Mystique (Shapeshifter – Ruby Tuesday) – currently still in the shape of Jean Grey - and the “Dark Beast” (bestial biologist. The Midnight Rambler) - the sociopath Hank Mc Coy from another reality – both look in surprise and horror at the being that has materialized himself in front of them. Nathan Grey, X-Man (near omnipotent. Jumping Jack Flash).
Reaching out for “Jean,” Nate calls her “Mom.” It’s him, Nate! He’s trying to get home! She has to know… that man standing there, that’s not the real Henry Mc Coy. And he won’t suffer him to live!
Using the power he currently has at his disposal, Nate begins attacking McCoy. Mystique shouts “no!” Confused, Nate turns to her. He had her fooled? How is that even … possible? Why has she got psychic baffles up against him?
Mystique stalls, telling him the world has changed so much. He doesn’t know how much, does he? No, but, mom… he begins to protest. She interrupts him. She doesn’t even know if that’s the real him. She can’t trust what she sees. No yet. Please, tell her… all that’s been going on… all these people saying his name… what is that? She holds his shoulder.
He tried to stop anyone getting hurt, Nate replies. He needs to find a way—oh! He sinks down -- a way to be one person again. He extended too much energy. And he’s still using it up too fast, just being here. He begins to turn back to energy.
Mystique asks him to stay with her. He can’t make it this time, but, mom, he assures her, he’s really Nate. He will make it back. But until he does, don’t trust... With that, he disappears.
Thanks for her concern, McCoy remarks sarcastically. Helping him up, Mystique replies she just saved his life. An omega level mutant, McCoy muses, a living god, returning to the world of mortals. He doesn’t know about the Civil War, Mystique muses, the Skrulls, Osborn… And does she know what else is going to happen? McCoy asks. Right now? The power that the other two are feeding on has just cut out.
The “other two,” Omega (drains mutant powers. Tumbling Dice) and Mimic (mimics mutant powers, You can’t always get what you want): Both are high up in the air fighting each other with stolen mutant power that suddenly disappears, Cut off, Omega falls screaming. Mimic tries to catch him, but too late.
inventory of items destroyed by Omega: ‘3 memorial bandstand and sundial
And soon they are gathered at HAMMER HQ, addressed by Norman Osborn (our title star, we’ll get to that. A man of wealth and taste). Well, Norman muses, that worked out on the credit side. The town believed their story about an alien force possessing people. It took over Omega. He beat it. They’re going to build statues of them. Xavier, Summers, they lived for this moment, but he’s got it. But! To business! Who is this X-Man?
He’s from the same alternate reality as Dr McCoy. He styles himself as a mutant shaman identifying entirely with that cause. Which would normally make Norman keen to bring him onboard, however… precognition, telepathy, telekinesis, energy manipulation on a vast scale… a certain unpredictability… a certain wildness of thought… and a Summers, too… He could go one-on one with the Sentry which has always been how he judges who’s too dangerous to play on their team.
He slams their file on Nate Grey shut. He thinks this man’s dangerous extremism would make him set himself against the order they are building… in about a nanosecond. So the best way he can contribute to their cause is from inside the Omega machine… where his work would be highly satisfying.
New mission, ladies and gentlemen, work out where he’s next going to appear, stake it out and capture their first omega level threat.
Michael Pointer storms out and Mystique follows, asking him to wait. This is ridiculous, he huffs. Osborn wants them to do that? He’s got far too much faith in them. Well, Mystique points out he is out of his mind. But doesn’t he think X-Man is, well… impressive? Doesn’t he think he offers them all some new alternatives? Doing this gets them closer to him, to communicate with—Oh no, Michael withdraws. This is her testing his loyalty, doing that agent provocateur thing… and he doesn’t mean lingerie… Oh, there they go, mental picture—
Listen, outside of the missions he thinks she’d better just not talk to him, okay? He hurries away.
Later, Mystique goes to Mimic’s room to talk. Impressive, whatever, Cal shrugs as he gets himself a beer. What will be will be. Oh no, Mystique recalls. While he was mimicking X-Man’s power he said he saw the future. What he feared, what he “deserved”… No, no, he cries. She’s asking if he’ll keep it together in the mission? Of course he will. He doesn’t need McCoy to keep dosing him with that stuff – for which if he ever cares enough, he will hurt McCoy, by the way, no, he can go through the motions, to where he knows this is going. His future is only a problem for him. And that’s sll she cares about, right? Mystique looks at him concerned.
