Furious and bitter, Ororo stalks through the pouring rain to get as far away from Forge’s home Eagle Plaza as possible. With her back turned to the skyscraper, she doesn’t witness what is happening in the lobby. A disgusting creature, a Dire Wraith, teleports inside and is instantly killed by Forge’s defenses which it was sent to test.
An alarm sounds. Ororo turns around, believing she hear a scream. In front of the building stand several people who identify themselves to the guard as FBI agents sent to protect Forge. The guard lets them in and is instantly killed by one “agent,” another Wraith. The Wraith assumes Joe’s shape and crosses the distance to the security console to take Forge’s call. Forge states that he saw an intruder alert on his status board, but the false Joe assures him it’s just the storm triggering glitches through the system.
With the call over, “Joe” tells the other Wraiths he has neutralized any internal surveillance and defense system below Forge’s residence. He is blind to their presence and unable to do them harm. The other Wraiths enter the elevator.
Outside, Ororo, who only saw the people outside, is wondering what is happening inside the building and then tells herself it is none of her concern anyway. A moment later, a Wraith rises behind her, ready to attack her.
Ororo instinctively recoils from the evil the creature reeks of, as it announces that she will die for her curiosity. In a moment, she will be a mere memory and the Wraith will have taken her form. Ororo kicks it in the face and the Wraith drops her. She realizes that the Wraith’s power must be something like Rogue’s. She grabs a garbage can outside the skyscraper and uses it to smash in one of the windows of the lobby, then runs inside, the Wraith hot on her heels. It gloats that she can find no help here as this place and its master will soon belong to the Dire Wraith.
Ororo sees Joe’s crumpled uniform and a pile of dust and realizes what happened to the poor guard. Nevertheless, she grabs his gun and fires at the Wraith, vowing he will not go unavenged. But then the gun’s magazine is empty and the Wraith – though wounded - still stands. As it intends to kill Ororo, its head suddenly is shot away and it disintegrates.
Ororo turns around to see her savior. Outside stands an elderly Native American man with a rifle. He introduces himself as Naze and asks if she is okay. Ororo thanks him and Naze asks what that critter was. A Dire Wraith, she replies shortly (not really knowing anything more). She does figure though that the other people she saw before are Wraiths as well and that they must be after Forge. She runs to the security console.
Naze remarks that explains his dreams. He is a shaman, he explains. Last night, he saw the Eagle fighting for life atop his aerie, struck down by those who seemed to be trusted friends and yet were not. Grabbing the phone, she remarks that the Wraiths are shapestealers. Naze suddenly states that Forge is the last best hope of his people… and perhaps hers as well. He must be saved.
When Ororo reaches Forge, he just exclaims “Good Lord!” as a cadre of Wraiths pour from the elevator while another group in their deathwing form strike from the sky.
Too late, Ororo remarks curtly. So what now? Naze asks rhetorically. Ororo sighs and announces they go to his rescue. She grabs the dead guard’s belt with a gun. Been a while since he was in a decent scrap, he announces, he’s long overdue. Ororor remarks she has a friend who would consider Naze a man after his own heart. She wishes he were here. They’ll do fine, Naze replies, especially the way she shoots. Her friend taught her, Ororo replies, recalling that event:
Some time ago, Ororo (still with long hair) and Wolverine are at a shooting range, much to Storm’s displeasure as she reminds Wolverine she has powers to protect her and she has sworn to never take another’s life. Why should she learn to use this? ‘Cause she never knows when that knowledge comes in handy. A gun is the last thing anyone would expect from her. Some day that might give her the edge she needs to survive… And so she starts firing….
As Ororo opens the door to the elevator shaft, Naze notes that she doesn’t like Forge. So why is she here risking her life? She has her reasons, she replies curtly, thinking to herself that until she has her vengeance on him she will allow none to do him harm. She steps inside the elevator shaft, wishing she still possessed her powers. But thanks to Forge that part of her is gone forever. She has only her wits, her strength, her… human skills to rely on.
She figures the Wraith was left as a rear guard. Assuming it had some means of communicating with its companions, they probably know of its death. She wonders what horrors they have in store. The surprise is a Hellhound, a specially mutated pet of the Wraiths which is capable of disrupting the function of any machine or living being simply by phasing through it. It only glances Ororo’s shoulder and she falls down in agony.
As the creature moves in to finish her, Naze shoots it and it crumbles into dust. Ororo thanks him; again she is in his debt. Save Forge, he tells her, he’ll consider them even.
Suddenly, a Wraith further above uses its spells and the elevator cable ties around Ororo’s ankles and drags her upwards thanks to the falling counterweight. Her gun falls while she only has her left arm working to untangle her legs. Once free, she has to laugh, feeling more alive than ever. She recalls that this is the same mad joy her friend Yukio feels on risking all against seemingly impossible odds and winning. She jumps off, catches a girder and drags herself up. She finds no sign of the Wraith or Naze. She figures she can’t wait. Forge needs her more. Still she prays that Naze’s gods walk with him.
Naze, in the meantime, makes his way up towards Forge’s apartment and wonders what Forge did to make Ororo so angry at him. If he were twenty years younger, he’d give his foster son a run for her heart he’d never forget. He walks the hallways, noting there is only emergency light. Someone must have sabotaged the building generators. Things will probably be worse on the stairs. He fires at the darkness, able to sense the Wraith with his own magic. Having killed the alien, he calls out hokahey in triumph. Their number may be few but their hearts are strong. Come what may, they will prevail!
