The Mission District, San Francisco, one hour ago, where Remy “Gambit” LeBeau has rescued Hope “Trance” Abbott from HAMMER, when a pink light signals the arrival of a very unusual woman - Ariel, accompanied by Onyxx. ‘Gambit, right? Cyclops sent us’, Ariel declares, adding 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. Onyxx picks up his fellow X-student, while Gambit tells Ariel to take care of her, as she was hit by a taser as she was using her spirit-walk power, and now she cannot separate or merge. ‘She’s trapped halfway’ he explains. Walking towards Ariel’s teleportation door, Onyxx tells Gambit not to worry, as they are taking her straight back to base. ‘Exactly!’ Ariel exclaims. ‘She’s as safe as if she was in God’s pocket!’ Ariel adds, while Gambit looks dumbfounded.
An instant later, Marin County, X-Men HQ, a pink glow signals the return of Ariel and Onyxx to the X-Men’s control room, where several X-Men, students and allies - Anole, Doctor Nemesis, Madison Jeffries, Cipher, Colossus, Nightcrawler and the Stepford Cuckoos - are monitoring the situation. Phoebe of the Stepford Cuckoos announces that there is another flashpoint at the Panhandle, to which Nightcrawler exclaims that he is on to it, and teleports away. Ariel approaches another of the Stepford Cuckoos, exclaiming ‘Mission accomplished, Candy!’ The Cuckoo puts her hands on her hips and replies ‘I’m Mindee. There isn’t a Candy’ before asking where Trance is. Onyxx looks at his arms and exclaims ‘I had her right here!’ Ariel exclaims that isn’t possible and asks Onyxx when he lost her. ‘I had her when I stepped through -’ Onyxx explains, to which Ariel declares that she could be anywhere, and assures everyone that it isn’t her fault, but that it must have something to do with Trance’s ‘Ghosty power thing’ as she puts it.
Indeed, Trance falls through one of Ariel’s doorways lands on a bus shelter, before toppling to the road. ‘Somebody help -’ she calls out, when, a nearby member of HAMMER announces to his colleagues that he thinks he has a mutant trace. ‘Move in. But take it slow and careful. And keep your men on the leash this time!’ a senior HAMMER tells his officer. ‘Looks like a kid. Or - two kids, maybe. Hard to tell’ the HAMMER agent remarks as they approach Trance, her energy state half-in, half-out of her body. ‘Mutie, that’s for sure!’ another HAMMER operative mutters. While a concerned Hope remarks ’Don’t - don’t just stand there. Run! RUN!’ she screams as her power explodes around her, knocking the HAMMER agents to the ground, but enabling her to run away. One of the HAMMER operatives manages to radio to command central, announcing that he has men down and needs back-up, stat.
Meanwhile, at the Castro in San Francisco, now, Rogue, Gambit and Danger are in a commandeered HAMMER heavy armor vehicle, making their way through the danger zone that has become San Francisco. Rogue asks Mindee to keep communicating, and what she is getting. Mindee telepathically replies that Trance’s mind-signature is very close to Rogue’s location, but that it is fuzzy and keeps fading. ‘All I can say is she’s alive, but hurting - and very scared’. Gambit remarks that it could be Trance’s bio-energy is out of control, the same way her spirit-walking is. ‘I should have stayed with her’ he remarks, before Danger tells Rogue to stop this vehicle. ‘I think we might have to continue on foot from here’ Danger declares, as a huge pile up of cars, many on fire, is laid out before them.
The three make their way out of the HAMMER vehicle, and stand before the pile of cars, and Gambit suggests they go around. Rogue points out that she still has the strength of Ares, or at least some of it. ‘And Danger’s got whatever she got’ Rogue adds, staring at the pile up, she declares that she doesn’t see why this should slow them down, and begins moving cars aside with her bare hands, while Danger blasts through the middle of the flaming pile of cars.
Nearby, Trance stumbles down a street, ‘Oh God. Help me!’ she whispers. ‘I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die here’ she whispers, when suddenly, a group of civilians nearby see her. ‘Girl, you okay? You look spaced!’ one of them remarks as he walks towards her. But Trance tells him to keep away and warns him not to touch her. One woman announces that she is calling a ambulance, and begins dialing her mobile phone, but Trance tells her not to call an ambulance. ‘Call the X-Men! Tell them I’m in trouble!’ she exclaims. Clutching at her stomach, Hope exclaims ‘Trance. Tell them - Trance is in -’, she doesn’t get to finish her sentence, as her powers explode, sending a wave of energy rippling through the air. She keels over, while the civilians run away.
