Moments ago, the X-Men and Forge believed their foes, a group of Dire Wraiths, slain and their battle won. Moments later, without warning, loathsome shadowbeings spilled through a rift in the very fabric of space to overwhelm them and began to drag them towards the gateway leading into their realm.
Forge shouts at Storm to use her blaster on his artificial leg. If he can get free, he might be able to find a way to help them all. Ororo complies but the now free Forge protests that she almost hit him. She snarls back that, if and when she does, it won’t be by accident! Stumbling away, Forge realizes she’s serious. He hobbles down the stairway, sensing the same emanation from the shadowbeings as from the Wraiths and shouts for the shaman Naze to help them.
Naze, or more to the point the Wraith that has replaced him, is at the apex of Forge’s penthouse complex in the center of a sacred ring doing a spell. He calls a great being to help his people. In exchange, he offers this world and all on it. Suddenly, fire explodes outward from the circle and he is trapped in an energy column, not protected by his wards. He begs for mercy. The creature he called mocks him for asking for what he does not give and offering what he already possesses. His form is well known to him, Naze, shaman of the Cheyenne. They have met and fought before, yet the soul is changed… alien. No matter… now both are his. “Naze” sinks down, unconscious.
In the meantime at Dallas, Fort Worth international airport, which is currently completely paralyzed by a snowy blizzard in midsummer. In the first class cabin of a stranded TWA 747, flight attendant Amanda Sefton is serving drinks when suddenly Nightcrawler teleports in and takes her with him back to the Blackbird. Amanda angrily berates him for pulling a stunt like this but he grimly tells her he wouldn’t have done this if there was another way. She is a witch and the X-Men have desperate need of her. He’ll explain en route.
They teleport inside Forge’s penthouse. The sigh isn’t pretty. Amanda immediately casts a spell that stabs into the core of the shadowmass, partially disrupting it and allowing the X-Men to struggle free.
Colossus is the first on his feet. He wants to see to Rogue, who looks the worst. She tries to warn him back, as a moment later she transforms into a Wraith who then tries to get to his brain. He holds her back, unsure what to do.
That moment, Illyana Rasputin teleports in, sent by Professor Xavier. She decides that her magic isn’t very effective on this plane of existence. Her only real weapon is her Soulsword. She summons the sword and uses it against Rogue, turning her to her true self. Magik wonders what her brother will think of her now that has revealed her magical side to him. She couldn’t bear if he turned away from her. She keeps on cutting the shadowbeings, her magical armor appearing.
Colossus crouches over the unconscious Rogue, Storm warns him not to touch her. Storm asks Amanda if she can seal the shadowgate. Amanda is confident but more shadowbeings try to get out. Amanda holds them back but barely. When Illyana tries her luck and is pushed back, Amanda shouts at the X-Men to get out while they can. She’ll cover them! She can’t last much longer. As hard and fast as she casts her spells, some other force is countering them.
Another witch? Storm wonders. She remembers the Wraith she left on the roof and orders Nightcrawler to teleport up there now. Kurt doesn’t yet get why. Forge rejoins them and orders him to do it. He’ll come along. He explains to Kurt that Storm locked out a Wraith. Probably figuring it would freeze to death. She should have made sure. When Nightcrawler asks what he is going to do, Forge tells him not to ask foolish questions and kills the Wraith with his gun.
After that, Kurt teleports them back in. The battle is over; the shadows have disappeared. Forge complains about the shambles the penthouse is, to which Nightcrawler coolly reminds him at least he is around to fix it. When Forge asks if something is bothering him, Kurt admits that killing does not come as easily to him as to others. He excuses himself. He needs to see to his friends.
Actually, they are already in good hands. Amanda is healing Rogue, and Colossus and Ororo are looking after Illyana, who explains that Professor Xavier was monitoring their situation over the Blackbird’s comlink. She explains about both her mutant and her magical power. Piotr marvels that he knew she had changed in Limbo as Belasco’s captive, but he never realized quite how much. She was more than his captive, she admits. She became his apprentice. Peter hugs her and promises she will always be his sister. And a braver, truer, lovelier girl does not exist on this planet or any other!
