Having barely survived their first mission as a team, Rogue’s squad immediately find themselves up against another new mysterious threat! What does the man called Pan want with the X-Men, and what is he willing to do to get it?!
Inside a dimly lit office in a high-rise building, a man stands in the shadows and remarks that he was beginning to think that they have over estimated “them”. ‘Pan! You startled me!’ exclaims a woman as she turns to the man called Pan. Pan remarks that at last they are moving, to which the woman tells Pan that they shouldn’t get their hopes up, as it has been a week since they raided the hospital. The woman adds that the X-Men are chasing something, ‘But it might not be you’ she tells Pan.
Pan addresses the woman as Turlow and mutters ‘Nonsense’ before asking her if she has backtracked their computer searches. Turlow replies that she has and that they cracked the discs very quickly, but that they are assuming a lot here. Pan replies that they are assuming that one of their American associates - Goynes, or Stuart - will crack. ‘That’s a near certainty’. Turlow asks what would happen if it isn’t “her” that comes - what if it is one of the other teams? ‘We break them down for parts. And throw out another hook!’ Pan exclaims.
Elsewhere, another dimly lit place, this time a bar, where a busty blonde woman is having a drinking competition with a man, while a dozen or so others watch and egg them on. The woman exclaims that she beat him by a nose. ‘That was incredible’ mumbles the slurring man. The blonde woman tells the bar tender to set up another round, this one’s on her. A friend of the man called “Stag” exclaims ‘You got beat by a girl! Her liver’s what, half the size of yours?’
The woman exclaims that, truth of the matter is, there was only ever one man who could beat her at this game - Calvin Goynes. ‘A hell of a drinker and a hell of a lover!’ some people in the bar turn to a handsome blond man and one of them shouts ‘Hey, Calvin! You never told us you was a love machine!’ Confused, Calvin exclaims that he doesn’t know - until he realizes what is going on. ‘Oh no…’ he utters, before rushing away.
The blonde woman leaps over the table, ‘Thanks, boys. It’s been fun!’ she exclaims before revealing her true identity as she calls out and asks if Karima is listening, that she has found Calvin and gives Karima the directions Calvin is heading in. Stag mumbles ‘Wait a second, you made us finger a friend?’ and angrily calls Lady Mastermind “Baby doll” and tells her that she is going to bleed. With her illusion gone, Regan Wyngarde stands before them in her X-Men costume and asks the men how they are at jungle warfare, and using her powers, makes the men believe that they are in a jungle with a tiger in front of them.
Regan begins attacking the men as she explains to them that that it is just an illusion - like the illusion that she drank all that liquor and that she paid for it with real money. ‘But hey, whatever gets the job done, right?’. After disposing of the men, Lady Mastermind rushes from the bar, using the X-Men’s communication devices to contact her teammate Karima Shapandar, who is flying overhead, Regan informs Karima that she ran into a little trouble and lost the rabbit. Regan calls Karima “Cybergirl” and gives her the location of Goynes.
‘Mastermind, my name is Karima Shapandar or Omega Sentinel. Not Cybergirl!’ Karima replies, before announcing that Goynes is in her sights, and radioing to Rogue, informing her that Goynes is crossing the lot up ahead of she and Iceman. Karima informs Rogue of where the gate is and advises her to take a right turn. Rogue runs along, with Bobby “Iceman” Drake following her on an ice-sled, and tells Karima not to worry, as the gate is right here - well, it is after she uses her flame powers to rip through the fence.
The four X-Men converge in the lot and Rogue grabs Calvin Goynes, telling him that they would like to talk about his last job at the Fordyce Clinic. ‘I sure hope you’re in a chatty mood!’ she exclaims.
Meanwhile, on the Conquistador, Westchester County, at an elevation of 800 Feet, high above the Xavier Institute. Nathan Summers a.k.a. Cable tells the X-Men’s leader Scott “Cyclops” Summers that he will be down in time for Beast’s meeting, as he and Cannonball are just finishing up here. Scott tells his sort-of-son that he is doing an amazing job here, as the last time he looked, the Conquistador was a burned out hulk. ‘With the combined resources of the X-Men, anything is possible’ Cable replies.
