Cyclops just fired an optic blast against Commander Cameron Hodge after his mutant power was restored by Storm, but the mechanical monster is only slightly damaged. From downloading the Genegineer’s files he knows that Ororo is the key to restoring the canceled abilities of all other members of the X-teams and so he attempts to kill her. Scott fires more optic beams to hold Hodge at bay, giving Ororo enough time to restore Jean Grey’s abilities with a lighting. Then all three together attack from a safe distance staying out of the range of the monster’s tentacles. However Hodge slowly gains ground and Storm does not dare to turn around to restore any other mutant. Suddenly an explosion shakes the citadel and Hodge, fearing for the information stored in his labs, phases through the floor. Cyclops reveals that the explosion was caused by a robot auto-bomb designed by Forge to seek out the technological heart of the complex. To ensure this secret back-up plan Forge had willed himself into a voluntary coma to prevent any mindscans.
(Switchback to a few seconds before the explosion)
Rictor, Boom-Boom and Jubilee are still following the Genegineer, who has a mining mutate create a secret tunnel to the citadel’s lab complex. Right as they finally reach their destination, Forge’s auto-bomb goes off. Fortunately the three teenagers are unharmed, but Dr. Moreau gets knocked out and his mutate is killed in the blast. They hear someone approaching and hide themselves and the injured scientist behind debris as Cameron Hodge comes in. Angrily he checks’s the lab’s equipment and tosses around some stuff, but at last he finds the computer’s main frame still operational. After discovering remnants of Forge’s bomb he leaves again to finally deal with the X-teams. Ric, Jubilation and Tabitha are relieved that he did not notice them, suddenly they stumble over a small box with Warlock’s ashes.
Many floors above, Cyclops wakes up Forge with a posthypnotic command. The maker is surprised to see Storm restored to adulthood again. Ororo starts to kiss him, which Gambit is not too happy about, since he has a personal intrest in the windrider himself. After Ororo returned everyone’s powers, Chief Magistrate Tam Anderson explains that she and the Genegineer started backplotting for the country’s welfare. They knew that the madman Hodge was only intrested in his personal revenge and feared that Genosha’s economy and society would be ruined by his actions. Since then they placed many obstacles in his path, one of which was the Genegineer faking Storm’s genemod process (in Uncanny X-Men #271), while he instead installed her the ability to reverse Wipeout’s power-negations. After Forge repairs his bionic limbs and Cable’s techno-organic arm, the mutants divide into three groups. Two teams will search for Hodge, while Cable, Cannonball, Sunspot and Storm will search for Rahne.
In another portion of the building is the cell block where Havok has been taken. The prison too has been damaged by the explosion and Alex is able to dig himself out of the rubble. He even finds some dead guards which have a key for his power inhibiting collar.
In the basement, Rictor, Boom-Boom, Jubilee and Dr. Moreau investigate the remains of the labs. As they enter another chamber they are suddenly attacked by mutate 490 (Wolfsbane). She jumps onto Rictor and starts to strangle him as her last order was to let noone enter the room, but the Genegineer orders her to cease the attack and she complies. The mutants are shocked to see their teammante in this reduced state, and they get even more depressed as they discover what Rahne was guarding – the dead body of Wipeout. With the power-canceling Magistrate gone there might be no way to restore their canceled abilities. Jubilee gets very angry and starts to threaten Dr. Moreau with a sizzling firework ready to explode. She wants him to give Ric and Tabitha back their powers, but the Genegineer repeats that this might be an impossible task. Right in this instant Storm, Cable and the other New Mutants enter the lab. Ororo thanks the Genegineer for giving her the special treatment and then uses her lighting to restore Rictor, Boom-Boom and Rahne. In Wolfsbane’s case it is more of a tranformation than a restoration; from now on she has her free will and is bigger and stronger in her wolf-form and in-between states, but in human form she will always be the mindless and obedient mutate. Rahne is angry for the things that the Genegineer has done to her and she approaches him, about to attack, but he reasons with her that the real enemy is Hodge. He ordered her genemod process and observed the procedure; Moreau was unable to make any alterations like he did with Storm.
Elsewhere in the citadel Cameron Hodge hunts the mutants who in turn are hunting him, but the mechanical monster has the advantage of his in-built sensors, maps and computer files, which warn him of various bodyheats in the rooms of the floor below. Knowing that the mutants expect him to attack from ahead or behind, he surprises them by phasing through the ceiling above them. Hodge is disppointed to see that Storm is not among this group, but regarding that Iceman is iced up, he is already too late to stop her restoration of her teammate‘s powers anyway. Still he has the element of surprise and easily takes out Bobby with a laser and Banshee with a bola-like weapon. Psylocke knows that her powers are pretty useless in a physical fight and decides to telepathically warn the other group led by Cyclops of Hodge’s unique entry way. Then she too goes down, leaving only Gambit, Forge and Beast, who tries to rip out the wires connecting head and body.
Meanwhile in the basement lab complex, Rahne blames herself for failing to rescue Warlock, but the Genegineer states that she did the best she could, and at least she prevented Hodge from gaining the techno-organic shapeshifting ability, which would have made him nearly invincible. Since the computer’s main frame is still operational the New Mutants start to destroy all machinery they can find in the labs, severing much of Hodge’s sensory input. The Genegineer applauds as this was also his original plan when he had the tunneling mutate dig him a secret access to the place. Many levels above Hodge has almost defeated the mixed group of X-Men and X-Factor members as he experiences his systems one by one going off-line. He understands that someone must be at the main power source and phases down immediatly, leaving six injured and beaten mutants behind. He emerges through the lab’s ceiling and quickly nails Jubilee and Sunspot to the wall with shooting spikes. Boom-Boom makes the biggest time bomb ever and blows off one of Hodge’s spider legs which really annoys him, earning her the spike to the wall treatment too. The others try a more grouped attack but Hodge outmatches them with his many inbuilt weapons. The Genegineer enters the fight taking a specifically designed blaster from the lab equipment, that is actually able to hurt the mechanical madman, sadly not enough as Dr. Moreau is caught by a tentacle. Cameron Hodge hurls the Genegineer around till his neak snaps instantly killing him, then he phases out of the room as his construct body needs time to repair itself for the challenge ahead. The New Mutants regroup, Storm and Cable decide that Cannonball, Boom-Boom, Sunspot and Jubilee are too injured to fight and order them to leave the building, while they along with Rahne and Rictor will help X-Men and X-Factor to hunt the madman down. Before parting Rahne asks Tabitha to scatter Warlock’s ashes on Doug Ramsey’s grave.