(Two billion years ago)
Earth, the Mid-Water Zone, where deep within an underwater kingdom, an armored man sits on a throne. 'News of my fellow breathers, Majordomo?' he asks one of the creatures known as the Unbreathing. The creature addresses the man as Commander Nightfount, and reveals that the sickness has spread to Sentrytown 87, and the germ warlords know no rest, just as he warned. 'Threshold made their smart bacteria to kill the Unbreathing, taught them death...right out of the petri dish. What can Arkea and Sublime do but express it?' Commander Nightfount asks, before stating that the viruses won't stop until ever Thresholder dies in their war to destroy each other. 'Every site they attack, they weaken...leaving its people vulnerable' Nightfount points out, before telling the Unbreathing that this is their chance to reclaim the surface Threshold stole from them, city by city. 'Ready an Eruption Team. Let's hit the mutants while they're down' Nightfount grins wickedly.
At Sentrytown 87, Threshold, Akihiro a.k.a. Fang has been infected with the Sublime virus, and looms over his Marauder teammates and their allies the Threshold Three. 'Mutant? Is that what you call yourselves? So much hidden in this mule's mind...like our names, Sublime and Arkea. Future conquerors, it's good to be known...even if I'd hoped to end my siblings offense here and now' Sublime declares. 'Call yourselves Enriched. Call yourselves mutants. You're all just small minds trapped in decaying cages. You made us to hate. Can you imagine such an existence?' Sublime asks. 'You're wearing our friend's corpse, Sublime. It's easier than you think!' Captain Kate Pryde exclaims as she stands gathered with Lucas Bishop, Cassandra Nova, Jeanne-Marie Beaubier a.k.a. Aurora, Heather Tucker a.k.a. Tempo, Carl Valentino a.k.a. Somnus, Kwannon a.k.a. Psylocke, and the Threshold Three – Theia, Amass and Crave.
Through Fang's body, Sublime grins and asks 'Care to join him? I'll soon grind each of your mule bodies into dust' and boasts that he is the superior killer, that he will murder Arkea, and on the way, Threshold. 'I cannot be stopped. Or bargained with. I want only what I was born for. Obliteration!' Sublime boasts. Suddenly, 'Order up, bastard!' Aurora screams as she flies towards Sublime and creates a flash of blinding light right in front of him. Theia swats away another Thresholder with a gravity field and warns Tempo that Arkea yet lurks. 'Hadn't noticed!' Tempo retorts, while Sublime tells Aurora that he feels this mule's love for him, and notes that despite that, she strikes to kill. 'Ruthless! But useless! This flesh heals fast – what of yours?' Sublime asks as he lunges towards Aurora, Fang's claws outstretched – but before he can strike, Kwannon hurls a psychic rope around him and yanks him backwards. Kwannon begins wrapping the psychic rope around Sublime's neck and warns Aurora and Somnus that Fang's livery is ruptured, and that he is contaminated, that he cannot be saved, not here. 'At best, we have seconds – and even fewer choices!' Kwannon utters.
Suddenly, Sublime finds himself in a dreamscape. 'What is this – some mutant trick?' he asks, turning to Somnus, who appears in civilian clothing, he tells him that whatever he thinks he has done, he can't hope to stop him. 'That's enough from you, Sublime' Somnus utters as he raises a hand, and purges Sublime from Fang's form within the dreamscape. 'Carl? This is – it's Sendal. Are we back in the dreamscape?' Akihiro asks, as he appears back to normal. Carl tells Akihiro that he is sorry, and explains that Sublime got into his body. 'Even if we could get him out, your livery's toast'. Carl wraps his arms around his one-time lover and tells him that it isn't safe for him to be in the past. 'And I couldn't – I didn't want you to...' Carl's voice trails off. 'What, Carl? I'm right here. Whatever it is, we can -' Akihiro begins, before he vanishes turned to dust, and Carl tells him that he is sorry, he didn't want him to feel it.
