It's fight night! The X-Men battle it out with their mysterious new foes, The Children, right above the Xavier Institute! And when the dust clears, what decision does Rogue make that will shake the X-Men to their core?!
The Xavier Institute, where founding X-Man Henry “Hank” McCoy, aptly dubbed “Beast” is working in one of the med-labs. Recording an audio file, Hank remarks that the coroners office is stopping by to collect their John Doe at a little after Noon, however, in the meantime, his own pre-autopsy observations are as follows: the age of the man is approximately sixty, found dead of unknown causes outside the mansion gates earlier today. Beast adds that “John Doe” was seen walking immediately prior to that, although his initial inspection suggests that he died at least seven days ago.
The soft tissues substantially necrotized and blood coagulated - so how does a dead man walk again? Beast decides to examine the central nervous system, and is shocked, uttering his trademark ‘Oh my stars and garters!’ as he discovers growth in the central nervous system - post-mortem growth in both brain hemispheres! Beast exclaims that there are structures here he has never seen, when suddenly, a telepathic message from Scott “Cyclops” Summers, via his lover and teammate Emma “the White Queen” Frost declares that he needs everyone out on the lawn as they have a code-red! ‘Where would we be without the daily crisis?’ Hank remarks to himself.
Out the front of the mansion, Scott and Emma stand with their teammates Logan a.k.a. Wolverine and Piotr Rasputin a.k.a. Colossus. Several of the students are with them, while the Sentinel Squad and a handful of Office of National Emergency soldiers are on hand also - and everyone’s attention is turned to the giant ship that is floating in the sky above the X-Men’s home. The sultry White Queen tells Scott that, with their lives being as surreal and hallucinogenic as they are, it has been a while since she felt the actual need to do serious drugs. ‘So that’s obviously now what it appears to be, Scott’.
Cyclops tells Emma that, if this is indeed the Conquistador, then it means Rogue failed. Scott announces that he needs airborne reconnaissance, and the student Pixie asks him to pick her, while Julian Keller a.k.a. the telekinetic Hellion exclaims ‘No way! I’m combat ready!’. Wolverine suggests to Scott that they hold off for a bit and see what the “toy soldiers” can do, referring to the Sentinels that are making their way to the ship.
James “Rhodey” Rhodes, the former Avenger known as War Machine, and current combat leader of Sentinel Squad tells squad to deploy in fly-trap formation, while Lexington comes in from behind the ship so it wont have anywhere to run. But the Sentinel controller Slayton has trouble when he experiences clear-air turbulence. Rhodes copies that and notes that it gets stronger the closer they get to the ship - when suddenly all of them are forced to the ground.
Cyclops remarks that the ship has some kind of repulsor field, while Emma informs him that they are psi-shielded too, she cannot ready anything. Scott orders the students into the basement and to close the blast doors, before telling the X-Men to get into their battle stations and assume the worst!
Meanwhile, aboard the Conquistador, Rogue and her team of X-Men - Iceman, Cable, Cannonball, Mystique, Lady Mastermind, Karima Shapandar and Sabretooth, are being held prisoner by the Children of the Vault. The X-Men are unable to act because a strange woman in a red outfit with some sort of globe around her head holds them in stasis.
The grey-skinned Sangre claims that there is no malice here in what they do, in fact if anything, they act out of a kind of compassion. He tells the X-Men that, instead of lingering for a few generations in slow decline, the X-Men must all die now, quickly, almost painlessly. Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie turns to Rogue and asks if there is any point in asking why they can’t just live together. Sangre explains to Cannonball that the strong drive out the weak, but that it was never the plan.
Sangre explains that the Conquistador was designed to be a time-capsule - set to open only when global catastrophe finally erased humanity. The powerful Serafina informs the X-Men that the energies unleashed by M-Day released them early - so now they must eradicate both mutants and the humans. Rogue assures the Children of the Vault that the X-Men will not let them do that, and jokingly offers them Jersey City, ‘But that’s our final offer.
Sangre reminds Rogue how just five of the Children of the Vault hammered the X-Men into the ground and asks how she thinks she will prevail against his entire kindred. Rogue answers Sangre’s question by offering him one last chance to surrender, and warning him that after that it could get ugly. Sangre is annoyed, and tells Rogue that he did her the courtesy of explaining why they have to die, but empty wordplay bores him. He orders Serafina to charge up and fire. Serafina does as she is commanded, looking towards the sun for her power, she selects her target - the mansion and the area around it, which she intends to cauterise to a depth of ten meters.
