‘Nightcrawler. Cable. Jean - too many bright days marred by funerals. I ain’t gonna lose Warren, too. No matter what he’s done’ Wolverine a.k.a. Logan thinks to himself from inside the laboratory of the mischievous Dark Beast from the Age of Apocalypse. ‘Bellies aflutter with anticipation? Mine is, oh, joy. The Age of Apocalypse awaits!’ the Dark Beast exclaims as he uses his equipment open a portal to his world. Wolverine watches the Dark Beast, reminding himself that he has a “thing” that can separate Warren from the devil inside him, and so X-Force is going to get that “thing” - no matter where it is. Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock, Fantomex and Wade “Deadpool” Wilson stand alongside Wolverine as Betsy announces that she has scanned the Dark Beast’s mind and what he says is true. ‘Even so, there’ no way to look before the leap’ Betsy points out as the portal whirls before them.
Logan tells himself that time is short, that every passing minute the darkness inside Warren grows stronger, making his friend the new Apocalypse. Fantomex asks his teammates if they have informed Mr McCoy of how offensively they will murder him if he pulls the proverbial “fast one” on them. ‘Logan did’ Betsy announces, while Wolverine watches his friend, realizing that she is acting hard, but she is shaken and in denial about the stakes. The Dark Beast tells X-Force to trust him or not, but if they want to save their friend, the Life Seed is the only solution. He informs them that once though, they must move quickly, as the portal will disappear in three hours.
‘A time limit? No way that goes sideways on us’ Deadpool mutters, but the Dark Beast assures everyone that is ample time to gather the Life Seed and return. ‘Ten bucks says this is a stupid idea. Anyone?’ Deadpool asks, but Wolverine tells him to pack it in, before asking Betsy if everyone is linked. ‘All but Fantomex who refuses to lower his dampening plates’ Betsy replies. ‘What a jerk he is’ Fantomex mutters, ‘I still don’t trust that guy’ he adds, before X-Force and the Dark Beast enter the portal to the Age of Apocalypse.
As the heroes and the Dark Beast arrive in this other world, the stench hits Wolverine - he feels like he is back in the WWII camps, there is death in the air and lots of it. The Dark Beast holds a laptop computer in his hands and announces that according to his data, the city is sparsely populated. ‘This ain’t no city - it’s a graveyard’ Wolverine declares. Dark Beast remarks that it appears since the death of Apocalypse, the world’s new superintendent has done some human “spring cleaning”, before announcing that he needs to get high to try and see his lab. ‘We need to get high to see your lab?’ Fantomex asks as they follow the Dark Beast down a dirty street, unaware that they are being followed by a scrawny young man.
The Dark Beast bounds up the fire escape stairs on the outside of an apartment building, and X-Force follow him, while Deadpool asks his teammates if they remember the time when Warren went bat-ass crazy and started killing people to cover up for X-Force. No one answers, so Deadpool continues, declaring that they had to spring psycho-Hank McCoy from prison so he could take them to his home dimension in “butthole town”, so they could run around looking for a magic seed. ‘Ahhh, those were good-good times, right?’ Deadpool asks. As the quintet reaches the top of the apartment building, they look over the city - a polluted sky hangs like a dark blanket over the city. Fires burn from building ruins. Blimps aim spotlights down upon the city, where most buildings are in ruins. A large tower stands in the center of the city, and above it, an asteroid floats, with a mini-city on it. A blue light shines down upon the asteroid.
‘Look at this. Ione of you asses owes me ten dollars!’ Deadpool declares. Fantomex reminds him that no one took him up on his bet, while the Dark Beast motions outwards and announces that his lab is in that building, but the place is filthy with Sentinels, so stealth is advised. ’Let’s go!’ he announces. Betsy turns to Logan, waiting for his order, but the Dark Beast declares that Logan is not running this show. ’If you want to save poor Warren, you’ll follow me!’ the Dark Beast exclaims as he leaps off the rooftop. X-Force drop down afterwards, with Wolverine thinking ’This is what happens in a world without Chuck Xavier. This is what happens when Apocalypse ascends. This is what happens when we fail’, before declaring that it is not like they have any options, so they have to follow the Dark Beast. However, the heroes are still being followed.
