Four of the original X-Men – Angel, Cyclops, Iceman and Marvel Girl - stand outside Xavier’s school with Professor X. Cyclops suggests they get started. Xavier asks for a moment. He is trying to reach him. Angel complains that he insists time doesn’t apply to him, but he realizes it applies to them, right? Iceman complains, he creeps him out. Always staring… with that eye. Marvel Girl chastises him - he is part of their family!
Cyclops grumbles, this is all a laugh to him. It comes all so easily to him… except understanding others. He understands more than he thinks, comes a voice from above.
Floating in the air is Nate Grey, dressed in an original X-Man uniform. He’s late, Cyclops points out. X-Man retorts that he is two minutes and twenty-six seconds late on his way from Brazil. He had to stop a bank robbers in Miami, he apologizes, but he has a responsibility to the world. Xavier corrects him, his responsibility lies with this group. Xavier lectures him that, in order to save everyone, he must first learn to be part of this team. In every story ever told, the hero doesn’t start as hero but has to learn to become one. And every story needs a villain, Nate retorts, but they are not talking about stories. He and Xavier, they could change the world in a day. But would that be real change? Xavier challenges.
Nate Grey, visibly growing older, is shocked at how far things have gone, as he looks though a fissure. He recalls the other Nate Grey told him a parable that has a second part. Unsatisfied with the answer of his deity, the boy asked a second question. Are the self, the body and divinity the entire world? To which the deity replied, yes, and that world lies in each of us.
Elsewhere, the rest of the X-Men (save for Jean Grey) have gathered and called Psylocke, as one of her teammates from Department X Moneta has been murdered. Psylocke explains that Moneta went rogue a few hours ago. They have no idea how this happened. She blames herself for this. She asks where Jean and X-Man are.
Magneto replies that they are fixing those fissures. They need to ask the right questions. What is this place? Why was she here? Psylocke replies it is a counterculture club. Typically reserved for beatniks, poets, musicians. Anyone who had anything to complain about. Possibly an X-tracts hideout. As far as they know, she was chasing a lead…
X-23, who has been sniffing the corpse, announces that she smells like Colossus. Storm points out that he has been missing since this morning. X-23 sniffs more and also smells En Sabah Nur. Nightcrawler curses. This is murder! They argue whether or not they should warn the public, while Nature Girl kneels down next to Moneta. She asks the bacteria inside the corpse for help and they show her what happened.
Moneta entered the club full of righteousness, questioning people if they had seen Colossus around. Annoyed with the lack of answers, she hijacked the stage and announced they were violating the guiding principles. She would turn a blind eye if they told her where they were hiding Piotr Rasputin.
Suddenly, En Saha Nur stands in front of the stage and everyone else retreats. He greets her coolly and observes she has nothing better to do than disturb people enjoying art. There are no exalted X-Men here. They are not welcome, and neither is she!
Department X walk where they want! she spits back. He sees passion in her eyes, he observes, mockingly calling Moneta mon amour. This is her final chance to choose love. She vows mutantkind will forget him the moment he is behind bars in the Danger Room. She’s never wanted to dig inside someone’s head more. Her fingers extend tendrils into his head. Let’s see what disgusting secrets he is hiding in there.
En Sabah Nur’s memory:
X-Man talks to him in his hulking Apocalypse body informing him “Apocalypse” no longer exists. He is only here to fulfil a role. He is En Sabah Nur and will lead a movement called the X-tracts. He will preach a message of love. He will be what he always was. A regressive force to oppose. A test. A villain. An Archetype in a story to give the heroes purpose.
Turning into the smaller En Sabah Nur form, the villain grunts that without him X-Man wouldn’t exist. Nate acknowledges that their existence is intertwined, but he was created to end the Apocalypse. He is just a boy who never was! En Sabah Nur groans. In this world, he is all that was, all that is! Nate boasts.
End of memory
Moneta breaks off contact. Shocked she shouts that’s impossible. En Sabah Nur angrily grabs her. She has seen the end of the morning light. And now she knows why it’s okay to love. He burrows a finger into her forehead.
Nature Girl wakes up and informs the others that En Sabah Nur killed Moneta. But they have bigger problems: The X-tracts, En Sabah Nur, love… it’s all some sort of play and Nate created all of it. Psylocke reads her mind and states she is honest. Kurt protests he knows Nate. He’s been there for him when he joined the X-Men. How dare she?!
The others begin discussing but X-23 interrupts them. She is sick of pretending nothing is wrong. She wants to show them something back at X-Sanctuary. Kurt isn’t interested but Magneto suggests calm and asks Psylocke to keep Department X out of the loop for now.
They return home. Nate keeps away sensing they are afraid. He decides that maybe it is time he learned from his tribe.
Magneto enters Jean’s home and asks her to wake up. She is confused when he tells her she has woken up to a world she will not recognize and to find the others in her living room. They give her permission to read their minds. It is a lot to take in. Did Nate have anything to do with Piot leaving? Jean asks. But they don’t know. Accusingly, she asks why she couldn’t read Magneto’s mind. Old habits, he replies.
X-23 opens her bag. She explains she has found those things hidden in her home. She believes someone lived there before her, but she remembers living there since the house was built. She shows them a big man’s outfit and several firearms. She bets X-Man has something to do with that. And she finds herself remembering things that never happened. Jean asks if she looked into a fissure. No, she remembers it. She remembers Logan alive…
Kurt asks if anyone has any idea who those things belong to. Jean suddenly remembers. His name was Lucas Bishop. Somehow, they have forgotten him. He was part of the team since almost the beginning. When she read their minds, there were gaps in their memories. Some moments were completely blank!
Jean tries to remember more. They were at war with Nate. She tried to help him but failed. Then there was an endless darkness, his presence all around. She felt terror then suddenly everything was perfect. There are two timelines in her mind. She can’t decipher which one is true. The only person powerful enough to do all of this is Nate.
Magneto catches her when she stumbles and asks if that means none of them are exactly who they think. It’s more complicated, Jean replies.
No, it’s not! X-23 insists. She was designed for this. She’s gonna kill him! Nightcrawler is reeling, considering how much he sacrificed for this. He asks the others to have faith. Laura refuses. Storm insists if they are going to face one of their own, they have to do it as team. Nature Girl muses they are wading through pathless woods. Then let them chart a path, Magneto announces. They need a plan.
X-Man floats in space, considering how often the X-Men sabotaged their own dreams. They are so scared. They are blind to their own story. They don’t know they have been here before. He decides to give them what they want, no more wiping minds. They deserve the truth.
He flies downward to Earth, musing the cycle must end and that once again he is two minutes twenty-six seconds late. He enters their HQ, looking like an old man. He apologizes for being late but he has a responsibility to the world.
Ignoring the plan, X-23 attacks him, claws unsheathed. Nature Girl and Nightcrawler follow up with attacks of their own. Please stop, Nate asks as the others join. Finally, he freezes them telekinetically in the air. He promises to tell the truth. As much as he can. He didn’t have much of a choice. If he hadn’t brought them here, none of them would have survived. He did his best to give them the story they deserved. He had to move quickly. After years of watching them fight all for their rights, they couldn’t see the sacrifices that had to be made. They’ve been blinded by hate and repetition. This is about proving a better tomorrow is possible. This world was built from a collective vision. One he drew from all of their minds.
Did he create this world? Jean asks. He didn’t just create it. It flows through him and he through it. He is this world.
“You can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up around them. It can’t last.”
Ray Bradbury - Fahrenheit 451