Across the Coral Sea, local time 1300 hours, inside a small aircraft are two former members of the Uncanny X-Men - Rogue and Remy “Gambit” LeBeau, along with their companion, Danger - the living embodiment of the X-Men’s former Danger Room. Gambit remarks that he doesn’t feel happy pushing this toy plane up to mach-2, but Danger assures him that she has modified the plane for intercontinental flight, so it will hold. ‘You say. I’d still like a second opinion’ Gambit retorts. Rogue points out that this has got to be better than a commercial flight. ‘Wherever they go, the X-Men tend to be magnets for all kinds of - weirdness!’ Rogue exclaims, and as if on cue, Megan “Pixie” Gwynn, one of the X-Men students, teleports into the jet.
‘Uhh…I come in peace, honest!’ Pixie exclaims as Danger aims a weapon at her. Rogue tells Danger that this is not an attack and to let Pixie be. ‘Right. Not an attack. More of a cab ride’ Pixie remarks, before telling Rogue that Cyclops got her message saying she was coming. ‘But he needs you right now!’ the young woman declares, before casting a spell which re-opens her teleport signature, and the four vanish from the jet, sending it plummeting to the ocean below.
At that moment, above the Tenderloin in San Francisco, local time 2300 hours. Scott “Cyclops” Summers, Elizabeth “Psylocke” Braddock, Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner and two of the Stepford Cuckoos stand on the rooftop, and Scott announces that around Union Square the crowd cannot move and the HAMMER team is moving in. Betsy asks Kurt if he wants to drop her off, and an instant later, the two vanish in a burst of brimstone, while at the same time, Pixie returns with her fellow travelers. ‘Rogue. You’re in odd company’ Cyclops remarks, to which Rogue assures Scott she can vouch for Remy and Danger.
‘You’re vouching for them? Maybe you think your stock is higher than it is’ Scott replies, arms folded across his chest, reminding Rogue that when she escaped from the Marauders she went off without explanation, after most of the X-Men had risked their lives twice to get her free. Pixie joins her fellow X-Men students a few feet away from Cyclops, while Gambit tells Cyclops to get to the point. ‘Remy -’ Rogue begins, but Cyclops tells Rogue that Gambit is right, there is no time to go over this. ‘And I need you all’ he declares, adding that should give them a fair idea of how bad things are. Scott explains that an anti-mutant hate group goaded some hot-headed mutants into a melee, and now the government has let the dogs out.
‘Norman Osborn’s HAMMER and his so-called Avengers. Things are falling apart fast out there!’ Cyclops declares, before telling the others that he doesn’t know if they are familiar with Osborn, but that he fought Spider-Man back in the day, as the Green Goblin. ‘Now he wears Gianfranco Ferre and sits at the right hand of God’. Gazing down at the chaos-ridden streets, where fires blaze and battles are fought, Cyclops tells Rogue that the bottom line is some of their students are still out there, and other mutants too, who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Gambit asks Cyclops what his first priority is, to which Cyclops replies ‘What do you think?’. Rogue glances sideways, before telling Cyclops to put them wherever he needs them. ‘We’ll handle whatever comes’ she assures him.
The streets are chaos as civilians cannot get past battles or fires, and super humans battle each other - like Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin of the X-Men and Mac Gargan a.k.a. Venom, posing as Spider-Man, who rips up the concrete with a powerful blow.
Nearby, on the corner of 16th and Guerrero, Rogue, Gambit and Danger examine the situation at close range. ‘You see any mutants here?’ Gambit asks. Rogue replies that she doesn’t, but that the Cuckoos saw did - that Trance and Indra are somewhere close. ‘In the meantime, people are going to die in this stampede. Do what you can’ Rogue tells her companions. Heavy armored HAMMER vehicles move in, and a man knocks into a woman - causing her to accidentally drop the child she is carrying into the path of a Police car - ‘No!’ she cries out, but Danger rescues the child, while blasting at the HAMMER vehicles. ‘Your child is safe’ she tells the woman, handing the boy over. The woman nervously thanks Danger, who instructs her to the left and through the parking lot, as the street on the far side is empty. ‘Mom, I got catched by a transformer! Did you see?’ the excited boy cries out as his mother carries him away.