Nearby in the city, a line of humans has formed, while being monitored by guards - Master Akkaba. ‘Get your food and get back to work!’ one of the armored Akkaba declares. ‘Shuffle your old human bones inside or I will aid you, woman!’ another orders. The woman asks the Master Akkaba to forgive her, explaining that this will be her first meal in days. ‘Doing my best -’ she begins, but the Master Akkaba tells her that hger best is wasting his time, and calling her “gene-trash” he kicks her to the ground. Suddenly, ‘It’s because she’s just an old woman. Wanna see if my best makes the cut?’ Wolverine asks as he and the others stand ready. An instant later, the Master Akkaba all lie motionless, presumably dead, on the dirty ground.
Wolverine asks if there is any ID on the old-lady-beating chumps he just dropped, while Deadpool looks inside the building and exclaims ‘Hey! They’re giving away free soup!’ The Dark Beast explains that he is unfamiliar with the new management, to which Fantomex remarks’ Quite understated’ before asking the Dark Beast if he is certain this is his lab. But McCoy replies that he said he was unfamiliar with the new management, and declares that the landscape is still his design, as he enters a code on a security pad, a door opens, and a brain floating in a globe appears before them. ‘Welcome home, Dr McCoy’ the brain announces. The Dark Beast addresses the brain as Dimitri and asks if there have been any visitors.
Dimitri replies that the laboratory has not been accessed since McCoy’s last visit, five thousand and six days ago. ‘Nice digs. Guess brain-in-a-jar makes a crap house sitter’ Deadpool jokes as X-Force make their way down a flight of stairs. The Dark Beast tells the mutants that there is no need for nervous mockery, and assures them that they are quite safe in his company. Betsy telepathically informs Wolverine that their “host” has picked up o0n their anxiety, to which Wolverine’s thoughts reply ‘We’re vulnerable here, Bets. No bravado can hide it’. The Dark Beast stops by a photograph mounted to his wall: ‘Ahh, the ol’ crew. We had the rule of the roost for decades until Magneto and a small band of idiots undermined it’ he remarks as he stares at the poster.
‘Is that -’ Betsy begins, ‘Scott and Alex Summers were loyal servants of Apocalypse. Answers the nurture-nature debate’ McCoy remarks, adding that they died when Apocalypse was killed, and reveals that spies informed him Sinister made a failed bid for power soon after. ‘But then my scouts disappeared’ McCoy explains. Deadpool stands in front of the large photograph and shouts ‘Oh, hey, I’m sorry, you must have us mistaken for people who care about your stupid fake world’s history’ before informing the Dark Beast that he is wasting his time and wasting his money. ‘And my mind is on my money and my money is on my mind!’ Deadpool adds.
The Dark Beast turns and walks towards a large console, and mockingly replying ‘Yes. Of the various parties currently having their time wasted, it is yours I am most concerned with, Mr Wilson’. The Dark Beast begins tapping away at the console - with both his fingers and toes - and informs X-Force that what they are about to see is the seed planted on barren worlds by Celestial gardeners to grow new life. He adds that it was acquired from a Celestial gardener so treacherous that Apocalypse called to Earth and killed. ‘I give you…the Celestial Life Seed’ the Dark Beast announces as a drawer opens - and the Life Seed is revealed, held securely in the drawer.
Suddenly, there is a bamf, as Nightcrawler appears in the Dark Beast’s lab! He thinks McCoy for showing him the item they desire and Nightcrawler tells McCoy that if it is important enough for him to return after all this time, ‘I would like to ensure you do not obtain it!’ Nightcrawler adds as he picks up the Life Seed, and holds his sword at McCoy’s throat. ‘Kurt Darkholme, you slippery idiot. How have you survived this long?’ McCoy remarks as he grabs the sword, sending an electrical surge through it, which knocks Nightcrawler backwards.
‘Enough!’ Wolverine exclaims as he shoves his elbow into McCoy’s face. But Logan realizes that he has overreacted and almost killed their ticket home. Wolverine looks at Nightcrawler and tells him that they are not on McCoy’s side of the fence. ‘Y-you’re dead…I-it cannot be!’ he gasps. But for Wolverine, seeing his friend alive is like a mule kick to the gut. ‘I was thinking the same thing…if you’ll listen to me, I can -’ Wolverine begins, but Nightcrawler gets confused when he sees Logan’s hand in tact. Wolverine tells himself to keep his emotions in control, that he cannot afford to get distracted. ‘You are not my friend!’ Nightcrawler exclaims, before bounding away from Wolverine, and teleporting away, with the Life Seed.
