Oxbow Presents: X-MEN 4: REGENERATION
After such a positive response to my previous story, How X3 Should Have Ended, I decided to bring forth a new, thrilling chapter in the Ox-Men Universe! As the struggle between human and mutantkind escalates, humanity decides to take protection into its own hands! Will Xavier's dream survive the coming gene war?
Scott Summers and Charles Xavier are believed dead. Wolverine was spared the burden of executing Jean Grey at the last minute by the hand of Rogue, who stole the Phoenix's power and banished it into the abyss of space. Now, read on...
Caption: 8 months ago.
Flashback to the scene in X3 when Phoenix was disposing of Scott Summers at the lake: Scott is totally helpless and racked with pain. “Goodbye, my love.” She says coldly. Like a bored cougar, Phoenix flings Scott into the water and flies away menacingly. Shortly thereafter, a shadowy figure emerges from the woods: it’s Mr. Sinister, who has been telepathically hiding himself from the Phoenix while watching everything. Making sure that she has well and truly departed, Sinister takes his fingers off his head and walks lakeside. With a gesture, he lifts Summers' broken body out of the water. Another gesture, and Scott's ruby-quartz glasses return to his face. Scott begins to cough up murky water. He looks up at his benefactor weakly.
A deep voice says: "Surely, we can't let the Summers' legacy come to an end like this...with a mere whimper? No, you are meant for much more than that, m'boy!"
But Scott can only look on, in shock and gasping for air, as the music builds, and the screen goes dark!
At an American shopping mall, people are panicking and running away from a disturbance. Suddenly, an energy blast cuts through the atrium. Cain Marko, AKA Juggernaut, has broken out of jail along with his cellmate, Black Tom Cassidy. They are stealing enough money to leave the country for good, as well as generally acting like a couple of super-powered dicks. As they finish their heist, Rogue, Kitty Pryde and Wolverine show up. “You weren’t planning on leaving without saying goodbye, now…were you?” says Kitty. Wolverine looks over at her like an embarrassed parent. “Shut-up and get to work” he mutters, popping out his claws. Wolvie starts zig-zagging towards Black Tom, who tries to tag him with an energy blast. Tom and Jugs are fighting back desperately. “There’s no way I’m going back to jail this time!” screams Tom.
Rogue is smashed against the wall by a punch from Juggernaut. Since getting her new powers, she is still getting used to being a brawler. Kitty jokes about how this would be a lot easier if Jean decided to help. Wolverine says that she’s not ready to fight yet. “…besides, somebody needs to pilot the Blackbird! “ On cue, Jean’s voice comes in over their earpieces: “You should be glad that I’m up here watching over you. There’s four bogies approaching the shopping center at Mach 2. I can’t identify the make, but they’re airborne and coming your way—fast.”
“Light ‘em up,” says Logan.
“It might be the Air Force over-reacting again, Logan.”
Wolverine grunts and tells her to maintain altitude until she can get a closer look at them. The X-men chase Tom and the Juggernaut all over the mall. Juggernaut finally sees the exit and starts to pick up speed. Wolvie talks into his earpiece: “Bobby, I hope you’re ready for us!”
“Aye-aye, Cap’n.” Iceman is standing outside of the mall, munching on a mall pretzel. He throws it away half-eaten as Juggernaut rounds the corner and makes for the doors. Iceman freezes up all of the doors in a 6 foot-thick wall of ice. However, Juggernaut keeps running and easily smashes through it.
“You thought that would hold me?!?!
Iceman transforms his body into hard ice and steps forward, ready to tackle Juggernaut. “It’s over, Cain. This is the line—right here.”
Juggernaut sneers as he stomps towards Bobby. ‘Ha! Let’s see what you got then, ya’ pretentious Popsicle!
There is a low hum in the air. Then, a giant energy blast strikes Iceman and Juggernaut from above. All of the hard ice melts/breaks off Bobby’s body and he collapses to the ground. Juggernaut gets up from his knees, winded but still moving. The camera tracks up to see a huge Sentinel blocking Juggernaut’s path, with four more airborne and in the process of landing. A mechanical voice rings out: “HALT: UNIDENTIFIED MUTANTS.”
Juggernaut is unphased by the spectacle: You don't tell me what to do! Do you know who I am? “YAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!
He runs towards the Sentinel but the Sentinel moves quickly, rushing forward to stamp his foot on top of Juggernaut three times, hard. Driven into the pavement, he does not get back up this time.
Black Tom shows up at the exit with the X-men right behind him. Tom jumps over the pedestrian bridge to the ground floor and tries to escape into the parking lot. A Sentinel pursues and hits him with an energy blast right as he tries to go around the corner. It's a glancing blow, but enough to burn most of his right arm to a crisp. He falls to the floor screaming . Meanwhile, the X-men are fighting for their lives. “What the hell are these things?!? They look like something out of the Danger Room!” yells Rogue, as she helps Bobby to his feet.
Wolverine replies: “I don't know darlin’, but I think it’s finally time for you to cut loose!” Wolverine is going berserker, trying to bring one Sentinel down like a lumberjack.
Rogue watches him for a moment and then lets out a scream of her own. She flies at the Sentinel at top speed and bursts a hole right through its chest cavity.