Meanwhile, on 20th and Mission, local time 2311, an unlikely trio of mutants are trying to escape HAMMER - Tamara “Dragoness” Kurtz, Hope “Trance” Abbott, and Mortimer “Toad” Toynbee. Suddenly, a trio of HAMMER operatives appears at the entrance to the alleyway where the three mutants have escaped to. ‘Got a visual on one of the listed perps. Mortimer Toynbee: Toad’ one of the HAMMER operatives announces. Trance has been helping the injured Toad, but eventually stops in her tracks. ‘Dragoness -’ she calls out, but Tamara, who has dropped her red bathing suit costume and returned to her original winged look, tells Trance to keep going while she covers her. ‘I can’t. It’s a dead end. Oh God!’ Trance exclaims.
Dragoness prepares to let loose with a bioelectric sting on the approaching HAMMER agents, but, her power has weakened. ‘All out of charge, mutie? You’ve been slinging it around. Let’s see if you can take it!’ one of the HAMMER operatives exclaims as he whacks Tamara in the stomach with a large baton. Dragoness falls to the ground, while Trance, who has left Toad on the ground, suddenly releases her consciousness into an energy state. ‘Hey! Guys! This one’s trying to pull something!’ one of the HAMMER agents exclaims, before firing a weapon at Hope, which latches onto her, causing both her and her energy state to fall to the ground, both screaming.
‘Oh my God, man, you fried her. Command said -’ another HAMMER agent begins, but the other snaps back that he knows what command said. ‘If she dies, we were somewhere else’ he declares. Suddenly, ‘Homme, if she dies - you’re gonna be in a whole lot of somewhere elses!’ Gambit exclaims as he throws a kinetically charged playing card at the HAMMER agents, knocking them back. With the HAMMER agents now unconscious, lying on the alleyway ground, Gambit kneels beside Hope and asks her if she can hear him. Hope’s energy state appears to be on the fritz, half in her, half out of her, Hope asks Gambit what he is doing here. ‘Long story’ Gambit replies, before Hope asks him to help her. Gambit promises to help Trance. ‘Just got to get you to the Beast, so he can -’ Gambit begins, when suddenly, there is an electric pink glow, and Gambit looks up, to see two more mutants enter the alleyway.
One of them is the X-Men student Onyxx, the other is a virtual living embodiment of the 1980’s - the enigmatic Ariel. Wearing thigh-high blue boots and matching blue boob-tube, with a black miniskirt, and a bright pink half-jacket, with large gold bracelets, and white, pink and yellow hair, Ariel exclaims ‘Gambit, right? Cyclops sent us’, and declares that according to the Cuckoos, there is a casualty here. Gambit replies that he doesn’t know her, and asks if she is an X-Man. ‘The name’s Ariel and, yes, I’ve been deputized’. Gambit asks Ariel where her badge is, to which Ariel replies that it is right here in her double helix.
Meanwhile, in Clinton Park, local time 2318, Rogue calls out to Indra, as she makes her way through a badly damaged building, with an unconscious HAMMER agent lying nearby. When she gets no response, Rogue decides she will have to see what she can get from the HAMMER agent, and puts her fingers to his face, telling the unconscious man not worry, as she has her powers pretty much under control now, so she is nearly certain that she can skim his surface memories without wiping his entire mind. ‘Wish me luck’ she remarks, as she sees inside the HAMMER agent’s mind:
(Flashback, shown via memory connection to Rogue from HAMMER agent)
‘Told you to stop, kid!’ the HAMMER agent yells at Paras Gavaskar a.k.a. Indra, punching the young mutant and knocking him backwards. ‘Told you to assume the damn position!’ he exclaims. Indra gathers himself against a console of various screens, and tells the HAMMER agent that he wasn’t doing anything, that he just wanted to get home. ‘To see if my friends were okay!’ he exclaims. The HAMMER agent tells Indra that he still should have done what he was told. ‘Still need a little lesson in good manners’ he remarks, when suddenly, Indra releases his exo-skeletal armor, ‘You’re not the law!’ he shouts in his beefed-up form, snatching the HAMMER agent’s gun, Indra smacks him in the face, knocking hi out.
