Two Days Ago:
The Arbor Magna Hatchery, where Professor Charles Xavier looks out over the hatchery, when suddenly, a fist smashes through one of the many resurrection eggs placed about the Hatchery, and Manuel de la Rocha emerges, dragging his naked body from the gunk of the egg, he groans, then swears '$%#&! Where the $%&* am I?' Xavier stands before him and tells him to take it easy as he asks Empath what his name is. 'What's your name?' Empath snaps in response, pulling away from Xavier, who had put his hand on Empath's face. 'Keep your #$%& hands off me!' Empath snarls. 'All right. We're not doing that, then' Charles frowns, some of the gunk from the egg thrown at his Cerebro helmet. Xavier turns to Hope Summers and asks her if she will finish up here, as he senses a visitor.
Hope walks over to Empath who is sitting on part of the large tree in the middle of the Hatchery.
'Are you gonna stand there like an idiot, or are you gonna tell me how I died? All I remember is getting on a transport to Nebraska' Empath announces. Hope explains to him that is the last time that Cerebro backed him up. Hands on hips, she informs him that she doesn't know what happened after that because she didn't ask – because she truly doesn't care. Empath scratches his head and snaps 'Pretty $#%& system you have here, and you're terrible at your job'. Hope points out that they just brought him back to life, and asks if it would kill him to show a little gratitude. 'We'll never know' Empath mutters.
Empath stands up, naked and looks out around the Hatchery. 'My god. I’m tapping out' Hope mutters as she turns and walks away. 'Hey! Where's the crowd of fawning idiots? Aren't they gonna shout my name?' Empath asks. 'We were thinking you should just go out the back' Hope tells him. 'Whatever' Empath mutters, before he spits on the ground. 'Come on! This is a sterile environment!' Hope shouts. 'Hatch someone who gives a $#%&' Empath responds casually.
The Quiet Council have gathered at their meeting place in the Grove. Present are Nightcrawler, Kate Pryde, Emma Frost, Sebastian Shaw, Mystique, Exodus, Mr Sinister, Magneto and Xavier, while Cypher sits in a tree, observing. Xavier stands up to address the Council. He reminds them that Apocalypse has been mortally wounded, the External Gate is sealed and Rockslide's mutilation is undoing the safety net of resurrection. 'It's hard to believe that so much has gone so wrong at once' Xavier utters. 'There are great forces at work here. Krakoa bends' Exodus remarks, while Nightcrawler points out that the Contest of Swords is compelling to their people, as evidenced by the Council members not in attendance. 'As we stand against the tournament, so we lose more than we gain?' Nightcrawler asks. 'Yes. What good is the Council if we sit atop a fractured state?' Emma Frost asks, while Kate Pryde wonders if they should be more worried that so many mutants are entering a life or death stabbing tournament.
'Don't get me wrong. I like sitting around acting fancy as much as the next guy – unless the next guy is Sebastian Shaw – but maybe we should do something?' Kate remarks.
Sinister stands up and exclaims 'Let's have everyone's attention on me, please!' He claims that young Katherine's words have touched him. He swishes his body about, and his tassels brush up against Exodus. 'Pthew! Watch your tassels, buffoon' Exodus exclaims. 'Plumage, you phillistine' Sinister snarls, before moving into the center of the meeting tables, where he declares that the hordes of both Krakoa and Arakko travel their globes, collecting swords for the privilege of dancing into a meat grinder. 'Really no need to stand -' Mystique begins, to which Sinister looks at her and remarks 'Let's raise our hand if we have something to say, dear'.
Sinister then suggests that they could deny the Arakkii that privilege and suggests that the Council let his Hellions do what they do best – lie, cheat and steal until all of Arakko's swords are theirs. 'How would they challenge us then?' he asks. 'Force a forfeit' Emma muses. 'You see? Emma loves it!' Sinister points out. 'Though someone should tell her face' he adds, before telling the Council that they can win without killing a drop of Krakoan blood. 'I don't need the weird kid who smells like milk to tell me Krakoa likes that' Sinister adds, before shouting 'GET YOUR JAW OFF THE FLOOR, YOU BIG BEAUTIFUL ISLAND!' But Cypher tells Krakoa to ignore Sinister. 'Shall we vote?' Sinister asks the Council.