“Wow…is it wrong for me to get turned on by that?” says Bobby, to no one in particular.
The X-men fight on valiantly but the Sentinels are formidable opponents. Iceman is still woozy from that initial blast. Wolverine gets surrounded and is swatted around like a fly by a couple of Sentinels. Then he’s hit hard with an energy blast, and only escapes being roasted completely when Kitty grabs him from below by phasing through the pavement.
Kitty speaks into her earpiece as she checks Logan over: “Jean…could really use your help right about now!”
“On my way,” she replies.
It looks like the X-men are cornered when, all of a sudden, one of the Sentinel’s heads explodes: Jean has brought the Blackbird in close and is laying down heavy suppressive fire! In the chaos, Rogue grabs Logan and flies up into the sky. Meanwhile, Bobby creates an ice-bridge for himself and Kitty to escape. They all quickly get into the Blackbird, which flies off at supersonic speed before the Sentinels can bring it down. The Sentinels do not pursue. Instead, they gather up the unconscious Juggernaut and the remains of Black Tom, and fly away from the mall in a tight formation. Shoppers are flabbergasted by what they’ve just seen.
At Xavier’s mansion the X-men regroup and try to figure out what just happened. Gambit, Nightcrawler and Angel are waiting in the living room, along with other students of the Xavier Institute. They are going back and forth about it, when Angel shushes them. A news report on the TV has caught his attention: Outside the mall, a reporter is talking about the success of a government defense project in apprehending two escaped mutant terrorists (Tom and Jugs). There is a news conference next, featuring Senator Kelly and the President of the United States. Kelly refers to the events of X3 and the destruction caused by Jean Grey, AKA the Phoenix, as impetus to start seriously defending the American people from these super-powered menaces. At this, Jean goes cold and looks down, visibly ashamed.
Hank calls on the phone. Storm picks up and starts talking to him about how her team was just attacked. “Diplomatic channels were completely ignored!” she says, to which Hank replies that he was not in the loop on what happened at all. “How could relations have broken down so much in less than a year?” he complains, to no one in particular.
“I think it’s time for you to come home, Hank,” says Storm. “I’ll send Angel to come get you.”
Bobby holds Rogue close as they watch the news report. They say that measures will have to be taken to control the “mutant problem” before another disaster can occur in this country. By Executive Order, all mutants who have not taken the cure are required to register with the Department of Homeland Security. Mutant ID’s and dampening devices are some of the ideas Congress will be debating in the coming months.
“I wish the Professor was here. He always knew what to say at times like this”, Rogue says to Bobby.
“I’m afraid you’ll just have to settle for Xavier’s shadow, instead.” At the sound of that all-too familiar voice, everyone turns to see Magneto quietly waiting in the doorway. The X-men are shocked, especially Jean, to see the father of their torments now standing in their own home! Colossus and Wolverine try to force Magneto to leave. He just smiles and raises his hands, lifting their metallic bodies up into the air. “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you choose to embrace your gifts--and reject their “cure” wholeheartedly.”
“What do you want, Eric?” says Storm, stepping up as the headmistress of the school.
“Why, the same thing as you, my dear--to fight against this mechanized menace that now threatens our people’s lives and freedom! I trust you’ve seen what their machines can do to mutant flesh and bone…firsthand.” He looks at the bruised and battered team knowingly.
After an uneasy exchange, the X-men agree to work with Magneto to figure out where the Sentinels came from, and who’s controlling them. Storm insists on keeping Beast working on a diplomatic solution. However, she agrees to let a team do reconnaissance and follow the Sentinels to their base.
We are looking at Scott Summers. He is back at the lake where he nearly drowned in X3. Jean Grey is there with him. He’s scared but there is no cold murder in her eyes this day. She walks up and passionately kisses Scott. She starts taking her clothes off, followed by his. He is holding her and feels something rising within him uncontrollably.
Scott wakes from this dream with a start. He is inside a darkened cabin in the woods. He gets up and washes his face in a basin next to the bed. He looks like a broken man. Sinister comes in with the carcass of a deer. They talk about how mysterious Sinister has been over the past few months. He has been nursing Scott back to health and seems to know all about him and the X-men, yet has told Scott almost nothing about his own story. Sinister finally gives in. He cuts a few steaks off the deer’s carcass and gives them to Scott to roast with his optic blasts. Then, he begins telling this story: Sinister was born Nathaniel Essex, a scientist from the 19th century obsessed with evolution and genetic theory. He hints of meeting En Sabah-Nur, an ancient, terrible being, underneath the London of his age. He has amazing control over his own body through the actions of his mysterious benefactor. Since then, Sinister has used genetic material from other mutants to add to his abilities (which include telepathy, telekinesis, shape shifting, superhuman strength and regeneration at this point). For some time, he has been watching the rise of mutantkind from the shadows, subtly manipulating bloodlines that have a chance of surviving the coming race-war between mutant and human beings.
“But what does this have to do with me?” asks Scott between mouthfuls of roasted venison.
