On the shore of their city, the Proud People calmly stand ready for battle. Not alone, they are joined by Tom Skylark and his robotic partner, the Sentinel known as Rover. From across the waves that lap upon their shore, the Proud People hear the bellowing words, demanding that they surrender the Starlit City. This… is how they died.
Hovering above the waters, some distance from shore, a figure clad head to toe in white calls out to the Proud People. The figure wields a spear, which seems to possess technological traits. His stationary position upon the sea is the result of similar technology, a luminous jetpack. Upon the figure’s chest is an emblem of an angel. Now, having delivered his ultimatum, the figure announces that he is Apollyon the destroyer and he commands them. He is justly named for his swift wrath, he continues. Homo perfectus has come; herald of the Beast almighty!
Some distance away, a mighty baleen whale named Mer-Max speaks telepathically to the Proud People. In a thick Scottish brogue, he tells his friends that he has to dive for Megamerica and shut down his “far-speaking.” On his last words, he informs them that armies of Crawlers are approaching on an ancient ship… and for them to take care of themselves. Back at the shore, Apollyon reaches out his hand menacingly, demanding that they surrender the Phoenix egg.
Hearing this, a hammer-wielding man shouts back, brandishing his weapon. Identifying himself as the Maker, he informs Apollyon that these Intereuropa islands are free. His ship will go no further. Nearby, Tom Skylark watches the proceedings. He stands atop a building, so as to not only give himself a better view but to put him at eye level with Rover. When Rover announces his assessment of the situation with a monotone destroy, Tom rejoins that he will have his chance soon enough. He just doesn’t like the way this is all shaping up. Suddenly noticing something, Tom rhetorically asks what is all that appearing around Apollyon.
Still offshore, Apollyon replies to the Maker’s statement, explaining that he misunderstands him. He gives him the endless armies of the Beast. As Apollyon speaks, hundreds of Crawlers appear out of brimstone clouds, having teleported from the approaching ship. These crawlers, unlike some others, bear giant feathery wings and begin to close the gap between Apollyon and the shore. Calling out his orders, Apollyon commands the Crawlers to die for them. In their huddled thousands… die.
Back at his lookout point, Tom Skylark places his helmet upon his head, all the while telling Rover that he can’t do this. He can’t fly out on everybody… Trying to ease Tom’s fears, one of the Proud People, a young woman, finishes the task of affixing the Phoenix egg on the back of Rover and tells him to get it to safety… or she’ll tell his mum.
Another youth, a redheaded girl with a seemingly innocuous walking stick calls out to one of her compatriots on a flying automobile. Yelling to the “driver,” Brian, she tells him to walk out for the Crawlers. Responding with a smirk, he asks her if she really thinks so. To this, he adds that his magic car is more than a match for any winged monkey-man. Less than a moment later, Brian thinks twice about what he just said, quietly stating that he didn’t mean that in a speciesist way…
Brian’s worries turn to fear as he notices that the approaching Crawlers have reached his car and have begun to tear it apart. As his car begins a nosedive, the redheaded girl informs Tom and Rover that the Phoenix egg is secure. Go, Rover! Go! Her order given, she jumps into battle with her partner, who asks if she remembers how they said they’d live forever…
Behind them, Rover gently encloses Tom in his two palms. This task completed, it activates its boot-rockets and begins to ascend into the night sky, leaving the Proud People and the attacking Crawlers behind. Watching this blood fest through Rover’s open fingers, Tom asks that may the Lord help them all. Growing ever more distant to Tom’s eyes, the Proud People fight on, though hopelessly outnumbered. Slowly and inexorably, they fall to the relentless assault of the Crawlers.
Recounting the story, Tom informs his audience that plumes of sulphur, miles high, drifted north ahead of the Crawler hordes… That’s how he ended up at the Institute, since they happened to ask. Having heard the whole tale now, one of the gathered kids asks if it is make-believe or real. Well, Tom replies, he’s only gone and lost the bleedin’ egg they all died for, hasn’t he? Does the shame on his face look like make-believe?