Charles Xavier states that he will not support a plan that sends more mutants to Otherworld – not while they can't be safely resurrected. Magneto reports that he agrees, but that the Council still rules. 'So yes, a vote. Five hands to pass' Magneto adds, before asking 'All in favor of Sinister's plan?' Sebastian Shaw raises a hand, while Xavier, Nightcrawler and Magneto do not. Kate also keeps her hands down, while Emma, Exodus, Mystique and Sinister all raise theirs.
'Compassion and reason win!' Sinister declares, suggesting that they may yet end this nightmare before the slaughter comes. 'It's settled, then. The Hellions march into Arakko to end the tournament before it starts, the fearless Mr Sinister leading the way' Exodus announces. 'Was that part of the plan?' Sinister asks, glancing to Exodus. 'A task of this magnitude isn't suitable for grunts, surely' Exodus points out, adding that the Hellions need their leader – they need Mr Sinister. 'Show of hands?' Exodus asks.
'Wait... this is madness. The man doesn't know the difference between tassels and – THE FLOOR WAS MINE, BENNET!' Sinister exclaims, while Emma, Shaw, Mystique and Exodus all raise their hands. 'Four hands. Oh, thank sweet god' Sinister utters, before adding 'That's that. Where were we? Oh, right – I'll need my full team. Including Havok'. Sinister reports that he heard about Havok's little trip to Otherworld. 'Following your daughter around like a puppy dog, no doubt. I'm beginning to think she's a bad influence, tsk tsk' Sinister smirks at Magneto, who frowns back at Sinister. 'I don't want to get into how she was raised, but I'd thank you to keep her away from my boy' Sinister adds. Magneto frowns and announces that he would like to change his vote. 'Oh, I don't think you can -' Sinister begins, but Magneto tells Sinister that the Council does not lead from the safety of this chamber, and informs him that it is time to get his hands dirty. 'Yes, but -' Sinister starts to protest, while Exodus declares that it is final, and suggests to Sinister that he leave soon. 'The fate of Krakoa is in your hands' Exodus remarks, while Sinister narrows his blood-red eyes.
At the Hellions Staging Theater a.k.a. Purgatory, where Alex Summers a.k..a Havok hangs back from the other Hellions, leaning against a wall with his arms folded, he listens as Kwannon a.k.a. Psylocke informs John Greycrow, Kyle Gibney a.k.a. Wild Child, and the mysterious Nanny and Orphan Maker, who is also called Peter, that the Council has asked them to use their gifts to win the tournament before it begins, and in doing so, save Krakoa.
'Yay! You hear that, Peter? You're going to be a hero!' Nanny exclaims. But Kwannon announces that it is a mission of betrayal that breaks every rule set forth by Saturnyne, as well as all standards of honor. 'Oooh. Should have let you finish' Nanny realizes. Kwannon informs the others that if they are found out at any point, then it could mean the end of the world. 'Cool!' Orphan Maker exclaims.
'I wish that were all the bad news' Havok calls out as he walks over to the table, where Greycrow has been cleaning one of his weapons, and a bored-looking Wild Child sits next to Kwannon. Havok informs the group that Rockslide's backup was corrupted when he died in Otherworld, so resurrections have been canceled until they can figure out what has happened. 'That means if you die out there you might not come back, and if you do, you won't be the same' Havok explains. He then turns to Greycrow and tells him that he will be jazzed to know Empath snuck in under the wire, and will be joining the group. 'But Grey-Cow shot him in the head. Boom! I saw it! Then his body got blown up. And burned too, probably. How'd they fix him?' Orphan Maker asks, scratching his helmet. 'Ain't no fixing that. GreyCROW, by the way' Scalphunter remarks. Nanny tells Orphan Maker that they put Empath's soul in a new body, like the song she sings him: 'Go to sleep, Orphan Maker, you'll wake up to cake and tea...' Nanny starts to sing, putting her arms around Orphan Maker to comfort him.