Rogue smiles, ‘Good for you, Paras. Ah’m proud of you’ she exclaims, remarking that now she just needs to find out where he is. Suddenly, someone else enters the room, and announces that Rogue is under arrest for assaulting a HAMMER officer in the pursuit of his duty. Rogue looks up and is shocked to see…Ms Marvel! Not the real Ms Marvel, of course, but Dr Karla Sofen, better known as the villainess Moonstone, wearing Carol Danver’s classic costume. Moonstone tells Rogue that talking to herself is the first sign of madness, and that she should probably get some help for that. ‘But frankly, Scarlett - I don’t give a damn!’ Karla exclaims as she unleashes a blast of energy at Rogue, knocking her backwards.
‘You’re not Carol!’ Rogue exclaims. ‘What’s in a name? Or a costume, for that matter’ Karla replies, before remarking ‘You’re Rogue, your powers depend on touch’. As Rogue rushes towards Moonstone, she finds herself passing through her, as Karla smirks and declares that touching her is something of a one-sided proposition. ‘Dealer’s rules!’ Moonstone exclaims, punching Rogue in the face, then kicking her in the back, and passing her foot through Rogue’s body. ‘You see what I mean?’ Moonstone asks, before telling Rogue that she has the right to be silent. ‘And in today’s three-for-one offer - the right to be concussed and the right to be unconscious!’.
Moonstone smacks Rogue against a metal beam, but Rogue isn’t beaten yet, though Moonstone remarks that she has to update the file, ‘Thought you were super strong, invulnerable, stuff like that’. ‘I survive’ Rogue replies. ‘You think? The gun won’t help you, by the way - but feel free’ Moonstone adds as she sees Rogue reaching for the unconscious HAMMER agent’s weapon. ‘Thanks. Ah will!’ Rogue exclaims as she aims the machine gun at Moonstone. But instead of firing it at Karla, Rogue raises it to the glass ceiling above, and fires several times, causing hundred of shards of glass to fall downwards towards them. Rogue rushes forward, covering her face from the falling glass, while the startled Moonstone goes intangible at the last minute.
Rogue then leaps through another window and on to a neighboring roof. ‘Well damn’ Moonstone remarks as she watches Rogue go. ‘Ms Marvel to command. I engaged Rogue, but she got away’ Karla reports in via her communicator. ‘From you?’ command replies. ‘Can it!’ Karla exclaims, explaining that Rogue shot out the ceiling, which caused her to ghost by reflex, so Rogue ran right through her. ‘I’m on it. But judging from the way she went - she’s going to wish she’d played nicer with me!’ Karla exclaims, while a badly cut-up Rogue continues to rush across rooftops.
Meanwhile, at Castro Street, local time 2341, HAMMER have set up a barricade of fences, agents and heavy armor vehicles, while a group of rioters stand before them. ‘Get lost, pork chops! This is our city!’ Dominic “Avalanche” Petros exclaims, backed up by the former Morlock known as Erg, who exclaims that this is mutant town west. ‘You mess with us, there’ll be nothing left of you but teeth!’. One of the HAMMER agents asks the group to disperse. ‘That’s all we’re asking you to do’ he remarks, just as Gambit puts a hand on Avalanche’s shoulder, telling him that he is picking the wrong fight in the wrong place. ‘Gambit! All right! Stand with us!’ Avalanche smiles.
‘Only a fool starts a fight he can’t win!’ Gambit replies, to which Avalanche exclaims that they didn’t start the fight - Humanity Now did when they walked through this city. ‘And somewhere they got to be laughing now. Seeing you making their point for them’ Gambit points out. ‘Making the world see mutants backlit by burning cars!’. Avalanche tells Gambit if that is what it takes, then they will do it. ‘Show them what we’re capable of when we take the gloves off. Show them who they’re messing with!’ Avalanche shouts. ‘Good. Show them you don’t rise to sucker bait’ Gambit remarks, while Erg tells Gambit to get out of their way. ‘We’re taking these black shirts down!’ he boasts. ‘Not gonna happen’ Gambit replies.
