Storm Ranch, Colorado/Montana border
50+ years ago
A space shuttle is set to launch from the site of Storm Ranch. Susan Storm had spent the entirety of the family fortune to put the launch together. Her friends and neighbors cheer her and her fellow crewmembers, Ben, Johnny and Reed, as they gear up for their first, fateful mission.
Soon the shuttle takes off and emerges from Earth’s atmosphere into the blackness of space. The rocket separates and the booster ignites. All systems are green as the foursome head for orbit. Moments later it all hits the fan. Ben’s computer console comes to life as it alerts the crew of incoming high radiation spikes.
Ben punches up the system controls relaying the bad news to Reed. Reed tells Ben to abort the ascent and get them back into the atmosphere. The shuttle alters course, but is still bombarded with cosmic radiation. The shields don’t hold and the radiation seeps through. The crewmembers begin to change immediately, panic settling in. As if things couldn’t get any worse a meteor shower enters the atmosphere, one in particular busting through the center of the ship.
The shuttle’s short trip ends with it plummeting toward Earth, crashing into the ocean. Sue manages to erect a shield around her head underwater. She cries out to her companions, but their lifeless bodies are response enough. Then out of nowhere a man swims toward her, telling her to save her breath. He wraps his right arm around her waist and takes off, all manner of sea creatures swimming with them.
While above, the meteors break through the Earth’s atmosphere and rocket toward the surface. It’s immediate ecological disaster time as entire sections of the Earth are destroyed through giant tidal waves and other catastrophes.
Cat is busy acquainting herself with the Crystal Palace’s computer system. She revels going through all the various dimensions of the Omniverse, each new world making her more determined to learn more. She seems oblivious to everything around her, but when Morph throws her a football she catches it one-handed.
Morph smiles and compliments Cat’s style. He asks if she wants to get in a quick game of one-on-one outside. She tosses the football back at him, reminding him there is no “outside.” Morph tells her it’s a minor technicality.
Cat gets back to the computer and adds that she’s working. Morph tells her that’s a lame excuse… that she’s always working. He tells her it’ll be fun. Cat says she’s having fun right now. Morph looks slyly at her and postulates out loud whether she may be scared.
Cat jumps up from her chair and grabs Morph’s arm telling “Bubble-Body” he asked for it. Sabretooth watches as the two young Exiles head out. He tells them to have fun and not do each other any permanent damage.
Sabretooth’s mind wanders and he starts thinking about what it takes to make a hero. He knows people underestimate him as a large, muscle-bound goon, but he grew up in a world where he had to learn everything he could and put it to use and that gives him an edge.
Sabretooth punches up images of all his teammates and tracks their locations on the computer. Psylocke still doesn’t register on the system, though. Sabretooth is intent on finding a way to fix that. He next looks at Cat’s visage and wonders what secrets she’s hiding, wondering if it’s about her past or her character. Somehow she’s taken to the Crystal Palace as if she was born there, and although she says she doesn’t want friends she seems to be taken to Morph. Sabes hopes that’s a good thing.
While over on the generated football field, Morph clad in an old-style football uniform tosses the pigskin to Cat who’s wondering whether they should have more players. After Cat makes the catch Morph charges after her. Morph suddenly triples in size, grits his teeth and tries wrapping up his opponent. Cat, however, uses her powers too and runs right through him. She scores a touchdown much to Morph’s chagrin.
Sage stops by and asks if they have room for another player. Morph quietly asks Cat where Sage came from. Cat tells him she’s a creepy woman with creepy moves and then tells Sage she can’t play, that they’re playing one-on-one. Morph looks at her puzzled and asks what she’s talking about. Morph walks towards Sage and holds out his hand. Sage looks back at him, but also sees all manner of creatures standing around him.
The game continues with Morph throwing the ball to Sage. She makes the catch questioning why she even decided to play. Looking back down the field the landscape changes. Diana Fox now stands in front of her, along with a contingent of foul-looking creatures. Distracted, Sage is nailed by Kitty and drops the ball.
Cat glowers over the fallen Sage. She suggests that Sage might not have been up for it after all. Sage says she’s fine. Diana Fox tells Sage to try again; it’ll give her a chance to hit her harder. Sage tells Fox she can try. Cat, thinking she’s talking to her, tells Sage she’s going to do more than that.
Cat now has the ball so Sage chases after her and dives. Cat hurdles her effortlessly. Sage knows she’s not in the best shape and hopes these phantoms she sees can be banished if she concentrates hard enough. Morph helps her up from the ground and sure enough the images start to fade. As Cat makes her way down the field again Sage has a better field of vision. She dives once more and this time connects with Cat. They both hit the ground hard.
After everyone gets back up Morph kicks off to Sage. Sage catches the football and races down the field. Cat is ready to do some damage and Diana Fox cheers her on. Morph tries getting to her first so Cat won’t get too physical, but Sage dodges his tackle. Cat and Diana head straight toward her. Sage decides to dive low to avoid both of them. She avoids taking the hit and scores a touchdown. Sage cheers, but Diana brings her back to reality when she reminds her that when her concentration slips she’ll be there waiting.