Scott remarks that, to be honest, he is amazed that the Office of National emergency are letting Rogue’s squad take the Conquistador. Cable explains that Mystique still has some contacts in the Federal Government and she called in a favor or two, adding that the O*N*E* are happy so long as they disarm the Conquistador and keep it out of U.S. airspace. Scott admits that is where he no longer understands, and asks why Rogue feels the need to take her squad away from the Xavier Institute. ‘It doesn’t make any sense. Now, of all times, we need to stick together!’
Cable assures Scott that it is not his decision, nor his team, and adds that he is only visiting, before pointing out that Rogue feels with the Sentinels here that there isn’t much freedom of action. Scott assures Cable that they will deal with the Sentinels when the time comes, to which Cable points out that, until then, the O*N*E* are monitoring the X-Men’s every move, so Rogue feels she will be more useful to the X-Men as a whole as a free agent.
Scott decides that perhaps it is for the best and points out that Sabretooth can stay here in their custody, which means he will not pose a risk to the students. Scott then turns to Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie and asks him if he is going along with this. Sam tells Scott that, honestly, it will be a relief for him, as since his brother died, this place has got too many memories for him. ‘Every time I walk through the door it’s like stepping on his grave’.
Scott tells Cannonball that Jay’s death took a piece out of them all. ‘Kind of you to say so’ Sam replies, to which Scott remarks that it makes it more important to keep faith with what Icarus died for. Sam tells Scott that each of them has their own way of doing that. ‘And Rogues, well, let’s just say it’s different from yours’.
‘Yeah! Do it! Scorch the scumbag! It’s five past payback time!’ Regan exclaims to Rogue who holds Calvin by the shirt and threatens him with a flame-ball in her hand. Iceman and Karima stand nearby also as Rogue informs Calvin that the natives are getting restless, and that they pulled his name and part of his address off a database that they found at the Fordyce Clinic, reminding him that the Fordyce Clinic was dissecting mutants on behalf of someone known as Pan. ‘I’d sure love for you to tell us why!’
Wide-eyed, Calvin replies that he can’t, ‘You don’t know what he’s like!’ Calvin exclaims before informing the X-Men that they closed up shop after M-Day. Calvin claims that he never did any of the cutting, just gene splicing from prepared samples. Karima takes hold of Calvin while Rogue removes on of her gloves, warning Calvin that the trail is going cold and as they are in kind of a hurry, this is his last chance. Calvin shouts that they can’t let her touch him. ‘You’re super heroes! You have to play by the rules or you’ll lose your licenses!’ ‘There are rules? Shoot. I wish somebody had told me that!’ Rogue touches Calvin Goynes, and his memories become hers.
In Flashback / Calvin Goyne’s memory:
‘No, wait, I’m still missing something. You’d infect the mutants - the subjects - with this virus?’ Calvin asks a man sitting before him. The man replies that he actually intends to infect himself with Strain 87, which is the whole point, and asks Calvin if he has heard of Mary Mallon. Calvin replies that he hasn’t, to which the other man informs him that Mary Mallon is the original Typhoid Mary. He explains that Typhoid Mary was a carrier of the S. Typhi virus and gave it to everyone that she touched. The man explains that he plans to be Typhoid Mary in reverse, and if the treatment works, he will give it to Calvin also.
‘So will I need a VISA?’ Calvin asks. The other man replies that he can come and go by Sea Eagle, so it will be an easy commute. Calvin calls the other man Doctor Palance, and tells him that he can’t wait, as what he is doing here is incredible and totally unique. Dr. Palance replies ‘Not totally’, and that inspiration comes from the strangest sources. ‘Remind me to tell you about it someday!’ he adds.
