Rain pours down, constantly, covering houses. The local TV anchor led off the evening news with a joke about how this must have been the way the world looked to Noah, or rather, the people he left behind. Down on the Morton Street Levee, where the water continues to rise above the houses, nobody laughed - for everyone is half convinced the TV anchor was right. Police and other rescue workers have already seen two dikes overwhelmed by the raging Mississippi. They are desperately afraid they are going to lose the third. If they do, they will lose the city also.
Suddenly, lightning flashes, and one rescue worker remarks to another that he has never seen a storm like this in all his days. ‘Look up on the levee - what the Devil?!’ another rescue worker gasps as an eerie figure appears standing over them, flowing white hair tussled in the wind and rain. Suddenly, thunder booms and another flash of lightning occurs, and the mysterious figure is knocked to the rain-soaked ground. ‘What a noise’ one of the rescue workers exclaims as he walks over to FBI Agent Jacob Reisz, who announces that it is a girl, and puts a blanket over her naked body. ‘Where’d she come from?’ one of the rescuers asks. Reisz declares that doesn’t matter, as what is important is that she is alive and needs their help. ‘Rest of you, back to work. I’ll look after her’ Reisz orders.
Reisz picks the young girl up and carries her over to an ambulance officer called Roxanne, ‘You got a customer!’ he exclaims. ‘My lucky night’ Roxanne mutters, before telling Jacob to lay the girl on the gurney so they can see what she is all about, before asking him how it is going. Rain continues to billow down as Jacob replies ‘Don’t ask’ and tells Roxanne that it is probably for the best she gets away from here as quick as she can. ‘That bad?’ the ambulance officer asks. ‘You got no idea’ Jacob replies, to which Roxanne points out that it is flatland for miles around here. ‘The levee fails, what happens to you people?’ she asks. ‘I guess we learn how long, and how hard…we can tread water’ Reisz replies, as Roxanne drives away, with the girl.
Jacob Reisz is too old for this. Too many all-night stakeouts and the junk food that went with them have taken their toll on him. But he ignores the twinge in his chest as he turns back to the river, sensing something wrong, wondering what it is. Suddenly, the realization strikes like a physical blow. The rain has stopped. The sky is clearing. The storm has broken….
Shortly, Roxanne the ambulance officer pulls up at Cairo Memorial Hospital, with the radio announcer she is listening to remark that the people at WRVR-FM think that “miracle” is not too strong a word to use, and points out that the next twenty-four hours should tell the tale, if there is no more rain, then it would be safe to say the worse is over. ‘Now for the latest update on national guard evacuation centers…’.
‘I need a hand here, Doctors!’ Roxanne exclaims as she pushes the gurney with her mysterious patient into the hospital. ‘These good times, Lian, they never stop rolling’ a doctor remarks to Dr. Lian Shen, who tells Roxanne to put the girl in the third cubicle, as that is empty. The male doctor, tells himself to open his eyes and focus his sad excuse for a mind. ‘You’re young, you’re -yawn- tough!’. He and Dr. Shen walk over to the cubicle, and the male doctor tells himself that he can handle a hundred straight hours of ER duty, no sweat. ‘”Dr. Zombie” at your service’ he tells Roxanne.
‘Nice eyes, Stuart! Bloodshot red with white highlights suits you’ Roxanne tells the young male doctor. ‘Eat your heart out, Roxy’ Stuart replies. ‘Next time, okay’ Roxanne replies before announcing that the patient is female and found at the Morton Street Levee, as is - which is naked. Roxanne remarks that the girl is in shock and stuporous, that she has surface abrasions, but no indication of major physical trauma, no broken bones and that vital signs are subdued but study, with non-responsive to voluntary stimuli. ‘Appears to be pre-teen. Appears to be black’ Roxanne adds. ‘What do you mean “appears”?’ Lian asks. ‘See for yourself, Dr. Shen. You tell me’ Roxanne asks as she pulls the blanket away, revealing a young girl with shocking white hair, cocoa-colored skin and piercing blue eyes…known to many as Ororo Munroe…Storm!
