Akkaba City, under the North Pole. The Final Horseman called Pestilence lies, exhausted, while a scream can be heard. ‘Are…are they--?’ she calls out, as two attendants with bird masks stand at her side. ‘They are beautiful, Pestilence, my Queen’ one of the attendants replies. ‘We are blessed with new Lords, new caretakers of evolution’ the other remarks. ‘Uriel and Eimin…they are perfect’ Pestilence sighs, while wishing that their father, Lord Archangel, could be here. The babies are shown to Pestilence, whose real name is Ichisumi. One baby is completely black, the other red. ‘They must be cleaned’ one of the attendants announces, while the other reports that they must be guarded, and they take the twins out of the room, away from their mother.
‘Fine looking children’ the Horseman called Famine remarks, his drum strapped around his body as usual. ‘It’s not children Akkaba needs to move forward - it’s a leader’ Genocide declares, while the bulky War remains silent. War, Famine and Genocide follow the bird-masked attendants down a corridor, as Genocide sulks that this is wrong, and asks why he is being overlooked. ‘I’m the heir of Apocalypse!’ he shouts. Famine warns Genocide that he will be buried next to his father if he doesn’t watch his mouth. The attendants take the twins into a normal-looking nursery, with clouds painted onto the blue walls, and mobiles hanging over two cribs. They each place a baby into one of the cribs, before exiting the nursery.
A man thinks to himself that he has struggled since the days of the pharaohs to stop this Celestial manipulation, having exploited all the myriad powers at his disposal, and great swaths of time to that endeavor. But, it happens regardless - the Apocalypse Twins - ravagers of mankind, arrive with little fanfare. Yet, he knows their influence infects all futures, and that there is no simple way of undoing it. Their inception and time in utero - all of it safeguarded - this entire era now enclosed in a chronos dam of adaptable tachyons. Some unseen hand is guarding the birth of these twins - narrowing the spectrum of possible outcomes, few of them to his suiting. He tells himself that to stop these vermin, alterations to history must be more severe.
He knows that he must rearrange events in a manner that suits his purpose, securing his future. He has reorganized the board in incalculable permutations. If time could be measured while outside the stream, he would have aged hundreds of years. No matter his efforts to the contrary, he learned to accept that preventing Uriel’s rule is futile. Others quickly stood to fill his place - the cloned boy, the true son, the sister. This world will never be free of these evolutionary caretakers, these celestial pawns. An unstoppable tsunami instigated by a cosmic will far too great to truly comprehend, a will demanding forward motion of genetic progress. He boasts that he will not be corralled. That his fate is his own and that he will stand against this evolutionary will - that he has discovered how to derail these twins and the apocalypse they will bring to mankind.
‘After thousands of permeations, thousands of jumps backwards and forwards - I have finally solved this conundrum’ he tells himself. ‘Be still, little ones’ the man calls out as he enters the nursery, and reaches into the crib where the black-colored baby lies. He knows that this time, this precise arrangement of the pieces will lead to a resolution much more to his liking. He holds the red-colored baby in his other hand. He wears a purple and green costume. His own face appears blue. He declares that this is the only way. ‘It must be you who ensure I never deal with the likes of you again. It will take much time and patience’ he tells the babies, while adding that, fortunately, he is master of both - for he is Kang!
New York City, where, across the sunny sky, two long-serving and recognizable members of the Avengers soar. Simon “Wonder Man” Williams and Janet Van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp. Jan tells Simon to quit being so dire. ‘Something to think about is all’ Simon replies, but Jan tells him that it isn’t, and that she is certain - beyond certain - that no one is taking advantage of her. She adds that if they don’t want government funding of this Avengers division, if they are going to do it their way, someone has to bank roll the team. ‘You’re just worried that rejoining, after your efforts to have us disbanded, goes against your principles’ Jan points out, before suggesting that perhaps Simon is afraid that Wanda is taking advantage of his affections towards her?
Simon reminds Jan that he has never hidden his feelings, and points out that he is only here because Wanda asked him to help. ‘I owe her my life’ he declares. As they fly towards Avengers Mansion, Wonder Man explains to the Wasp that he is here to help with the public relations, to help seal the peace. ‘Some peace would be nice… unfortunately, I foresee a lot more fighting instead’ the Wasp replies. They set down outside the gates to Avengers Mansion, as Simon announces ‘Not me. I’m done punching things as a solution. All this fighting only serves to perpetuate chaos… and chaos is the last thing I need more of in my life’. However, standing nearby, hidden partly by shadows, is Simon’s deranged brother, Eric - the Grim Reaper. He watches and thinks to himself ‘So it’s true. You fool. She has drawn you back to her’.