Present / Reality:
‘Well that’s a hell of a coincidence’ Rogue mutters as Goynes falls to the ground. ‘Anything useful?’ Iceman asks his team-leader. Rogue announces that she has found out who Pan is - ‘He’s Richard Palance!’ Bobby asks Rogue if she means the geneticist who used to be a friend of Professor Xavier’s. Rogue replies that Palance was more like a colleague of Xavier’s and reveals that she has met him once, way back, Professor X consulted with him on her “condition” when she first joined the X-Men. ‘Anything else?’ Bobby asks.
Rogue puts her gloves back on and informs her team that Goynes has got holes in his memory - big, ragged-edged ones, but that there is something called Sea Eagle. She repeats what she heard in her head - “You’ll come and go via Sea Eagle”. Rogue informs her team that she has a location over the East River and suggests they go take a look. As the team begins to take their leave, Karima asks Regan what she is doing. Kneeling beside Goynes, Lady Mastermind replies ‘Nothing’ before remarking that she is placing a few nasties way down in Goynes’ brain stem, reminding Karima that he cut pieces out of both of them. ‘Sweet dreams, Calvin. Like, never’ Lady Mastermind remarks to the unconscious Calvin as she walks away from him.
Back at the Xavier Institute, Cable, Cannonball, Cyclops, Emma “the White Queen” Frost and Dr. Henry McCoy a.k.a. the Beast have all gathered, and Henry informs his teammates that he has collated all the evidence they have managed to scrape together. ‘I’m hoping maybe one of you can tell me whether it adds up to a threat or a bad joke!’ Beast continues, remarking that a man walks two hundred miles to visit them and falls down right outside the front gates, dead. Beast reveals that after examining the man, he discovers eight days worth of organic decay. ‘He was dead when he started walking. That’s the punch line’.
Sam asks if they know who the man is, to which Beast replies that, the short answer is, he was nobody. ‘Name: Paul Brunner, profession: civil engineer’. Beast adds that Brunner lived in Hagerstown, where he was hit by a truck last Saturday and pronounced dead - ‘Then he got up and walked away!’ Cable remarks that this is very Twilight Zone before asking why it is the X-Men’s problem. Hank tells Cable that he is glad he asked, before turning to Emma and asking for a virtual environment, ‘You never know who’s listening in these days!’
Thanks to Emma’s powers, the quintet appear to be standing in Brunner’s brain, as Hank points out the interiors. ‘Nice. Roomy’. Emma jokes. ‘And recently redecorated!’ Hank points out, motioning to where some structures have no counterparts in the normal human nervous system. Beast motions to the ventromedial lobe, explaining that it controls emotion and reveals that Brunner’s had swollen to four times its normal size. Cable asks if they are talking about a mutation, to which Beast replies that Brunner’s DNA was homo-sapien, but his educated guess is that something hitched a ride in Brunner’s brain and moved all the “furniture” around until it felt comfortable.
Beast reiterates that Brunner walked here, the “parasite” got out and Brunner’s body fell down. ‘So ideally, I’d like to know two things. Where did this thing come from in the first place? And where is it now?’
Elsewhere, a warehouse behind a wire fence with a dirty old sign that says “Sea Eagle East” on it. A man in a lab coat carries some computer equipment and remarks that this is absurd leaving all this equipment behind. Several henchmen-like men are pouring oil everywhere, while another tells the man in the lab coat, Doctor Stuart, that he has to do what he is told, they all do. ‘But the waste! It’s criminal!’ the doctor exclaims. ‘Pan says what goes. Pan says what stays!’ the man exclaims, before ordering everyone to back off, as when he drops the match, this place is going to go up like - ‘Wait!’ someone shouts, interrupting the other man.
‘Wait for what, Kochanski?’ the senior henchman asks, pointing out that the place is all primed and ready. ‘I know!’ Kochanski replies, before putting out the match that the commanding officer lit. ‘Change of plan!’ Kochanski exclaims, to which the other man asks him what he thinks he is doing. ’Change of name, too!’ Kochanski exclaims as he kicks the other man in the stomach, before slamming his head to the ground. ’Mine’s Mystique!’ “Kochanski” announces, revealing herself as the shape shifting X-Woman.
