Dallas Texas, a huge skyscraper complex named Eagle Plaza.
In front of a private elevator are standing two women: Raven Darkholme of the Defense Advanced Planning Agency and Dr. Valerie Cooper, special assistant to the President’s National Security Advisor. A mechanical voice asks them to state their names for voice print identification. The women comply and after their identities are confirmed they can enter the elevator.
Val remarks to Raven that her man, Forge, certainly likes his privacy. Just being careful, Raven replies. He is both unique and essential. They can’t afford to lose him. He designed the entire building, she continues, and owns the top ten floors. He didn’t believe the government could provide him with a secure place to work and live, so he made his own.
They have arrived and the elevator doors open Val gasps at the sight. She can see five floors of a sumptuous penthouse with the rooms seemingly floating in the air, connected by platform stairs also held up by seemingly nothing. In addition, the whole place seems to be part of a wildlife mountain landscape.
A hologram? Val asks surprised. Far more than that, Raven replies. He replicates the physical environment as well. Feel the breeze, smell the wild flowers? This truly is the next best thing to being there. She warns Val to watch her step. Those platforms are free floating. People have been known to get confused and fall off. It can be a nasty drop. The penthouse is five stories tall. Val begins to ask where Forge is, then dodges a holographic eagle that swoops past her.
She laughs at her own foolishness. Raven tells her she understands. During her first visit, Forge scared her half to death. Fortunately, you get used to it – and him. The two women suddenly hear snatches of a conversation coming from above.
An agitated older voice tells the other he doesn’t need him telling him. He can see the signs for himself! The ancient patterns are being broken, the proper order of things overturned! The matrix of life itself is unraveling. “So?” another voice asks disinterested. He alone possesses the power to put it right! It is his responsibility, his sacred duty! the first speaker insists. Once perhaps, comes the reply, but no longer.
The first man, an elderly Native American, runs down the stairs and past the two women. The other calls him Naze and calls after him to find others to take his place. They tried, comes the reply. They did their best. Nothing remains of them save their bleached bones. He cannot hide from his destiny! He doesn’t, the second man replies, he simply denies it.
With the elevator doors closing, Naze’s parting shot is to call him a fool and warn him his cowardice will doom all he holds dear. But suppose, the second man asks rhetorically, a man holds nothing dear and does not care?
With the click of a switch the hologram disappears. Forge, a moustached Indian man with an artificial right leg and wearing a glove on his right hand, greets the two women and apologizes for the scene. Naze has a good heart, but his passions occasionally get the better of him. He’s known him his entire life. Sometimes he forgets Forge is no longer a child or his pupil.
Raven asks him what that was about. Forge dodges the question, claiming it was tribal business, a chapter of life he closed years ago, nothing really to concern her or the defense department.
He leads them downstairs to his lab, while telling Val that he has a knack for inventing. When Tony Stark stopped designing weaponry, the government turned to him. Val expresses her admiration for the holo-projection system. Merely a little something he whipped up to pass the time. He already made one for Raven. He offers to make her one as well.
Turning to business, he summarizes that the US are in armed conflict with an extra-terrestrial race called Dire Wraith. Their archfoe, the spaceknight Rom uses an Analyzer to locate these beings and a Neutralizer which banishes them to an other-dimensional limbo. However, because of built-in failsafe mechanisms they are unable to examine much less copy Rom’s weapons. Forge’s brief was to duplicate them both.
And has he? Raven asks. In part, he concedes. He hands them a gun which should theoretically neutralize the power of any superbeing, mutant or otherwise. In essence, they’d become normal people. Has it been tested? Val asks. No, Forge replies. He’s still not sure whether the effect is temporary or permanent or what the physical or psychological repercussion might be. This isn’t the sort of thing that can be tested on live subjects. There’s a lot more work to be done before the prototype can be released.
On the other hand the scanner’s ready to go. It’ll tell you who is or isn’t baseline human and whether they’re mutant or alien. It can even differentiate between Kree, Skrull and Wraiths. As a matter of fact, it reveals that one of them in this room is a mutant.
Raven is horrified, wondering what to do. If Forge denounces her that is sure to jeopardize her identity as Mystique. She will have to kill Forge and Val.
Forge laughs and assures the two women this was just a joke. The mutant is him. Very funny, Val replies icily and Raven clearly isn’t amused either. Secretly she already schemes to make sure that the scanner is never used on her. And finally to somehow repay their host for his little jest.
