The Home of United States Senator Robert Kelly
It is the end of a very busy day. It is also getting late and the dark is getting even darker. Robert Kelly sits alone in his study as if he were waiting for someone. He mulls over what his viewpoint on mutants has meant to his life. He feels in his heart that he is doing the American Public at large a favor by trying to protect them from the mutant menace. However, some mutants have taken violent objection to his viewpoint. He was the victim of a mutant led assassination attempt and his young wife died as the result of a mutant led terrorist attack, or so hr thinks.
Senator Kelly looks impatiently out the window and then back to the gun on his desk. He wonders aloud where his visitor is. He is afraid he might die for his own beliefs on this night of all nights.
He hears a voice from behind stating “You called me”. Senator Kelly is startled enough to grab his gun and aim it in the direction of the voice as he rotates his chair to meet his visitor. Senator Kelly orders his visitor to step out of the darkness as he shakily aims his gun to prove that he means business. Deep in his soul, Kelly is much more than terrified of this particular visitor.
Cyclops emerges from the darkness. He tells Senator Kelly to put down the gun so they can talk. After all, the Senator sent for him or he wouldn’t be here.
Cyclops knows what its like to be hated and hunted; all the while struggling to protect the very people responsible for it. Cyclops is all too aware that Senator Kelly is one of those people who would rather that mutants did not exist.
Senator Kelly asks who got word to him. Was it Professor Xavier, Ambassador St. Croix, Moira MacTaggert, he wonders aloud. Cyclops replies that the conversation is beginning to bore him and asks the Senator very plainly what he wants. It is obvious that there is no love lost between these long time adversaries. Senator Kelly shakily puts the gun down and struggles to speak. It takes him several tries to tell Cyclops that he needs help. Cyclops is astonished but replies dryly “How bad is it?”. Senator Kelly repeats the word as “Bad?”.
Several miles away, hovering over the Pentagon
Cannonball has a headset on and is listening intently. Bishop sits at another monitoring station and Storm supervises while drinking a hot drink. Cannonball politely asks Storm if this sort of mission isn’t more Cable’s style that the X-Men’s.
Storm chooses to take the young X-Man’s remark as a compliment. Hovering over the Pentagon probably makes him think of his days with X-Force. She also feels that Cable is a leader who knows how to achieve his goal effectively and efficiently. She relays all this to Cannonball. Storm reminds Cannonball that they have engaged the Shi’ar Cloaking device, which should prevent them from being detected by any monitoring devices, or soldiers below.
Iceman adds that this is a necessary evil because Gambit and Phoenix are within the Pentagon and may need back up at any moment. Then he asks Hank why X-Factor can’t do this job as they are government sanctioned and the other teams are not. Hank states that he agrees with Iceman’s view on this but must still accept the decision of their overall leader, Professor Xavier. The Professor reminds everyone present that X-Factor is currently on a mission of their own.
Wolverine does not join in on the conversation. Lately, he is finding it more and more difficult to communicate on a human level with anyone, even those he calls friends.
Professor Xavier goes on to tell them that sources informed him of a very important meeting to take place below. The Professor asks Beast to engage the low level-tracking device. He is afraid to use his mutant powers to scan Gambit and Phoenix for fear of giving the team away and endangering the mission. The Beast says no problem but asks for the exact calibration as he has forgotten it. Iceman states that he will do the task, as he knows the calibration and comments that Beast has not been the same since his lab blew up. The Dark Beast thinks to himself that he really hasn’t been himself since he switched places with this timeline’s Beast. After all, he is not the same Beast and this isn’t even his own timeline.
In the deepest reaches of the Pentagon’s sub-basement
“Major” Remy LeBeau and “Colonel” Jean Grey are about to attend a very exclusive and secret meeting. Remy comments on how easily they have come this far into enemy territory. Jean reminds him that they must keep their telepathic conversation to a minimum. Forge may have designed the anti-mutant detection devices for this facility, and told them how to slip through the holes, but she still has to telepathically keep his eyes masked from others. Jean is afraid that if she utilizes too much of her tremendous capabilities, they will be detected by the devices. Together, they walk past armed guards into a room separated by the rest of the complex by a plexi glass wall with the words “Operation Zero Tolerance” etched in red on it. These large red letters make them both feel very uncomfortable despite their disguises.
Colorado - Rocky Mountains.
Archangel is on leave and is at his aerie in the Rocky Mountains. Warren remembers a time when he loved to use his wings and gloried in his ability to fly high with the clouds. Unfortunately, since his battle with Sabretooth he has not been able to fly as high or as far. It was during this battle that his biogenetic wings were damaged. In the end, he finds he cannot soar long enough to escape his own problems. He pushes himself as a way of trying to help Betsy’s wounds heal faster.
Suddenly, Psylocke zooms into the air just underneath Archangel breaking his concentration. He is astonished to see her up and around like this. He remarks to her that her exposure to the Crimson Dawn has indeed left her abilities sharper than they were before Sabretooth wounded her. Warren asks her if she would care to try this practice maneuver from the top. She asks him if he is up to it.
While Psylocke is waiting for Archangel to join her on the ground she takes a moment to silently reflect on how he has cared for her during her convalescence. She realizes she should share everything with him. However, her body and her perceptions of it are going through changes she finds fascinating. She is not entirely sure that she is ready to share all this information with him yet.