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world - not to mention the opposite environmental extreme - the desolate heart of Australia’s great central desert, more commonly - and colloquially - referred to as the “Outback”. Inside the headquarters of the Reavers, three of the cyber-warriors are cleaning up. ‘We’re soldiers, Reese - the best of the breed - not janitors. We shouldn’t be doing this’. ‘We do, Cole, as we’re told’ Reese replies, while Macon complains that it isn’t even their fault. ‘Wasn’t us who blew a hole through the lake bottom and flooded these stupid tunnels. Nosiree, howcome was have to mope up the mess!’.
Macon continues, suggesting that this section could have just been sealed off. ‘This whole underground complex is so big, you could lose a thousand men in it!’ Macon remarks. ‘Plenty of room left for the eight of us’ Cole remarks. ‘Great idea!’ Macon agrees. ‘Absolutely!’ Cole exclaims, before Macon suggests to Cole that he should be telling that to the boss. Reese frowns at that, and sarcastically remarks that he is sure Mr. Pierce will appreciate the input, ‘Almost as much as he will your goofing off on the job’. ‘Hey, Reese, no need to…’ Macon begins, until Reese points out that, on the other hand, they could be alongside the three original Reavers, currently on Pierce’s work table.
Bonebreaker screams as part of his form snaps, and he begins to cry as he lies on the operating table. Donald Pierce, tells Bonebreaker to stop his caterwauling. ‘Mr. Pierce, it hurts!’ Bonebreaker replies. ‘It’s no less than you deserve’ Pierce remarks, adding that it isn’t that bad. ‘The pain’s mostly in your mind’ he points out as his instruments do their work on Bonebreaker’s body. ‘That, Boss, makes it worse!’ Bonebreaker adds. Pierce calls him pathetic, before explaining that he has shut down his neural receptors. ‘Are you satisfied? May I continue my work?’ Pierce remarks, before muttering that he thought he made the Reavers of sterner stuff.
‘Hardly surprising the X-Men beat you so badly’ Pierce adds, to which Pretty Boy, strung up next to Skullbuster exclaims ‘That explains us. What’s your excuse? Wolverine waxed your tail just a -’ Pretty Boy doesn’t get to finish his sentence as Pierce strides over to him and slices his head off. ‘Are you so tired of life, Pretty Boy…that you appear so eager to cast it away?’ Pierce asks, while Pretty Boy’s head bounces along the floor. ‘Hey, Boss, it was a joke, can’t you take a joke?’ Pretty Boy asks.
Pierce picks up Pretty Boy’s head, telling him that he loves jokes, and that he especially loves getting his own back ‘Far, far better than I was given’. Pretty Boy gulps, while Pierce declares that he hopes when he is done, they will appreciate his sense of humor. Bonebreaker laughs, while Skullbuster exclaims ‘Better you than us, lover!’.
Suddenly, Lady Deathstrike’s mean mug appears on a large monitor, ‘Pierce!’ she bellows. ‘Lady Deathstrike. What have you to report?’ Pierce asks. ‘Precious little’ Deathstrike replies that she has completed a 360 degree sweep of the town, out to a radius of ten kilometres. ‘There’s no sign of Wolverine’ she announces. ‘Impossible! The X-Men’s teleporter, Gateway, is in our hands!’ Pierce retorts. ‘The mutant has no access to aircraft!’ Pierce adds, while Deathstrike watches him from the small floating monitor she has out in the desert, while Pierce remarks that Wolverine has to be making his escape overland.
‘Perhaps - unless his accomplice can fly as well as cast explosive energy plasmoids’ Deathstrike suggests, before adding that Wolverine may have more than one accomplice, or may be still hiding within the complex. Deathstrike exclaims that there are too many possibilities, ‘We cannot cover them all’ she declares, before Pierce orders her to make one more circuit then return to the base. ‘As you command, Lord’ Deathstrike replies, before calling out to the monitor, ‘Spyeye -’ she exclaims. ‘Spyeye acknowledge - awaiting instructions’ the monitor replies. ‘- shut down all systems, total deactivation mode’ Deathstrike orders, and the monitor complies.
