, moments before the Smileyfaces begin firing at them. One of them reminds the others that the girl is target priority but kill both of them.
Weapon! Cable shouts and throws Hope a gun while he takes one himself. He and Hope return fire while she asks who those guys are and complains why she has to be the priority target. She always was, Cable reminds her. Weak point. Hose, left shoulder he tells her and fires at that spot. One of the Right solders detonates Hope copies Cable’s example, taking one soldier out and moving to dodge the return fire. She runs toward two of them who ask for a ceasefire but are nevertheless finished off by Cable.
One of the Smileyfaces who stayed back asks for back-up. Hey Smiley, Cable tells him as he targets him. Backup’s gonna be late!
With that, all of them are finished. Hope wants to know what they were. He’ll tell her later, Cable promises. They’ve only got a few minutes. That’s all they ever have, Hope points out.
Cable crouches down to take a look at the Smileyface’s armor. The tech is too far ahead of its time. But they can use it to cloak themselves. Yeah, yeah, Hope continues. Control the situation, don’t be controlled by it. She knows.
Vans come and stop screechingly. She doesn’t suppose those are the X-Men? she asks. Armed masked men exit – the Sapien League. Not quite, Cable tells her. Let’s move!. Some school, Hope sighs. She already knows how to run.
Uh-oh, the Cuckoos mutter on Utopia and inform Cyclops that they have a problem. Cable’s signal is gone. He’s hiding, Cyclops decides, which means he is in trouble. He tells the Cuckoos to take shifts. He wants them plugged in 24/7, in case he shows up again. They’ll need…
Is he certain? Nightcrawler interrupts him. Is he sure, she’s back? It’s her, Scott insists. Cable brought her here. He’s known Scott a long time, Kurt reminds him. ´He’s seen him deal with horrible things for most of his life. He knows everything rides on this. But is it possible that Scott is seeing things that are not there? They are facing extinction, Scott replies, and that girl is the only thing…
Kurt interrupts. There is no evidence that Hope is any kind of mutant “messiah” unless, of course, he’s discovered something Kurt doesn’t know about. No, Scott replies. And yet he believes with his whole heart and soul that she is here and will save all of them? Kurt asks. Yes, Scott replies. Why? For so long there were no mutants. Then out of nowhere Hope was born. The first and last mutant since M-day. She’s special. She has to be. Then that is one more thing they have in common, Kurt tells him as he leads him to the waiting Alpha team. They are both men of faith.
Magik teleports them away. A little later they are at the ruins of the Xavier Institute. Pixie shudders at the sight of one of the dead RIGHT soldiers. Why are they smiling? she wonders, That’s just creepy! They must be happy to see her, Magik suggests nastily. She’s creepy too, Megan shoots back.
Archangel addresses Cyclops, who does not need to be told who this is. Psylocke on the other hand remarks that perhaps she missed the “smiling armor” briefing. What exactly are these things? The RIGHT, X-23 replies, paramilitary anti-mutant zealots under the command of…
Not now, X, Wolverine orders. He tells Scott his boy was here and trashed five of the Smileys. He sniffs again. There’s another scent. She’s with him. Finally Cyclops allows himself a cautious smile.
He addresses the team. Nothing and no one is more important than this girl. Without her, they have no future. Everything they’ve been through, every death they’ve suffered, every tragedy they’ve endured those past few months… it’s all for this moment. For her. This is what they signed up for. This is what they die for. Hope.
He explains that Cable is a soldier. Hostile forces are chasing him. He’ll go to ground to lose pursuers. He’ll want to get the lay of the land, establish threats and control the situation. And, knowing what Cable’s going to do, is going to give them the advantage.
Cable, in the meantime, has gotten a car. He and Hope are on the highway.
Cyclops states their mission is to find Cable. Find the girl, bring them home to Utopia, to safety. Wolverine knows what to look for. He announces he has them. Three scans, Sapien League. Let’s go!
On the road, Hope nervously looks back noticing three dark vans following them. The masked armed men of the Sapien League get ready. This is it, one of them announces. This is where they put a bullet in the mutants’ head. All of them. This is where the Sapien League takes back the planet for humanity! He said all they had to do was kill the girl and—
He never finishes his sentence. Magik has teleported the X-Men on top of or in front of the cars and they immediately attack. Colossus throws one of the cars and Illyana remarks that he driver wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. Her brother should be more careful. Enough, Colossus admonishes her.
Nightcrawler and X-23 have gotten into another van. As Kurt disables the driver, he warns X-23 to leave one conscious for questioning. X slashes the others. Wolverine stops the third truck.
Cable looks back and sees that but doesn’t stop his car.
Having finished off the Sapien League, Psylocke tries to read the mind of one unconscious member but cannot due to some mechanical interference. X-23 sees one conscious member of the Sapien League crawling from a car. She drags him over to where Wolverine has another prisoner. Wolverine directly asks his guy how they are tracking Cable and Hope. Go to hell, mutie! comes the reply. He’d die before he tells him squat! Is he sure? Wolverine threatens with his claws. The villain replies he will kill him.
X-23 claws through her prisoner’s head. Mein Gott! Nightcrawler exclaims in horror. He drags her away from the corpse, asking what did she do. What needed to be done, is the calm reply. Indeed, it had its effect as Wolverine’s prisoner is now less cocky. He swears he doesn’t know how he’s tracking them. He’s sending them the locations. Who? Colossus asks as the other X-Men have gathered around them. Psylocke announces this is enough. What is going on here? she asks Wolverine. Wolverine, Laura, Warren, they’re all keeping something from them. Kurt angrily asks Logan that he and Cyclops know what this is, right? Wolverine keeps silent.
The mysterious leader announces to the men gathered before him that the Sapien League contingent has been compromised. All is ready. Report, he orders Steven Lang and Bolivar Trask. The Mutant Response Divison has five hundred units ready to move, Lang explains, on his order. They have international access via the United Nations. And all mutants outside of Utopia are being tracked, Trask adds.
The leader next addresses William Stryker, Graydon Creed and Cameron Hodge. Stryker announces they are folding the Sapien League into the Purifiers. They have 50 bases, each with a hundred men armed and ready. The Friends of Humanity number in the thousands, Creed announces. The RIGHT has 40 armored divisions Hodge adds. At his command. What is your command Bastion?
“The Mutant Messiah is here,” Bastion merged with a network, announces. “Kill her!”