The other henchmen race to attack Mystique, when Iceman arrives on an ice-sled. ‘This looks like a job for the X-Men!’ he shouts. ‘Cue music and titles! He jokes as he goes about covering the men in ice. Mystique returns to her default blue-skinned, red-haired form as she tells Iceman that one of the first-year students could have taken this opposition. ‘Whoever Pan is, he can afford better help!’
Rogue, Lady Mastermind and Karima join the “party” and Rogue exclaims that back at the Fordyce Clinic, the henchmen fought the X-Men almost to a standstill, so she doesn’t mind if it goes down a little easier this time. Iceman asks Rogue what it is they are looking for, to which Rogue replies that they are looking for locations, for if Pan is holding other mutants, they have to find out where, and if they can find out where he is operating out of, then that’s a bonus.
Lady Mastermind suddenly kicks one of the henchmen hard in the face, so hard that blood pours from his mouth. ‘What? He moved!’ Regan exclaims. Rogue tells the rest of the team to go inside, as she wants to have a little talk with Lady Mastermind. Mystique, Iceman and Karima walk away as Rogue asked them to, and Rogue turns to Regan, ‘I’m giving you the benefit of a whole lot of doubts’ she tells her. ‘So? You looking for gratitude?’ Regan replies. ‘Not hardly’ Rogue snaps back, before telling the daughter of one of the X-Men’s deceased enemies that she just wants to get a couple of things straight.
Firstly, Rogue reminds Lady Mastermind that she is only here because of her personal stake in this, and secondly, she is only wearing that uniform because her wardrobe amounted to one white sheet. Lady Mastermind stands her ground and doesn’t look at Rogue while she is being told that while wearing the uniform, she must behave like an X-Man. ‘Or so help me I will rip it off your back and you’ll walk home naked!’ ‘Like to see you try, girl!’ Regan mutters as Rogue goes to join the others.
After a moment, Lady Mastermind joins them too, and Rogue orders everyone to spread out, as they have a lot of ground to cover. Iceman suggests that they don’t turn the lights on, as this whole place stinks of kerosene. ‘You look better in subdued lighting, anyway’ Mystique tells him. ‘Yeah, I get that a lot!’ Iceman mumbles. Raven picks up a file containing a bill of landing and some customs dockets. ‘They had their cover nailed down tight!’ she points out.
Rogue and Karima approach some strange machinery or equipment and Rogue asks Karima if she has any guesses as to what this might be. Karima replies that she is reading higher temperature and humidity on the far side of the arch, ‘It’s almost certainly a teleport gate!’ Suddenly, Rogue exclaims that they have been suckered. ‘What do you mean? Karima asks. Rogue points out that if they had a teleportation device, why would they be leaving in a truck? She quickly asks Karima to shut it down, but it’s too late, as several deformed creatures appear.
‘Plague dogs…you’re off the leash!’ one of the fleshy creatures exclaims. Another of the creatures warns Rogue that she cannot use her fire powers unless she wants to burn her friends. ‘You think I’m gonna be needing them sugah? Seriously?’ Rogue asks as she punches the creature, only to her horror, she finds herself caught in its fleshy being. ‘Seriously - we had you from the moment you walked in here!’ the creature exclaims.
‘X-Men! We need support! This is an ambush!’ Karima shouts as she unleashes her powers on more of the creatures, only to get taken down herself. The creature, who is addressed as Lupus tells Rogue that her powers wont work on them because they are too far from the human template now. Another of the creatures informs Lupus that more of the X-Men are coming, to which Lupus remarks that they will come too late, as they have got who they need now. He orders the beacon to be triggered, and the other three race onto the scene, Lupus and the other creatures teleport away with Rogue and Karima.
Elsewhere, Rogue lies on the floor and regains consciousness when a voice above her exclaims ‘Such a pleasure to see you again, Rogue - although much has changed since we last met!’ Rogue sits up and sees Dr. Palance standing before her, remarking that a pandemic is a disease that wipes out civilizations. ‘My aims are modest - but for you, the end will be the same result!’