‘The best moments you see…are those that remain most private…’ Deathstrike declares as she points her rifle up and looks through the magnifier, where she sees Wolverine a.k.a. Logan, and his young companion, Jubilee. ‘Bang, Wolverine. You’re dead. And your newfound child companion, too. But not today’ Deathstrike exclaims. She adds that she doesn’t want to kill Wolverine like this either, struck down from ambush when he is too weak to defend himself. ‘As I am samurai, and daimyo - warrior and nobility - so too, in your own way, are you. To be treated with respect. When we meet - the final, fateful time - it will be as equals…on a field of honor…’
Back at the Cairo Memorial Hospital, the dawn of a better day, the hospital staff bustle about, all with various things going on: ‘…sleep for a week…’ ‘…ain’t that sunrise beautiful…’ ‘…lost my house…’ ‘…radio blames muties…’ ‘…you believe that bilge…’. ‘So much for the drought’ one hospital staff remarks to another. ‘That isn’t funny’ another replies. ‘…more precipitation in less time than has ever been recorded…’ a radio announcer remarks.
Stuart bids Dr. Shen good morning. ‘Looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, like always’. ‘Keep it up, Stuart. Justifiable homicide’ Lian replies, joking that no jury in the world would convict her. Stuart tells Lian that he needs a consult on the girl that Roxy brought in last night. ‘Would you mind standing over by the nurse’s station?’ Stuart asks, to which Lian tells him that she has grand rounds so she hasn’t got the time. ‘And I’m most definitely not in the mood’ she adds. Stuart tells Lian that this is serious. ‘I’m not joking, I swear’. ‘Another of the “great lies”…’ Lian mutters as she walks into the nurse’s station.
Stuart asks Lian if she can see both him and the patient, as he stands next to the young, apparently unconscious, woman. ‘Of course! There’s nothing wrong with my eyes!’ Lian retorts, before Stuart asks her to look at the video monitors. Lian gasps instantly, as she only sees Stuart on the monitor. ‘Just me, am I right?’ Stuart asks, declaring that the monitor refuses to display the girls image. Stuart exclaims that it is the same with the life signs telemetry, flat lines across the board. ‘As far as our computer monitoring system’s concerned, this bed’s empty…and this patient doesn’t exist!’ Stuart exclaims.
Dr. Shen walks back to the young woman’s bed, thinking to herself ‘This is crazy, why am I hesitating?’ as she reaches out to touch her, but holds her hand inches from the girl. ‘Too much work and stress, too little sleep, taking its toll - I’m hallucinating…aren’t I?’ Lian tells herself, but she knows that she isn’t the only who saw it. Stuart tells Lian that the kid is real all right, ‘And if it makes you feel any better, I was just as spooked’ Stuart admits. ‘I feel like a fool!’ Lian exclaims, while Stuart remarks that the girl exists, but only to their immediate, physical senses - sight, sound, touch and smell. ‘Use an electronic scanner, try to record her, it’s like she isn’t there’ Stuart adds.
‘Brown skin. But her features don’t fit any conventional classification. Not Negroid or Caucasian or Oriental - yet somehow an amalgam of the rarest elements of them all - white hair, blue eyes….who is she, Stuart?’ Dr. Shen exclaims, adding ‘What’s wrong with her?’ Stuart replies that, aside from the obvious, they haven’t got a clue. He adds that x-rays, cat-scan, MRI, blood analysis, the full neurological work up was a waste of time. Stuart adds that there was no ID, so they took her fingerprints and sent them off to the Sheriff, explaining that they tried to fax them, but the image wouldn’t transmit, so they had to messenger the original.
‘You realize what this implies?’ Lian asks, to which Stuart explains that is why he is passing the back on to her, one of the senior staff. ‘But yeah, I think you’re right…I think she’s a mutant!’ Stuart exclaims. At this, the young Storm opens one eye ever so slightly so as not to be seen, while Stuart asks what they are going to do about it.
Meanwhile, at Muir Island, off the rugged north coast of Scotland, Erik Magnus Lensherr, better known as Magneto, the Master of Magnetism, slams his fist down on the desk of Dr. Moira MacTaggert, world respected scientist, and closest ally of the Uncanny X-Men. ‘How dare you presume to judge me, woman!?’ ‘I’ll dare than and more, bucko!’ Moira replies, not scared one bit as she asks Magneto what he thinks he is playing at. ‘I have my reasons! You shall simply have to trust me!’ Magneto declares.