Back in the real world, Somnus looks away as Aurora and Crave use their powers to destroy Fang's body – he is gone. 'I wasn't sure that'd work. Don't know if I wanted it to' Aurora utters, while Somnus reminds her that Akihiro only stays ash if they fail, and when they get home, they resurrect him. 'We just nuked one of our own, Arkea. What do you think we'll do to you?' Kate shouts as she phases her hand into the Thresholder carrying the Arkea virus. 'Please, mutant. Go solid. Kill. This body. It's cynaide cells will kill you...while I have plenty of mules left to burn'. Bishop fires a weapon at an infected rat creature and, telepathically linked to the others, he points out that Fang has been lost, just to quarantine the past, and they've only been here minutes. 'We're already on the defensive. We need an exit now' he exclaims. Kate agrees, and tells Bishop to watch the telepathy, as there is no guarantees it is secure. 'Not at all, Captain. It takes but one psionic mule to listen in. and if that frightens you...there's worse on the way!' Arkea exclaims.
'An eruption team!' Theia screams as the ground around them explodes, and several of the Unbreathing emerge. 'We cannnot fight on two fronts, Tempo -' Theia begins, when suddenly, one of the Unbreathing attacks Crave, who seemingly withers and dies. 'Crave! Just like that, he's -' Tempo begins. 'Dead. A Choke Staff. Instant deoxygenation' Theia explains. Kate Pryde fights alongside Amass as she announces that Arkea hacked their telepathy – Sublime and the Unbreathing are now all over them. She reminds Amass that this is his world, and asks him to give her a way out. 'Got one – can you all sprint?' Amass asks, while Theia battles one of the infected, 'Arkea! You're so desperate to steal our gifts?' she shouts. 'Enjoy the touch of my own!' she exclaims as she uses her gravity powers, crushing the infected.
'Hold on, everyone!' Aurora calls out as she drops to her hands and knees, and using her super-speed begins to shake the ground. 'Holding, Aurora! Give us something good!' Kate Pryde exclaims as she and Amass continue to battle the infected. 'Aki's gone. Telepathy's out. Billions of years in the past. It's no win. But if you can't win the game...you flip over the table' Aurora utters as the ground continues to rumble. 'What is that -' one of the infected begins. 'That – that's someone you shouldn't piss off!' Bishop declares as brilliant surge of light then shunts all of the infected and the Unbreathing backwards. 'You blow up the street' Tempo exclaims. 'I agitated its molecules. Very technical Quebecois Science' Aurora explains. 'Think they're impressed?' Tempo asks. 'Probably more of a panicked vengeance type of thing' Aurora replies. 'Love that for them. Not so much for us' Tempo adds, while the infected and the Unbreathing begin to fall back to the ground.
'Get moving! Unbreathing Reserves won't be long!' Amass tells everyone as he leads the Marauders onwards, adding that Nightguns aren't known for accuracy. 'We run – we find Grove! They'll know what to do!' he exclaims. 'If it's that simple! Trust me, the sailing's never as clear as you think' Bishop begins, when, as if on cue, hands begin to reach up thrgouh the ground, and one of them latches onto Amass. 'Bishop!' Amass calls out. Bishop turns back to Amass, 'Grab my hand! You've got to -' Bishop begins, but Aurora tells him that it is time to go. 'No, Aurora! He's still down there. Amass is -' Bishop begins, but too late, as Aurora grabs him and pulls him along, while Theia remarks that Amass knew the risks – they all did. 'If he can be rescued...Grove will know'.
Hours later, inland, the Marauders are taking a moment's rest inside a cave, where there is a strange green glow. 'Theia said we'd be safe here, but I don't know. I trust that she thinks we'll be' Tempo remarks. Aurora agrees, and refers to the the hologram that is hiding them from Arkea and Sublime. 'A good hologram, sure. I checked it out myself. But this feels precarious' Aurora adds. Bishop declares that the mission is precarious, and notes that they barely survived the landing. Kwannon points out that they are secure for now, and suggests they don't waste it. She adds that Crave and Amass are gone. 'So is Pryde!' Tempo remarks, adding that if Cassandra is to be believed, their telepathy is gone, too. Tempo decides that Cassandra isn't to be believed, and notes that Kwannon can't track Kate, either. 'We're losing people fast. It's almost like I said this was a bad idea!' Tempo exclaims.
