The Warskrull that disguised itself as Domino has Xavier by the throat and intends to kill him. Xavier lashes out with his telepathy, stripping back the layers of the mega-morph’s mind, the layers of the personalities the Warskrull used to imitate: Domino, Wolverine, finally Xavier finds himself. He hadn’t counted on an enemy that knew as much about him as he about them, how he’d think, how he’d react, and most importantly, how to ambush him.
Fortunately, he has back up and the Warskrull suddenly finds his mind fried by Psylocke’s telepathic knife. Betsy Braddock chides Xavier for being so careless and Xavier retorts that the situation was under control. He wanted a prisoner and not a corpse. Betsy explains that the Skrull was implanted with a brain-mine. His cortex was already fried. Xavier’s would have been next.
Xavier angrily argues that he can take care of himself, as he crawls over to Callisto. So could Callisto, Psylocke replies coldly. The other woman is badly injured from the knives the Skrull tossed at her. Betsy points out that this is war. Xavier assures Callisto she will be fine and telepathically contacts Cyclops. They compare notes. Xavier asks Scott to follow the Warskrull’s leads but Cyclops points out they have problems of their own. The Xavier Institute has been destroyed.
New arrivals at the Institute grounds are Rogue and Emma Frost, who had been in California when the attack happened. They thought they knew what to expect. They weren’t even close. Emma dashes off madly, desperately trying to find her husband. Rogue is greeted by Kitty Pryde who informs her that too many are dead and she fears that this is only the beginning. If you hit somebody like this, you finish the job. Does anybody have a plan? Rogue inquires. Scott’s running the show, Kitty tells her.
In one of the tents, Cyclops has gathered a group of X-Men past and present as well as X.S.E. members: Wolverine, Rachel, X-23, Monet and Hub as well as Martha Johansson, the brain. Cyclops explains that the attackers were Warskrulls. But at the same time in California Gambit betrays them to Mr. Sinister, while in Hong Kong Sage’s data-mines one of Sinister’s top operatives, Malice. The Warskrulls are out to slaughter the X-Men wholesale, but Gambit, apparently working for Sinister, is stealing their children. The question is whether this is coincidence or part of a coordinated strategy and if it is the latter who is responsible.
Satellite imagery suggests a battle with Sinister’s Marauders. This team is to pick up the trail. The group looks at him hesitantly. Scott drives home that he understands the desire for vengeance but answers are more important right now. What he doesn’t want are more faces on the “dead board.” He tells them they have five minutes to say their good-byes.
Emma Frost enters the room, angrily announcing that she is going with them. Cyclops forbids it and Emma slaps and curses him. She starts pummeling him, as she cries out that her children are gone. She rants that she should have stayed the White Queen. She should have killed them all at the beginning. At least then they’d never have fallen in love. She sinks down, exhausted, and Scott cradles her. He explains that he feels the same. But this is war and somebody has to call the shots. It’s who he is. It’s what he does.
In the meantime, outside, Karma, Banshee, Kitty and Rogue are helping the rescue workers with their work. Rogue complains that Scott should have sent her along with the away team. Suddenly, a holographic image of Marie D’Ancanto appears. Kitty impatiently tells her this isn’t the time, but Marie is insistent. If they don’t talk now, Kitty’s campaign is over. Alice Tremaine is scoring major points asking how people can elect a mayor who cares more about mutants than about her own city. Marie understands why Kitty is doing this but it is her job to get her elected. The voters like her, but they are scared and they are starting to listen to Tremain. She’s a racist, Kitty protests. She’s winning, Marie retorts. If Kitty wants the job, she has to fight for it.
Among the relief workers is Banshee, who announces to the others that several army cars are coming, apparently to help. Emma, still in Scott arms, suddenly screams in panic.
Outside, Beast is welcoming the woman that gets out of the first car. Suddenly, Emma telepathically contacts Hank, informing him that the soldiers are Warskrulls. This is another attack!
Before Hank can process this information, the newcomer backhands him with superstrength and then proceeds to get into one of the hospital units, intent on slaying the injured.