On the front doorstep of the mansion now, a computer voice states ‘Wasp and Wonder Man - DNA confirmed. Welcome home, Avengers’. Hands in his pockets, Simon remarks ‘Not exactly Jarvis, is it?’ Jan points out that nothing is quite like the old days. ‘It’s Avengers Mansion, though. Even without Jarvis, it feels a lot like home to me’ Jan remarks, before telling Simon that she knows it was hard for Wanda to come to him, but that Wanda needs him here, that she is dealing with a lot of mistrust from the mutants - and, frankly, even most of the Avengers. Simon tells the Wasp that his friendship isn’t likely to earn Wanda points with the other Avengers, deciding that he is fairly unpopular among the old crew. ‘Yeah, getting Steve to sign you on was no easy feat’ the Wasp remarks.
‘But he understands just how much Wanda needs you here’ Jan tells Simon, adding that Wanda will need her old friends to support her. ‘And, to be honest - so do I’. They enter the mansion, ‘We’re through the looking glass here. Nothing quite like this has ever been attempted before. No idea what to anticipate, but from what I know about the X-Men… expect drama’ the Wasp tells Simon, her voice turning cold as she looks up to see the iconic photo of the original Avengers - Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Giant Man and herself - replaced by a portrait of Professor Charles Xavier, which Rogue is adjusting on the wall.
‘You have to be joking!’ Jan snaps as she strides towards Rogue. ‘Too far to the right?’ Rogue asks. ‘That painting has been up there since -’ the Wasp begins, but Rogue interrupts: ‘Since before this mansion was Avengers and X-Men working together to realize the dreams of Professor Charles Xavier?’ she asks, telling the Wasp that she figured she would appreciate not having that constant reminder of happier and more youthful times. ‘Have I done something to offend you? Because if not - I’m about to!’ the Wasp warns her, when suddenly, ‘Wasp, Wonder Man - welcome!’ Alex “Havok” Summers, leader of this specific squad of Avengers calls out as he walks down the stairs to the foyer.
Alex tells Rogue that he sees she got around to hanging the painting. ‘Excellent’ he remarks, before suggesting that they put Charles on the other wall to peacefully cohabitate with the other paintings. ‘Sure’ Rogue replies, before turning away from everyone and as she leaves, adds: ‘Let me know if you need suggestions on where you can stick it, Alex’. ‘Okay! Sounds great!’ And thank you again for being so sociable all week!’ Alex calls out to Rogue, before turning to the Wasp and Simon and telling them that he is sorry about Rogue, that she isn’t handling Xavier’s death well. Alex explains that things are a bit tense around here, with everyone at each other’s throats. ‘As the new PR team, you definitely have your work cut out for you’ Alex adds as he shakes the Wasp’s hand ‘If we can’t pull it together in here… there’s no chance we can effect change out there’ Simon replies.
In the gymnasium, Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America is working out on a complicated series of beams, while listening to a news report, as the announcer states that sources within the Avengers confirm the Red Skull was using some manner of mind control, a “mad-bomb” style attack as he has used on New York before, but that even since the riots, there have been more attacks on mutants, with three dead this week. Cap somersaults through the air, as the newsreader states that the mutants have had red skulls painted on their faces. He tells those viewers who are just tuning in, that today saw the release of a new edition of the vehemently anti-mutant “Honest John Perspective”, and the following excerpts spoke by Honest John, are played: “You can blame the riots on the Red Skull if you think it helps sell the lies. Since the Skull’s appearance in New York, more and more people are responding to his message and taking matters into their own hands. If humanity fails to defend itself, we are surely doomed. Tune in at five as the Avengers have a press event scheduled from their mansion today to address the current crisis. But with tensions higher than ever before…can they help?”
‘Not if we let Alex run things’ Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch tells her long-time friend, Cap, who lands in front of her and bids her good morning. Cap goes over to his bag which is on a nearby bench and asks if Simon and Janet have arrived. Wanda explains that Havok is with them going over the public relations plans. ‘Janet’s idea of a solution is to market mutants, to make us hip!’ Wanda declares, unimpressed. She adds that Jan is talking about selling a clothing line based on their uniforms, and Alex is agreeing with her. ‘You don’t approve?’ Cap asks, wiping his neck with his towel. Wanda turns away from him and states that it is crass and superficial - not the kind of lasting change or message the world needs right now. ‘The Avengers Unity Division needs a leader who will -’ Wanda begins, but as Cap puts his t-shirt on, he tells Wanda that he knows how she wants to do her part to live up to Xavier’s dream, to make some sense of his death.