Nearby, Rogue is telepathically informed by Mindee that Trance should be directly ahead of them. Gambit announces that they see her, and asks Mindee to tell Cyclops that there are on scene. ‘Tell him it’s bad!’ Rogue exclaims as she looks out a window and past the rioters, to where Trance is keeled over, power flowing from her. Gambit asks if Hope is capable of this, to which Danger replies that there is nothing in her database to indicate so, which means this is new. ‘Ah’m gonna go in’ Rogue declares, walking through the energy, towards Trance. ‘And do what?’ Gambit asks. Rogue explains that she will absorb Trance’s power if she can. ‘Bring her down from this. She can’t hurt me, long as Ah got this God-strength in me’ Rogue adds, to which Gambit asks ‘What about when it fades?’. ‘Hopefully we’ll be done by then’ Rogue remarks, before telling Danger to come with her, as they make their way towards Trance. Danger tells Gambit to watch their backs and warn them if any HAMMER troops move in. ‘We don’t want surprises’ she remarks.
The heroes are unaware though that Dr Karla “Moonstone” Sofen, calling herself Ms Marvel these days, has dropped down on a nearby rooftop. Someone radios in to “Ms Marvel” asking her to report her position and status. Sofen replies that she is at Golden Gate Heights, and is just mopping up. ‘No X-Men sightings since I ran across Rogue. I’m hoping she’s still out here somewhere’ Karla remarks, while the agent she is communicating with informs her that the ground units have reported and injured mutant at 8th and Market, with three men down. ‘Not clear if it’s an ambush or just an accident’.
Several rioters on the rooftop turn to Moonstone, wielding flaming bottles and baseball bats, one of them takes a swipe at Moonstone, but she turns to her “ghost” form. Moonstone tells the person she is communicating with that she might take a look into the situation on 8th and Market, as she kicks two of the rioters over, and tosses another into the air, while one of them throws one of the flaming bottles at her - of course it passes through, and smacks one of the other rioters in the face. The command agent informs Moonstone that she doesn’t need to assess the situation, as a team has already been dispatched. ‘Un-dispatch them. I’ll take this. Could be something, could be nothing’ Moonstone remarks as she continues to deal to the rioters on the rooftop, before taking flight, leaving several burning rioters, she remarks that one thing she has learned is that the X-Men take care of their own.
A blue glow continues to engulf Trance and the area around her, while Rogue calls out to her, asking her if she can hear them. Trance looks up and sees Rogue, and exclaims that she can’t stop. ‘It’s killing meeeee!’ she screams. Rogue looks worried as Trance’s consciousness state still flickers around Trance, while Danger asks Rogue if her plan involves actually doing anything. ‘Are you blind?’ Rogue replies. ‘Look at her. Her two selves are half separated. If Ah touch her now - take away her power in the middle of the transformation - it could kill her!’ Rogue exclaims. Danger reports that the power level continues to build, and informs Rogue that it is already doing structural damage to nearby buildings. ‘Ah know that. Ah’m staying with her!’ Rogue replies, telling Danger that she still has one shot left.
Back at the X-Men HQ, Colossus and Surge stand near Cyclops and Mindee, who is hooked up to Cerebra. ‘What’s happening?’ Cyclops asks Mindee, who replies that Rogue has found Trance, but her thoughts are all scrambled and full of pain, but Rogue is talking to her.
‘Get away - before I - kill you!’ Trance pleads with Rogue, who puts her hand on Trance’s shoulder, assuring her that it will be a few minutes before that happens. ‘Ah borrowed a little slice of immortality’ Rogue explains, before telling Hope that they should talk about her. ‘When your powers first showed themselves, it was scary, right?’ Rogue asks. ‘Like a wave going through you? Something outside you, that you couldn’t control?’. As the power flows around them, Hope asks ‘What’s that got to do with -?’, to which Rogue explains that she is trying to ask her if she is scared of what she can do. ‘Scared of what happens to you when you use your powers?’ she asks.
‘Are you stupid? Of course I am!’ Trance exclaims, tears streaming down her face, so Rogue suggests that it might be that fear which is throwing Trance off now. ‘The - the taser - he hit me with -’ Trance replies, to which Rogue, hugging Trance, tells her that she knows, and remarks that it must have hurt. ‘But Ah wonder if the taser did all this. Or if it pushed you off your center of gravity. Easiest time to fall is when you’re afraid of falling. Youth throw yourself off balance’ Rogue tells Hope. ‘Rogue, I - I can’t!’ Trance exclaims. But Rogue tells Trance that she thinks she can. ‘In fact, Ah’m betting mah life on it!’ Rogue exclaims.
