Gambit and Mystiq dive into the ocean waters surrounding the Crystal Palace, the latter transforming himself into a blue-skinned Atlantean. Gambit makes a comment on how weird it is seeing Mystiq, an air-breather, swimming the oceans alongside him. Mystiq adds he never gets used to the Palace’s oceans, not matter how much he swims in them. He knows the ocean’s alive, but nothing ever grows in it, just a barren seafloor with rock outcroppings scattered about.
Gambit points out they haven’t actually traveled that far away from the Palace so who knows what lies just out of eyesight. “Or behind these crystal mountains,” Mystiq adds. That’s when something catches Gambit’s eye, something that wasn’t there a moment ago, a flower blooming along the desolate ground. Gambit swims over and draws Mystiq’s attention toward it. He swears it wasn’t there a moment ago. Mystiq says he believes him for all around them grass and plants alike start sprouting at an astonishing rate.
Gambit announces all they need is fish and sure enough a small striped one dashes right in front of Mystiq’s face. Gambit questions what’s causing this. Mystiq thinks maybe because he wished it the Palace granted it. As they follow the little fish through a small cavernous area they suddenly find themselves confronted with the Grand Central Station of sea life. Swimming speedily in front of them are whales, sharks, dolphins, a squid, a jellyfish and others.
Gambit spots something interesting in the middle of the pack and tells Mystiq to have a look. Right there, smack dab in the center swimming with the creatures, is an Atlantean looking Cat. The two men are surprised and question whether or not to believe their eyes. They swim over to make sure it’s her. When she spots them she can’t believe it either. It’s as if she’s suddenly been made aware of where she is, as Cat wonders what she’s doing there and how she’s able to breathe underwater. Then, a bright flash of light envelops her and she, along with all the fish and plant life, disappears.
The two Exiles look around and survey the desolateness that has returned. Gambit wonders if it’s part of her powers to bring the ocean to life. Mystiq says he has no idea, but thinks they better try and find out.
Sage has been watching over the napping Cat, lying curled in the console chair. Oddly enough, Cat is suddenly soaking wet. Sage wonders what it means and reflects on the capabilities of the room combined with Cat’s technological prowess. Sage looks around at the various holographic control systems Cat has generated and marvels at how she seems to be the only one able to operate them. It’s as if, Sage believes, Cat’s being integrated into the operational system of the Palace so that their thoughts are almost one. Sage wonders what will happen when that convergence is complete.
another part of the Palace
“I am Lady Mandarin,” Lady Mandarin shouts, delivering a powerful kick to Psylocke’s face. Psylocke tries returning the favor, but Lady Mandarin deflects her advance and throws in a knee to the chin and an elbow to the back of the head for good measure. Psylocke is undeterred as she struggles back to her feet. Lady Mandarin boasts she will live, if not in her body then in Psylocke’s.
Ogun, watching from atop a crystal pillar, tells Psylocke it’s not that easy to get rid of the seed he planted inside her. Psylocke tells him that neither of them is real. Ogun proudly states she has nothing to fear then. Lady Mandarin smiles and moves in for another strike. Psylocke blocks her punch, knocking it aside.
Lady Mandarin claims that with every blow her victory becomes more certain and Psylocke’s appearance reflects that. She adds that if only Psylocke could see her face. Psylocke knows what she’s talking about. She can feel the Crimson Dawn tattoo return. She fears Lady Mandarin is right, that her body is becoming hers more and more. Psylocke decides it’s time to change her fighting style.
Psylocke grabs a hold of the sides of Lady Mandarin’s cape and yanks her toward her, kicking her feet into Mandarin’s abdomen and flipping her backwards over her head. Lady Mandarin goes crashing into a crystal pillar. Psylocke manifests her TK sword and jabs it into Lady Mandarin’s guts. As Mandarin yells in agony Psylocke hopes the sheer shock of her attack will drive her from her soul permanently.