‘I know you want to redeem yourself in the eyes of the mutant community - and you will. But you can’t be the face of this’ Cap tells the Scarlet Witch. ‘WHY?’ Wanda asks, reminding Cap that she has been an Avenger as long as anyone, that she has proven she can do the job. ‘Sure as hell have been serving longer than Alex Summers! I…I’m…’ Wanda’s voice trails off, before she turns back to Cap, and collapses in his arms. Burying her face against his chest, she admits that she is deluding herself ‘You’re right, Steve. After what I did, how can I expect anyone to trust me?’ Cap tells her to give them time. ‘For now, maybe it’s enough - that I trust you, Wanda’ Cap replies, as he takes Wanda’s face, and guides her up so that she is looking into his eyes.
Meanwhile, in Japan, Shiro “Sunfire” Yoshida is having one drink. It has just taken him a few years to finish it. Once upon a time, he was the greatest hero of Japan. Now he stumbles down a busy street, bottle in hand. His nation has long since forgotten their atomic champion. Years ago, in exchange for new legs, Shiro made a deal to serve as a Horseman of Apocalypse. He never recovered. Today’s headache is an echo of that lingering distortion. The Akkaba beacon is calling him home - home to serve the newly born lords. Suddenly, a voice calls out to him. Shiro turns, to see Wolverine a.k.a. Logan leaning against an alleyway wall. ‘How did you find me?’ Shiro asks. ‘Smell you from New York. Cold saki and self-loathing’ Wolverine explains.
Sunfire leers at Wolverine and calling him “Gaijin Dog”, asks him why he is bothering him. ‘Finally come to claim your revenge for my betrayal?’ he enquires. With his cowboy hat on his head, Wolverine replies ‘Nah, I know what Apocalypse’s monkey business can do to yer mind. I ain’t here on account of any grudge, Shiro - I’m here about work’. Shiro announces that Sunfire is retired, and asks ‘Why do you people continue to invite me into your club, no matter how often I express to you my contempt of it?’ as Wolverine takes the bottle of alcohol from him and explains that he, for one, likes the idea of having a walking atomic bomb with him. Shiro looks away as Wolverine starts to tip the drink out into the alley, and Wolverine points out that Shiro says what he thinks, is blunt as hell, without a single ounce of social grace. ‘Rude is honest, rude says what it’s thinking. I trust rude’.
‘My name and pride are lost! My mind broken - you cannot know what pain I endure!’ Sunfire replies. Wolverine hangs his head as his mind flashes back to recent events, and informs Shiro that he just buried his son - put him in the ground himself, after drowning him in a shallow pool. ‘You ain’t got a monopoly on sorrow, bub’ Wolverine points out, before explaining to Shiro that Xavier thought he was something special, despite himself. ‘Always told me you’d find a way to surprise us all. So here it is, time to surprise me. I’m offering you a place on an Avengers unit to fight for Xavier’s ideals’ Logan states, before informing Shiro that Xavier is dead, that they have big trouble, and need him to fall into line. ‘Need someone with your kind of power’ he tells him. ‘Logan-San, I am not sure’ Shiro replies. ‘Yeah, well… once you hear what the Red Skull’s done to Chuck Xavier - you will be’ Wolverine promises, narrowing his eyes.
Back at Avengers Mansion, Cap stands at the head of a meeting room table. Wanda sits near hi, while Rogue leans against the table near Wanda. Havok sits at the other end, while the Wasp and Wonder Man sit opposite Wanda, and Thor stands behind them. Cap explains that he wanted to have a meeting before the press conference to discuss a few concerns. ‘I thought only the leader type called meetings, isn’t that super hero etiquette?’ Rogue asks. ‘Can any of us just call meetings whenever we want?’ she adds.
‘I hereby grant full meeting-calling privileges to all’ Havok announces, before telling Steve to continue. Cap looks at Wanda and tells her that they love and support her, before pointing out that Avalanche was in the very public Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. ‘As were you and Rogue, and we might want to consider…’ his voice trails off, as a wide-eyed Wanda asks ‘What - consider what? raising her voice.