Havok interrupts Nanny's singing and tells the others that it seems like they are getting in the weeds here. Greycrow continues working on his gun and declares 'I'll save you the song, kid. Empath died, but then another one woke up. They say it's the same one, and no one can tell the difference, so what does it matter?' Orphan Maker looks up and asks if Empath is still dead, to which Greycrow looks across the table and replies 'From where the Empath I shot is standing, yeah. From where the Empath that's alive is standing, no'. He explains that it comes down to whose opinion is more important – a living person who can breathe and talk, or a corpse that can't say #$%& about #$%&. 'Oh, the language is a shame' Nanny mumbles, while Greycrow explains that those are just his thoughts on the subject. 'Thanks for that, John' Havok frowns, before telling everyone that no one comes back if they die in Otherworld. 'We all get that?' he asks – but no one answers.
Meanwhile, at Bar Sinister, where Sinister leans against a counter, a projection of two gateways displayed before him. He exclaims 'One last time. And listen because I'm getting tired of talking to myself'. He announces that they enter through the Avalon gate, gain the favor of King Jamie, pass under the Starlight Citadel, trek through Dryador and enter Arakko – where the prize is contained. 'Any questions?' he asks, turning to another Sinister who is standing nearby, looking bored. This second Sinister does not have the tassels – or, rather, plumage – and explains that he is still thawing and needs to get his bearings, but it seems like a perfectly acceptable use of their time, 'All right. Then what are we waiting for?' Sinister asks. 'Oh, I'm sorry. You have my permission to go' the second Sinister replies, motioning to the doorway.
'I – I'M NOT GOING!' Sinister snaps. 'For what reason do you think you were thawed out in the first place?' he asks. 'Not for a SUICIDE MISSION, I JUST GOT HERE!' the second Sinister retorts, to which Sinister tells him that if he doesn't want to be a team player, he can go back to the ice. The second Sinister backs down a corridor lined with large crystals containing more duplicate bodies, and replies 'Yes, I could do that. Or I could tell our new friends about the illegal clone farm in our basement!' he suggests. 'You threaten me with your trollop's tongue?' Sinister asks. 'That's it. Get in the incinerator. NOW!' he exclaims. 'And waste this young and supple body? You go, Grandpa!' the second Sinister declares. 'Do not push me. I will come at you like a tornado of teeth and claw -' Sinister warns his double, who tells him that he loves it, and that he will go full primate. 'Do me a favor and lightly pepper yourself before I eat your face' he asks. Sinister pauses and admits that he can't say that sounds very fun at all. 'Don't love it either' the second Sinister agrees. 'The noble contest, then?' Sinister asks. 'Best two out of three?' the second Sinister suggests. 'I said the noble contest, didn't I?' Sinister mutters. They hold out a hand and hit their hand with the fist of their other hand, to start a game of rock, paper, scissors. 'It begins' Sinister announces, while the second Sinister declares that the winner keeps the cape.
Soon, at the Avalon Gate:
'I'm back, piggies!' Empath shouts as he walks towards his teammates, arms outstretched. 'Nothing? Fine. %&^# you too' Empath mutters when no one acknowledges his return. Havok, Orphan Maker and Greycrow stand near the gate, while Kwannon, Wild Child and Orphan Maker stand opposite them. Empath starts pointing at the others and asks 'Someone wanna tell me which of you clowns got me killed last time? I can't remember'. Kwannon looks unimpressed as she tells Empath that he should remember Greycrow's warning not to use his powers to manipulate the team – that is the important thing to remember. 'Hee hee' Wild Child grins. Empath goes over to Greycrow and asks 'Did you – did you SHOOT ME IN THE HEAD?' to which Greycrow, without turning to Empath, confesses to doing so, and warns Empath that he will do it again – and will cut him in half.
'Places! Places, everyone!' Sinister calls out as he approaches the group, his tassels dragging behind him through the long grass. Sinister tells them that he doesn't have to tell them all about the journey of a million steps – and the miles it involves – and the importance of the first mile of steps – or something. 'The speech is out of the way. Everyone up to speed? Let's get moving' Sinister declares. Kwannon looks at Sinister and asks him if he is coming with them. “Coming with you” Sinister quotes. 'Cute way to put it. No, I'll be leading you into enemy territory' Sinister boasts. He tells the Hellions that as their general, jockeying for his affection is encouraged, and favoritism will be rampant and arbitrary. 'Chop-chop! Adventure awaits!' Sinister grins as he steps through the gateway.