“The Summers bloodline is of great…interest to me. So naturally, I had cause for concern when I sensed that your life was in peril….The humans will test you, Scott. They want to see if you’re worthy of ruling them. They haven’t shown their full power yet but with the way things are going--it’s only a matter of time.”
Scott gets up from the bed and grabs his clothes. He is grateful for Sinister’s help but needs to get back to the X-men. He needs to find out what really happened between him and Jean…
“Very well, m’boy,” says Sinister as Scott walks away. Then, under his breath: “I’ve had all I need from you for a month, anyway.” In the shadows of the cabin, Sinister’s profile looks, just for a moment, eerily like Jean Grey’s. He pushes a button to reveal a small, hidden freezer unit. With a key from around his neck, he opens the padlock. He puts a vial of opaque liquid, with today’s date and Scott’s name on it, into a rack of test tubes. The rack contains rows and rows of vials filled with biological matter, all with Scott’s name and earlier dates written on them.
Back at the Xavier Institute, Iceman is lying in bed, using his hands as an icepack on the burns sustained during today’s Sentinel attack. Rogue comes in and snuggles up next to him. They look at each other quietly and then start kissing.
Rogue: “Mmm. I’ll never get tired of that. You know, even with all the pain and suffering, sometimes I still feel like this is all a dream…that I’ll wake up and find myself cut off from touch again…cut off from you.
Iceman: It is a dream but thank God, it’s also real. Especially because, for someone who hasn’t touched another human being for 6 years, you’re pretty good at all this stuff….”
Rogue hits him playfully. Then, her eyes become more serious: “I knew you were ready to stand by me regardless though--whatever happened. You’re a good man, Bobby Drake.
Iceman: “I know. You’d just better get back in one piece from this mission… I don't want to keep repeating these hospital-bed love-scenes over and over again!”
Nightfall at the Xavier Insititute. We are in the hangar bay. Logan is refueling the Blackbird. Colossus, Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde, Gambit, Magneto, Storm and Rogue all board the aircraft. “You sure you don't want to join us, Logan?” says Storm.
“I’ve had enough of those overgrown tin-soldiers for one day. Besides, I gotta stay with Jean…see how all this is sittin’ with her.”
Storm smiles sadly and puts her hand on Logan’s shoulder. Then, she enters the Blackbird as the doors close behind her. Logan watches the team take off before going back inside the mansion.
Inside the Blackbird, Storm and Magneto discuss strategy. Kitty mentions how the Sentinels took Jugs and Tom with them. Magneto suggests finding a group of Sentinels in the process of abducting some mutants and following them back to their base. Meanwhile, Gambit is trying to make the moves on Rogue. He’s the newest member of the team, and a flirtatious one at that. Rogue is flattered but has become more confident from all the love that Bobby gives her—she threatens to smack the accent right out of Gambit if he doesn’t let go of her hand, this instant! Unphased, Gambit excuses himself and goes sits next to Kitty Pryde. He sweet-talks her up and down but when he tries to touch her hand, she phases her body so that his hand goes through hers and hits the arm of the chair. “Not a chance, lover-boy.” smirks Kitty. “Keep your hands to yourself--and your mind on the mission!”
Storm picks up electronic readings similar to the ones they noticed when the Sentinels came to the mall earlier. She keeps the Blackbird elevated above the clouds in cloaking mode. After a few minutes, a squad of three Sentinels pass by below them. The X-men follow from a safe distance. They come to a quiet neighborhood in the suburbs. Screams can be heard coming from below. Lights are turning on in the neighborhood as the Sentinels surround a small brownstone. There is the tinkling sound of windows breaking and then, a Sentinel topples over into the house next door. James Proudstar, AKA Warpath, jumps out of the window and tries to rip the Sentinel’s head off using his superhuman strength. “Run, Danielle!” he shouts as another Sentinel comes after him. Danielle Moonstar, AKA Mirage, runs out of the house and looks around, confused. She then looks up at the sky pleadingly, almost as if she can see someone up there! A moment later, the giant hand of a Sentinel knocks her down cold.
Storm shudders. “That poor girl! She must have sensed we were up here somehow.” Magneto advises patience and that they control their emotions. After Warpath is knocked unconscious, the Sentinels once again secure their prey and take off in formation, with the Blackbird in silent pursuit.
Scott is trekking through the woods in the dark, panting hard. Trees grasp at his clothing. He is ragged and tired, but can’t stop running: something is running after him! He sees glittering eyes in the darkness and cries out. A pack of wolves is literally at his heels! He yells at them to get back, and shoots a couple of optic blasts towards the lead wolf, which jumps backwards with a yelp. Scott lights a branch using his eyes and waves it around, screaming at the pack to back off. After a while, this makeshift fire dies down and Scott starts running again. The sound of wolves’ feet on autumn leaves can be heard in the lightless night behind him.