In McCoy’s lab, Beast thanks his frightened assistant Beaker and orders him to insert those electrodes he gave him later. So, he asks the team, how do they find a mental voice? His own psychic powers get a vague impression of him, Mimic remarks, not enough. They need a group of psychics, McCoy announces. HAMMER has gathered such a group, only, and he knows they will find this hard to believe coming from him, he find the way they go about things a little… extreme.
So, a little later at HAMMER psi-divison:
They are led through the rooms by Dr. Jarl, their leader. All of the psychics including Jarl are wearing purple robes adorned with odd symbols. Several of them crouch in the tunnels, meditating. Jarl explains that while Osborn handled the mutant and superhero problem, he gave him free rein to deal with the matter of PSI.
He tells Omega not to worry. None of these people are mutants. He wasn’t, Michael replies, then sheepishly admits that he was.
Jarl continues that he took former psychic supervillains, criminals, mystics, even fortune tellers and amateurs, and they said to them: “For those of you with powers, the free world is over. Let us do what true seekers have always done. Let us accept that truth. Let us embrace it. Let us find a new way to exist that goes beyond the individual.”
He leads them to their goal, a giant floating brain made up of psychics. Now what is it they want his brain to do?
Elsewhere, on a plane of swirling light and energy:
Nate is suddenly aware again. In the mindscape of humanity. He knows his name. He’s in great pain. But he embraces it. it will make him real. He knows something is wrong. In the waking world of physics and time. It feels like his mother’s in danger. So: everything that hurts is him. Everything that does not, is not. He was his people’s greatest hope. He will be again. He is coming back into the world and he will not give in.
Back in the PSI-division’s lab, McCoy examines one psychic woman standing a bit aside from the others. She is conscious, somewhere in there, but with no will of her own.
Mystique walks with Jarl and explains they want a scan of the entire human unconscious… Indeed? he asks with raised eyebrows. Interesting. He will focus his brain. McCoy leads the psychic girl away, seeing that she isn’t needed.
This is hell, Omega mutters. Why does he keep saying that? Mimic asks. Look at what’s in front of them, Omega orders, pointing at the “brain” that’s now glowing. They’ve taken something which used to be about science and adventure and magic and romance and made people submit to the point where it’s all about what this one guy wants. Is he talking about … Osborn? Mimic asks. What?
No! Omega replies. That’s just the government choosing someone to lead the project. If he doesn’t work out, they’ll appoint someone else. He means, it used to be Tony Stark, right? And who is he to judge what the democratic process does? Most of the time he’s drunk on mutant power. Driving under the influence. Making people laugh. “Look at the silly drunken man. I wonder if he’s about to kill someone…”
Again he points at the brain. This is hell and he’s in it. And he’s going to report this to Mr Osborn because he honestly thinks that he’ll do something to stop it. Yeah, that’s it. He’ll report it. If he remember! he adds in a sad small voice.
Dr. Jarl begins to focus the brain and in the unconscious Nate notices the psychic energy strand sent out. He grabs it.
Horrified, Jarls notices Nate’s taking power from his brain. All his power - and he cannot disconnect!
Nate pulls and Jarl passes out. As do all the psychics. The brain falls apart.
He drained them all, Mystique states. Can he do that? she wants to ask McCoy, to find he is no longer there. They run toward his lab. Mimic asks Mystique that she thinks X-Man could do it, doesn’t she? That he could stop her from being a walking bomb. Oh, suddenly he has curiosity about the future? she snaps. Yes, and isn’t that great, he replies sarcastically. It is she replies. Someone she cared for very much used to live under exactly the same burden he does now. She wishes she was here to give him lessons.
Omega hesitantly remarks they are in front of the right room. But what’s the smell? Like a butcher’s shop. With a bloodied labcoat, McCoy peers out and tells them to either stand there and continue their soap opera or come in. Don’t tell him what’s going on. He knows better than they do. That’s why he came here. Mind the… pieces of human, he tells them.
The psychic’s corpse lies discarded on the ground of the bloodstained lab. Watch this, he orders them, pointing to the brain he’s keeping alive. Mystique orders Mimic and Omega to be quiet before they can say anything. It was just a sapiens sapiens.
McCoy explains he wanted to watch what was happening from the inside of the human unconscious and he needed a psychic’s brain to do it. He warns them it makes disturbing viewing.
As the brain is activated, they see the view from the unconscious on a screen. Nate sees everything that happened recently. What have they done? he asks seeing the events of the Superhero Civil War and World War Hulk… the Skrull Invasion. What have they done?!
…And finally Osborn’s rise to power… his Avengers and Thunderbolts… his fighting the X-Men… his own team of X-Men… Osborn standing there, smirking. What have you done?! a furious Nate Grey snarls.