'Sir Jamie of Braddock. King of Avalon, we -' Sinister begins, interrupted when a voice shouts 'DOWN!' Sinister, Havok, Kwannon, Greycrow, Empath, Wild Child, Nanny and Orphan Maker find themselves standing before Jamie Braddock, who sits on a throne, while a local man attempts to wrangle a large horse. 'Down, Princess Silkmane!' Jamie tells the horse, while turning to the man who holds the horse by a rope and exclaims 'You said you were an equestrian, Muford! That you “were raised around horses” Muford!' But the man called Muford protests 'I said no such thing, King!' Jamie's attention then turns to his new guests, 'Oooh, that's a right cracking cape you've got there!' he tells Sinister. Sinister extends his arms and tells the “great king” that he has come to beg entrance to the magical kingdom of Avalon, for they have heroic intentions. Jamie looks frustrated as he glances sideways and slouches over on his throne, 'Oh, you can't pass, I'm afraid. It wouldn't please the great Saturnyne. There would be trouble, and we can't have that. Or fun either. Not anymore, apparently' he mutters.
Sinister tells Jamie that his fun is what he seeks to preserve – his special, secret fun. Jamie is intrigued and sits back up on his throne, he instructs Muford do be a champ and go play with the horse, it's what he is good at. 'Or so you claim' Jamie mutters. 'I never said that, your highness. Perhaps you dreamed it' Muford replies. Jamie tells Muford that he is tired of hearing that. Sinister moves closer to the throne as Jamie asks him what he was going on about. Sinister leans into Jamie and tells him that it has been discovered that a mutant who dies in this kingdom does not come back intact. 'I thought that may be important to someone whose predilections have been called unsafe' Sinister explains. 'Where did you... someone's been talking out of turn. MUFORD!' Jamie shouts.
'Yes, my King?' Muford asks, turning to Jamie, who announces that he just remembered that it was he who was raised around horses, not him. 'Daft twit' Jamie mutters. 'Yes, my King' Muford responds, before Jamie asks where they were. Sinister leans into Jamie and assures him that he can help him. He requests passage into Avalon, and in return, will give him one visit to Bar Sinister, where he will be provided with a black market clone of his choosing. 'Good to have another one of you around, yes? In case something goes awry?' Sinister suggests. Jamie seems intrigued and supposes that such an arrangement would be advantageous – to his pressure subjects, whom he adores, of course. 'That settles it! To Avalon we go!' Sinister calls out. Jamie remars that they must surely seal their bargain with an exchange of gifts. 'Muford! Bring the princess!' Jamie calls out. What's happening?' Sinister asks. Muford drags the large white horse towards Sinister and Jamie announces that he offers the prized horse, the most beautiful trotter trotting today – the incomparable Princess Silkmane. What'll ya give me in return?' Jamie asks, while the horse struggles to pull away.
'Zero. Nothing. We don't want her' Sinister frowns, hands on hips. 'Oh, please get the pony, Mr Essex. Please, please, please!' Orphan Maker cries out, raising his hands in excitement. 'The answer is no. a horse is a major responsibility!' Sinister responds. 'Ah, yes. Responsibilities. What a slog' Jamie smirks, adding that he remembered he has a responsibility to report any suspicious travelers to Opal Luna Saturnyne – and Sinister's responsible attitude has inspired him to take that duty responsibly. 'Or we could all stop talking about responsibilities like prats and exchange some mother-ticking gifts!' Jamie declares. Sinister sighs and covers his face with a hand, 'What do you want?' he asks, while Orphan Maker throws his fists in the air as if he had won a prize.
Shortly: 'Slow down, Essex' Kwannon remarks as she and the others follow Sinister throough a market place in the village. 'You look fine' Havok assures him. 'I don't want to talk about it' Sinister – who no longer has his tassels – rather, plumage – snaps as he strides forward. Greycrow, Wild Child, Orphan Maker, Empath and Nanny, riding the horse, trail behind. 'I usually have a cape. If you're wondering why I look like this' Sinister remarks to a local. 'What?' the man asks, confused. Kwannon suggests that there might be other horses for sale and warns the others that they are drawing too much attention on foot. 'Can I have five seconds to think wardrobe before you start in on me, please?' Sinister snaps. 'Inspiring leadership' Havok mutters to Kwannon.