Elsewhere Ororo feels ice cold metal. She opens the door. Outside is a full-blown blizzard. Something that should not be possible in the south, not even in winter.
A moment later, a Wraith spell engulfs her. She manages to tear lose as the cold saps the Wraith’s strength. Ororo grabs a construction pipe and hits the hellhound. She shouts out in pain because her hands froze to the metal. The Hellhound touches her back and she screams like an animal. Instinctively, she jumps off the roof to fly, even while she knows her powers are gone. A freak gust of wind cast her back onto the roof. Determined, she stumbles back to the doorway against the storm, wondering if she is so dependent on her powers she cannot survive without them. The Wraith reaches for her, but with desperate strength Ororo shoves it aside and locks the Wraith out. She half expects Wraith spell to rip the doors off, but there is merely a frantic pounding that quickly fades away.
She crouches against the door, realizing she has killed without hesitation or mercy. Wolverine would be proud of her. She wonders if this is an ending or beginning, then suddenly screams out as without warning her mind is crushed under an avalanche of thoughts not her own. She is no longer Ororo or even an individual but an amalgam of herself, Forge, Naze, Wraith and one other that is neither human nor alien, both alive and dead, possessing the divinity of a god and the cruel humor of the devil. She cries out as she realizes that her soul is gone. Yet surprisingly she doesn’t really miss it, for another’s has taken its place. She reels under the merciless psychic onslaught, dimly aware that awful as this trauma is for her, it is infinitely worse for Forge.
Sensing their prey’s vulnerability, the Wraths move in to kill Forge, only to find that his defense systems still work very well. With their spells ineffectual against technology some Wraiths transform to their deathwing guise and sear the penthouse with blasts of acid flame.
Holding his own, Ororo who has caught up with him, cynically announces. Training his gun on her, Forge orders her to freeze, then finds that his scanalyzer identifies her a human. Can she say the same about him? she asks coldly, then amends she must since the battle still rages. Where are the lights? Forge explains that the Wraiths zapped the generators. Emergency systems are holding their own but he has to divert all power to maintain internal defenses. He admits he is glad to see her. Ignoring that, Ororo asks what just happened. Some entity bound them in rapport, tried drive them insane, simply for the fun of it, she believes. Forge claims he has no idea, causing her to accuse him of lying again. He suggests she can think what she like but if she isn’t here to help, find a place to hide. She takes the gun he offers, explaining she promised Naze she’d save him. And her word is her bond much as she might wish otherwise. She tells him to take cover and fires at a group of Wraiths who had used cloaking spells to hide themselves.
Forge also fires at them, wondering how Ororo who isn’t a sorceress was able to detect the Wraiths. While one Wraith deflects his blaster shot, another unnoticed uses an illusion spell to have her and Ororo change looks. The false Ororo then shouts to Forge to kill that Wraith that tried to kill her. Instead, Forge fires at the real Wraith. The real Ororo wonders how he knew the truth. He explains that it meant calling on a part of himself he’d denied for ten years, abilities he swore never to use again, but he figured she was worth it.
That moment, they are joined by Naze. Forge wonders why he seems unharmed. He’d figured that something happening to Naze was the reason for the soul-link. An alarm goes off. Naze slips away as Rogue and Colossus break through the ceiling.
Storm happily hugs Colossus while Forge with a look at the debris sarcastically asks if they couldn’t have used the door. Rogue coldly replies they wanted to surprise them. When Storm asks how they found her Rogue explains she and Val Cooper, Forge’s boss, had a little talk.
They run upward to the penthouse. Forge protests that he doesn’t work for Cooper. Another lie, Ororo snaps. Their argument is interrupted when they find the penthouse full of a crowd of Wraiths. Apparently, they got reinforcements. Immediately, the X-Men do battle while Forge, thanks to his spirit sights, sees the truth. Most of them are illusion. By tricking the X-Men into fighting things that aren’t there, the real aliens will be able to catch them unawares. It’s been too long since he used his own mystical abilities. He cannot depend on them so he has to find another way to fight their spells…
Meanwhile, Naze, or what appears to be him, stands in an empty room under a domed roof. He identifies it as the Eagle’s nest, Forge’s sanctum sanctorum, the seat and nexus of his might. Most impressive. His power is almost beyond comprehension. He is a fool to deny it. Energy glows at his fingertips as he prepares a spell…
A Wraith struggles with Colossus, about to burrow its tongue into his head and kill him. Ororo shouts at Piotr to hit it as hard as he can. Immediately, Colossus kicks it away with the force of a piledriver. Ororo’s blaster does the rest which gives Colossus pause. Why did she not simply generate a lightning bolt? One cannot utilize powers that no longer exist, she replies darkly.
Hearing that, Rogue berates herself. She was hoping this wouldn’t be the case. Ororo sacrificed herself for Rogue.
Suddenly, the room fills with a golden light and from the heart of that light two gleaming figures emerge. Rom and his paramour Starshine, the spaceknighs, the Wraiths’ deadliest enemies. Faced with their archenemies, the two only living Wraiths cancel the illusion to focus on Rom and Starshine. Precisely what Forge hoped they’d do as he shoots them. The two spaceknights are revealed as his holograms.
Cautiously, the X-Men wonder if they have won. Where is Naze? Ororo asks. A moment later, behind them, the fabric of reality tears open and black energy beings encase them…