Lady Mandarin looks into Psylocke’s eyes, frightened. She says she just wants to live. Psylocke starts to cry, telling her she can’t, that this is how it has to be. She tells Lady Mandarin her karma needs to progress to the next level. Lady Mandarin promises to be good, but as she says this she slowly pulls a dagger from behind her knee armor.
“You Die,” Lady Mandarin screams in a last ditch attempt to save her own hide. Psylocke blocks the attack, not surprised in the least. “Game over, S’Beth,” Psylocke utters, eyes turning pure white. Straddling Lady Mandarin, Psylocke deals the fatal blow. Pinkish light emanates from Lady Mandarin as she screams for mercy. Psylocke tells her she’s done. Ogun disappears too and Psylocke is finally, truly alone. She puts her hands to her face and cries.
Cat, wearing an outfit similar to Psylocke’s and sporting the Crimson Dawn tattoo, peers around a corner and spies on Psylocke who’s still sobbing on the ground. Sabretooth sneaks up behind Cat and tells her she shouldn’t pry. When he puts his hand on her shoulder Cat turns around. He’s taken aback at her Psylockian appearance. Cat immediately disappears without saying a word. Sabretooth says they’ll talk about that later, but for now he has higher priorities.
A bit later, Psylocke sits meditating, situated on a blue mat with several burning candles in front of her. Sabretooth enters her room and welcomes her back. Psylocke looks at him sideways, asking how he can be so sure it’s really her. Sabretooth says he’d know and then tells her likes the new tattoo, mentioning he saw a version of Cat earlier wearing one.
Psylocke says it’ll be gone soon, and sure enough the tattoo is mostly faded. She then asks Sabretooth what he would do if it was Lady Mandarin he found in her body. Sabes doesn’t answer. Psylocke sarcastically says thanks. Creed conveys she’d do the same for him and asks what’s next. Psylocke gets to her feet, telling Sabretooth she’s not sure if she’s a match for Slaymaster, “but I’m done running from him. Once and for all. End of story.”
Cat, looking like an early 616 version, spies on Rogue through an opening in the crystal wall high up in her room. The aforementioned Exile is sitting on her couch sewing her uniform. Morph bursts through the door carrying a bunch of shopping bags. With a big smile on his face he announces his return, but he doesn’t get so much as a look in his direction. Morph seems disappointed she didn’t notice him and asks what she would have done if it was a bad guy barging in.
In a flash Rogue turns and throws four daggers at Morph. He gets pinned to the wall, the four blades connecting with his jacket and sticking to the crystal. Rogue gets up from the couch and puts her jacket on. She tells Morph if he was a bad guy her aim would be slightly better and his career would be over. Morph breaks free from the metal blades and tells her she’s not funny. It depends on your point of view, she replies, and then asks what’s with all the bags he brought with him.
Since her outfit got messed up on the last mission Morph says he thought he’d go shopping for her. Rogue asks him how he could possibly think to know what looks good on her. “Oh ye of little faith… and even littler brain—,” he replies and then transforms himself into a Rogue doppelganger. He tells her the clothes will definitely fit, but if she doesn’t like the styles they can go out and get more.
Sage takes a closer look at one of Cat’s holographic displays. It seems as though Cat’s been cataloging dimension around a core of prime numbers then listing them on the basis of their potential for destabilization. Sage surmises if they fix the primes, the rest of the dimensions should fall into place.
“Ow,” Sage cries out, momentarily losing her focus and letting the phantoms loose in her head. She tries to regain control, but then Cat wakes up in her chair yelling about getting things out of her head. Cat jumps out of her chair and bolts out of the room almost knocking over Sabretooth and Psylocke. Sabes asks Sage if she has any idea what’s going on. Sage doesn’t, explaining Cat was asleep and then suddenly woke up and ran off. Psylocke asks if one of them should check on her. Sage says she’ll take care of it.
Creed goes over to the computer terminal to see what she was looking at. What he discovers looks pretty bad and he tells Psylocke her personal quest needs to be put on hold.