It’s late night at the mansion. Jean checks on all the students and then goes to the living room. Logan is sitting on a couch with a beer in hand, watching TV. The news shows multiple shots of mutants and Sentinels fighting. The odds are against the mutants. There are some signs of resitance, however. In Miami, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch destroy a small group of Sentinels by working together. Another Sentinel squadron surrounds a compound in Arizona, where members of X-Force are hiding out. The mutants manage to escape at the last minute through underground tunnels. Logan’s face is pained and at the same time, stone-cold from shock at all of the things that are happening too, too fast… He turns off the TV as Jean comes in. Jean apologizes for not firing on the Sentinels right away earlier today and asks Logan if he’s okay. Logan says he’s fine, and tells her she just needs to learn to trust herself again. They talk about Magneto, and how cruelly he manipulated Jean when she was the Phoenix. She says she hates him for all the destruction he’s caused over the years. Logan agrees. He tells her he’s just glad that they were able to save her, which makes Jean smile. Logan has a flashback to the moment when he was about to kill Jean in X3. He gives her this achingly tender look, right before getting his emotions under control again. Then, he offers Jean a beer.
Camera is following the Blackbird, which is following the squad of Sentinels. They are flying over open waters. Sensors show land approaching on the horizon. This seems to be the Sentinels’ destination: the island nation of Genosha. Storm says that all they know about Genosha is that it is a mysterious, highly technological society, largely cut off from the outside world.
Most of the island contains cyclopean buildings of dark glass and high, jagged skyscrapers. The X-men land the Blackbird in some jungles surrounding the city center, and send Nightcrawler and Kitty out to recon. Nightcrawler teleports them both into a large nearby building. They sneak furtively through large rooms filled with humming machinery. They discover that the Genoshans are doing experiments on mutants, learning how to mentally control them in order to use their powers for slave labor. They enter a wing that serves as a hospital of sorts, where Black Tom lies in bed recovering. He is asleep, strapped down and with his head shaved bald. He has a cybernetic arm in place of the one that the Sentinel burned to a crisp earlier. Nightcrawler and Kitty teleport away to the building next door. They appear in the stairway above a large open space, where bald-headed slaves are helping build the gigantic Sentinels, in an assembly line of sorts. The two are studying the scene below when they see shadows on the floor from behind them: a bald-headed man and woman are standing in the doorway! They have glowing metallic collars around their necks and are staring blankly at Nightcrawler and Kitty. Kitty runs to the door but the man moves at lightning speed to block her way. Kitty phases through him and takes off running. He shoots at her several times but Kitty just keeps phasing her body. The bald woman is shooting at Nightcrawler, who teleports to avoid all the bullets and joins up with the escaping Kitty.
“So much for being like two Ninjas,” he says to her disappointedly.
The same building. Inside a large, well-furnished office, Dr. Bolivar Trask is talking to some technicians about different alloys and their relative strengths. He is identified by the name-tag on his white coat. Suddenly, the alarm goes off. Trask walks briskly to the security room, where he sees Kitty and Nightcrawler running by on the video screens. He is indignant: “Mutants—here?!? Get security teams to the factory, level 14--STAT! There will be no interruptions at this stage of the plan!
As Nightcrawler and Kitty get to the end of the hallway, the doors open, and a team of bald-headed security steps forward. Juggernaut is there with them, the biggest member of their crew. Gone is his usual bravado and personality. He acts like he doesn't recognize them and absently starts trying to take them down. The mutants behind him follow suit. The two X-men use their powers to avoid the majority of the blows. Nightcrawler eventually rips the collar off Juggernaut’s neck, which frees him from Trask’s mind control.
“Go for the collars!” he yells to Kitty.
Cut back to Trask, watching the scene on the monitors. “No, no…you’ll never get them that way! That mutant is a teleporter and the girl…the girl can become intangible. Flood the whole floor with gas—now!
Small holes in the ceiling open up. There is a high-pitched hissing sound, as the hallway slowly fills with invisible gas. The security team and the mutants all fall to the ground unconscious. Kitty desperately radios for help. When Nightcrawler realizes what is happening, he tries to teleport away.
The other X-men are hanging out in the jungle, keeping close to the Blackbird. Gambit is doing card tricks for Rogue while the others look on. They suddenly hear Kitty’s fading voice over the radio. Right after this, Nightcrawler appears in a cloud of brimstone. He falls hard onto the side of the Blackbird and rolls to rest at Colossus’ feet. He manages to say “It’s a factory… for building those things. They got Kitty…gas…” before he passes out.
“We have to go in and get her!” pleads Rogue.
“That’s the plan, kid,” Says Storm. “But first, let’s create some cover. Colossus, get on the controls…and activate the cloaking system, just in case.” Storm’s eyes glass over as she wills dark clouds to appear over the skies of Genosha. Visibility is poor as Colossus takes the Blackbird up into the rain and wind.
Inside, Rogue is watching a screen with a bright red ‘X’ on it. “The tracer says that Kitty is at the south wall. Her signal is mobile, moving towards the center of the building.”
“They’re moving her,” says Gambit.
“We’ll get her,” says Colossus.
“What’s that?” Gambit is pointing out the window. Outside the building, there are five figures huddled together. The largest one of them suddenly punches a hole right through the building.
“Looks like we’re not the only mutants who thought to check in on this their little operation,” says Magneto. Light pours through the hole in the wall as the five below enter the building.
“Colossus, put us down close to where they went in,” says Storm.
