Franklin Richards should be out with his friends playing in the sun, letting his mind take him to the depths of Atlantis or to the far reaches of outer space. He should be doing those things, but he is not. Instead, he finds himself a captive of Onslaught, an omnipotent psionic being.
Franklin is not alone, however. Deep within the realm of Onslaught, he finds himself with the catatonic body of Charles Francis Xavier, who more or less is partially responsible for this. Franklin takes Xavier’s hand and asks him to please wake up. He has to help him. Though he is trying not to, he is scared. Franklin rests his other hand on Xavier’s shoulder and tells the catatonic man that he recognizes him as Doctor X, a friend of his parents. He has powers too, like his parents. Maybe they can find his parents together, before he comes back.
Franklin looks around at the world around him, which is just darkness and overgrown dead thorns. He shakes Xavier and tells him that he made this friend name Charlie recently. Charlie tricked him into coming with him and then this… this monster named Onslaught said he wanted Franklin to help him. Onslaught would “protect” his family, but Franklin doesn’t believe him. Franklin lifts up Xavier’s face and tells him that he is smart. Tell him what to do and he can do it. His mother always said that he could do anything he wanted.
A foreboding voice from behind tells Franklin to let Xavier rest, for in his own way he deserves it. Franklin recognizes the voice of Charlie and turns around, hoping against hope to find anyone else other than the “friend” who delivered him to evil. Franklin turns to see Onslaught behind him, who tells him to relax. He will need his strength for later. Stuttering, Franklin asks why. Onslaught tells Franklin that he is going to help him. As the only child of Reed and Susan Richards, he is the heir to a power unknown to man. He and Franklin have a world to conquer. Onslaught tries to touch Franklin, but the boy pulls away and tells him that he doesn’t want to conquer the world. All he wants to do is go home. Franklin finds himself alone again and begins to cry as he falls asleep on Xavier’s chest.
Above New York City, the beings known as Apocalypse and the Watcher float, watching the events unfold. Apocalypse confesses that he is impressed. The Watcher asks if he is referring to the pain and suffering caused by Onslaught’s electro-magnetic vortex that nearly destroyed the city. Surely he would have no interest in the behavior of mere humans who have come together as a result of this tragedy. Apocalypse agrees that he has no interest. However, he is impressed for their mutual bid for survival. They are doomed, of course. However, he was referring to Xavier’s hand in all this. He did not think that Xavier could cause so much damage. Uatu tells Apocalypse that, for all his intellect, he still does not understand what is happening here. This creature is what Apocalypse has always wanted to see. This goes beyond Xavier and well beyond the conflict between himself and Magneto. Onslaught is a new life form, as far ahead of mutants as mutants are far ahead from humans. Apocalypse stares off at Onslaught’s citadel and asks if Onslaught it that which will survive.
Near Onslaught’s citadel, Iceman stands atop a nearby building and creates an ice wall to protect him from the blasts of energy rocketing from his enemy’s lair. The Human Torch land behind him and asks about what he missed. Iceman explains that most of the others had to drop back. The Torch smiles and asks if that means that the two of them are left to save the world. “Again?” asks Iceman. A voice asks if there is room for one more behind the wall. Both men look up to see Hawkeye leap over the ice wall and realize that he is the reason Onslaught’s defenses went off. Hawkeye lands on the other side and tells them that they cannot blame a guy for trying. The Human Torch tells Hawkeye that he appreciates the effort, but informs the bowman that his nephew, Franklin, is trapped in that citadel, so they should not be aggravating Onslaught until they have a plan. Hawkeye says that he knows about Franklin and assures the man that they will get him out. Iceman asks the two if they want to try an assault against Onslaught all together.