‘After Red Skull’s attacks - if we don’t strike the right tone -’ Cap begins. ‘You can’t hide me, Steve. I won’t be swept under the rug’ Wanda exclaims, while Rogue announces that she is happy to sit out. Havok tells everyone to hold on, and states that from where he is sitting Rogue and the Scarlet Witch just saved New York from eating itself. ‘We want to hide them?’ he asks. ‘They’ll use them against us in the press’ Wonder Man points out. ‘Let ‘em’ Havok declares, announcing that he wants complete transparency. ‘People should always be trusted with the truth’ he adds. ‘Yes… I wanted to make sure we at least addressed it…’ Cap points out. Havok tells him that he appreciates that, but that he had already given it a lot of thought. ‘We’ll proudly stand together on that stage, blemishes and all… we won’t play politics’ he announces.
Shortly, Havok and Rogue are in an elevator together, ‘Wow, Summers. That was… ballsy’ Rogue remarks. Alex asks if Cap looked pissed, and Rogue replies that he did a bit, adding that he clearly isn’t a fan of being given orders. Alex tells Rogue that Cap is going to have to learn to stand down and accept his judgment calls. ‘Drop the pose’ Rogue replies. ‘You can fool them, Alex - but I can see your nerves’. Rogue smiles. Alex points out that leading a very public division of the Avengers is a bit above his pay scale. The elevator opens, and they step out onto the upper floor, as Rogue asks Alex if he even knows why he is doing this. ‘I want to help people, sure, but if I’m honest - I want to show Scott he was wrong to give up on Xavier’s dream’ Alex explains, before asking if that sounds petty. ‘Not to me, sugar’ Rogue replies, adding that no matter how badly Scott broke Xavier’s heart, she knows that seeing Alex rise to this, that Charles would be so proud of him, and then she kisses Alex on the cheek.
Later, Captain America stands at a podium on a stage set up on the grounds of Avengers Mansion. Representatives of the media are seated and stand before him, while the rest of the Avengers Unity team stand behind him - with the four classic Avengers - the Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Thor and Wasp - to one side, and the four X-Men - Wolverine, Havok, Sunfire and Rogue - to the other side. Cap speaks into several microphones and states ‘Our great city has suffered a terrible catastrophe. The Red Skull manipulated a mutant into bringing down a building before instigating a riot in response. His aim was to incite a war between man and mutant. He failed’. Cap continues, announcing that the crisis isn’t over, and to stand up to the challenge of healing these rifts, he is proud to introduce the Avengers Unity Division. He asks everyone to join him in welcoming the chairman, Havok. Havok steps towards the podium, and Cap quietly says to him ‘We’re all on your side, Alex. You’ll do great’.
Photographers start snapping photos of Havok, who glances sideways, recalling a time long ago, when his brother Cyclops accused him of never taking any of it seriously. ‘You breeze in and out but never commit to fighting for Xavier’s dream. Go! Get out of here!’ Alex remembers Scott shouting, in the presence of Jean Grey and Banshee. ‘Leave the X-Men to people who will!’ Cyclops cried.
Suddenly, Havok starts to remove his mask. ‘We wear these things so people don’t know who we are. But I want you to know exactly who I am’ he announces, as the handsome hero stands before the crowd below, and reveals that his name is Alex Summers, and that he is a student of Professor Charles Xavier. He states that this team is an embodiment of Xavier’s simple dream of all people working together. ‘A fight more important now than ever’ he adds.
Havok continues, remarking that, recently, the world saw his brother, Scott, infused with the power of a god, and that while Scott tried to make a lasting change to fix what he saw as broken, no man should ever unilaterally take action or choose for so many. ‘It is hubris’ he points out. Havok admits that he never quite saw things as his brother did, and that later, their views diverged even further. ‘I don’t see myself as born into a mutant cult or religion. Having an x-gene doesn’t bond me to anyone. It doesn’t define me’. Havok adds that the very word “mutant” is divisive - old thinking that serves to further separate them from their fellow man. ‘We are all humans. Of one tribe. We are defined by our choices, not the makeup of our genes. So, please, don’t call us mutants. The “m” word represents everything I hate’ he tells the audience. One journalist raises his hand and asks ‘If you don’t want to be called “Mutant” what should we call you?’ to which Havok smiles and replies’ How about Alex?’
Suddenly, the Grim Reaper reveals his presence, ‘Tell me, Alex - when mutant witches can twist reality and bring the dead back to life - how will any of us be safe?’ he exclaims as he fires a blast of energy from the scythe wielded to his arm - straight towards the Scarlet Witch.