The security room inside the Genoshan factory. New alarms have been tripped and Trask is starting to look desperate. The screens shows for the first time the five intruders: Rusty, Skids, Forearm, Tempo and the android Zero (members of the Mutant Liberation Front). They are powerful warriors with futuristic weaponry at their disposal, and are wading through Trask’s security detail with ease. This only makes Trask more animated with rage: “It’s an invasion! Activate Sentinel defense parameters. We must protect the master core at all costs!!!
There is large storage silo situated on a hill above Trask’s factory: Everything is dark inside of it. Suddenly, hundreds of mechanical eyes light up at the same time. Great doors open to reveal a legion of Sentinels, who fly off row by row towards the factory.
Meanwhile, the Blackbird has landed in another part of the jungle. The X-men are running stealthily towards the hole in the factory wall. Rogue is at the head, rearing to go in after Kitty. “Wait!” whispers Gambit, grabbing her arm before she can take off. As they watch, dozens of Sentinels land on the ground and lumber towards the building.
Inside the factory, the MLF are killing security left and right. Rusty yells at his team-mates to concentrate on getting to the center of the building as he incinerates a squad of mutants. All of a sudden, there is a noise from behind them. You can see lights and movement outside and hear mechanical sounds. Then, the entire South wall collapses to reveal a legion of Sentinels surrounding the building!
Sentinels: ‘UNAUTHORIZED MUTANTS VISUALIZED. DEFENSE PARAMETER ALPHA-THREE-OH-OH---ENGAGE.” As a unit, the Sentinels attack the MLF, lighting up the factory floor with energy blasts and other destructive machinery.
Outside, the X-men are still arguing about how to proceed. Magneto finally gets frustrated and says “You children can keep on bickering about collateral damage if you desire. My home is on the battlefield--with the other mutants.” Magneto grimly rises into the air and flies towards the exposed building.
Inside, the MLF take off running towards the middle of the compound. The Sentinels and security teams are running after them. From behind them, the sound of screaming metal and falling Sentinels heralds the arrival of Magneto onto the battlefield! He catches up to the MLF, who inform him that they are trying to get to the center of the building to destroy something called the Mastermold.
“So, you are mutant freedom fighters, then?” asks Magneto.
“Yeah, something like that,” says Skids, looking at her companions.
Surrounded by a platoon of mind-controlled mutants with guns, Trask enters the factory from the opposite side. “Get me to the master core---double time.” He tells the platoon leader. They all take off at a run towards the core.
The MLF and Magneto are fighting their way across the factory floor. Amidst all the commotion, you can see the X-men sneaking into the building from the back. They are going to track down Kitty. After sneaking up on a few guards they get to a holding room where Kitty is strapped onto an operating table. Colossus breaks open the doors. Juggernaut is also there, being fitted with another mind-control collar by technicians. Juggernaut awakens when the X-men break in but Kitty is still unconscious; due to her smaller size, the knock-out gas has affected her more strongly. Juggernaut helps the X-men beat up security and get out of the lab. They fight furiously against mutant security teams and squads of Sentinels as they try to escape the compound. Storm unleashes lightning bolts to fry the Sentinels. Rogue sees how many Sentinels are filling the room and starts plowing through them. She yells out a great scream, tapping into more and more of her power as pummels down the giants. Colossus makes an impressed face: "not bad, kid. But save some for me!" He charges the field, pushing and throwing Sentinels against each other like a greek wrestler. Meanwhile, Gambit operates as quietly as a thief, employing well-placed, exploding cards to bring down security forces and distract the Sentinels while carrying an unconscious Kitty around on his back. He meets up with Rogue midbattle in one of the corners. "It's good to see you acting so...physical, belle Marie" he playfully calls up to her.
Magneto and the MLF arrive at the center of the building, where the Mastermold is housed. There are more Sentinels here, seemingly enough to overpower the mutant strike-force. The great Sentinel/supercomputer called Mastermold attacks using eyebeams and other weapons from his throne. In the bloodiest part of the battle, Trask and his security forces abruptly appear. They manage to bring down Rusty, the leader of the MLF team. Forearm and Skids are being backed into the corner by the combined Genoshan forces. As they are about to be over-run, Magneto yells out. "Enough!" He flexes his gift and sweeps up all the destroyed Sentinels. Like a puppet master, Magneto throws the corpses of Sentinels at Mastermold's frame, while using a cloud of parts like an asteroid field against the massive amount of artillery being fired at him! Magneto punches a Sentinel through Mastermold's mainframe core, igniting a blooming chain-reaction of destruction!
Forearm grabs Bolivar Trask, and the remaining MLF and Magneto escape the fiery central core. On their way out, they meet up with the X-men, who are fighting their way out from the other side of the building. “I would run if I were you,” says Magneto as he flies by in a rush. As the building collapses around them, The X-men take off behind Magneto. They are too slow, however; Magneto manages to clear the building before it falls right on the X-men. “A shame,” says Magneto, “and most of them had so much potential.” Sentinels are pouring out of the woods. The MLF make for the woods.
Magneto asks Tempo what her team is doing here. “What are you fighting for?”
“The strong,” she replies, returning Magneto’s stare icily. Magneto is taken aback, but he smiles anyway and decides to join the MLF. They take off together in a hail of destruction, as Genoshan forces swarm after them.