‘Charles Xavier did that, remember?’ Moira exclaims, motioning to a photograph of the New Mutants, she reminds Magneto how he gave Xavier his word that he would look after the New Mutants as headmaster of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. ‘So, what happened, man? Where the Devil are they?!’ Moira demands to know. Magneto glances at Moira as he admits that he doesn’t know, and explains he has higher responsibilities that must take precedence. ’Such as becoming top dog of the Hellfire Club?’ Moira asks, to which Magneto explains that was as much Storm’s decision as leader of the X-Men, as it was his. ‘We felt I could do more to safeguard the children as one of the Lords Cardinal’ Magnus explains.
‘Fat lot of good that did Doug Ramsey…or Illyana Rasputin…or the X-Men themselves!’ Moira snaps back, to which Magneto asks ‘Am I responsible if the children disobey me? I did my best to help Illyana, I thought I had. And the X-Men chose their own destiny!’ Magneto exclaims in his defense. ‘Rationalizations!’ Moira snaps, declaring that the fact remains that a man who considered Magneto his friend entrusted him with his most precious possessions - the lives of his students and the dream they represented. ‘That was a mistake’ Magneto remarks.
Magneto declares that Charles should never have offered, and he should never have accepted that offer himself. Moira asks Magneto if he figures he will dump the kids, like so much excess baggage, with a few cold words, and go his merry way, and that will be the end of it. ‘What comes next, Master of Magnetism? Another Brotherhood of Evil Mutants?’ she shouts, causing Magneto to pick Moira up in a magnetic field, telling her to restrain herself. ‘The Devil I will!’ Moira snaps back, when suddenly, Callisto bursts her way into Moira’s office, ‘Let her go, Magneto!’ the Morlock orders as Moira hovers off the floor.
Magneto acknowledges Callisto and remarks that as a warrior and Dr. MacTaggert’s bodyguard, she may have no peer, but that even the best must learn their limitations. Callisto is then sent flying into a bookcase with a small burst of energy from Magneto, who then lowers Moira. ‘There is a war coming, Moira…and you are a fool if you do not see it!’ Magneto tells the good Doctor. ‘We mutants cannot be wished away, we are here on this Earth, more and more are being born every day’ Magnus exclaims, adding that there are those who will accept mutants, and those who fear them and seek their destruction. ‘And worst of all, those like the Genoshans…who desire to exploit us for their own power and profit!’ Magneto adds.
Magneto begins to leave Moira’s office as he declares that mutants be strong, as a people, to survive without the sufferance of the one or the aggressions of the other. ‘I mean to ensure that’ he boasts. ‘I must - because there is no one else. ‘The X-Men are dead, X-Factor has vanished and the New Mutants are but children. Too much is at stake, Moira. I cannot fail!’ Magneto exclaims. ‘Don’t you see, Magneto? If you lose yourself in the process, you already have failed!’ Moira exclaims. Magnus smirks as he replies ‘Don’t you see, Doctor? If everyone is after me - the arch villain who has, as expected finally reverted to type…no one will be after you’.
Making his way along Muir Island, Magneto sees Sean “Banshee” Cassidy, a one-time member of the X-Men, and remarks ‘I was wondering when you’d turn up’. Sean, puffing on a pipe, replies that he has just keeping an eye on things, remarking that he has a clear sight into Moira’s office from this position. ‘Did you truly believe, Cassidy, I’d do her harm?’. Magneto asks. ‘Did ye think I’d let ye try?’ Sean replies. Magneto claims that he is sorry things have to end like this, but that he suspects it is for the best. ‘Some roads are better traveled alone’ Magneto remarks.
Banshee replies that he knows the feeling, and the road. He extends a hand for Magneto to shake, but Magneto declines, instead he takes flight. ‘Just remember…it doesn’t have to be that way’ Sean tells him. ‘For all out sakes then, my Irish friend…let us pray that I am wrong. And mine the only sacrifice’ Magneto calls back.
Soon, Banshee arrives in Moira’s office, announcing that Magneto has gone. Moira exclaims that they have much to do. Turning to Callisto, she announces that she is sending her to New York, remarking that the mansion that housed Xavier’s school may have been destroyed, but that the underground complex beneath it is still intact. ‘We can’t allow its technology to fall into the wrong hands’ Moira exclaims, declaring that she wants the place sealed from everyone except the three of them and Charles himself.