Forge kicks open the door to his sanctum to find the unconscious Naze. He should have guessed, he swears. Did he try to summon the great spirit himself? Why did he ever build this bloody sanctum in the first place?! Didn’t he learn his lesson in ‘Nam? No more magic –ever!
How is Naze? Storm asks from the doorway. He must get him to a hospital, Forge explains. Storm replies she wishes Naze well. The X-Men will be gone by the time Forge returns. Forge refuses to let things end like this between them. Pointing her gun at him, she asks how he intends to stop her. With a smile, she tells him not to follow them or try to find them. Suggest to his federal associates they do the same. She asks him to cheer up. Their story is far from ended. They will meet again. And then? he asks. He may well wish they had not, she threatens and walks away, leaving him to sink down in despair.
Elsewhere, in the heart of the infamous Bermuda Triangle is the Skipper Arcadia. First Mate Paolo shouts “man in the water.” Captain Aleytis ‘Lee’ Forrester looks through her binoculars, then orders Paolo to get a shark gun fast. She fires at the shark and asks if the Arcadia can get to the man. Not with the nets out, he replies. They are stuck where they are. Why is she shooting? He asks. The poor guy’s a goner, as the shark bites the man. She orders Paolo to cover her and jumps into the water.
Lee swims toward the body, marveling that he is still alive. A great white should have bitten him in two. She can see no boat or wreckage. How did the guy get way out here? She kicks the shark’s nose and gets them both aboard the Arcadia.
Paolo angrily calls her a dumb broad. If she’d missed that fish, he’d have taken off her leg! She orders him not to yell or call her ‘broad,’ then asks for a medical kit.
They now find that the man survived due to his suit made of chain mall. Then he is in its debt, the man replies weakly, and in hers as well. He addresses her as Captain Forrester and she recognizes him as Magneto.
Meanwhile, it’s evening in Westchester. Ororo is swimming in the pool and asks Nightcrawler, perching above, if he cares to join her. Kurt declines. Water and fur don’t mix. When she gets out, he holds up a towel for her and she thanks him. She is still not used to feeling the cold. The professor says her powers are completely gone, Kurt states. As if they had never been, she agrees. The genetic potential exists. Her children or theirs may someday command the weather as she did. But not she. She gives him a peck on the cheek and tries to cheer him up. She is a grown woman and will survive.
Glumly, he tells her that he asked the professor to call a special meeting of the X-Men. She reminds him she is no longer a mutant. There is no longer any place for her. Perhaps not for any of them, Kurt muses, and asks her to do it as a favor to him.
Later, while the X-Men have gathered in Xavier’s study, Rachel sits on the stairs outside and eavesdrops. She is joined by Illyana and Roberto Da Costa. Rachel tells them they have called Wolverine in Japan but he refused to come home. Something’s up. Kitty’s over there too but he won’t tell what and insisted he handle this himself. Illyana hopes Kitty’s okay.
Xavier storms outside and reminds the kids this is a private discussion. It’s long past their bedtime. He orders them to go to bed and the two New Mutants obey. Illyana warns Rachel he means business when he uses that tone of voice. Rachel claims she’ll be along, however instead she stays and uses her telepathy to hide herself from his psi-scans. She needs to know what’s going on.
Inside the study, Xavier, Ororo, Nightcawler, Colossus and Rogue are gathered and in the midst of a heated discussion. Kurt reminds them all that Storm wasn’t maimed by a supervillain but by the United States government. A tragic accident, Xavier insists. Kurt states that when Senator Robert Kelly’s Mutant Affairs control act as introduced nobody took it seriously. Yet today it is given a better than ever chance of being enacted into law! They live in modern enlightened times, yet when Xavier found him a few years ago he was being hunted by a mob who wanted to drive a stake through his heart because they believed he was a demon!
He hoped joining the X-Men would make a difference, that things would get better for mutantkind. Instead, they got worse! They are still hated and hounded by the very people they have sworn to protect. He wonders what the point is. Would he rather follow Magneto’s way by conquering and enslaving humanity? Xavier asks. In truth, he’d rather not be bothered at all! comes the reply. If the world cares nothing for mutants, fine, the feeling’s mutual! What of the X-Men? Xavier asks. What of them? Kurt shoots back. Who needs them? Yes, the school fulfils a desperate need. But as for the rest, let the Avenger or Fantastic Four handle the burden. They’re popular and accepted. Leave the X-Men to live in peace.