Back on the ground, Emma remarks that this does not look good. Cyclops unleashes a powerful optic blast, but the shield surrounding the Conquistador absorbs everything. He turns to Wolverine and Colossus, so the armored Russian mutant lifts up the bar-brawling Canadian X-Man and tosses him to the sky in their traditional “Fastball Special”, while Wolverine suggests that their enemy might have to drop that shield before they can fire on the mansion. Wolverine slams against the side of the boat, but cannot drive his claws in to hold on - so he falls back down to the ground - hard. Gathering himself as shards of concrete fall from him, he mumbles ‘Guess that’d be a no’ before exclaiming that he hopes Rogue has a “plan B”.
On the Conquistador, Sangre asks Rogue is she would care to watch. Her back turned from Serafina and Sangre, Rogue replies ‘Reckon not’, to which Sangre replies is a pity, for he is always impressed by the sheer spectacle of the sun catcher, when suddenly, the sun catcher explodes, much to the horror of Sangre. ‘Looks like the solar power’s out. You got anything that works on diesel?’ Rogue asks smugly, before she reveals that the X-Men cheated, as it seemed like the thing to do.
Rogue looks towards her “mother” Raven Darkholme a.k.a. Mystique as the former villainess morphs out of Cable’s form, and Rogue remarks that Cable should take most of the credit. Raven admits to Rogue that she was beginning to feel the strain, but adds ‘Though it is always nice to play with the phallic symbols’ and fires several shots at Sangre. Holes now formed in his body, Sangre reveals that they have stored power in their suits, that this changes nothing, before calling out to his brothers and sisters.
The Children of the Vault leap into action as Sangre orders them to be quick and cold. ‘Show no mercy!’ he shouts. Rogue remarks that there is an obvious emphasis on the quick, because once their “batteries” run down, then they are nothing more than “John Q” citizens, so all the X-Men have to do is wait. ‘Now this - this is my kind of show!’ Victor “Sabretooth” Creed, a deadly villain bellows as he tears the head off one of the Children of the Vault.
Serafina introduces herself to new X-Men recruit Karima Shapandar, a former humanoid Sentinel, and Serafina informs her that she can talk to machines, and takes control of Karima’s weaponry, blasting at Mystique. Sabretooth comes up behind Serafina and remarks that there is something special about killing women, though he doesn’t know why that is. Serafina reveals to Creed that he has machines in his blood, very tiny ones, and forces him to the ground, her wires connecting to him as she mocks that there is something special about killing misogynists.
Elsewhere aboard the Conquistador, Regan Wyngarde a.k.a. the sultry Lady Mastermind is trapped in a room, ‘N-no! Please don’t!’ she exclaims to two of the Children of the Vault, one of whom is Aguja, the other an obese man. Aguja and the fat man unleash their powers upon Lady Mastermind, only for them to destroy part of the room. ‘Wow! Just look at that! Turns out I’m not really here. You must be seeing things!’ Regan exclaims as she stands in safety behind a pillar.
Also in the room is Fuego, and Regan remarks ‘And I’m guessing so is your pal with the smoking habit!’, and while Aguja and the fat one stand defenceless, Fuego sees them as Lady Mastermind and Cable, and unleashes a powerful burst of flames onto them, burning them to a crisp. ‘Can you say “Friendly fire”?’ Regan asks.
Back on the deck, Cannonball goes over to Serafina, and addresses her as “Sarah” and tells her to get away from Sabretooth, for although he is scum, he doesn’t deserve to die. ‘I keep telling you, Sam, it’s Serafina!’ the powerful woman replies. Serafina tells Cannonball that he should have run as far as he could from this fight, as he might have lived to father real children. ‘We lived together for twenty years!’ Sam exclaims. ‘Twenty minutes!’ Serafina corrects him. ‘I loved you!’ he replies. ‘Yes. Because I told you to!’ Serafina reminds him.
‘Then none of it mattered. None of it was real. Thanks…that’s all I needed to know!’ Sam exclaims, before picking Serafina up and blasting all around the skip at an extraordinarily fast pace, before slamming Serafina down hard into the deck. He then returns to his teammates, all battling furiously against the dozens of Children of the Vault.
