A lab full of machinery. A scientist is busy making calculations. A military officer enters and informs him they’ve got ice. Does this mean they are coming back? It means something is the scientist’s reply. What do they do if it’s hostile? the soldier asks. They don’t do anything, the scientist tells him. Someone two miles above them pushes a button and this installation is flooded with 1.5 megatons of concrete. He’s seen the mixers.
They’ve got something! another scientist announces. It’s cold. Real cold. They stare at a kind of triangle-like gate.
Shouldn’t it be hot? the soldier asks. He means, isn’t it hot… there? It turns out “there” consumes heat from any dimension that it comes into contact with, the first scientist lectures. That’s right, the second adds. Hell is hungry…
The gate opens and trough the mists they see something coming through. What’s the challenge word again? the scientist wonders aloud. Oh yeah. Crimson! He cries.
Cloven the leader of the military group that is returning replies and salutes. So does the scientist as he addresses him as General Ulysses. Good to have him back, he stutters. He’s been gone a long time. No /&$&, the general replies. He and his group are dressed in tattered uniforms, wearing mystic symbols, knives and swords mixed with modern weaponry, some are clearly injured.
Utopia, where the X-Club are having a thorough look at their newest inhabitants: the returned Warlock and Doug Ramsey. They are watched by Scott Summers and Emma Frost.
Dr. Nemesis finally states that the two of them show no sign of Eli Bard’s malignant T/O. Referring to Warlock, Danger observes that he seem to be operating at only 3.8 % capacity and claims 100 % capacity is months away. Warlock explains he is limiting his lifeglow harvest to local kelp. Friendculture forbids the harvest sentient life.
A race of sentient machines capable of morality and higher thought, Danger muses (while Jeffries stares at her fascinated). How does Warlock’s species reproduce? The Technarchy are self-replicating. That means asexually, Jeffries explains. Hmm… pity, Danger decides.
Warlock senses social discomfort. Has he said something inappropriate? Douglas explains that from Mr. Jeffries’ body language he’d say he has feelings for… “Please,” Nemesis who is working on him cuts him off. He works very hard to keep his dysfunctional team of scientists free of sexual tension. If he must talk, perhaps he can explain why his T/O infection has retreated to the point of being virtually imperceptible.
Douglas states that in their language one could say he hacked its code bur he prefers to say it’s because he asked it to. Nicely.
A shorts distance away, Emma asks with her back turned whether that was before or after he tried to brain Amara Aquilla with a lead pipe? Emma, Scott tries to calm her. Honestly, she tells him annoyed. She’s not entirely convinced Sam Guthrie needs his own team. And now Scott wants to let him add someone who attacked Utopia.
If they are going to start cutting X-Men who have attacked other X-Men against their will, they are not going to have anyone left, he points out sensibly.
Doesn’t he feel they should at least deal with Illyana’s situation before—Emma begins. Warlock interrupts: is she referring to Illyana V2.0.? “2.0?” Emma repeats, not understanding. Warlock explains Magik is not the original. In friendlanguage she is “pirated copy.” This is just what she is talking about, Emma sighs. Perhaps they should figure out just what this “copy” of Illyana Rasputin wants before they go any further. Warlock wonders if he has misspoken again.
In the Danger Room (still under construction), Sunspot tries his strength and fighting skills against a red fanged monster. When he beats it back, already sure he has won, its one arm emits tentacles which tangle him. “Illyana!” he calls out rather urgently. Hear you, she replies and teleports the creature away. What the %$§% was that? Roberto asks, looking at the tentacle left in his hand. A Bride of Botis, the teethed one, Illyana explains unfazed. It was only trying to nurse him. It wouldn’t have hurt him? he asks. Oh, very much so, she replies. The spawn of Botis do not survive their feedings.
The cheery conversation is interrupted by Dani and Shan who tell Bobby they are going to visit Amara and Illyana that she has to go to administration. Emma wants to see her.
Amara’s “sickbed” is actually a vat of molten lava. Is she getting out of that thing today? Sam Guthrie asks her. She agrees Dr. Nemesis thinks she’s remained in her molten form long enough for her body to “forget” its injuries when she turns her powers off. Did she get to see Nemesis’ softer side? Sam inquires Absolutely not, he is told.
Hesitantly, Amara thanks him for getting her out in one piece. Thank Bobby, he suggests. She should have seen him taking care of her. If it wasn’t so serious, it would have been cute. He wouldn’t be surprised if Bobby had… Sam, Amara interrupts him. What’s the matter? he asks. Does she think Bobby is that gross?
“No…” Doug Ramsey announces as he enters. She’s scared of him. He can read her face. A moment later, Sunspot arrives and grabs him by the shoulders before pushing Doug against a wall. Does he think he can waltz in here after what he did?