In the smoking wreckage of the factory, there is a slight movement. Kitty emerges from the ruins with Gambit and Rogue. They are holding each other’s hands to stay intangible. Kitty had regained consciousness at the last minute to phase all of their bodies before the wreckage could crush them! From another place, Colossus rises up, lifting up a large piece of the roof to reveal Storm, safe and sound beneath him. “Good job, Gold Team,” she says, as Colossus helps her to her feet.
Rogue has flown off but Gambit holds on to Kitty’s hand a moment longer. “I knew I would get to hold your hand before the day was through, ma chérie,” he whispers to her. She looks at him with a mixture of surprise and gratitude, blushing.
Juggernaut leads the X-men to a housing complex, where the mutant slaves are being held in concentration camp-like conditions. An electrified fence surrounds the complex and is being guarded by Sentinels, human security and guard-dogs. The X-men sneak into the individual buildings to grab the mutants inside and destroy their collars, thus freeing them from mind control. Together, the X-men and the freed mutants overrun the Sentinels and security forces. They all make their way to the Blackbird and take off into the smoke-filled skies over Genosha.
It’s morning back at Xavier’s mansion. Jean and Logan are still up, and drunk. To boot! They are sitting close, watching the sunrise and talking about old times. Jean remembers how Charles first took her on as his student, and mentions all the potential he saw in her. Logan agrees that the Professor was someone who always saw the best in people…he invited the vicious Wolverine into his own home, against the better judgment of more than a few others! Jean goes back and forth between moments of sweet nostalgia and crushing guilt, as the alcohol brings to the surface emotions buried since the funeral. When she begins to talk about Scott, it seems like she’s going to break down again.
It’s at this point that Logan takes her face in his hands. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years, it’s that you can’t live in yesterday. I may heal faster than the average guy, but all of us do have the power to heal inside us. Please, let’s not live in the past anymore, Jeannie. The X-men need us. It’s time for all of us to forgive, and be reborn. For your love…to be reborn.” This makes Jean lean towards Logan, with tears in her eyes. He closes the distance between them and kisses her, hard---as if to breathe life back into her broken spirit. For a moment, they are at peace in each other’s arms. They separate finally to dreamily stare at each other in the dawn-light.
Cut to Scott Summers’ viewpoint. He has journeyed long through the night. His clothes are dirty and torn. He is bleeding and scratched up, almost zombie-like, willing his legs to take another step, and another. At last, a marker announces that he is on the grounds of the Xavier Institute. He climbs wearily up the last hill as golden morning light bathes the landscape. He sees Jean and Logan sitting on the veranda and then, watches as they lean in close to embrace each other.
“Jean?” his voice cracks in a half-whispered, half-thought reaction.
Jean is sitting looking into Logan’s eyes, when her expression suddenly changes. “Scott?” she says, disbelieving her own telepathic powers. She turns her face towards the rising sun to see Scott Summers, casting a long shadow into the valley from the top of the hill.
“Get away from her, you [frick]er!” yells Scott uncharacteristically. He blasts Wolverine full on with his eyebeams, punching him into the wall, where the eyebeams hold him suspended for several seconds. Finally, Logan uses his claws to defend against Cyclops’ optic blasts, which makes him fall to the ground. He gets up in time to avoid taking another shot to the face from Cyclops, and then throws a lawn chair at him. Cyclops starts running at Wolverine, still blasting away and yelling. He shoots Wolvie with the biggest optic blast ever seen, sending him soaring parabolically over the roof. Then, Scott stumbles and falls down. He remains where he fell, not moving. Jean flies towards Scott. On the other side of the mansion, Logan drunkenly gets up, roasted and frustrated. Jean calls Scott’s name uncertainly as she tries to lift his head, but he has gone unconscious from all the effort and stress of the day.
Scott wakes up in the infirmary with Jean Grey, Bobby, Hank and Logan watching over him worriedly. They are overjoyed and ask him a million questions that he can't answer yet. Eventually, everybody but Jean leaves, as they all sense that the two need to talk. Scott is defensive and hurt by the sight of her and Logan together. “You’re the reason I came back, Jean! After everything we’ve been through, I still love you…we even had a child together, dammit!”
“Scott…I thought you were dead. I thought I had killed you. Even when I sensed something telling me that you might have survived, I was sure it was just the ghost of you, still haunting me…still torturing me for what I had done to you.”
“Do you love him? Are you and Logan…together?” asks Scott, his pain written all over his face.
“No. I don't know…I didn’t expect this! You must believe me: I never wanted to hurt you again, Scott!” she says, her voice breaking with emotion.
The MLF arrive with Trask and Magneto at their base in Nepal, in the heart of the Himalayan mountains. They throw Trask into a cell and bring Magneto before their leader, the mutant terrorist named Stryfe. Stryfe embraces Magneto as a fellow liberator, and congratulates him on making it out of Genosha alive. Magneto is guarded as he triess to figure out Stryfe and this evolving situation.