Banshee asks his lover if that is wise. ‘Suppose the New Mutants or X-Factor try to gain entry?’ he points out. Moira replies that it is better to be safe than sorry, especially if they must now consider Magneto a potential adversary. ‘We’ll key the security systems to alert us if they do’ she adds, before announcing that their next order of priority is to find the New Mutants and get them here, before securing Muir Island against possible attack. Sean takes a desperate Moira in his arms, reminding her that they have weathered worse storms, and assuring her that things will work out fine. ‘Will they, Sean? I wish I was as certain. It’s just I have this awful feeling…Magneto may be right!’
Back in Australia, Skullbuster, Bonebreaker, Cole, Reese and Macon are all having some target practice, when someone else enters the room. ‘Whozzat comin? Can I believe my eyes!’ Bonebreaker laughs. Macon complains that his gun seems to be pulling to the right a bit, to which Cole tells him that the gun sight is fine, and remarks that the fault must be in his inertial targeting system. ‘Be still my heart!’ snarls Skullbuster, while Reese exclaims to the new arrival that he is looking top-line. ‘Heck, we should all look so good!’
‘Wait your turn, Reese, I’ll see what can be arranged’ Pretty Boy snaps back as he stands before his teammates. Skullbuster examines Pretty Boy’s new body and remarks ‘This what you call your basic “bare bones” configuration?’. Pretty Boy just laughs sarcastically. ‘Very funny’ he mutters in his very basic robotic body, with his human head attached. ‘That Pierce, boy…that’s some sens of humor!’ one of the others remarks, before they all burst out laughing. Pretty Boy scowls, thinking to himself ’Go on, the lot of you, laugh yourselves sick. Whatever it takes, I’m getting my rightful body back - and then, the last laugh, on you and Pierce, is gonna be mine!’
Elsewhere in the sprawling underground complex, Lady Deathstrike, dressed in a revealing bathing suit stands on a ledge, before diving into the beautiful lake of water down below, natural wonders and technological wonders meet. After swimming for some time, Deathstrike emerges from the lake, where Pierce is waiting for her with a robe. ‘Magnificent!’ he exclaims. ‘A merely adequate dive, Lord. I have done better’ Deathstrike replies, to which Pierce explains that he was referring to Yuriko, the woman. ‘Hardly that any longer’ Deathstrike remarks as Pierce places the robe on her. ‘This body is as much machine as flesh’ Yuriko remarks.
Donald tells Yuriko that their bionics are nothing to be ashamed of. ‘They make us superior beings - more than a match for any mutant!’ he declares as they make their way into a meeting room, which has a large electronic globe of the Earth in the middle of it. Deathstrike asks Pierce why he hates mutants so much. ‘Simple survival. If we do not eradicate them…they will surely supplant us as the dominant species on this Earth’ Donald explains. ‘Perhaps that is the natural order of things’ Yuriko remarks as she begins to brush her hair.
‘Man was created in God’s image, lady. These creatures - even those who pass for human - are but the grossest, foulest abomination’ Donald exclaims as he takes the brush from Yuriko. ‘Here. Allow me’ he offers as he begins to brush Yuriko’s hair for her, and declares that their immediate concern is Wolverine. ‘Perhaps he perished, out on the desert?’ Lady Deathstrike suggests innocently. ‘A tempting fantasy. I don’t believe it any more than you do’ Donald replies, before remarking that, assuming the X-Man survived, where would he got to ground. ‘Madripoor?’ he suggests.
‘Possible. But doubtful’ Deathstrike replies. ‘Japan, then? To seek aid from his love, Mariko Yashida?’ Donald asks. ‘Absolutely not’ Yuriko exclaims, explaining that Wolverine loves Mariko and would die before imperiling her or their foster daughter, Amiko. ‘You’re not being helpful, my sweet’ Donald retorts, asking Yuriko to think. ‘Be truer to your name!’ he exclaims. ‘If you were Wolverine…where would you turn?’
Muir Island, the dead of night, Sean and Moira exit their bedroom and make their way down into a living area, ‘The short-wave, Sean?’ Moira asks. ‘Sounds like’ Banshee replies, as a voice can be heard over the radio, ‘Mayday! Mayday! Freighter Alhambra calling any station!’ a voice calls out. Moira remarks that it is a distress signal, as the voice continues, exclaiming that they are not sure of their position. ‘Somewhere off the Hebrides. Crew’s gone crazy. They’re slaughtering each other! Heavy seas outside, the ship’s totally out of control. We need help!’ the plea continues.