Inside, Cecilia Reyes uses her forcefield aggressively to kill the Skrull. A worried Beast rushes to his wife’s side and hugs her. She assures him that she will look after her patients, but he is to go and save the rest.
Outside, journalist Manoli Wetherell tries to protect some students by emptying her gun clip at another Warskrull. At the same time, she complains that almost every time she does a story on the X-Men, she ends up fighting for her life. Suddenly, she cries out startled as the Warkrull is frozen by a lava fountain that erupts beneath him and turns solid around him. Out of it steps Magma, who orders Manoli to take the children to the carriage house.
They are unaware of another Warskrull stepping up behind them, until Lockheed grabs Amara and Manoli, flying them high up out of the way and the Skrull is impaled by a spiked iron gate, hurled at him by Storm’s gale force winds. She follows it up with some lightning, only to have the Warskrull throw it back at her. Rogue protects her friend by intercepting the blast.
Shooting another Warskrull, Cyclops announces that they need prisoners. They are to keep that one pinned to the wall. Another Warskrull lunges at him, but suddenly Dust attacks him and snaps his neck. Scott orders her to go with Magma and help look after the kids, but she insists that her task is to look after him.
Nearby, Karma scoffs at the idea of taking prisoners. Their first priority is to survive. She has possessed the Warskrull in question, allowing Polaris to imprison him in a metal cocoon. However, another Warskrull impales Colossus, breaking Lorna’s concentration as she now focuses on that foe.
Banshee takes him down with his sonic scream, only to be attacked by another one who is then shot by Bishop. Emma runs to Sean’s side, worried that he is going to die. However, impossibly, “Sean” turns into a Warskrull as well and lunges at her. Instinctively, she shifts to her diamond form. The Warskrull hurls her into Bishop with all his might and the two of them are flung into the carriage house.
Inside, Amara closes the hole with a wall of frozen lava and orders Manoli to take the children and run. The journalist is worried about Bishop and Emma and, while they lose precious time arguing, a Warskrull bursts through the lava wall, intent on attack. Amara throws her lava blasts at him, but to no avail. That moment, however, he is dragged into the ground by Shadowcat. Kitty leaves him to solidify in the ground and perish as she runs to Emma’s and Bishop’s side, bringing medical supplies with her.
A little later, Karma joins them. They hug and Kitty admits that she didn’t feel anything when she killed the Skrull. She did what had to be done. Shan agrees it was the same for her when she killed the pirate who murdered her parents. She has no regrets. Kitty wonders if that’s what it’s going to take. Kill everybody who is out to get them?
Inside the hospital unit, Beast announces to Scott that Banshee is dead and Colossus is critical. Lesser causalities are too numerous to count. If the Skrulls hit them again… They won’t, Scott assures him. Beast prays he is right.
Later, Scott sits down to a holographic conference with Iceman and Sage of the X.S.E. Sage calls what is happening a genetic triage. Sinister is saving his assets – the children. Apparently, he believes the rest of them are doomed. She quickly supplies a reason for that. The final image from Juggernaut’s suit-cam. The bomb that destroyed the Institute was Shi’ar.
Scott announces that there hasn’t been any communication with the Shi’ar for the better part of ten years. Lilandra had made it clear that she wanted nothing more to do with the X-Men. Apparently, the policy has changed, Sage replies wryly. Something has happened of sufficient moment to mandate a pre-emptive strategic attack. Phoenix, she means, Scott spells out. Outside the tent, Dust is listening attentively to the sound of the name.
Sage believes so as well but she needs more data. She greets Kitty, who enters the tent, wryly pointing out that the younger woman is trailing in the polls. Great to see her too, Kitty retorts as wryly. She asks Scott if he has any ideas. Mostly he has determination, he replies. Starting right now, they find their enemies, all of them, and make them targets. And they keep on fighting until they win.
Kitty admits that she’s been doing a lot of thinking; Scott knows about what. He tells her she should go back to Chicago. The debate is the next day, the election’s on Tuesday. She isn’t running out on them. This is just as important. Because if being an X-Man means anything it is so that she – an admitted mutant – can run for office and be judged as a person. She has to make her case. Kitty should trust them to save the word. They are really good at it. She’s just to make sure there is a world worth saving.