‘Find him!’ McCoy shouts, telling X-Force that they have no idea how difficult that seed will be to replace. ‘Quiet. He can only teleport so far’ Betsy replies as she begins a psionic scan, she then telepathically informs wolverine that Nightcrawler is out on the street. Wolverine’s thoughts ask Betsy to stay here and keep nasty McCoy under wraps, as he is their only way out of this pit. Wolverine races up the stairs, with Deadpool and Fantomex following him. ‘Wade, scout from the windows. Le Pew, the rooftops’ Wolverine orders. ‘Because you’re such an O.G.?’ Deadpool asks.
As Logan emerges on the street, he picks up Nightcrawler’s brimstone stench down the way - and another scent, too. ‘No!’ Logan thinks to himself, but it’s too late, ‘Well, whadda we got here…’ the Age of Apocalypse Sabretooth snarls as he lunges at Wolverine, and draws blood as his claws slash across Wolverine’s stomach. ‘…a dumb runt ain’t got the brains to stay dead!’ Sabretooth declares. ‘Creed’ Logan mutters as he drops to his knees and blood trickles out of his mouth. ‘Nice of ‘em to install memories in that fraud clone brain’ Sabretooth snarls. Wolverine coughs up more blood and mutters that he has not got time for this tussle. ‘Well this tussle’s got time for you!’ Sabretooth declares as he once again lunges at Wolverine, who shouts ‘Listen!’ and slashes his adamantium claws through Sabretooth’s arm. Wolverine informs Sabretooth that he is not who he thinks. ‘But I will gut you if you keep pushing me -’ Wolverine begins, until he is knocked over by the insane Wild Child, who shrieks ‘Kill you! Kill you! Me kill! Kill McCoy’s devil!’
Up on the roof, Nightcrawler climbs up and sees Deadpool standing before him. ‘Heya, Kurt. I need to get that seed thing you took. It’s important’ Deadpool announces. ‘Dead Man Wade, did McCoy tell you who killed the man you were cloned from?’ Nightcrawler asks, before announcing ‘I did. Wanna know how I did it?’ he asks, examining the Life Seed, before teleporting up behind Deadpool, and landing on his back. ‘Please don’t’ Deadpool exclaims. “Please?” Nightcrawler mocks as he teleports Deadpool’s head only. ‘Manners are so disingenuous. I’d prefer your true feelings’ Nightcrawler declares, but he is shocked when the head - and body - vanish. Down below, Deadpool and Fantomex race down an alley, the Life Seed in Deadpool’s hand. Wade asks Fantomex how long the misdirection will last. ‘Not long. I’d wager it has already - ended?’ Fantomex replies as Nightcrawler teleports alongside them, and shoves his sword through Deadpool’s head.
Meanwhile, ‘Die, pig, die!’ Wild Child exclaims as he begins slashing Wolverine’s back, drawing blood. Logan realizes that Wild Child is shredding muscle faster than he can heal it. But as he stares Sabretooth down, Wolverine knows that if he turns to face Wild Child, Sabretooth will eviscerate him. Logan tells himself that he has one shot, and needs to get his opponents lined up right. They are, so Logan elbows wild Child in the face, knocking him back, before shoving his claws through Sabretooth’s chest. Logan forces Creed to the ground, ‘Always such a damn tough guy, Creed. So tough you always end up dead’ Wolverine declares as he holds Creed down, and his claws loom over him.
Suddenly though, ‘Stop!’ Betsy shouts, taking psychic possession of Wolverine, preventing him from killing Creed. Betsy rushes towards Wolverine, announcing that she recognizes him, and explains that this Creed is very different to the Victor Creed that Wolverine knows. ‘B-Braddock…’ Creed gasps, linked to Betsy psionically.
Nearby, Fantomex has engaged Nightcrawler in battle and exclaims ‘I sense my companions have true feelings for you’. Still clutching the Life Seed, Nightcrawler replies that McCoy must have planted memories that they were all great friends. ‘No. Not you and me’ Fantomex replies as he punches Nightcrawler in the face, causing him to drop the Life Seed - however with Deadpool incapacitated, the Life Seed bounces across the road - and lands at the feet of Sunfire, who picks it up. ‘This is the item McCoy returns for?’ he asks, before taking flight and announcing that he will destroy it.
‘Please - do not do that!’ Fantomex calls out, while Nightcrawler suggests to Sunfire that they see what the others think. ‘They will think I am right’ Sunfire replies as he throws the Life Seed out ahead of himself in the air - and unleashes a massive burst of energy in an attempt to destroy it. ‘They will thank my for my prudence’ Sunfire announces. ‘No!’ gasps Psylocke as she and the others look up at the explosion overhead. Psylocke tells Creed that he and his lot of reactionary idiots have just sentenced her world to death. ‘She ain’t lying. That was the key to stopping a new Apocalypse’ Wolverine adds. Suddenly, a portal appears and the Dark Beast exclaims ‘Much more than that, actually…but that would be telling. I’m going now. Have a terrible life here’ he tells X-Force, asking them to apologize to Deadpool for him, for further wasting his time.