Transition between shots of people sitting in front of TV’s or computer screens. They are watching a video recently posted on one of the mutant internet boards. The video holds close on a man with a black bag over his head. Members of the X-men stand around him. Storm reads a prepared statement to the camera: “up to this point, we have been divided within our own ranks. But these attacks show us clearly who the real enemy to mutantkind is. No longer can we stand by, leaving our fate to corrupt politicians and greedy defense contractors! These humans will employ men like this--(at this point, Wolverine removes the bag to reveal an unwashed and frightened Bolivar Trask)--to control our people, and waste their precious gifts in a life of forced servitude! Make no mistake, we will not take this turn of events lying down. From this point on, anybody who causes a mutant to come to harm, in any way, will be on our list. Ask this one—You don't want to be on our list. Wolverine pops a single claw on one hand. Trask’s eyes go wide and he turns to the video camera. “Wait, it’s not—AAAAAAUGHHHHH!!!!!”
Wolverine wipes the bloody claw on Trask’s coat and throws his headless body to the floor.
Stryfe’s base of operations. The members of the X-men that we were just watching on TV throw Bolivar Trask’s body over the cliffs. They touch a button to turn off their shape-shifting technology, revealing that they are members of the MLF in disguise. Next to Stryfe’s table, Magneto looks on, impressed. He asks Stryfe how he’s managed to accrue so much advanced weaponry, and what his final plans are.
Stryfe tells Magneto to sit and starts to tell something of his story: born Nathan Summers, Stryfe is the love-child of Scott Summers and Jean Grey. Mr. Sinister, who had a long-standing interest in the Summers gene pool, disguised himself in order to kidnap Nathan as a boy. Their child had become deathly ill; faced with no other options, Scott and Jean had allowed Sinister to take their child to a future where he could be healed. Sinister cured Nathan and with his futuristic allies, manipulated the child's cellular structure to create an omega-level mutant. They trained him as a technological terrorist-warrior; Sinister was grooming Stryfe to be his lieutenant, and a leader of mutants during the coming race wars. However, Stryfe was too powerful and killed Sinister, hurling his body from the mountaintop into the sea (in fact, as we are aware, Sinister is still alive; he used his telepathic abilities to block Stryfe from detecting his thoughts and escaped into hiding after their battle).
Stryfe has vowed revenge next on Cyclops and Jean Grey, who he believes ultimately responsible for his tragic life. It was Stryfe who telepathically undid the blocks Professor X had put into Jean’s mind so that the Phoenix would destroy Jean Grey, Cyclops and the Professor, clearing the way for him to rise up as the new leader of mutankind. However, that plan failed when Rogue succeeded in banishing the Phoenix into outer space (see " How X3 Should Have Ended”). So, Stryfe next decided to attack Genosha. He had the MLF seek out and destroy the Sentinel factory tonight, the same night he knew that the X-men were going to be there. Being a telepath, he is aware of Sentinel factories already being built around the world. He knows that the humans are waiting for an excuse to attack, and will turn en masse against the X-men after an act of war such as this! “Already, they are getting ready to descend upon Xavier’s brood. All things are coming together as they should, now,” Stryfe says to Magneto enigmatically.
The X-men return from Genosha to discover Jean and Scott sitting in the infirmary in a charged silence. They explain what just happened--how they lost touch with Magneto but have brought Juggernaut and the other enslaved mutants back with them.
“Magneto? Juggernaut? What the hell?” exclaims Scott. The others try to explain that Magneto was working with them but Scott is having none of it. “Too many people know where we live. It’d be easy for any one of our enemies to attack the Institute again--especially now that you’ve pissed off the entire nation of Genosha! We have to go underground.” Scott jumps out of bed, seemingly falling back into his role as leader of the X-men. The others look on quizzically as he makes for the door. “Well…come on! We gotta get ready to move--now!”
Hank finally steps through the crowd and joins him. “I’ll organize our guests lately-from-Genosha, and see if they need any medical attention. Coming, Storm?”
“In a minute,” she replies, looking around, trying to take everything in. “Wait—where did Cain go?”
Camera is fixed on the garage door of the mansion. You can hear the muffled sounds of an engine revving up. A moment later, an Aston Martin bursts through the closed garage door: Juggernaut’s massive body is squeezed into the luxury car as he pushes the pedal to the metal and rides away in a cloud of dust, laughing to himself about how he finally made good on his escape.
The Xavier Institute. The midday sun shines bright, with not a cloud in the sky. Abruptly, all the bird-song stops. A noise like jet engines starts to grow in volume until, all of a sudden, a legion of Sentinels lands with a massive rumble. They break into teams and begin to search the grounds. They rip open the roof to look inside the mansion. They are too late: the Xavier Institute has already been abandoned.
At Stryfe’s hideout, Stryfe removes his fingers from his head and opens his eyes. He informs everyone that the Sentinels have failed. He starts yelling at his lieutenants to find the hiding place of the X-men. Everyone goes quiet midsentence, though. Simultaneously, they can all hear the voice of Jean Grey in their heads. She is reaching out to them, to all mutants, using Cerebro software that has been retrofitted into the Blackbird. She speaks about the growing threat to mutantkind that the Sentinels present, as well as the atrocities of the Genoshan government which her team witnessed. She gives instructions to a secret meeting place that is shielded from all sensors, mutant or human. “We have been set up as scapegoats, and so refuse to surrender our freedom. We will fight on for justice--for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children,” she ends the message.
