London, Republic of Britannia
On Iron Mountain, amidst the ruins of the headquarters of the Sons of Iron, Empress Hydra stands poised, ready to strike. The target of her vengeance is Cat Pryde, currently laid out on the ground, phased with her teammate Mystiq. The Empress tells Cat it’s time for any last thoughts, unleashing a force field projectile straight at her.
The ground beneath Cat and Mystiq is torn away, but they remain unharmed for the moment. Mystiq asks how much longer Cat can keep it up. Cat tells him to consider every second a miracle. Sweat pouring down her face, Cat says this is her last stand. “The devil you say”, Mystiq exclaims. They’ll argue about this later, Cat interjects, and tells Mystiq they need to merge their bodies fully to give her more strength, though it’ll leave her in charge. Mystiq says he’s all hers.
A sudden white light emanates from where the two Exiles lie. Cat steps out of the light, back on her feet and looking no worse for the wear. Also, she’s changed form again (blue-gold X-uniform). Empress Hydra is impressed with this latest tactic.
Cat asks Empress Hydra how well she’s going to handle a fair fight. Sue tells Cat it makes no difference if she’s on her back or on her feet, she’s going to be dead either way. Sue fires another invisible force field at Cat, but it passes right through. Cat asks why she thinks it’s going to be easy, pointing out that was her boyfriend’s mistake.
Sue erects four shields around Cat in response, cutting off all means of escape. She admits she always believed arrogance would be James’ downfall, but proudly exclaims she’s not him. Empress Hydra then forces those shields together and crumples Cat up into a ball. As she contracts the ball, making it even smaller, Cat seemingly dissipates into nothing. Sue is surprised at how easy Cat’s death was. However, she soon finds herself being dragged down into the earth below.
Sue fights back and both combatants find themselves back on the surface, Cat once again transformed (pink bangs, leather outfit). Sue asks why Cat keeps changing. Cat says when she’s bored she switches. With the pleasantries over, Sue wraps Cat up in a body-tight force field. She tightens the force field even more and Cat arches her back in agony. Sue gloats on how Cat is as good as dead.
As Cat slowly forces her way back to a normal posture she stares at Sue, a wicked smile on her face. Sue demands to know why she’s smiling. Cat confesses she might not be able to escape her force field, but the thing about phasing is the earth moves while she stays still, and with the planet rotating at 1,000 miles an hour, that’s a quarter-mile every second. The tighter she holds, Cat continues, the farther apart they go. She asks Empress Hydra how long she thinks she can stand the strain. The look on Sue’s face, the grim determination, the obvious pain, indicates not for long.
Gambit arrives on scene. When he sees Sue’s face he exclaims, “Mom - - is that you?” Sue turns, and curses herself for getting distracted, but is shocked to see his face is very similar to hers. This causes her to lose all focus and she goes crashing into a building. As shards of glass explode around her Sue tries drawing Cat in closer to help slow her descent.
What Sue doesn’t realize is how close Cat actually is. She looks up and finds the Exile dive-bombing straight toward her. “Surprise”, Cat yells, as she decks Empress Hydra midair.
While not far away, Lilandra stands to face her sister, Nerimani. Lilandra tells her the time for having others fight in their stead has ended, and they must face each other like the warriors they were born to be.
Morph doesn’t see it that way and extends his fingers to wrap Lilandra up. He punches her in the chin telling her they’re not done fighting yet. Lilandra confidently states the freak will scream before he dies. As she goes to punch him she’s surprised to see his head disappear. Noting her confusion, Morph explains he tucked it away, his mouth and eyes appearing on his chest. He then brings a large arm out of his stomach and connects with Lilandra, knocking her off her feet.
The Shi’Ar ruler is nowhere close to being finished though and retaliates with a head-butt to Morph’s chest… or face as it were. Lilandra then unsheathes her claws and then goes to town on the malleable Exile, slashing him every which way. As she tears into Morph she explains her warrior virtues and how she had to take the throne from her sister who wanted to talk peace of all things.
Morph realizes Lilandra is too good, always one step ahead. He collapses to the ground and apologizes to Nerimani. Nerimani charges Lilandra from behind and knocks her down telling Morph he did just fine and showed her she has to follow the honorable path now.
Meanwhile, on an upper level of a nearby skyscraper, Colyn and Rogue have stumbled upon Colony and the remains of Daughter of the Dragon, Misty Knight. Lying on the ground is Misty’s bionic arm, which Colyn picks up and examines. Colony, still holding Misty’s dead body, licks her lips saying she was delicious.
“The devil you say!” Rogue yells, flying straight at her. Her fist connects with Colony’s head, but she can’t move it, it’s stuck. Colony smiles and tells her she’s trapped. With that, she unleashes her swarm of beetles, which start crawling up Rogue’s arm.
Rogue’s expression turns from one of frustration to one of confidence. Colony asks why she’s smiling, suggesting she may be too stupid to realize what’s about to happen. Then one of the tattoos on Rogue’s exposed arm begins to light up. Colony starts to panic, demanding to know what she’s doing. Rogue calmly asks if things are going as planned. Colony yells for her to stop, begging and pleading, panic in her eyes.
Rogue doesn’t reply, but her entire body starts to glow. Colyn lifts up his arm to shield the increasingly blinding light from his face. Colony begins to disintegrate and when it ends Rogue is back to her old self, sans clothes. She comments on how she hates going critical because she always turns into a walking scandal. Colyn says he’ll never tell, but asks what just happened.
