Unity, New England at the stroke of midnight. The Nexus Being known only as Lore unleashes a fury of power. Dimension after dimension has fallen to her hideous strength. This dimension is next. ‘The Witch is mine!’ she screams as she blasts the mighty Scarlet Witch, a.k.a. Wanda Maximoff, leader of the Avengers West Coast. Wanda pushes her elderly mentor, the uber-witch Agatha Harkness, aside, as she faces off against Lore, staring her in the face, Wanda exclaims ‘Me! You’re me!’. Lore smirks and replies ‘A mirror image only - and the mirror is dark! Before blasting Wanda with a powerful beam of energy.
In the catacombs beneath the Unity church, Wanda and Agatha have just defeated Master Pandemonium and a quartet of demonically transformed West Coast Avengers - USAgent, Spider-Woman, War Machine, and reserve member Living Lightning. ‘The lady is here! How lovely she is!’ exclaims the deranged Master Pandemonium, held in mystical bonds as the Scarlet Witch faces another threat. Agatha dodges the blast while telling Wanda that this is another aspect of the Nexus, an ancient and evil rapacious version, the very being that has haunted Wanda all this time.
‘As long as Agatha Harkness has strength and wit, it will desist!’ the aged sorceress cries, blasting Lore with her arcane abilities. ‘Begone, revenant! I banish you from this dimension!’ Agatha exclaims. Lore holds her own though, and admits that Agatha is correct on one thing, she is the instrument of the Scarlet Witch’s recent madness, however ‘Your feeble magic is nothing to me!’ With that, Lore renders Agatha unconscious. Wanda is furious, and warns Lore that she will pay for that.
Wanda supposes that her next hex will work no better against Lore than Agatha’s magic, ‘But how will you fare against a solid right hook?’ Wanda asks as she uses her physical combat training to punch Lore - only to find that her fist and arm just phase through. ‘You’re not there! You’re just a spirit!’ Wanda exclaims. Lore corrects her: ‘A spirit, yet, but not without power!’ and casts more of her evil magic upon Wanda, knocking the mighty Scarlet Witch to the ground, where she lands near an old skeleton.
Wanda gathers herself and sits up, asking ‘What are you, Lore? What do you want?’. Lore hovers overhead, and replies that she wants this ripe, succulent world, of course. ‘And you cannot stop me - for you cannot stop what you cannot touch!’ the Nexus Being adds, before explaining that the physics of the dimensional universe demand that no two nexus beings exist on the same plane of reality. She smirks as she reveals that she can only manifest here as a ghost, a fancy - ‘And the fancy is yours, Wanda Maximoff!’ Lore shouts.
Lore tells Wanda that she has come though her nightmares, through the jagged pathways of Wanda’s own tortured soul. ‘You have beckoned me here, welcomed me! And for that, you have my gratitude!’. Worried, Wanda asks ‘What of me?’ to which Lore replies that she would have thought that was obvious: ‘You are this dimension’s Nexi…I want your physical self. Once I possess it, I can begin to feed on this appetizing realm!’.
Lore begins to explain to Wanda that each of the universe’s innumerable dimensions has its own Nexus Being - one who personifies that realm’s character. ‘Do not judge me harshly, Hex Witch!’ Lore remarks, informing Wanda that she comes from a place where necromancy is the common order, so it is inevitable that she should act this way, just as it is inevitable that she requires new sources of life-force to sustain herself.
(Shown with illustrative flashback images)
Lore reveals that, eons ago, she exhausted her own world of such life-force, and that since then she has moved from one Nexus Dimension to the next, devouring as she went. Lore explains that the process is simple, that when the hour comes, her powers bind the dimension into helpless stasis, while her agents drive that dimension’s resident Nexi insane…thereupon, with the Nexus Guardian helpless and vulnerable, she is able to take over the body and become physically manifest - then, she has the solid form through which to feed!
‘You are next, hex witch! You are mine!’ Lore cries, readying more energy, while a solemn Wanda holds her wounds and whispers ‘I have dreamed of what you say. The pain, the destruction…’ Lore smirks and replies ‘Of course. The psychic shock of each invasion carries through the dimensions to each Nexi in an empathic ripple. ‘Yes. Then I suppose it’s all over…’ Wanda whispers. ‘…come and take me, Lore’ she utters as her body slumps with injury to the ground.