Another of the children, a juvenile with a third eye in his forehead, tells the nearby E.V.A. that humans are creepy. Hearing this, Tom tells the first youth, a young girl, that he’s only joking. Some brave people go down in the fight but good always wins in the end. Replying with sheer innocence, the young girl asks Tom if he’s totally sure. Current statistical thinking, she informs him, suggests otherwise.
Story-time now over, the children return to their play, leaving behind a confused Tom Skylark. Making a joke at E.V.A., he asks her if children aren’t lovely at that age. Now in her female android form, E.V.A. informs Tom that they’ve had to change their plans, obviously. Everyone’s preparing for the worst. They have to attack the Beast directly now. Immediately. The Three-In-One has spoken and his presence in their X-Men until would be most valued. Adding a final note, she tells Tom that he can have his antique Sentinel back, disinfected, of course.
His mind back to what happened before, Tom apologizes again about losing the egg. This said, he tells E.V.A. that he’s good with machines. He gets on with them and… well… he can tell she’s unhappy. Unfulfilled, like. Sensing Tom’s intentions, E.V.A. replies that the sensations and processes he knows as “feelings” are interpreted very differently by her conscious network, whatever he might think. Since Fantomex and… and what happened… she’s denied herself intimate contact with another nervous system.
Taken aback, Tom reminds E.V.A. that he’s only a human being… one of the last few thousand left in the whole world. He’s about to get intimate with extinction. He can say what he likes. To this, E.V.A. stammers out an apology, stating that she hopes it won’t come to that. What, Tom rejoins. Intimacy or death?
Calling out to Rover, Tom asks his “useless great lump of scrap” if he is alright. Towering high above Tom and E.V.A., Rover continues his self-repair, welding close a wound, and replies with a slurred dest… RRR… Hearing this, E.V.A. jokes to Tom that Rover sounds almost heartbroken – she thinks he loves Tom. To this, Tom replies simply that Rover doesn’t have a heart. Enough now having been said, E.V.A. suggests to Tom that they go. The others are waiting and the hour grows late.
In the Cerebra chamber, the three remaining Stepford Cuckoos sisters, now called the Three-In-One, chant in unison. Whole genomes will be enslaved. Evolution will grind to a halt. The future will belong to mass-produced biological conformity. All their struggles will have been in vain. If the Phoenix chooses to serve the Beast… if he chooses to attack them with her power at his disposal… there will be no tomorrow.
As the sisters chant their information, Logan stands nearby, moving in the slow motion movements of Tai Chi. Ignoring Logan’s movements, just as he seems to be ignoring them, the Three-In-One state that the Phoenix Egg is there at the end of all things. So it is written. So it has come to pass.
Wooo, spooky, announces Cassandra Nova Xavier, as she enters the chamber. She’s afraid that it’s much worse than that. Consider this, she states: what happens when the Beast codes Phoenix traits into his armies? Or into himself? They can’t attack Transatlantis soon enough, she says. The X-Men, champions of genetic diversity… Charles would have been so proud.
Turning her head in thought, Cassandra considers something for a moment. She tells the sisters that she had dreams. Dreams with them in it… This was never meant to be, was it? Something went terribly wrong… To this, she asks the girls to tell her the truth. What do they really see when they look at the future without flinching. A fire from beyond, they reply. Consuming fire. The judgment of the Phoenix. Finally speaking, now that his exercises are done, Logan tells the ladies that, “talking’s done.”
On the rain-soaked tarmac, standing in the shadow of the X-Plane, Cassandra addresses her “troops.” She is dressed in her English safari outfit, including the hardhat. In her hands she holds the transparent sphere containing the brain of Martha Johansson. Speaking to her troops, Cassandra informs them that the menace of the Beast unites them all… mutants, men, machines… and, she continues, gesturing to what she holds in her hands, let them not forget dear old Martha’s marvellous brain. The engine of their war-glider. Now, she states in conclusion, who are they waiting for?