The Exiles have gathered for their latest mission brief. Gambit asks where Cat is. Creed explains Sage is off looking for her. Rogue and Morph join the party, Rogue wearing her new uniform. Morph proudly shows her off, getting a few exclamations from Mystiq and Gambit.
“Never a dull fashion moment around this place…” Sabretooth concludes before getting to the nitty gritty. He tells the crew one of the prime dimensions is at a major crisis point and if it goes it could take a hundred more with it. He tells Morph he’s going to be in charge. Morph asks if he’s serious. Sabretooth tells him he did well last time and he needs to go look for Cat. Morph tells Sabretooth he won’t let him down.
Sage continues her search for the missing Exile, Cat. She reflects on her past, from her childhood wandering the Hindu Kush and saving the life of Charles Xavier to more recent events when Roma, mortally wounded, passed the essences of countless beings into her mind, beings she’s been fighting to cope with ever since.
Sage reflects on how she’s always been grounded in life, but that is no longer the case. Not only does she have to face these monstrous creatures, but her main adversary is a role she once played, named Diana Fox. Somehow she’s become real and sees her as the enemy. She wants to claim Sage’s body for her own as do the rest of the phantoms.
These mind-constructs attack, a frog-looking one smacking Sage with his lengthy tongue. This knocks Sage over the edge of a crystal precipice and she begins to fall down, further and further. This doesn’t prevent a green-skinned brute from following after her and delivering blow after blow. A human hand reaches out from the crystalline structure and snatches Sage mid-air, halting her descent. The green-skinned brute looks confused as he continues to plummet.
A part of Sage thinks it would serve all of them right if she would just let go, but she’s not given the choice as a hairy demonesque creature dives at her, punching her and knocking her loose. Sage continues her plunge headfirst into the seemingly endless chasm. She knows the beatings she gets are psychic and not physical, but the end result is much the same.
Another hand reappears through the crystal wall and grabs Sage by the wrist. It’s Cat, the object of Sage’s quest. Cat tells Sage not to fight her as she merges with her body, possessing it and allowing Sage to walk through the crystalline wall. Sage doesn’t resist and allows Cat to guide her to safety.
Cat steps out from Sage’s body and says their integration should leave her head a bit scrambled and may give her a brief reprieve from the monsters in her head. Sage questions Cat’s ability to see her phantoms. Cat explains she’s not locked into any single dimension and that she’s actually cascading from one incarnation of herself to another. As if on cue, three different versions of Cat appear.
Sage asks if that’s a bad thing. Cat reminds her what happened in that other dimension and describes the billions of Cat versions that initially surrounded her when the first transformation manifested. Explanation finished, Cat looks at Sage and asks what she’s smiling about. Sage says it’s because they both seem to have somewhat of the same problem. Cat thinks in her case it’s because the Palace is calling out to her, that it wants her. She tells Sage the Omniverse is dying and that she thought she could find the answer, but the only thing she can think of that makes sense is the Palace wants her to take the place of the guardian gods who used to rule there.
Sage questions why it would want her. Cat curls up into a ball on the ground and suggests it’s because her power makes her fluid and being young makes her adaptable. Sage walks over to comfort her. Cat grabs her around the waist and says she’s scared, that she doesn’t want to do it. It doesn’t feel right, she says, she wants to live.
Sage holds Cat in her lap, her thoughts returning once again to her past. Sage finally tells her to get up and play the hero. Cat says she was hoping for a miracle. Sage tells her to be careful what she wishes for.
The two walk hand in hand back to the transit hub. Sage tells Cat to go join the team on their mission. Cat’s confused, but Sage tells her she could use the exercise and it could take her mind off her troubles. Cat asks Sage what she’s going to do. She likes to solve problems and loves a challenge, Sage replies. She tells Cat she’s too close to the situation and maybe a fresh mind and a new perspective can find an answer.
Sage punches in the teleportation commands and Cat disappears. Sage turns to her left and finds Diana charging her, ready to strike.