Ororo Munroe is believed to be dead. Performing a ceremony in remembrance in the sewer system beneath Manhattan for the deformed outcast mutants who once dwelt there, something happened. Cable, her colleague, found a faceless copse at the site that must have been Storm.
Ororo Munroe is alive for the moment. She was displaced to a mad Darwinist otherworld, called the Hill, by the mutant powers of Mikhail Rasputin, whose throat now pulsates beneath Storm’s blade. She has just discovered that his talent of teleporting people between her world and this is somewhat involuntary, and, at the moment, a gate is opening on her home.
The Hill is a training ground for Gene Nation, the mutant terrorists descended from the Morlocks outcasts Mikhail ruled here. The new members of Gene Nation fully intend to detonate a bomb if their “father” Mikhail displaces Storm to Earth. Callisto, who trains her weapon on Storm, once led the Morlocks until Storm beat her in combat years ago. She is sick of Storm. In seconds, somebody will have to make a move. And that move will be lethal.
Storm is unsure. She has been plagued by doubts regarding her decision-making abilities. She makes short-term gains but, in the long view, only horror comes from her choices. She must do this right. Callisto urges her to make her move. The gate will close soon. The bomb is armed, the Gene National Loss announces. She can detonate or deactivate it in a second - depending on what Storm does.
Ororo asks Mikhail whether he has grown stronger in his mutant ability in all those years. Of course he has, he replies. Don’t they all? Storm orders him to extend his teleportational gate to encompass the entire Hill - or he will die here as failure. Callisto and the Gene Nationals react with surprise as Mikhail obeys Storm’s unusual order. The transfer effect bulges outwards and everything is reduced to sparks and emptiness.
The Sewers beneath Manhattan, 3: 00 AM:
Cable, leader of X-Force, could not mourn Storm’s death earlier this night because he never took the time to know her well enough. He has come to the Morlock tunnels where she died, to apologize. He enters the Cathedral, once a lovely place. The Morlocks would let the sun in once a year.
The glass and polished steel would magnify and reflect the light into here, making it a silvered place of holy beauty. Whoever killed Storm also destroyed the Cathedral.
He has come here to give Storm a private send-off, some kind of indication that he cared about her death. The means has occurred to him. He uses his telekinetic power to gather up all the broken pieces of the cathedral with his mind and spins them beneath the night sky revealed by the hole in the roof, all the stars and streetlights and headlamps…
Standing there in the wreckage of the Cathedral, Cable makes each element of his glittering cloud spin, to reflect and magnify the light from above… and the place is dappled with bright light. Alive again.
Something falls from Cable’s face, itself alive with sparkles. He says good-bye. And then he says: What in… The light of Rasputin’s transfer effect explodes around him as Rasputin, Storm and the Gene Nationals almost land on top of him, followed by even more.
Still holding the bomb, Loss rants that she’ll kill them all… a holy death… More and more mutants come through, as Mikhail teleports the entire population of the Hill inside the Tunnels. Keeping the knife at his throat, Storm orders him to keep the gate open or she will open his windpipe in front of his children.
Cable can’t believe what he’s seeing. One of the Gene Nationals lunges a him. Having no patience for this, Cable belts him, grabs Rasputin by the collar and demands to know what’s going on. Storm warns him to back off. She has to keep control of him. And one of the Gene Nationals has a bomb. Looking at the crowd Cable asks which one. Loss present herself, ranting that she will bring death to them.
Interrupting her rant, Cable telekinetically grabs the bomb, telling Storm that he might be able to contain the explosion telekinetically, though he isn’t sure. Storm orders him to release his grip on the bomb. She is in control! Hurricane winds rise through the sewer air, sweeping the bomb through the tunnels until it howls out of the ground, high into the Manhattan sky and the cheated bomb roars at the stars.
Right, Cable announces, as he grabs Rasputin. People have stopped falling through his special effect, so he’s coming to him. She is not going to cut his throat, Mikhail asks fearfully. That wouldn’t hurt enough, Cable decides, as he decks him. Storm is one of his people, he shouts, as he tosses Rasputin away, and you don’t touch his friends.