Does he really think running away is the answer? Xavier challenges. At least he’ll be living for himself and the woman he loves instead of some amorphous dream! Does that sound selfish? He feels he’s earned the right; all of them have. Look at them: of the X-Men he gathered: Banshee and Storm maimed, Thunderbird killed! Jean Grey killed! Where will it end!
When Rachel hears the last sentence, she goes ballistic. She screams physically and telepathically and runs into the room and attacks Nightcrawler, accusing him of lying. Xavier senses not only anger but grief. He orders her to stop it. She is killing him! She stops, sobbing that it must be a lie. She spoke to her dad. She heard her mom’s voice. She’s alive!
As Xavier tries to calm Rachel, Peter and Rogue look after Kurt. Ororo carefully addresses Rachel, who bursts out that Jean cannot be dead. She’s her mom! She apologizes to Nightcrawler. She’d never intentionally hurt him. He’s her favorite fuzzy elf who told her bedtime stories when she was a kid and took her to the circus. Really? Kurt asks doubtfully. Scout’s honor, Rachel replies. Only none of that has happened yet. She guesses now it never will. He can’t give up. The X-Men are important! Not because they are superheroes, but because they are mutant superheroes! They think they’ve got it rough? They have no idea! Take a look at the world she comes from, the future.
Rachel opens her mind to reveal a lovely summer morning, as Kurt and his wife Amada escort a 14 year old Illyana Rasputin to school. They never reach it, as they are shot down and, seconds later, an artillery barrage levels the mansion. Professor Xavier telepathically tries to reach the soldiers to surrender. He is shot in front of Rachel’s eyes. The soldiers find her in the ruins, the only survivor.
They use drugs to neutralize her psi-talents and torture her. Eventually, she is sent to the South Bronx containment facility, a concentration camp.
In her past, mutant persecution began with the assassination by mutants of Senator Robert Kelly. She exchanged the adult Kate Pryde’s psyche with that of her younger self. She saved Kelly as they know. The rest of them in the future weren’t so lucky. When Kate’s mind returned to her body, only Rachel was alive to welcome her.
The X-Men are deeply moved by Rachel’s story. Peter wonders about this future where he and Katya are married. Does that mean there is still hope for them and does he want this? Kurt figures Rachel has proved his point. Rogue notices she wasn’t mentioned; probably she never became part of the X-Men in Rachel’s future. Did she survive or end up in an unmarked back alley grave? All that horror caused by her foster mother Mystique, who murdered Kelly. And Xavier cries silently to see all his hopes and dreams turned to ashes.
Rachel continues that finally there was just her. She figured maybe she could send herself back a decade or two, only physically instead of psychically and try to prevent that future. She got when she wanted, but not quite where. This isn’t the past she remembers: Illyana should be a small girl. Storm never cut her hair or lost her powers. Her mom… A lot is different but a lot is the same and some is worse.
There were those among them who wanted only vengeance but the X-Men stood for something better. They never lost hope, no matter what. Because of them Xavier’s dream of a world of peace and fellowship never died. If Kurt turns away from that dream, he will do more damage than he knows. They may be doomed but sometimes the way they live and die is more important than the simple fact of it. Give up now and all those sacrifices will have been for nothing!
Ororo reminds Kurt of the classic saying he is so fond of quoting. “With great power comes great responsibility.” Want it or not, Kurt figures. Like it or not. Very well, for the dream. He offers Xavier his hand. Calling him his son, Xavier thanks him with all his heart.
A harbor: Some workers are loading down crates with fish. Are they catching the game after, or what? one worker asks another, Jaime, who replies they gotta swing by his place and pick up his boy. He promised. He’s got all A’s on his report card. Jaime opens the crate and, in one of the fishes, he finds a beautiful, golden necklace. He just hit the jackpot, Jaime Rodriguez figures until the amulet speaks to him, telling him it is power. Don it, obey it, and the world will be his…