Forge wonders what happened to Raven’s sense of humor. He really spooked her. Not voicing his doubts, he instead offers to cook the ladies lunch.
Night in New York City. A tired looking girl with short red hair and dressed in an ill-fitting army overall watches the X-Men’s battle against a dragon in Japan on the TV of a closed store. The girl, Rachel, is a bit disturbed by the images. While she recognizes the men, Sunfire, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Wolverine, she wonders who the woman is. Ororo never looked like that.
The news anchorman continues that the justification of national security has been used to explain the introduction in Congress by Senator Robert Kelly of the Mutant Affairs Control Act among whose more draconian provisions—
That moment the electricity is switched off. Rachel gets agitated. What was the name of the bill? The street is deserted and her psi-scan reveals the store is empty. She uses her telekinesis to temporarily override the control element and switches everything back on. But the report is already over.
Angrily, she chides herself for not acting faster. She feels confused. She can’t shake the feeling that something awful has happened. She went to the mansion yesterday looking for Professor Xavier. Colossus’ little sister Illyana answered the door, but she was a 15 year old girl. But the Illyana she remembers was fifteen when she died and that day is still years in the future. The Mutant Control Act was passed in response to the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly. Yet here, now he’s the man responsible for it. Her timeshift was successful, she is in the past. But is it the right past, her past?
Full of questions, she shuffles off, disappearing in the foggy night, unaware that someone has become very interested in her. Selene, the demon-huntress. Magnificent, Selene exclaims. Not since the dawn of her existence has she sensed such power in a living being. In many way, it dwarfs even her own. This metropolis has provided her with great sport since her arrival. Tonight however it offers something far more precious. Not prey, but a disciple, an heir!
Having heard something in the mist, Rachel turns around nervously, crying out who’s there. She can’t sense anything yet feels hunted. Her mind wanders. Seeing New York in such a different way is strange and scary. The city she remembers was mostly in ruins.
She feels something approaching and screams, but it turns out to be only a fire truck passing by. Relieved, she slumps down and laughs at her own silliness. From the alley behind, a hand grabs her chin and Selene seductively tells her to yield to her dark embrace. She need never be weak, never feel fear again.
Rachel telekinetically strikes her and runs for her life, sensing she is no match for the other woman in her current exhausted state.
She sees a light ahead. A Nightclub. She hopes she can lose the vampire in the crowd or find some help. She runs inside past the bouncer. On the dance floor, she stumbles ad falls. The people’s attention is focused on her and weak as she is she can’t shut out the mental voices. Worse, the vampire’s voice is among them.
Suddenly, a strong arm grabs her, Jerry, the bouncer has found her. He drags her out even as she cries that she is going to kill her. A young man stops Jerry, his boss. He introduces himself to Rachel as Nick Damiano and asks what Rachel meant about someone being after her. Rachel stammers that a woman grabbed her from the alley, stealing lifeforce, trying to make Rachel like her.
Jerry decides she’s a nutcase. Dump her, he advises his boss. Nick holds Rachel up and asks Jerry to lay off. She looks terrified and starved. Jerry announces he just checked the street. No one there. Nick orders him to call the police. No! Rachel protests. She assures them she has committed no crime. Nick tells her his loft is around the corner. He offers her some food and a bed for the night. The next day, they can sort everything out, okay? Big mistake, Jerry warns him. Nick ignores his advice and takes off with Rachel.
A little later, they arrive at Nick’s loft, beautiful and self-renovated, he tells her. Rachel scans him, his gentleness reminds her of Franklin Richards. There are no ulterior motives behind his invitation. She hasn’t sensed the huntress since. Perhaps she only imagined the psi-touch in the club.
Where is she from? Nick asks as he gets out some orange juice from the fridge. Around, Rachel replies evasively. He’s not the enemy, he tells her with a smile. She apologizes. Old habits. He pours her some orange juice. It’s been years since she had any, she tells him, but her hands shake so much she spills it. She apologizes. Nick tells her not to worry and pours her another glass. He tells her to take a long soak in a hot tub while he fixes dinner. He assumes she’s hungry. He shows her everything.
Alone in the bathroom, Rachel stares at her mirror image in disgust. She’s seen healthier-looking ghouls. No wonder the bouncer didn’t trust her. She bets on her worst day her mom never looked so awful. And her hair! It will take probably forever to grow!