“Their children, indeed!” sneers Stryfe. Still, he is overjoyed at his enemies giving up their location so easily: “this will be the perfect opportunity to at last destroy my wicked family, and take up my burden as the rightful leader of the mutant race.”
Magneto makes it known that he has had enough of Stryfe’s posturing: “Your manipulations have pushed our people to the edge…the X-men may be naïve, but at least they’re not delusional! While you’re play-acting at being a liberator just to further your infantile revenge fantasies, some of us have actual work to do!” he says dismissively. As he turns to leave, Stryfe gives the order for the MLF to fire upon Magneto. However, Magneto’s force field blocks their energy blasts. He turns back around with a smile. “You know, I recently lost my powers due to the mutant cure. Learning to wield the electromagnetic field once again, I finally began to understand the full magnitude of my gifts. Allow me to show you…comrades.”
Magneto propels himself forward at top speed to punch out Forearm with a fiery fist. The magnetic field shrieks and warps around him, tearing apart Forearm’s flesh. Magneto turns to the other MLF members. He closes his hand and all of their guns explode, spraying them with shards of metal and blinding them. Tempo slows down time in order for her and Stryfe to avoid the flying shards of metal. Stryfe gets up and uses his telekinetic abilities to throw boulders and debris at Magneto, as Tempo and android Zero attempt to flank him from the sides. Once Zero gets close to Magneto, he can breach his force-field and nullify his powers! Magneto decides to change tactics, swiftly retreating through the mouth of the cave.
A few seconds later, the cave starts to shake. The remaining MLF members rush to the entrance. Magneto is floating high above them, straining as he slowly raises both hands. Electromagnetic sparks fly off of his fingers. Suddenly, he tears the mountain that Stryfe has made his base of operations from its very roots! Water rushes into the void as Magneto holds the mountain aloft like a child’s toy.
“With Xavier gone, it falls upon me to protect the earth from madmen like you. There is only one leader of mutantkind! Take your damn place, Stryfe—amongst all the other rubble of the ages!”
Stryfe pushes his team back into the cave as Magneto smashes their mountain into the rest of the range, shattering it into fragments. The master of Magnetism watches the resulting rockslides for a moment before flying away in a rush; gravity seems to bend around him uncannily as he hurtles through the air.
We are in an undisclosed location, in a high-walled salt-mine far beneath the earth. A colorful band of mutants fills the great hall, with more entering every minute. Large groups of bald-headed Genoshan escapees talk excitedly, or just wait around. Cable and the members of X-force have already staked out a wall, and are happily comparing battle scars. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch keep to themselves, haughtily looking down their noses at their rowdy neighbors. And at the center of it all are the X-men, greeting and helping acclimate each of the new arrivals.
Scott comes over to Hank and Jean, leading a man a few years younger than himself. “Guys, may I introduce you to Alex, my little brother? He has been working undercover for our government, until a very short time ago.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Alex,” Jean says, extending her hand.
“Jean, right? I could tell from my brother’s descriptions who you were from all the way across the hall. He thinks very highly of you, you know.” Jean looks at Scott with surprise. Then, Havok sees Strong Guy across the way and excuses himself to go welcome him.
Jean turns towards her former lover. “You seem…different now. More open than you were before,” she says questioningly.
“Ya, I guess almost being killed by your mind-controlled girlfriend kind of forces you to work through your anger issues,” he replies.
Scott smiles almost sheepishly at her, a little bit of his old self suddenly shining through. Jean smiles back, hiding tears of joy with a small laugh. As they share this moment of renewed closeness, the camera zooms out to show the hall full of mutants, with the members of the X-men busily moving amongst them.
We are at the boundary between a vast emptiness and the arm of a new galaxy cluster. In the dark night, a bright, red star flares into existence. It starts to get bigger. Then you realize that it is actually getting closer. In time, the flapping of great wings becomes visible.
Cut to a Shi’ar sentry ship within the galaxy cluster. Various alien beings are looking at display screens and running along the deck of the massive star cruiser. The object can be seen approaching in a simulation on the 3D radar-screen. The officer watching the screen seems alarmed: “energy signature hails from the Milky Way galaxy. Power readings are beyond this machine’s measuring capacity! Inform Captain Vulcan right away--and advise that the creature will reach us within 30 Xisteks!
Captain Vulcan is in his quarters studying a desk full of space-charts. Upon hearing the news, Vulcan (AKA Gabriel Summers, the lost Summers brother, who was torn by the mad Emperor Corsair from the womb of Katherine Summers) turns from his studies. He is older than Scott, due to the age-acceleration process that the Shi’ar practice upon slaves. He strides swiftly to the large window facing the abyss. His face, marked with the scars and suffering of a lifetime of servitude, is filled with surprise, and the reflection of a growing fire. As we look out the window, the Phoenix approaches fast, strong, its great maw opening to enclose the camera.
SOUND OFF WITH YOUR THOUGHTS BELOW, AS WELL AS IDEAS FOR THE *NEXT* EXCITING EPISODE!
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