They thought she was dead, he announces stiffly, as Ororo hugs him in relief. Why didn’t they check the corpse to make certain it was her, she asks. Long story, he tells her. Changing the subject, Cable announces, pointing at the people that came though, what do the do about these people and who are they. Descendants of the Morlocks who survived the tunnel flooding, Ororo begins to explain only to be cut off by an angry Callisto, who announces that they are hers, as she raises her weapon at Storm. Life was hard, but she loved them. She led them with Mikhail until she cursed him for trying to steal Storm. She is sick of Storm ruining things for her!
Callisto has poisoned her life for years while she has tried to be kind to her throughout, Storm angrily shoots back, as she throws lightning at the gun. Hot jagged metal files up in Callisto’s face. She has crossed the line, Storm adds. She is finished.
Callisto howls in pain as she holds on to the wounds in her face. She has tried being her leader. She has tried being her friend. It never holds for long, Storm tells Cable. Being Callisto’s nightmare might work best in the long term. Her new scars should aid her memory this time. That’s colder that he would have expected, Cable admits. It was a command decision for the safety of the X-Men, she explains. And she has achieved it without murder. She asks him to call for assistance. Most of these people are dazed by the transfer, but they will pull themselves together sooner or later.
Westchester: Jean Grey suddenly sits up in bed, as Cable telepathically contacts her and tells her what’s going on. She turns to her husband, announcing that his son just shouted in her brains. Why is he only his son when he’s doing something bad, Scott asks sleepily. Jean happily reveals that Storm is alive.
Cable tells Storm he has alerted the X-Men. Hopefully, they’ll be quick. The natives are getting restless. Summoning lightning, Storm announces that she’s sure they can cope. Cable suddenly swears. Callisto’s made a run for it.
Half-blind with pain and her own blood, she thrashes through the rancid waters of the place that once was her home. She’s too old now. Too old to do anything but hate. A hand grasps hers and a voice offers help. Callisto looks up in disbelief… to see Marrow. She must be losing it. Storm killed the girl in single combat months ago.
She only tore her heart out, Marrow, explains. What need does a soldier of Gene Nation have for a heart? Besides… she has another. She’ll take care of Callisto.
The transfer effect starts again and Mikhail announces that he’s leaving. Storm orders him to power down. He must leave, Mikhail whines. He will be angry.
He who? Storm asks. This is his last warning. Rasputin begins to fade and Storm throws lightning at him, giving the young Morlocks the impression that she’s killed him. She is one of the strong, they grudgingly admit. The Gene Nationals are cowed. Time passes as Storm debates whether to mention that Mikhail vanished before her less-than-lethal attack struck.
As the X-Men arrive, she gives her orders. The Gene Nationals are used to a harsh environment. It’s all they know. But they do no good in it. They maim and plot. She has a harsh environment for them: a village in Africa, gone to ruin through short-termism. They suffered in the famine and the aid they were given was useless. In the long run, they will starve again. The X-Men are going to take them there and there they will live. They will work the land, plant food in the dry soil and make the place live again. And the X-Men will be watching. Should they harm even one soul there, Storm will bring down her mighty wrath upon their head. Maybe one day… they will all grow up.
Somewhere, in the darkness, separated from the chaos and commotion squats the Dark Beast. He is deeply, deeply angry (except “angry” isn’t quite the word that instantly occurs to him). Mikhail Rasputin was working under his instructions. Gene Nation are his creatures. Another year would have given another generation of Gene Nationals, an elite strain of mutant warriors - his elite. And now he’s lost them. Just like that. Mikhail will suffer for this. And so will Ororo Munroe.
Westchester, the main kitchen of the Xavier Institute, midday
As Cable downs his umpteenth cup of coffee, Scott suggests setting him up with a dripfeed. Cable starts to argue but suddenly stops, smelling sandalwood. Storm is entering the kitchen, presenting a new look that surprises her friends. Her hair cut in stylish chin-length-bob apart from to strand in the front she has kept long, she now wears a more revealing uniform. She felt it was time for a change. Something that commands a little more attention. It does that, Cable enthusiastically agrees. With a smile, Storm thanks him.