After finding some bubble bath Rachel soaks in the tub, feeling she’s died and gone to heave. Suddenly, however, she starts. Something feels wrong. She calls out for Nick but there is no answer. She can’t sense his thoughts anymore either.
Rachel quickly gets out of the tub and puts on a robe. She tells herself not to get paranoid. Maybe she dozed off and he stepped out for some groceries. But she isn’t convinced.
In the other room, she sees Nick sitting in a chair with the back to her. The table is set with candles and wine. But why doesn’t he answer? She touches him, only to find he is only a corpse that crumbles at her touch.
The next moment, the rug she is standing on moves to capture her… all courtesy of Selene. Why did she kill him? Rachel cries. She is a predator, comes the reply. Since time immemorial, Homo sapiens has been the prey of the dark huntress, Selene. Soon now it shall be Rachel’s as well.
“Never!” Rachel cries and attacks Selene with a force bolt. With the woman knocked for a loop, Rachel has enough time to use her telekinesis to free herself. Selene compliments her powers and resistance. Rachel then uses her telekinesis to attack Selene with all the objects in the room. Selene gestures and turns them to dust. Her control over inanimate objects is absolute, she boasts and gives another demonstration as the floor comes alive to grab Rachel’s feet. A wooden tidal wave threatens to bury her. Her forcefield can barely keep it back nor can her telepathy touch Selene.
Below the floor, unnoticed by the two combatants, gas and electrical lines rupture. All that is needed is a spark and when it comes flames burst from the ground, much to Selene’s pleasure as she controls fire as well.
Resistance is useless, she triumphs. Rachel’s raw power is no match for her eons of experience. She urges Rachel to embrace her darkness. Be one with her! Savor in full measure the joy of the eternal hunt, the ecstasy of the kill!
She gets past Rachel’s mental shields. She feels their thoughts becoming one. Suddenly, Rachel hears another mental voice – that of Professor Xavier. She asks him to hurry and follow her thoughts, Selene’s stealing her life! She cries for help.
Professor Xavier’s astral form (complete in a yellow costume with an X-symbol covering his chest) appears. As Cerebro indicated, two mutants, both with considerable powers. He introduces himself and orders Selene to stand away from the girl or suffer the consequences!
That moment Colossus, Rogue and Nightcrawler enter the apartment. Rogue warns Kurt to get outside, the fire is dangerous to him.
Selene creates maces and tosses them at the X-Men’s two strong men. Through the smoke they cannot see their foe. Xavier telepathically commands Nightcrawler to intercept Selene, who is trying to flee, dragging Rachel along. Kurt teleports in front of here. Colossus and Rogue try to join him, but Colossus is about to fall into a crater, though Rogue catches him, teasing it makes no sense to ruin his pretty new costume its first night out. Spaceeba, he thanks her.
Selene grapples with Nightcrawler. He dares challenge one who has ruled empires?! she demands. It’s a living, he retorts. By the way, does she know she’s beautiful when she’s angry?
Suddenly, his costume begins choking him. Rogue comes flying and rockets Selene away from the others. She’s touching Selene but instead of Rogue absorbing her powers, Selene begins draining her life.
Xavier himself intervenes with a psibolt. His mental attack is finally too much and Selene flees. Like a mental chameleon, she blends her psychic persona with those of people around her and Xavier loses her. He warns his X-Men from following.
Rogue opens a pathway to the street on Xavier’s orders. Colossus carries Rachel and Nightcrawler out and Storm, who was waiting outside, creates a rainstorm to prevent the blaze from spreading.
Ororo admits to herself that the professor makes a superb leader. Is it fair to begrudge him that role? But is his desire to lead, his automatic assumption of command, a reaction to her performance? Is she not good enough?
Moments later, with the fire extinguished, she joins the others on the street. No sign of Selene, Storm announces. Rachel addresses the professor, explaining Selene is a mutant. When they fought she sensed the psychic keys he taught her. She’s some kind of vampire, sustaining herself with the life energy of others.
When did he teach her? Xavier wonders. They’ve never met. Right, Rachel agrees, leaning on him. She keeps forgetting that hasn’t happened yet. Heck, in reality neither has she.
Storm silently muses that the girl looks strangely familiar. If she didn’t have him to hold onto, Rachel sighs, then realizes that he can walk. And Storm, with her Mohawk… she’s seen photographs of her, known her all her life. She never looked like that! No! she exclaims. She can’t deny it any longer. She’s made a terrible mistake. Somehow she’s stuck in the wrong past, and because of her stupidity the world is doomed!