However, Wanda’s mind is sharp. She lulls Lore with her voice, while summoning a massive riptide of hex power. ‘Eat this, monster!’ Wanda shouts as she aims a seemingly small hex blast as Lore closes in on her. Lore is unfazed and boasts that she has consumed over ten thousand worlds, so she tires of these desperate last stands…. Wanda resigns herself again and solemnly remarks that she supposes she had to try, even though it didn’t work. Lore grins, ‘Don’t waste your power. Submit. It will be so much easier!’.
Suddenly though, Wanda smacks Lore straight in the face, and actually hit’s a physical form. Lore cries out as she falls to the ground. ‘What is this? I can feel! It isn’t possible!’ she gasps. ‘Anything is possible with a control of probability. My hex can’t affect you directly…but it allows me to do the one thing no other Nexi victim of yours could - arrange the probability of you and I co-existing, physically, in the same place!’ Wanda explains. ‘That changes things, don’t you think?’ she asks Lore, who blasts a stream of energy along the ground before rising from where she had fallen, ‘Very clever, Wanda…too clever!’ Lore replies, pointing out that Wanda has given her weight, sense and form so that she no longer needs the Scarlet Witch at all.
Suddenly, ‘Oh, look! The sleeping dead have woken!’ grins Lore as zombies rise from the ground where she cast her power. Lore adds that they answer only to her of course, as she is the necromancer here. ‘Now, Witch. Now we’ll hear you scream!’ Lore cries as the zombies begin to surround Wanda. The dead continue to rise up and surround Wanda, bursting from the dust that has covered them for millennia. Dry sockets grind, rusted armor clatters against bleached bone. Fleshless fingers tighten around the hilts of ancient weapons.
But the Scarlet Witch stands her ground, striking back with every ounce of fury in her limbs. Every minute spent training with USAgent bears fruit. The ranks of the undead crumble. ‘A fine display, hex witch!’ Lore cackles, ‘But far from good enough!’ Lore exclaims that Wanda cannot kill them, as they have no life to lose. She points out that as fast as Wanda’s blows cut the deathless down, they merely rise again.
Suddenly, Wanda raises her hands high and exclaims that she feels the undead’s pain, the agony of being torn from their eternal rest by Lore’s foul necromancy. Wanda exclaims that their spirits yearn for the release of quiet death once more, they do not want to be part of Lore’s evil. Wanda declares, in a burst of blinding light, that all the undead want is for the silence of the grave, and boasts that she can turn that heartfelt wish into reality! With that, light bursts, searing away necromancy in a flood of concentrated hex power, causing the churchyard to shudder as it takes back its stolen sleepers into the ground.
‘There! May you rest in peace…’ Wanda whispers, when suddenly, ‘And my you join them!’ shrieks Lore as she lunges at Wanda, smacking her with a sword. But Wanda retaliates, pushing Lore up against a wall, Wanda asks her if raising the dead has drained her sorcery. ‘Not at all!’ Lore replies as she hits Wanda with a magical blast at close range. Agatha Harkness reappears and tends to Wanda, knocking Lore aside with a bolt of magic, Agatha exclaims that she still has power left.
This gives Wanda time to gather herself, and both women face off, their magic clashing against the others. ‘So, Nexus sister, must it come to this? A duel? A test of your arcane arts against mine?’ Lore asks, boasting that she can block everything Wanda casts at her. ‘As can I, dark one’ Wanda replies. Neither of the women seem to notice as bolts of magic deflect and ricochet around the chamber, some glancing away to strike unintended targets - like Master Pandemonium’s shackles. The uber-villain strains against the bonds holding him, tearing at the weakened stone work, and all the while, the ancient chamber resounds with the fury of the conjured attacks.
‘Curse you! You will submit to me!’ screams Lore as she lunges at Wanda, fists outstretched. ‘Not in your lifetime, Lore!’ Wanda replies as she shoves Lore backwards. Lore remains on the ground while a determined Wanda stands over her, ‘You have torn your way through the Multiverse mercilessly! Genocide is too inadequate a word for your atrocities!’ Wanda tells Lore, before warning her that it is all over, here and now.