Psylocke suddenly sees a shadow coming up behind her. She tells Warren that he will have to do better than that to sneak up on her as she turns around. What she sees is not anything like Archangel. She sees a being of colossal proportions reaching for her. The being has eyes and mouth of fire and seems to be transparent as if made of blowing sand. The psionic screams of “help me” that rips from her takes its toll on her healing psyche, leaving her unconscious on the ground. Archangel turns and dives for her in one fluid motion.
Warren pushes his healing wings to their utmost potential at this time. However, not enough healing has taken place and Warren sinks to the ground in exhaustion next to Psylocke.
Inside the Pentagon
Jean and Remy are shocked to find themselves in a room with many dignitaries from many different countries. Telepathically, they confirm each other’s worst fears. Mutants are the only thing that could possible assemble so many different, warring humans in one room; peacefully. An odd-looking man approaches the podium and addresses the audience. He introduces himself as Bastion, and says he is here set them free.
Bastion begins his speech by congratulating his audience on the success of Operation Zero Tolerance. According to Bastion, this operation is a co-operative effort between governments all across the world to eradicate the mutant population. Jean telepathically attempts to mind scan Bastion. Telepathically she tells Gambit that the man does not resist; in fact, it’s as if he is a psionic blank slate. Her gut feelings are that something is very wrong with this.
Bastion informs his audience that while evil mutants and the Legacy Virus are definitely threats, there have been more and more random incidences involving something called Onslaught. Even with the shared intelligence Operation Zero has received, no one knows if Onslaught is an organization or a single individual. However, one thing is clear, this destructive, malevolent force is being felt in every corner of the globe. Remy is shocked that this force can do so many things and yet, go unnoticed by Professor Xavier.
Georgetown, D.C - Senator Robert Kelly's Home
Senator Kelly is telling Cyclops that things were not supposed to turn out this way. What neither of them knows is that a van is listening to their conversation outside Senator Kellys’ home. This van is equipped with the technology to allow its occupants to hear the conversations in the house by bouncing a certain frequency wave off of the glass in the window. The occupants of the van know Kelly is about to tell everything he knows. Including some things he should never say to anyone outside the projects he is aware of.
The Senator tells Cyclops that when he first joined Project Wideawake it was with the best intentions for both humans and mutants. However, the situation got desperate and mutants and humans ended up killing each other. No one ever wanted to destroy one race over the other. At this point, the people in the van decide they have heard enough from the center and they need to act.
Meanwhile in the house, Cyclops tells the Senator that he is aware that certain mutants are dangerous, but the majority of mutants only want to be left alone to live their lives in peace. The Senator tells Cyclops that it is much to late for that. He knows of an agency with an international agenda. The Senator goes on to tell Cyclops he first became aware of this agency when technicians working at the Sentinel Research Facility started disappearing. Cyclops interrupts him to ask if he has security guards outside. The Senator says “no, Why?” Cyclops only has time to move quickly to protect his long time adversary as the room explodes into flames.
Moments later, in the van
A man says that it looks like they have succeeded in their mission and the Senator won’t be telling anything else to anyone. Another occupant of the van, Presidential Candidate Graydon Creed, smiles.
Hovering above the Pentagon
Storm wants to ask the Professor a question. He hushes her and tells her he is concentrating on the meeting below. She reminds him that he has previously stated he could not do this. The Professor tells her he was wrong and again asks for no distractions.
In the Pentagon below
Bastion is showing a picture of a middle aged blonde woman on the screen. He claims that she was found with thirty other scientists who used to work at the Sentinel Research Plant. He further claims that she had no memories of the last six months, or of even working on the project. Bastion tells the alert crowd that they are up against and entity or entities that can turn a human mind off and on whenever it wants too. Bastions also says he intends to put a stop to that threat tonight. With that statement he pulls a gun and aims it directly at Phoenix and Gambit, to the astonishment of the other dignitaries present.
Phoenix states that she does not know what is worse, the fact that Bastion identified them, or the inability of her telekinetic powers to work on him. Gambit tells her that he has promised to protect Cyclops’s wife, and he knows what will happen if he fails in that mission. Phoenix thinks to herself that they are very lucky the soldiers are reluctant to open fire with so many civilians in the room. As they make a run for it, Gambit tells her that if they were as evil as people thought, then they would take hostages instead of just running away.
As they approach a door, Phoenix tells Gambit she can sense people on the other side, so the Cajun charges some cards and blasts a hole in the wall instead. As they hurry through the hole, they see a dark room with the bodies of soldiers lying everywhere. Phoenix scans them and tells Gambit that the soldiers are not dead, but merely asleep. Gambit says he still doesn’t feel reassured. Phoenix then sees a psychic projection in the air and she knows they had help escaping. As she and Gambit rejoin Storm and the others Phoenix telepathically asks the force why it helped them. The force tells her to consider it a gift.
Psylocke regains consciousness and calls to Warren lying on the ground beside her. She asks him what happened. He tells her that he just learned his wounds were more serious than he had originally though. She points to the image in the sky and she says that she hopes he is wrong. She tells him that she feels the living shadow trapped in the image is not friendly. And when it breaks out… Warren does not disagree with her.