Sean remarks that it sounds pretty grim, and that he knows that voice, as he takes a seat by the radio, ‘Alhambra from Muir Isle, do ye copy?’ Sean asks. ‘Sean? Sean Cassidy! Thank heavens I’ve reached a friend! It’s Lorna Dane!’ declares Sean’s former X-Men teammate, Polaris. Moira is extremely surprised to hear Polaris, while Sean declares that if this is Lorna Dane, then she doesn’t need his help, as she has powers. ‘I don’t have them anymore!’ Lorna exclaims, explaining that they were taken from the same time the evil Malice persona that was possessing her was destroyed. ‘I’m not lying, Sean, this isn’t some Marauder trick, there’s just me!’ Lorna pleads.
Sean tells Lorna to keep broadcasting, and they will get an RDF fix on her position. Moira tells Banshee that he cannot go after her. ‘After all she’s done, how can we trust her?’ she asks. Banshee replies that there is only one way to find out, to which Moira reminds him that they have no aircraft that can fly in this weather. Banshee replies that he won’t use one, to which Moira asks him if he is sure he is up to this. ‘I’ll have to be, won’t I?’ Banshee replies.
Out on the dark ocean, rain pours down and the freighter Alhambra is tossed about with rage. Indeed, the past dew days, the weather world-wide has been so bad that even the most modern and well-behaved vessels would have trouble coping with the monstrous Atlantic Seas. Each wave crashes over the Alhambra’s rusty deck, brining the ship that much closer to its end. Inside one of the rooms, two men are fighting: none of the crew seems to care much about the weather. ‘She’s mine! Curse yer eyes!’ someone shouts at another, wielding an axe. ‘Dog of a mutineer - I brought her aboard…she belongs to me!’ the captain of the vessel, armed with a shotgun retorts, fending the larger man off.
Cowering behind a table, is Lorna “Polaris” Dane, watching the fight, she likens the mean to animals, and wonders why this is going on. ‘There was no hint of this when we left port’ she recalls, remarking that ever since then, everyone except her has been acting more and more crazy. Lorna gasps loudly when the gun is fired. The large man clutches his stomach, while the captain calls him a fool, telling him that if he wanted his turn, he would have shared. Suddenly, a voice is heard on the radio, ‘Freighter Alhambra, this is Royal Navy Coast Guard’. The captain smashes the radio with the axe: ‘No interference! No more intrusions!’ he exclaims as he turns to Polaris.
‘Please don’t do this!’ Lorna pleads. ‘On your feet! You and me, girl, it’s our time to…party…’ the captain goes wide-eyed as Lorna stands before him, ‘What’s happened to you?’ he asks. Lorna examines her own body, indeed she has grown very taller, and the clothes she is in are stretched. ‘I don’t believe this…I’ve grown - just like in the Savage Land!’ Lorna thinks to herself. Lorna tells the captain they it is okay, nothing to be afraid of. ‘Put down the gun, baby, we’ll party all you want’ she tells him, but the captain begins shooting at her. ‘NO!’ Lorna screams. ‘Get away from me you freak!’ the captain shouts.
However, the bullets just bounce off Lorna, though she loses her balance and falls backwards through the wall - wood panelling over steel, and she smashes it like it was rice paper. However, several other men have seen her now. ‘There she is!’ one of them shouts. ‘Get her!’ another exclaims. Lorna realizes that she has size, invulnerability and super strength as well, when suddenly the other men leap at her and begin punching her. ‘Some folks just won’t take “no” for an answer!’ Lorna remarks, ‘Maybe this will convince them!’ she decides as she slams the floor, hard, which causes the men to bounce off her.
Suddenly a wave sweeps through that part of the cabin, Lorna calls out to the men, telling them to grab for lifelines anything they can hold, otherwise they will be swept away. It’s too late, and none of them listen to her anyway. Lorna hears a noise and realizes that it is metal tearing apart, and indeed, the freighter suddenly breaks in half. Clinging to what she can, and still afloat, Lorna wonders how long she can last out here, before seeing the captain slinging to a barrel. ‘Here! Take my hand! I can save you!’ she exclaims. ‘Go to the Devil, you witch!’ the captain exclaims as he lashes out at Lorna with the axe - only for it to break as it slams against her arm.