‘How true’ a solemn Lore replies, staring at the Scarlet Witch, as Master Pandemonium jumps Wanda from behind, ‘Wanda! Wanda, my love!’ he cries, wrapping his arms around her. ‘Pandemonium! No!’ screams Wanda, struggling in her foe’s grasp. ‘I love you, Wanda! We will be together now! Always! The lady promised! Pandemonium babbles, while Wanda tells him to let her go, ‘Don’t you know what she’s capable of?’ Wanda asks him, referring to Lore.
Lore gathers herself, telling Pandemonium to hold Wanda tight, and she will give him what she promised. ‘You and the Witch will be together forever…in death!’ With that, Lore unleashes a powerful blast, although it only strikes Pandemonium, as somehow Wanda is free. USAgent grabs Wanda, and pulls her to safety. Wanda sees that her friends are all transformed back to normal, and Wonder Man is among them too. Wanda reveals that Pandemonium released her at the last moment, and they turn and watch a weakened Pandemonium who cries ‘Lady…why have you betrayed me this way…?’. Lore grins and replies ‘That’s what I do best, you witless fool! Get out of my sight!’ she exclaims, and with that, Pandemonium vanishes.
Wanda tells her friends that she wishes the circumstances of their reunion were happier, but that the fact they are themselves again is a good sign. Wanda supposes that Lore’s magic must be too weak to sustain the illusion, and begins to suggest that they strike in unison, when suddenly, Lore, surrounded by magical flames, appears before them, telling the Scarlet Witch not to bother trying, for her powers are not drained, explaining that she has simply summoned them all together so that she can perform such rites that will crack this world open.
Lore declares that she no longer needs the Scarlet Witch, as Wanda has given her physical form. But, Lore exclaims that she will not share this dimension with another Nexus, and remarks that the Avengers will be fitting sacrifices at this, her inauguration as supreme force in this dimension. Wanda and her friends stagger backwards as choking clouds of smog swirl around Lore, who declares that she will need great power to obliterate Wanda and calls all the spirits of the Nexi, all those she has vanquished and devoured in her progress here. She draws their screaming souls from the lonely graves where she left them, and empties their powers into herself so that she can…
…Lore’s words are interrupted be the sound of her screams, her cries shatter the stone vault of the catacomb. Freed for the very first time since she slew them, the dead Nexi swoop and shriek through the air around Lore, and take their terrible revenge. As the dead Nexi begin to destroy Lore, Wanda urges her friends backwards, before calling out to the Nexi, ’Leave her! Leave her to me!’ she exclaims, picking up a sword, Wanda aims and tosses it towards the strung-out Lore, ‘You owe me this much, Nexi…the witch is mine!’ Wanda shouts. The sword strikes, and there is a massive burst of hex energy, then nothing.
Soon, Wanda stirs, ‘Where am I?’ she asks. ‘So dark, empty’. Suddenly, a small light is seen approaching her, ‘What is that?’ Wanda asks, when suddenly the light reveals a humanoid within it. ‘Sleep, Wanda. You’ve earned it’ the mysterious being remarks. ‘You have avenged us, Avenger, and laid out souls to rest, just as you freed the dead of Unity. You have destroyed the scourge of the Nexi’. Wanda gasps, ‘Who are you? I saw you in my dreams!’ she exclaims. The creature smiles and reveals that she is Evelyn, the last Nexi to fall. ‘From us all, I give you thanks. You have won us peace. Now you must sleep’ she smiles, pointing at Wanda, who protests ‘But my friends…’ Wanda utters, before she falls asleep. ‘Are safe. Sleep, Wanda Maximoff…’.
‘Lore!’ Wanda screams as she wakes up. ‘Easy, Wanda! You’re safe now!’ Spider-Woman tells her friend, explaining that they found Wanda in the ruins of Unity church and brought her back to the Compound, where she has been asleep for hours. Wanda tells everyone that she owes them all thanks, ‘Especially you Agatha…and you, Agent. If you hadn’t kept my combat training…well, the old Scarlet Witch, with only her hex power would have been pretty easy prey for Lore’ Wanda remarks.
‘Flattery wont make me ease off the workout regime, Wanda’ USAgent replies. Spider-Woman tells Walker to shut-up, before turning to Wanda and asking her how she feels. ‘Feel, Spider-Woman? I feel…better than I’ve ever felt before’. The end of the old Scarlet Witch, as the new Scarlet Witch smiles.