There is no time to react. No spell conjured fast enough to protect Wanda from the Grim Reaper’s fury - but, there is Wonder Man - who flies straight towards the energy, which splatters against him. ‘Simon?’ Wanda gasps. In a diminutive size, the Wasp flies over to Havok, who has put his mask back on, and suggests to him that now is a good time to do his first big battle cry.
‘AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!’ Havok booms. He turns to Wolverine, and calls out to him - but before he can even give his long-time teammate instructions, Wolverine just replies ‘Sure’ as he leaps towards the Grim Reaper, ‘I got just the thing’ Logan adds as he unsheathes his claws, and strikes the Grim Reaper, pushing him away from the journalists and photographers.
But the Grim Reaper flips Wolverine onto the ground and holds the tip of his scythe to Logan’s head. ‘Do you hear my scythe’s cerebral-frequency generator -’ the Grim Reaper begins. ‘Son of a -’ Logan starts to reply, before screaming, as the scythe’s blast scrambles his mind, as there is no adamantium between Wolverine’s ear and brain. The Grim Reaper looks up and notices Captain America’s shield that has been flung towards him. ‘Ah - there it is’ he remarks. ‘The fool who hurls a discuss at the dreaded might of the Grim Reaper! A failed lesson you have forgotten… a lesson I am happy to teach again!’ the Grim Reaper declares as he dodges the shield, and fires a blast of energy from his scythe, towards Captain America. The blast carries the power of a small nuke, precise, concentrated into one stream. Were it directed at a slower man, he would surely have been incinerated - but Cap has skills, and is able to dodge the blast.
‘Who is this terrible fool?’ Sunfire asks Wonder Man, who, along with Wanda, has collapsed on the stage after being struck by his brother’s energy. Wonder Man explains that it is Eric, his brother, who is insane, but that he has single-handedly taken down the Avengers. ‘Rise, then! We will face him together!’ Sunfire exclaims. ‘No, you don’t understand… I don’t fight anymore’ Wonder Man tells Sunfire, before a blast of energy rips the stage apart, and knocks Sunfire and Havok back, while Wonder Man throws himself over the Scarlet Witch to protect her once again - then, his brother shoves his scythe up into Simon’s chest, and Simon screams in agony. ‘You refuse to fight because deep down you know we shouldn’t be alive, Simon!’ the Grim Reaper declares.
Wonder Man falls to the ground, ‘We’re undead - inhuman mockeries!’ the Grim Reaper shouts, adding that he has tried to kill himself, but that nothing works. ‘That witch you worship must die to let us return to our eternal rest’ the Grim Reaper explains. Wonder Man tells his brother that he can help him use his new life for something meaningful. ‘Meaningful? Perhaps I should join you in serving the witch who conjured us?’ the Grim Reaper suggests as he raises his scythe overhead, ready to strike his brother again, he announces exclaims ‘If that is the useful life you offer me - I decline, brother!’ but before he can bring his scythe down, Rogue comes up behind him and wraps her arms around the Grim Reaper’s throat, ‘Gotta be a nicer way to reject the invite -’ she begins, before the Grim Reaper shoves his elbow into her face, drawing blood and knocking Rogue back. ‘My strength is born of technology - you can’t steal it, succubus!’ he tells her.
The Grim Reaper stalks towards Wanda, who still lies motionless on the stage. ‘It’s mercy I bring you, Wanda. Mercy I bring poor lovelorn Simon. I’m sure you’ve enjoyed having him as your doting admirer, a puppy at your beck and call. Using his desire for you’ the Grim Reaper tells her. Wonder Man tells Rogue that he can’t move, that a neurological disruptor did a whammy on his ionic form. Rogue reaches out for him and tells him that she is going to borrow some power to help Wanda. ‘It won’t work - remember…’ Simon begins, but as Rogue’s bare hand touches Simon’s, she informs him that she has been practising. The Grim Reaper’s scythe looms over Wanda’s body, as the Grim Reaper looms down over her. ‘I’ll finally be free. Finally given rest. Prepare to join me in death, witch -’ he begins, before Rogue slams her fist into his face. ‘Seems like the sort of thing you should get permission for first!’ Rogue jokes.
The Grim Reaper’s body falls back - blood trickling from his nose, he is slumped backwards over the edge of the stage. He lies motionless, as Rogue stands over him, ‘He - he’s…I barely touched him -’ she calls out. ‘Eric?’ Simon asks, as ionic energy bubbles around Rogue’s hands. ‘I didn’t mean to - I had no idea you were - you were that strong… I…’ Rogue tells Simon, before turning to the camera crews, who have their video cameras aimed directly at her, as Rogue utters ‘I barely hit him…’