Fuego battles Rogue and asks her if she is done. ‘Rejoice in your fires. I bathe in them. They feed me!’ Fuego exclaims as his flames engulf Rogue, until suddenly, his flame becomes diminished. Rogue is fine, despite Fuego claiming that he absorbed her. When ice begins to form on his body, he sees Bobby “Iceman” Drake and snarls ‘I killed you!’ The founding X-Man replies ‘Yeah? Well I’m returning the favor!’ and shoves a huge ice shard up through Fuego’s body.
Sangre drips like liquid metal into the control room, then reforms his body, admitting that he underestimated the X-Men, though he believes not fatally. He remarks that the Conquistador herself is a weapon and needs no outside power source - ‘Mass, momentum and thirteen thousand gallons of fuel should be enough to finish this!’.
The ship twists in the sky, knocking everyone off their feet as the Conquistador floats towards the mansion. Cannonball blasts down to the roof, then back up to the underside of the Conquistador, pushing it upwards with the help of the Sentinels. ‘Good to see you, pal. Ain’t inertia a real kick in the teeth?’ the driver of the Sentinel asks. Sam replies that he appreciates the assistance but that ‘Nothing that looks like you is a pal of mine!’
Serafina survived Cannonball’s assault and enters the control room, where Sangre is surprised that she left the battle. ‘As did you, my brother’ Serafina points out. Sangre informs her that he had to key in a ramming maneuver, adding that if the mansion is destroyed, the X-Men will be destroyed also. Serafina smirks and holds a gun up to Sangre, then fires bullet after bullet into his body, which reforms quickly. Sangre realizes that this is not Serafina and remarks that whoever this is, they should know that bullets can not harm him.
Mystique reveals herself, telling Sangre that that is rather muddy thinking for the “master race”, as not all bullets are slugs of metal. Raven explains to Sangre that those bullets are thermite, which, just as a by-product, turn water into hydrogen as they detonate. ‘Enjoy!’ Raven jokes before firing bullets at the window in the control room so she can make her exit, while Sangre calls out to his brothers and sisters, that he needs their help, while Mystique tells Rogue to get the team off the ship. Raven is forced off the ship thanks to Sangre’s body blowing up behind her, though she is rescued by Iceman on one of his ice-sleds. Raven smiles at Bobby as she thanks him. ‘Hey, don’t mention it’ Bobby replies.
Later. ‘It’s just hanging there in the sky!’ ‘We could sell tickets!’, ‘We may have to. Garbage men won’t touch!’ are the remarks that go round now that the Conquistador hangs over the Xavier Institute like a bad smell. Sabretooth goes over to Sam and asks him if he took out that “piece of skirt” just to save him. ‘Pretty much’ Sam replies, to which Creed offers to pay Sam back with some inside information: ‘First time you turn your back on me, you’re dead!’
Cyclops and Emma go over to Rogue and Scott admits to Rogue that she does know how to pick a team after all, and welcomes her home. Motioning to Rogue’s dirty costume, Emma adds ‘And the look is you, too’. ‘Thanks, Emma, sweet of you to notice’ Rogue replies sarcastically, before remarking that you get a whole different perspective from way up there in the clouds. Then she delivers a surprising announcement. ‘We’re not staying. We just came to pack our things!’.
Epilogue: The Jungles of Ecuador, in the old Sentinel factory. ‘Be silent now. Hear me speak. Sangre is dead. And our brothers and sisters. The X-Men killed them! But in his wisdom, Sangre foresaw what would happen if we lost this battle - he saw two possible outcomes: success, and outright destruction. The Conquistador burned and it took our secrets with him!’ exclaims the woman who held the X-Men in stasis on the Conquistador.
The mysterious woman remarks that, in the hold, they had placed three thousand animal carcasses, gene-sculpted to resemble human bodies, which the X-Men will see, smell, and believe are the bodies of the Children of the Vault. The woman remarks that if they could not destroy the X-Men, then the X-Men had to be convinced they had destroyed the Children of the Vault so that they would stop searching.
‘So that the great plan could continue at its own pace! We will be ready soon, and I promise you this…they will not see us coming!’ the mysterious woman walks up some stairs with Perro at her side, and dozens more Children of the Vault behind her!