Suddenly, one of the HAMMER agents announces that he has received new orders, and tells his colleagues to fall back. ‘Fall back? Who’s gonna hold the line here?’ one of them asks. ‘I’d say he is’ the other officer declares as Ares, God of War, marches past them. ‘Recreants and bringers of chaos. You were warned and you did not heed. So weep!’ Ares booms as he swipes at the crowd with his axe, knocking Erg over with the handle. Avalanche unleashes his power, causing the earth to rise up against Ares, pushing the handsome God of War backwards. Avalanche casts some of the stones up at Ares, but he is not phased, he simply strides towards Avalanche and grabs him by the throat.
Suddenly, Gambit calls out to Ares, and suggests that he give the crowd a chance to disperse, as the street is blocked behind them. Ares drops Avalanche to the ground, while the revelers begin to run. Ares sees Gambit holding a kinetically charged playing card and asks him if that is a weapon, or if he is here as an entertainer. ‘Either way, I expect the diversion to be both short and forgettable!’ Ares boasts as he takes a swipe at Gambit with his axe, but Gambit leaps out of the way, and the axe slices through a vehicle. ‘If you think I might slip your mind, homme - better take my card!’ Gambit exclaims as he throws several kinetically charged playing cards past Ares, which then land against a large brick wall - and explode, causing the wall to fall down upon Ares in a brilliant display.
Elsewhere in the city, Rogue hears the explosion, ‘Remy!’ she exclaims. Danger also senses the trouble, and the two make their way to Castro Street, where Gambit discovers that the mighty explosion did not even topple Ares - he simply stands as the rubble falls around him. ‘I feared that this city would offer no warrior worth my mettle. And so it proves. So it proves!’ Ares exclaims as he slams Gambit aside with ease. Danger leaps in and extends part of her body to catch Gambit, while Rogue approaches Ares, and tells him that he probably wants to leave it at that. ‘Woman, my way has been barred once tonight already. Stand aside. Or I’ll tread you under like a grape’ Ares warns Rogue.
Rogue tells Ares that once upon a time she would have thrown him halfway to the moon for a remark like that. ‘God help me if Ah start to mess those days!’ Rogue remarks, before touching Ares on the hand and declaring that she will have to do the best she can with what she has got. ‘Imbecile! You can’t -’ Ares exclaims as Rogue suddenly glows, and power pours from her eyes and mouth. Gambit tells Danger that she must break the contact, as Ares is a God, and Rogue cannot contain that much power. ‘It would be desirable for her to take a little more than half’ Danger replies, before remarking that Rogue’s heart rate is already well outside the human norm. ‘She’s unlikely to survive this unless we separate them’ Danger remarks, picking up a manhole cover from the street.
Danger holds the manhole cover out to Gambit and asks him to imbue it with potential energy. ‘And we’ll see if it has the necessary properties for a circuit breaker’ Danger remarks, and after Gambit charges the manhole with kinetic energy, Danger throws it at Ares - and it hits him square in the face, knocking him backwards, thus releasing Rogue, while the manhole explodes in Ares’ face. Remy rushes over and asks Rogue how she feels, to which Rogue replies that she feels dizzy, but so much stronger. ‘Strong enough to walk? Or better still, to run away?’ Danger asks, while Ares covers his face several feet away, his axe lying on some rubble.
‘Yeah. Ah think so’ Rogue replies as she clenches a fist, before telling Danger that running is no good, not through this crowd, and marching towards the barrier of HAMMER agents, Rogue declares that she has a better idea. ‘Stay back, lady!’ one of the agents orders. ‘You take one more step, and I’m gonna -’ another begins, but Rogue uses her newly acquired strength to shove the HAMMER operatives aside, and pull another from one of the heavy armor vehicles which she commandeers: ‘Okay. We’ve got ourselves a ride!’ she exclaims.
As the trio make their way through the damaged streets, Mindee of the Stepford Cuckoos contacts Rogue telepathically. Rogue asks Mindee how she is doing, to which Mindee replies that they sent a team to collect Trance and bring her to Dr McCoy, but now Dr McCoy is missing and Trance hasn’t made it home either. Mindee explains that Trance’s thoughts are blurred, scattered, but she thinks Trance is somewhere close by. ‘We’ll find her. Come hell of high water’ Rogue replies, while Ares gathers himself nearby, and Rogue, Gambit and Danger speed forwards, sending the HAMMER agents running for their lives.