Lorna’s makeshift raft suddenly capsizes, and Lorna is tossed into the air, while a screaming noise can be heard. Lorna realizes that the captain wanted to hurt her more than he wanted to live. ‘This is insane!’ she exclaims before noticing the screaming, which is still going on. Before Polaris can land in the icy water, she finds herself landing in the arms of…Banshee! Lorna exclaims that Banshee’s sonic scream is all better. ‘That’s wonderful!’ she tells Sean, before remarking that she forgot he cannot talk and scream at the same time. ‘I’m sorry if I’m a bit, uh, bigger than you remember’ Lorna tells Sean, explaining that this is a new experience for her too. Watching the last of the freighter sink while Sean flies her away, Polaris exclaims that it was so awful. ‘All those sailors, gone…and I can’t help thinking, somehow…it’s my fault…’ Lorna whispers.
Meanwhile, further down the wild, west coast of Britain, at the Lighthouse home and headquarters of Excalibur. ‘Kurt?’ Kurt Wagner? Nightcrawler?’ a voice calls out. ‘Come out, come out wherever you are!’ a young woman dressed in a long coat calls out as she carries a torch, lightning up the darkened lighthouse. ‘So much for that bright idea’ none other than Amanda Sefton complains, remarking that when she read about Kurt resurfacing with the British super team, Excalibur, ‘I thought, the heck with pride…even if we can’t be…what we were…at least we could still be friends. Timing, as they say, is all. And mine stinks!’
Suddenly, Amanda goes wide-eyed as she finds a pistol placed to her head. ‘Please don’t move’ an authoritative voice orders. ‘You’ve got to be kidding’ Amanda replies causally as she lights up the room with a green glow, and teleports behind her assailant. ‘By heavens! A teleporter!’ the armed woman exclaims. ‘I don’t like guns’ Amanda reveals as she discards her coat, revealing the classy tunic and thigh-high boots that she wears when she aids the X-Men. Amanda explains that she is actually a sorceress, who likes even less people who point guns at her.
Amanda binds her assailant with magic bonds and asks her if she is military. The uniformed woman introduces herself as Brigadier Alysande Stuart, Commanding Officer of Her Majesty’s Weird Happenings Organization. Amanda introduces herself, remarking ‘Nightcrawler and I, we…’ her voice trails off. Alysande, Excalibur’s friend, replies that she understands, and explains that Excalibur has vanished, along with her brother, Alistaire. ‘Just my luck’ Amanda replies as she releases Alysande from the magic bonds. ‘If it’s help you’re looking for, perhaps I might be of assistance?’ Alysande offers Amanda.
Elsewhere, near Yellowstone. There used to be a mountain at the head of this particular valley, along the crest of the continental divide. Tall, proud, truly a wonder to behold. Then, one night, in the depths of winter, it blew itself to bits. No one knows why. No one cares to learn why. The locals say that the land hereabouts is haunted. So is the man who makes this his home - Forge is the name he calls himself. He is a mutant who makes things. He is also Cheyenne, shaman and medicine chief. He has spent these past months trying to reconcile the dichotomous, warring halves of his nature, and is starting to suspect, as his spirit form rises yet again from his meditating body inside a small tepee, that this is a road leading straight to madness…if he isn’t already there, that is.
(In Forge’s meditation)
‘A wild west Saloon?’ Forge, clad in a loincloth only, he notes the Australian Aborigine chained up out the front. ‘As vision quests go, this one is certainly unique’ Forge decides, adding that it is interesting how his astral body remains as maimed as his real one, complete with bionic hand and leg, even an illusionary version of him isn’t whole. ‘Welcome, stranger!’ an obese man sitting at an elegant table calls out to Forge. Another man sits with him, while a woman stands, chained, in a cage behind him. ‘Cute. Your basic den of iniquity’ Forge remarks as he looks around, wondering why he has the feeling that he is expected.
The large man introduces himself as Amahl Farouk. ‘I am master here!’ he booms. Forge decides that he doesn’t like the sound of that, before noticing the woman in the cage - ‘Storm!’ he exclaims to himself, before watching as she changes before his very eyes, from a grown woman into a girl. ‘You know my toy? You like her? Splendid’ Farouk remarks, adding that the two of them go way back, and motioning to the man sitting next to him, remarks that he has already tried to save her. ‘Would you care to test your strength?’ Farouk asks.