'Wait, now we're pointing fingers?' Somnus asks, adding that he might be new here, but that he is not new to losing friends. 'Friends who can't be resurrected. And none of them would've let me give up. I've lived with loss for a long time...and we just can't do this. Can't take our anger out on each other...I won't let us. We win. Then we mourn!' Somnus exclaims, upset, when suddenly, someone puts a hand on his shoulder and tells him that such wisdom honors not only his lost, but his hosts, as well. The person standing behind Somnus introduces themselves as Grove. They have long pink hair and wear a dark cloak. Grove welcomes the Marauders to Helix Home – life's last holdout. Their stands behind Grove, as Grove smiles at Somnus, who looks nervously at Grove and replies 'After the past few months, I expected a cute little “X” in the name'. 'What is a double helix but the original “X” in revelry?' Grove asks. 'You...make so much sense' Somnus utters.
Theia tells the Marauders that Grove's words aren't Threshold's only defense. 'We are not much. But we are here. And we are here fighting. Follow me, Marauders... and meet the insurgency'. The Marauders follow Grove and Theia down some stairs, as Grove explains that Helix Home is a port for Threhold's insurgents – Enriched and Enshrined alike, and that here they guard what few treasures they still have, and fight to retake the ones they have lost. 'Our world, most of all' Grove adds. The Marauders look around at some sort of command center, where several Thresholders go about their business at consoles and monitors. Suddenly, 'Wait, but that's -' Tempo begins when she sees a familiar box on display in the center of a table. 'Stand back! No one touches the Seed without Grove's blessing!' a bald man with yellow markings on his head exclaims.
But Grove tells the man to consider Tempo blessed, her and all the Marauders. Tempo declares that the box is Pryde's puzzle box, but it is younger, and yet still many millions of years old, a kid compared to what Emma Frost found back on Krakoa. Theia smiles as she puts a hand on Tempo's shoulder and tells her that the Seed was discovered deep in their birthing sea, a genetic aleph, whose opening first filled their waters with life. 'Think of it, Tempo...from this came all Thresholders, human and mutant'. The man with the yellow markings on his head states that the Seed is precious, but that it won't win back Threshold. 'This could...the Daymight' he remarks, motioning to a large weapon in the room. He explains that it is weaponized light which will counter the Unbreathing's darkforce, only they haven't distilled much yet, but with enough, they could neutralize or even destroy the nightguns. He adds that it is a weapon, but not a final weapon, as they can't risk another of those.
Theia calls him Zved and assures him that the Daymight won't be like the bacterial conquerors, for his wisdom ensures that. 'My, my. The armory of mutant rebellion...left to a human weaponeer?' Cassandra asks, glancing at Zved. 'Even to a stomach as strong as mine, that's upsetting. But easily remedied' Cassandra adds. Grove announces that Zved is a valued member of the insurgence and warns Cassandra that he is not to be harmed. 'All of Threshold's humans will be respected in my home' Grove adds. Cassandra looks wickedly at Grove and asks 'Oh? Or what, shrub?' 'If you lower yourself to asking, you're beneath an answer' Grove responds. Kwannon informs Grove that she is also suspicious, but senses Grove's trust in humans is earned. 'And your own psychic aura is oddly familiar...I trust your trust' Kwannon adds. Grove tells her that they will be all the stronger for it.
A hologram is emitted from the table in the center of the room as Grove informs the Marauders that when Theia, Amass and Crave leaped into the future for aid, they could not bet on their return, so the Thresholders kept fighting Arkea and Sublime, as the Marauders call them, as the viruses warred for supremacy, using the Thresholders' own bodies in combat. While that war at first a stalemate, that is no longer true, as Arkea has infected the birthing sea. Grove explains that every twenty years their last-born generation gathers in the sea to spawn the next, with each generation being raised by all those above it. 'Our whole society is our family unit'. Theia explains that unless the sea can be freed, then Threshold's end is assured – one way or another. 'Wait. Slow down... you get together for a spawning? Like fish?' Tempo asks, smiling. 'More like they do it like us. But while procreation happens once a generation... intimacy is quite a bit more common' Theia replies. 'You're coming on strong and I do not mind a bit' Tempo smiles.