When the portal closes behind the Dark Beast, Betsy exclaims ‘You fools just stranded us here!’. Sunfire asks if he should bathe the frauds in atomic flame, but Sabretooth tells him to take it easy. ‘My brain hurts’ Deadpool mutters as Fantomex helps him towards the others. Sabretooth tells Sunfire that the “frauds” may be telling the truth. ‘I know the bird. Long story. Some sex’ he declares. But Sunfire points out that regardless of their motives, the “frauds” were still being used. ‘I stand by my choice’ he announces. But Sabretooth explains that these may be genuine idiots who were genuinely duped by McCoy. ‘Pop your mouth off again and it’ll take more than Braddock to stop me’ Wolverine warns Sabretooth, who replies ‘Some frail act you got there, boy’.
‘Don’t know a damn thing. Posse of babes with soft, pink bellies’ Sabretooth declares. ‘Victor, you presumptuous ass! You have no idea what I’ve been though since we last met!’ Betsy exclaims. Creed tells Betsy that since her chum McCoy left her here, they have got lots of time to get reacquainted. ‘Not if we stay here. Those Sentinels overhead are being deployed!’ Nightcrawler announces as he looks upwards, adding that it is time to go home.
‘…and we came here in hopes of acquiring the Life Seed…to stop Warren from being consumed by the heir of Apocalypse’ Wolverine explains inside the submarine that makes its way to an undersea complex. The rest of X-Force, as well as Sabretooth, Wild Child, Nightcrawler and Sunfire are inside the submarine as Sunfire announces that there is no stopping Apocalypse, as he is reborn time and time again. ‘The vile fate that has befallen us is what awaits you. Make no mistake’ Sunfire adds. ‘Give it a rest, Sally Sad Song’ Creed orders. ‘You crapped the bed on this one. Smearing it in ain’t gonna cover it up’ Creed adds.
Betsy looks at Fantomex and tells him that she appreciates him coming. ‘I know you and Warren aren’t close - it’s a sign of character you would risk so much to aid him’ Betsy adds. ‘Come now. You know I’m not doing this for Warren, Elisabeth’ Fantomex replies. ‘You’ve seen dark times. You have my sympathies. We too have lost many close to us’ Nightcrawler tells Wolverine, who replies that there is plenty of heartache to go around. Anxiously, Sunfire offers his apologies to the “frauds”, telling them that he believed them to be tools of McCoy. He adds that they cannot be too careful, as there is much at stake and there are too few of them. ‘Yeah. We know the feeling. I take my hat off to ya for your choice hideout’ Wolverine replies as he gazes out the window, adding that it does not get much more fortified than Atlantis.
As they approach the complex, Wolverine reminds himself that Betsy insists this Creed is a good man, which may be true. But it doesn’t lessen the instinct to cut Sabretooth in half. Logan tells himself that hate like that runs deep, and reason does not turn it off. As the submarine docks inside a hangar bay, X-Force and the Age of Apocalypse mutants walk through the bay, and into a tubular corridor, Logan tells himself that reason doesn’t turn off his feelings for Nightcrawler, either. ‘Welcome to the last free city on Earth. If you are hungry -’ Sunfire begins, but Wolverine replies that they are not hungry, they are edgy. ‘Need to find us a way back home’ he declares. Nightcrawler announces that if there is a way, the boss will know, and Wolverine thinks that Nightcrawler’s voice takes him back to good times, reminds him how far away they are now.
Logan informs everyone that in the world they come from, Xavier never died, that it never gets this bad. ‘Yet, from the looks of things, the ascension and dominion of Apocalypse is inevitable in all dimensions’ Nightcrawler points out. Hearing Nightcrawler hurts Wolverine like almost nothing else. Nightcrawler enters a code on a security panel and remarks ‘They aren’t expecting us. I wanted to address this situation…in person’, before declaring ‘Allow me to introduce you to our leader’. Wolverine watches Nightcrawler and thinks to himself that the only other person who could tear him up this bad is Jean. And yet, as the door slides open, Wolverine sees a wheelchair-bound Magneto - and Jean Grey! ‘Logan?’ a surprised Jean asks as she drops her wine glass, which shatters as it hit’s the ground….