Rogue removes Misty’s gloves from her dead hands and puts them on. She then informs Colyn how she can absorb other people’s abilities and memories through her hands, and whenever she does a portion of their power stays with her forever. As if he needed further explanation, Rogue says she used one of those powers on Colony. She then tells Colyn she’s going to use another power on him. Colyn asks why. To heal him, Rogue answers smiling.
First things first, Rogue wants to search for some clothes as she’s not too comfortable fighting naked. Colyn offers up his armor for her to wear. Rogue asks if he’s serious. Colyn says she has the powers to save his world, not him. Rogue hesitates, and then agrees saying she’ll bring it back safe. Colyn says he doesn’t care about the armor; he just cares if she comes back safe.
Rogue moves in closer, staring into the saurian’s eyes. She tells Colyn a care like that has to be respected. Colyn asks what happens next if they do this. Rogue says they’ll find out together and with that they kiss.
On the battlefield below, Nerimani slowly stalks toward her sister, stating how she used to be so scared of her, but not anymore. Unfortunately, that makes her an easy target and Warshot snipes her, nailing her in the back.
Lilandra confidently walks over, smirking at her fallen sibling. Holding her sword upright she claims Nermani’s death will be by her hand. She brings the sword down in an arcing motion, but it’s stopped mid-swipe courtesy of an invisible sword erected by Gambit.
A confident Gambit has nothing to worry about from Warshot as someone takes some potshots at his position, blasting him from his perch. Devo tries warning him, but his alert comes a little too late.
Meanwhile, the battle between Empress Hydra and Cat/Mystiq rages on. Susan uses her force field to keep Cat close and uses an invisible bat to batter away at the young Exile. Sue smiles knowing that with each hit Cat’s focus slips more and more.
As if on cue, Cat collapses to the ground. She removes herself from the unconscious Mystiq and sneaks up on Empress Hydra. Sue, still focusing on Mystiq in Cat form, doesn’t notice as Cat forces her way into her defensive force field.
She leaps, jumping through Empress Hydra’s body. Cat feels the pain as she loses some of herself in the process. As she comes out the other end, she turns about to find an enraged Empress staring at her. Her face full of intensity, Cat declares herself better than Sue’s force fields. Empress Hydra demands to know what Cat’s done to her. Cat proudly holds out her hand, a five-inch section of Empress Hydra’s artery slung over her palm. A dumbfounded look washes over Sue’s face before she falls limply to the ground.
Cat stands over her nemesis. Looking down at her she admits her own defeat, knowing in her heart this was her last hurrah. She feels good about it, though, as if this was the way it should be.
Back in the skyscraper from earlier, Colyn is now de-armored with Rogue wearing his gear. He looks her over and comments on how attractive she is. Rogue and Colyn lay out some playful banter before the former decides it’s time to finally go and help. She promises she’ll be back. Colyn says he’ll hold her to that and tells her to make him proud in his armor. With that, Rogue takes off intent to end this battle once and for all.
Sage stares in guarded shock as Meryln, former guardian of the Omniverse, reveals himself and his plans to kill Sage and take over her body. It turns out the entities within her head are his doing and after they kill her he’s going to take control of the Crystal Palace and through that the entire Omniverse.
So Merlyn just hangs back as various creatures continue their onslaught against Sage. A six-armed insectiod lets loose a battle cry and tries taking Sage from behind. He has to do better than that, though, as the battle-hardened Sage easily deflects his punches and grabs his arm, swinging his body around and knocking a few more monsters down for the count.
Sage loudly proclaims she will not give up so Merlyn flies toward her and kicks her in the back. This knocks Sage off balance and she hits the ground hard. She realizes the odds are against her as there seems to be more and more enemies popping up.
Not far off, Diana watches the battle rage on. The tide turns and Sage starts getting whooped. She separates herself from her body and goes after Diana asking if this is really what she wants, to see Sage defeated. Diana doesn’t answer, but says it’s what Sage deserves. Sage returns to her body, but before disappearing snarks, “And you call yourself a hero!”
Diana continues to watch Sage fight off Merlyn’s entities. Deep down she knows she’s a hero, but wonders why she’s letting Sage fight alone because that’s not what heroes do. Diana argues with herself saying it has to be that way if only one of them is to survive. She then considers killing Sage for it’s what Sage tried to do to her, attempting to erase her from her mind. Torn on what to do, Diana doesn’t act, instead staying aloft and continuing to watch the fight.
Merlyn tires of watching Sage fight his creatures. He approaches her and offers his regrets for now he has to end it. Sage looks at him coldly, not responding. Merlyn tells her it’s ok if she screams because the physical agony won’t last long, though the psychic agony, well that’s different.
Sage does let out an excruciating scream. A swirl of bright, electric energy swirls about her and a cloud of it begins rising from her chest. An amalgam of Roma and Sage appears out of the mass of energy. Merlyn is a bit taken aback that she still continues to fight.
Focused on the task at hand Meryln doesn’t notice Diana charging at him. She nails him mid-section and sends him flying back. She delivers a punch to the face that slams Merlyn’s head into an invisible barrier. Diana rushes back to Sage and apologizes for keeping her waiting, admitting Sage knows her better than she knows herself.
Sage is unresponsive and Diana finds herself shaking Sage’s shoulder, concerned for her life. Sage finally answers, but weakly, telling Diana she gets her wish after all. Diana states it’s now how she wanted to earn her freedom.
An incoming bad guy interrupts their little talk and Diana handles him swiftly. As more approach Diana gets to her feet. She kicks another one and assumes a defensive posture. She tells the collapsed Sage they’re going to find a way to win this thing and not even Merlyn is going to be able to do a thing about it.