Cut to the computer control room where Sabretooth eyes up Mystiq’s holographic projection. He wonders when he’s going to regret saving Mystiq’s life and asking him to join the Exiles. He thinks they’re too alike, especially their taste in women.
Outside, Psylocke is flying through the sky performing acrobatic somersaults. The fresh, crisp air reminds her of growing up near the coastal highlands. She feels alive and vibrant, energized by the scope of endless possibilities of the place. It isn’t until she spots Mystiq on the ground below that her passion-filled flight comes to an end.
Upon seeing Mystiq, she thinks of the Mystique of her timeline, the shapeshifting killer. Her thoughts flow immediately to Sabretooth, who once again is nothing like the cold-blooded animal from her reality that very nearly killed her. Thinking of her near-death experience brings a floodgate of emotions, the most primal of which is fear. She reflects on Slaymaster, the very man who removed both of her eyes. Although she recovered and gained back her sight he’s always haunted her.
Psylocke lands nearby and asks Mystiq what he’s up to. Mystiq offers up some lunch he’s made and interests her in a game of chess. After eating they get down to the game. They make some small talk about his cooking skills and Psylocke’s aggressive style of play. Betsy admits her brother Brian always beats her because he thinks through his game.
Rafael asks Psylocke if she dances. Psylocke wonders if he’s flirting with her and then tells him if the situation’s right. Mystiq says he looks forward to it. Psylocke says so does she and then moves to Check.
Back inside, Sabretooth watches these events unfold much to his disdain. He wonders if he’s going to have to learn to dance now. Then he picks up a new scent in the room and slips into the shadows.
Rogue enters and checks out all the holographic displays. She’s amazed at all the visual clutter, noting it’s not Cat’s style. She stares at all the different systems and wonders how she keeps track of them all. She then eyes all the images of the team and wonders if Cat’s been spying on them. Then she remembers she saw Cat playing football. She wonders who it is that’s spying on them.
Rogue starts messing with the controls hoping to get lucky as Sabretooth sneaks up behind her. Rogue turns, sensing his presence, but an unexpected flash of bright light blinds her. She suddenly finds herself no longer in the observatory, instead outside underneath the night sky. She yells at whoever did it that it won’t stop her from searching for answers. Then Sabretooth’s voice can be heard through some kind of speaker system. He orders all the Exiles to the conference room for their latest mission.
Soon, with the Exiles gathered, Sabretooth gets down to business. First up, Creed passes out new uniforms for the new team. Then he moves on to the actual problem, a world that was almost destroyed in the mid-20th century by a meteor strike, but according to the computer system something even worse is on the horizon.
Sabretooth tells Sage, Morph and Cat they won’t be going along for this mission. Cat doesn’t seem to care, but Morph takes umbrage. He tells Sabretooth he and Sage should go. Sabretooth tells him his decision stands. Morph demands to know why. Creed confides that he doesn’t fully trust Sage and he wants Morph to keep an eye on her and Cat while they’re gone. Sabretooth asks if he has a problem with that. Morph grimaces and says his problem is with him. Victor folds his arms and says he can live with that.
Mystiq inspects his new costume and admits he’s not a big fan. Sabretooth tells him too bad. Cat, on the other hand, seems to dig hers.
Soon after, Psylocke takes off down one of the many crystal hallways, her new uniform tucked under her arm. She thinks aloud about the team chemistry and how they’re off to a rocky start. All of a sudden an arm reaches out from a crevice in the wall and grabs Betsy, slapping some sort of bracelet around her upper arm.
Psylocke goes to punch her assailant, demanding to know what’s going on. Her attacker catches her fist and tells her he didn’t mean any harm. Out steps Sabretooth and Psylocke wants answers. Sabretooth explains the armband serves as a type of Tallus allowing the computer systems to keep track of her. Noting her messing with it Sabretooth warns her she’ll lose her arm if she tries to take it off. Creed calls up the computer and asks for a status report. Heather’s icon appears and reports solid lifesigns for both he and Psylocke. Psylocke tells him he could have asked. Sabretooth smiles and asks where the fun would be in that.
A bit later, the Exiles gather for transportation to the new reality. Morph puts on his best Scotty impersonation and tells them the transporter is ready. Sabretooth tells him to get on with it. Cat activates the system and off they go, but not before Morph makes a joke about being scared at Sabretooth’s tough demeanor.
Upon arriving on the new world Sabretooth promises Morph is dead. Psylocke tells him to calm down. Sabretooth starts to argue with her causing Rogue to remind them they’re on a mission. Sabretooth explains the system isn’t really sure what’s going on, but they’re at ground zero. He decides they should head into the nearby town and see what’s happening.
Rogue asks if Sabretooth has any more information. Before Sabes can answer, the area is rocked by a powerful explosion. The Exiles are knocked back, Rogue taking the larger brunt of the force. The ground gives way and she tumbles down the collapsed cliff side. Sabretooth calls out after her, fearing for her life.