Their miscommunication? Doug asks. That was caused by Selene? He almost killed her! Sunspot snarls. If he could have a word with Amara? Doug asks. Magma orders him to leave. Let him translate that, Bobby adds. &%$§ off! Doug leaves and Amara looks after him.
In her office, Emma looks at the computer screen while coolly asking Illyana if she knows why she’s allowed to stay here. Because, she sneers, everyone remembers her as an impossibly innocent young girl whose life was cut short by a horrible disease. They are practically tripping over themselves to make it up to her. But she wouldn’t know anything about all that, would she?
No, Illyana replies, eyes down cast. Who is she? Emma asks. After a moment’s silence, Illyana replies she is the Darkchilde, the adopted daughter of Belasco. She has the body and mind of Illyana Rasputin, but she has lost her soul. She is one who should not be. Is everyone in Limbo so descriptive? Emma asks. Yes, comes the reply. Emma tells her to go on.
When the demons of Limbo turned Emma’s world into an Inferno, Illyana was there. The New Mutant fought them through time and space and in doing so she discovered a younger version of herself, before the demon Belasco had corrupted her. To save her was to cease to be. Her innocence would cost teenage Illyana her existence. She made her decision gladly, giving up her life for the young Illyana to have her chance.
But the demon Belasco would not leave her to oblivion. Using magic, blacker than the heart of the universe, he gave her unnatural existence. But without her soul, she was an abomination in his eyes. The Darkchilde was cast out into Limbo to fend for herself…
Emma continues that the Darkchilde met a group of her former students. One lost an arm. Another a piece of her soul. She hopes Illyana doesn’t expect sympathy. Illyana tells her she is darkness and hurt given form. She expects nothing from Emma.
Good, Emma replies, because no matter how pathetic Illyana’s situation may have been, she was offered sanctuary in San Francisco and she left. Why?
To find her bloodstones, Magik explains. She spent many years searching for them. So when she returned days later-- Emma urges her, pointing out the contradiction. She travelled back in time, Magik explains. She had discovered it essential to confront the one called Legion. Even if it meant slaying five of David Haller’s personalities in the process? Emma asks angrily. Pieces of his mind he’ll never get back?
Had she not arrived, all of his personalities would have been destroyed, Illyana retorts. And how does she know that? Emma demands. Smirking for the first time, Illyana tells her she saw many futures on her way to this past. She’ll allow Emma a peek inside her mind if she’d like to see for herself.
In Magik’s memories, Emma sees herself surrounded by dead X-Men. She herself finally slays Legion. Would she like to see more? Illyana asks. Emma graciously declines.
Elsewhere in a monitor room, Douglas Ramsey stands and is joined by Amara. She wants him to leave, he ventures. Hesitatingly Amara agrees. She doesn’t trust him, Doug spells out. Amra reminds him that he attacked her… took her out of a fight she needed to be in. And now he’s… he’s back but he doesn’t act like Doug used to and he barely blinks, and…
Returning from death seems to have abnormally widened his perspective, he explains. He used to translate words… but everything they touch, every movement they make creates information. Everything is a language, and he translates it all. If he doesn’t blink it’s simply because there’s simply too much to read.
Amara nervously turns to her lava form, warning him to stay back. Doug states he wants to tell her something that will put her at ease. He wants to tell her something in a language he invented. Magma doesn’t understand and steps back, her way blocked by the computer console.
Doug states he wishes to convey exactly how he feels about her. And assure her that he will never hurt her again. The common tongues are adequate for the transmission of ideas but he finds them inadequate for communicating truth. She is an individual, he wishes to speak to her in a language created just for her.
Okay, Amara agrees finally and powers down. Doug tells her to listen carefully and whispers something in her hear. Amara begins to smile and hugs him. Welcome back, she tells him.
Back in Emma’s office, where Emma wants to know how Illyana filled the years she was away.
As Legion slaughtered his way to his own death at Emma’s hands, Illyana remained oblivious, obsessed with retrieving her bloodstones. For years she searched, refusing to believe they were lost. Against skies colored with the bloodmist of beaten backs she found Witchfire reincarnated and put her to the sword.
There were whispers her former teammates had been swept up in their plans but she had led travelers from another dimension to the bloodstones. Illyana made haste but was too late. Illyana witnessed how the X-Men and her fellow New Mutants were already in Limbo fighting demons and were all slaughtered. They had arrived.
Who, Emma asks. The Elder Gods. The end of the world. So she travelled backward to save them? Emma asks. To make them strong for what’s coming next, Illyana replies. An attack from travelers from Limbo? When will it come? Emma demands. Illyana admits she doesn’t know. The timeline… has changed. They could arrive tomorrow. They could already be here…
And elsewhere, General Ulysses and his people are making plans, plans that have to do with the New Mutants…