Nanny asks Orphan Maker to stop the horse, announcing that she wants down. 'I've got you, Nanny!' Orphan Maker calls back as he keeps Nanny stable on the horse. 'We've got a real humpty dumpty situation brewing here' Empath smiles. 'HALT!' a voice suddenly shouts, and the Hellions turn to see several of Saturnyne's White Priestesses following them. 'You have transgressed against her luminance, Opal Luna Saturnyne' one of them announces. Sinister steps towards the Priestesses and tells them that he doesn't know what they have heard, and reports that they are here on official Krakoan business, operating in accordance with all tournament rules. 'Silence, you sickly japer, I'm no pantaloon' the White Pritestess retorts. 'Japer?' Sinister asks. The White Priestess then motions towards the horse and informs the Hellions that they stand in possession of stolen property, the blessed steed of their queen herself, violently wrestled from the stables by a naked maniac a fortnight ago. 'You and your houses will know death for this treachery!' the White Priestess warns them.
'The drooling fool-king $#%&^*# tricked me!' Sinister snarls, before turning to Empath and suggesting to him that they give these priestesses a nudge in the brain and make them their allies. 'And maybe the one who called me a “japer” cut his tongue out...' Sinister suggests. 'Nah, I'm good' Empath replies. 'You're “good”?' Havok asks. Empath turns away from the others as he informs them that he hates them all, that he resents being here and hopes they spend the rest of their lives rotting away in wherever the $%&^ they are – Narnia, or something. 'I hope you all die here and you come back so scrambled the Council cheers when I smother you with a pillow' he exclaims, adding that he has got to stop, as he is getting turned on.
Havok remarks that if Saturnyne finds out that they came here to cheat at the game, then Krakoan is disqualified, which means that they lose their island, Earth – everything. 'Don't be a troll!' Havok snaps at Empath. Kwannon agrees that there is no time for games and as she raises her sword, she suggests to Empath that he act now, or forfeit his hands. Empath laughs and tells Kwannon to do it. 'In haven't had to wipe my own ass since my X-gene activated!' he grins. One of the White Priestesses shouts 'Enough of this! On your thieving knees, cowards!' Sinister asks Empath if there is a way to buy his favor, if there is something he wants. 'Well...' Empath begins. 'Anything!' Sinister tells him. 'I'll do it if I get to make Greycrow my pet!' Empath smiles, motioning to Greycrow, who raises a sword and marches towards Empath, 'Cut in half it is' Greycrow frowns.
'Enough! On your knees!' one of the White Priestesses shouts. 'Sure. Yes. Whatever. Empath, you have a deal!' Sinister calls out. 'Stand still so I can get a clean -' Greycrow begins, before he smiles, '- to look at those eyes. They sparkle like the stars. You...you are one radiant soul' Greycrow tells Empath, who smiles and tells him 'You can do better than that'. 'I won't stop trying 'til I do!' Greycrow replies. The White Priestesses fall under Empath's power, 'Ah, what came over me? I did not recognize your beautiful spirits! Surely you are on a wonderful quest!' one of the priestesses smiles, asking them if they have everything they need. Sinister tells her that they could use a few horses, actually. The priestess offers their horses. 'It is a terrible transgression against my queen, but you seem like a solid crew!' she tells the Hellions. Sinister adds that he usually wears a cape, to which one of the White Priestesses replies 'Ooh, I bet that looks great!' 'Mount up, Hellions! We travel toward destiny!' Sinister declares.
Soon, the Starlight Citadel can be seen in the distance, as the Hellions continue their quest on horseback. Orphan Maker has joined Nanny on the horse called Princess Silkmane, while the others follow on the horses belonging to the White Priestesses. Sinister now wears a cape that one of the White Priestesses wore. Empath tells Greycrow to run along, that he will need a head start, otherwise he will hold them up. 'Great idea!' Greycrow smiles as he walks alongside the horse carrying Empath. 'Manuel de la Rocha is a genius!' Greycrow exclaims, skipping ahead of the others. 'Hmmm. This one's going to end badly' Kwannon remarks to Sinister. 'Don't they all, my dear?' Sinister smiles. 'Don't they all?' he laughs as he gallops on ahead of the others.