Almost in jest, the Beak asks “Missis Xavier” to guess, but then promptly notices the approaching Logan. As the former X-Man nears, Cassandra takes a moment to instruct “Tito” to call her Cassandra Nova. It’s so what her brother would have wanted. The group assembled, Logan, Cassandra (who carries Martha), Beak, E.V.A., Tom Skylark and Rover walk toward the X-plane, cheered on by the crowd.
In his island fortress in Transatlantis, the Beast announces that the Proud People lie on dissecting tables. Intereuropa island is being converted for genetic processing… and their ships are preparing to set sail for Megamerica. All is as it should be.
Placing his goggles down upon his eyes, the Beast moves toward his genetic forge. Calling out to Apollyon, the Beast informs him that he pulled this parasite from the head of a Crawler… it was trying to reproduce there, in his thoughts. As he places the beaker over the open flame of his forge, the Beast hears Apollyon talk about their remaining enemies: the Megamerica nations and the Termid tribes of the Panafrican Basin… The Beast, however, silences him, explaining that this is a delicate and dangerous work. He thinks he’ll call them “feeders.”
Returning to a different subject, Apollyon wrings his hands in nervousness, telling the Beast that he is the last and the greatest of his U-Men. He was made to be perfect. In reply, the Beasts states that, as this fallen world is, so must he be. When this world is perfected, then he will turn his attention to him, Apollyon. But until then… Still not satisfies, Apollyon whispers his lament, asking if he must remain broken, unfinished. Can’t he have frontal lobe grafts? All his life he’s dreamed of Phoenix grafts…
Unmoved, the Beast replies that paradise advances, one step at a time. Returning his attention to his now heated “feeder,” the Beast announces that they evolved only recently to fill a specialized niche. He begins to move the beaker toward a containment sphere, which holds captive a young woman of the Proud People. Calling her Corona, princess of the Proud People, the Beast says that, surely, a high-level, inquiring telepathic intellect like hers finds this filthy creature as fascinating as it finds her. His malicious joke made, he presses the feeder through the containment sphere.
Immediately, the bulbous creature sprouts forth dozens of tentacles, which begin to burrow themselves into Corona’s brain. Snarling that he is not so proud now, the Beast states that fifteen seconds after the feeder implants its larvae, they begin to eat the thoughts of the host. Imagine such traits in a Crawler. This experiment now concluded, the Beast orders Apollyon to follow; the time of the hatching draws near!
Entering a new chamber, the Beast finds the Phoenix Egg on a center pedestal. The luminescent egg in the center glows ever brighter and brighter, as it is fed by the optic blasts of numerous Crawlers, which hangs from various positions in the chamber. As they pour on more and more energy, the Beast yells for more, ordering the egg to incubate! Incubate! Arise!
Suddenly, the egg explodes in flame, turning the entire chamber into an inferno. When the flames subside, only the Beast is left, aside from that which was in the egg. Returning to his feet, the Beast likewise orders the silvery being at the center of the flames to likewise arise. He welcomes it back from the ashes… weapon of cosmic war in human form. In nervous, halting words, the Beast welcomes it to his world.
From the wavelands of the Pacificate to the deserts of Panafrika. From Extralia to Megamerica. Older than life, older than the oldest thing, he is. Undying Beast. Reaching out his clawed hand, the Beast tells the silvery creature that he has waited for it for three billion years. When the creature takes the Beast’s hand, it causes it to burn. However, rather than recoil, the Beast uses his other hand to clasp the creature’s, which has now emerged to be a woman.
Now speaking, the woman apologizes in an ethereal voice. She was in the crown… in the white hot room… in… what… what is she? Did she have something to fix, something that was dying? How long has it been since… since…
Finally looking into the Beast’s eyes and recognizing his animalistic visage, the woman asks if he is Henry. “Is it you?” Hearing this, the Beast repeats the name of Henry, almost in remembrance himself. And Beast, he adds. But… he has another name now. Cradling the now inert and unconscious yet still-flaming woman, the Beast tells his ultimate soldier, his destroyer of worlds, to call him… Sublime.