‘Who are you?’ Forge asks as he sits his lean body down across from Farouk, and the clasp hands, ready to have an arm wrestle. Farouk replies that he is a ghost. A demon. A nightmare. He declares that his fondest desire is to once more be a man. ‘Not today’ Forge frowns as he pushes Farouk’s hand down. ‘And now over my dead body’ Forge adds. Farouk grins, ‘Such heroic sentiments - I like that - but this is my game, my parlor, my rules. Here, the house always wins!’ Farouk exclaims as Forge goes wide-eyed when their flesh melds together, and Forge cannot break free.
Farouk exclaims that he so enjoys consuming people’s minds so that he may gain mastery over their bodies, ‘You, my red-skinned friend, look to be an especially delectable treat!’ Farouk exclaims. ‘NO!’ shouts Forge as he uses his free, bionic, hand to punch Farouk in the face, shattering him.
This forces Forge from his meditation and realizes that his bionic hand somehow disrupted the psychic matrix, but the energy backlash manifested itself on the physical plane also, as Forge’s bionic hand has been destroyed. ‘Luckier than I deserve’ Forge decides, though thankful that he can easily fix his hand. ‘What matters is that somehow - I know - Storm’s alive! And in deadly danger!’
Back at the Cairo Memorial Hospital, Dr. Lian Shen sits near Storm‘s bed, thinking to herself ‘She’s just a kid. She’s a mutant. So what? So - everything’. Lian remarks that she looks so peaceful asleep, but knows that appearances are deceiving, ‘Just look at the monitor for proof!’ she reminds herself, wondering how the girl can do any harm. ‘Do I want to be the one to find out?’ she wonders. ‘Is it wrong to be a responsible citizen? Is this being “responsible”?’ she wonders as she picks up the phone.
Elsewhere, the phone rings at the home of FBI Agent Jacob Reisz. It rings some more - and some more - while Reisz sits in a chair next to the phone, clutching his heart, sweat pours down his face, then, suddenly, his eyes go red and he picks up the phone: ‘Reisz here. Dr. Shen? That girl I sent in yesterday? She’s a what? No, no, Doctor. There’s nothing to be upset about’. Reisz tells Shen.
At the hospital, Lian looks into Storm’s room, while Reisz tells her that she did the right thing in calling the FBI. ‘As Chief of the Midwest Division, I’ll be more than happy to handle this personally’ Reisz announces. Lian thanks Reisz, telling him that he has taken a load off her mind. ‘We’ll expect you in the morning. And don’t worry, the girl will be ready’ Lian adds, unaware that Storm is wide-awake, and listening to the phone call.
Back in Australia, Pierce, Deathstrike and the six Reavers stand in the meeting room, all looking at the floating globe of the Earth. ‘After evaluating all the possible escape and evasion scenarios…’ Pierce begins, ‘I bet that wasn’t the only thing being “evaluated”!’ Cole points out to Macon and Reese, adding that Deathstrike is wearing Pierce’s cloak. ‘Try a little louder, spit-for-brains, I don’t think he quite heard you’ Reese whispers to Cole, while Macon remarks that Deathstrike sure heard him. ‘Better watch your butt, Cole’ he tells his friend.
Pierce continues, remarking that they have determined that Wolverine’s most probable destination - ‘Is the grave!’ laughs Skullbuster. ‘Or Hades, whichever is nastier’ Bonebreaker remarks. ‘…Is Muir Isle…off the north coast of Scotland!’ Pierce announces, bringing Muir Island up on the monitor. He admits that it is rather a long way to go, but that the Mutant Research Center on the Island was established by Xavier himself, the founder of the X-Men, as an adjunct to his now destroyed School for Gifted Youngsters.
Pierce explains that in charge of the island are the former X-Man Banshee, master of the sonic scream, although now depowered, and Doctor Moira MacTaggert, Xavier’s colleague in mutant research. ‘And currently, I believe. Banshee’s sweetheart’. Donald remarks that Banshee may be crippled and Moira only a human, but that together they form a most formidable potential threat to his ambitions, which means the sooner they are eliminated, the better. Deathstrike and the Reavers all smile as Donald announces that he wants the Island levelled, the Research Center destroyed, every mutant found there slaughtered. ‘But most importantly of all…I want those two killed!’….