Nearby, Danger tells Gambit that even without computing the probability, this seems very unlikely to work. Gambit replies that he agrees, and remarks that it doesn’t look good. Noticing someone drop down nearby, Gambit declares that he thinks the odds just got longer. He and Danger turns to the new arrival - the phoney Ms Marvel. ‘Did you concerned citizens know there’s a curfew on?’ Karla asks. ‘We’re new in town!’ Gambit replies. ‘And I am not a citizen. I’m a machine. Your laws don’t apply to -’ Danger begins, but doesn’t get to finish her sentence, as Moonstone blasts her with a burst of energy, knocking her backwards. ‘Better. Couldn’t hear myself think’ Moonstone remarks, smiling.
‘If you were thinking, chere, you wouldn’t have come here!’ Gambit tells Moonstone, the two then lunge towards each other, with Gambit throwing several kinetically charged playing cards at Moonstone - but they pass through her intangible form, enabling Moonstone to smack Gambit hard in the face. ‘And then there was one!’ Moonstone declares as she strides towards Rogue. Rogue sees her enemy approaching, and tells Trance that she will just be a minute. ‘Don’t leave me!’ Trance pleads, but Rogue assures her that she is not going far.
‘This girl might die if you don’t let me help her!’ Rogue tells Moonstone as the two stand a few feet away from each other, Trance’s power still ranging around them. ‘That’d be a shame’ Moonstone replies uncaringly. ‘All i need is a few minutes to -’ Rogue begins, but Moonstone interrupts. ‘Sorry. I’m sort of on the clock, here’ she replies as she punches Rogue in the face - only to discovers that it had no effect - Rogue still stands. Rogue then catches the startled Moonstone off guard, and slams her into the HAMMER vehicle with such force, that it knocks the vehicle down the street, which then topples over, sending Moonstone flying back even further.
Moonstone gets up: ‘So you stole yourself some muscle. Big deal!’ she exclaims, before Rogue lunges at her, smacking her in the face, but Moonstone goes intangible and reminds Rogue that she read her file. ‘It’s not going to last’ Moonstone declares, kneeing Rogue in the stomach, Moonstone declares that the last big push just about drained Rogue’s newly acquired power. ‘Sweet! Now we can pick up where we left off - before you dropped a roof on me!’ Karla exclaims, uppercutting Rogue in the face.
Nearby, Trance concentrates hard, and tells herself that she is not afraid, trying to return her state to normal, pushing her consciousness back into her body - and eventually, it works! Hope looks surprised, while Moonstone, unaware of the sudden development, gets her arm around Rogue’s neck and remarks that this has been fun. ‘And I didn’t even like you until tonight’ Moonstone tells Rogue, who can barely breathe. Suddenly, ‘Leave her alone!’ Trance shouts as she shoves Moonstone aside, releasing Rogue.
Moonstone gathers herself and turns to Trance, telling her that she should have kept her head down. ‘I wasn’t going to bother with you’ Moonstone adds. ‘You attack one mutant you attack us all!’ Trance exclaims. ‘Very moving. And there are what, a couple dozen of you?’ Moonstone mocks. ‘One of you or all of you, doesn’t change the odds all that much’ Moonstone adds, while Trance lunges at her again, only to pass through her. ‘You Can’t touch me unless I want you to, by the way’ Karla informs Hope. ‘No? Well maybe Hope Abbott can’t. But it looks like Trance can!’ Trance exclaims as she releases her other self, the two ghostly forms now fighting. ‘Stupid girl…’ Moonstone mutters, while Rogue calls out to Gambit, telling him that Moonstone is solid, and to hit her now.
Gambit declares that it is his pleasure, and casts several kinetically charged playing cards at Moonstone - which slam into her, knocking her back. Trance returns to her default form, while Gambit helps Danger up and Rogue communicates with Mindee, asking her to bring them home. Mindee replies that Pixie is on her way, and on cue, Pixie appears, and wraps Rogue, Gambit, Trance and Danger in her teleportation spell, and they vanish, leaving Moonstone to radio back to command, falsely telling them that the situation was nothing - that the injured mutant is no longer in the area, Karla obviously not wanting to admit to being beaten.
Shortly, Marin County, X-Men HQ, Cyclops and Rogue are in the infirmary, where Trance is recovering from her ordeal. ‘Nobody died. I’d call that a result’ Cyclops remarks, before telling Rogue that Trance seems to be fine, and Danger has reconfigured and rebooted herself. ’You took the hardest knocks of anyone’ he tells Rogue. ’Yeah. Thanks for reminding me’ Rogue replies, while Cyclops remarks that Rogue took the hit and kept on going. ’Didn’t have a choice’ Rogue replies, to which Cyclops tells her that there is always a choice, and the one she made must not have been easy. ’What’s easy these days?’ Rogue asks. ’This haven you built is falling apart before the pain even had time to dry’ Rogue tells Cyclops, who replies that they will find - or make - another. Rogue asks Cyclops if that means he has a plan, to which Cyclops replies ’It means they took their best shot. Not it’s time for us to take ours…’.