Grove continues, revealing that the Thresholders' insurgency began with those who could repel bacteria. 'We held the sea... until Arkea infected a mutant with spatial displacement gifts'. Kwannon realizes this means that Arkea is in the birthing sea and holding the Thresholders' children hostage. 'Tell me what you need to stop her, Grove Tell me. And you will have it' Kwannon exclaims, agitated. 'Your War Captain is impressive. Not moments ago, she doubted. Now... she's fit for a forever conflict' Theia remarks. 'Sometimes all we need's a reminder' Tempo smiles. 'I'm not even close to done with Arkea and Sublime. Any plan that's bad for them is good for me' Kwannon declares, while Somnus watches her. Grove explains that if the sea could be freed and sealed as with Helix Home, then they would be back in the fight. 'Then it will be done' Kwannon responds.
Bishop declares that he might know how. He admits that it is a stretch, but they are already way off the map of known. He explains that Arkea and Sublime are microscopic, but alive, clouds of cells – cells with charwge. 'Normally, I can't touch that type of energy. But what's normal when you've got one last Boost Fruit?' Bishop asks. He holds the fruit up and notes that Arkea is no fool, that she will guard the sea with her most powerful infected mutants. 'But if they were drawn away, I could get in. Then, if we're lucky...the fruit will help me absorb the cellular energy in the water'. He remarks that every bit of Arkea in the area would die instantly. 'One fruit. One shot'. Grove kneels before Bishop and tells him that his bravery is moving, and that if he would risk himself for Threshold he wouldn't be alone. 'Pryde and Amass are MIA. Fang and Crave are dead. It's the least I could offer. But we won't know if it's brave or stupid...until after we see if I explode' Bishop declares.
Meanwhile, in the Mid-Water Zone, Unbreathing Territory, 'So...this is a great place' Amass utters as he finds himself trapped inside some sort of bubble. 'Hey, hey, stop talking to yourself. Someone might think it's – strange' Amass tells himself, when suddenly, 'Tresspasser. Remain docile...' a voice calls out as someone else enters the Zone – it's Commander Nightfount! The armored being is flanked by two of the Unbreathing, and grins as he apologizes to Amass for the nightrifles, explaining that the Unbreathing insisted on them, as they are not a fan of trespassers down here in the dark. 'I thought you might respond better to one of your own' Nightfount adds. 'I don't see one of my own, Nightfount. You defected!' Amass exclaims. 'Mutants have never been my side. As for your side, let's check in on...you've been telepathically shielded. Who's this “Aunt Cassandra”?' Nightfount asks as he fails to enter Amass' mind. 'Like I'll tell you, you -' Amass snaps, before Nightfount realizes that Amass is not telekinetically protected, and warns him that he will peel him like an onion. 'Trust me, after the first few layers...you'll wish I'd read you mind' Nightfount boasts.
'YOU THINK I'M AFRAID, TRAITOR? DO YOUR WORST!' Amass shouts, to which Nightfount just grins from beneath his extravagant headpiece. 'What about your worst? Threshold acts civilized but doesn't respect its enemy. You say the Unbreathing are primitive, but their culture is incredibly complex. Their language alone encompasses senses you don't even have. The were here... long before you first crawled from the sea. You're all trespassing' Nightfount declares, adding that the Oxygen Wars aren't about turf – as the Thresholders' air poisons them all. 'They're fighting to survive' he adds as he telekinetically slams Amass into the side of the bubble. 'Were all fighting Arkea and Sublime. Don't you get it? They won't stop. They'll kill us out of spite, then destroy the Unbreathing for fun!' Amass exclaims.
Nightfount remarks that the germs are doing the Unbreathing's work for them, thinning the herd and weakening Threshold's cities. 'And if they come for us, our own final weapon will set fire to Earth's oxygen itself' Nightfount reveals. 'That wouldn't just kill then. It'd kill everyone. Everything...it's beyond genocide' Amass utters. 'Honestly, what else did you expect?' Nightfount asks as he begins to remove his headpiece. 'No. Not you, not here. It – it can't be...' a wide-eyed Amass gasps as he looks upon the face of... STRYFE!