Not yet, says Cyclops, as he, Psylocke, Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman descend behind the ice wall on one of Sue’s invisible platforms. Mr. Fantastic explains that their suicide run will just increase the death count. Sue agrees and tells the men that they want her son back, but not at the cost of innocent lives. Hawkeye notices that he is the only Avenger present and asks if there is a reason for that. Reed pulls out a handheld device and tells Hawkeye that everyone is fine. He came here to get readings regarding a theory he has about Onslaught’s power. Hawkeye sees that the heroes assembled already seem to have that covered, so he asks Psylocke to join him in the streets to help out the trapped and wounded. As Reed gets ready to leave with Iceman and the Human Torch, Sue announces that she is staying and tells him that she left in order to help others during the psi-storm Onslaught unleashed. She will not abandon her son. The others try to reason with her, but the adamant woman tells them that they are wasting time. The others all head on out and leave Cyclops with the Invisible Woman.
Several blocks away, Joseph begins to hear distant screaming. He realizes that it is coming from underground and that there were people trapped in the subway when the power went out. Fortunately, since the train is made of metal, he can easily rip it out of the ground. Joseph does so and also opens the doors to the train. The passengers all see Joseph, but realize that he is Magneto. They begin to scream that this is all his fault and they throw whatever they can get their hands on at him.
Gambit leaps out of nowhere and tackles Joseph to get him down. Joseph uses his powers to lift himself and Gambit to a nearby rooftop. Joseph asks Gambit if those people were frightened of him. Gambit tells Joseph that there is a lot he doesn’t know about the man he used to be or the life he led. However, this isn’t the place or time. To see what kind of man he was, completes Joseph. In some way, this is his fault, as Gambit said before. Gambit tells Joseph that he isn’t necessarily responsible for what happened in the past. No one knows more about the sins of yesterday and the penance of today than Gambit does.
Across the street is Rogue, who looks at the two men and wonders if Gambit is ever going to stop surprising her. She knows he doesn’t like Joseph, but yet he reaches out to him anyway. Joseph tells Gambit that if what the thief is saying is true, then it is incumbent of him to end this threat. Joseph flies away towards the citadel, but Gambit tells him to come back, for he will only make things worse. Gambit thinks to himself about how Joseph is just as pig-headed as Magneto, when Rogue flies over and says hi. She tells him that she saw what he did. It must have been hard. No, says Gambit, not having her in his life was hard. The two hug and Rogue asks if he is ready. “Always,” says Gambit as they fly away.
At Four Freedoms Plaza, Giant-Man continues to check up on several of his friends and allies as they struggle for their lives after Onslaught’s electro-magnetic pulse. As Ant-Man lies in sleep, Giant-Man checks up on Vision and tells his assistant Bishop that the android and Ant-Man are resting comfortably. Any word on Iron Man’s condition, asks Giant-Man. Bishop checks their third patient and tells Dr. Pym that things are looking good. His armor is accepting what little energy his mutant body has stored up.
Nearby, Jean Grey approaches Reed Richards, who is analyzing his data. Jean addresses him as doctor, but Reed asks her to please call him by his first name. Jean asks why he called her up. Reed explains that he needed a sounding board of sorts. He has been observing Onslaught and what he has been able to manifest, including the E.M. blast and his control over the Sentinels, as well as his psionic powers. If he combines that information with the fact that he took Franklin, and combine that data with the acts the Onslaught shouldn’t be able to do then… Reed thanks Jean and then goes back to his data. Confused, Jean tells him that it was no problem. She looks at Reed and thinks that this man is the father of modern heroes and the Fantastic Four are what the X-Men and Avengers strive to be like. To think that he is able to remain calm with all the madness and personal tragedy around him is simply amazing.
The Thing walks by with a large machine, which he refers to as the Kirby-Q2000 and asks Reed where he wants it. Thing’s attention is diverted, though, by the sight of Iron Man getting out of bed, or at least trying to. Thing tells Iron Man to cut himself some slack, because he looks like he is about to drop dead. Things look different, says Iron Man. Trust him. He slowly walks towards Ben and tells him that Cyclops and Phoenix went to Muir Island and brought back with them plans for psionic armor. The Thing catches Iron Man, who falls. The golden Avenger explains that if he just has ten minutes in the lab, he can make the armor. Thing tells him that if he keeps on pushing himself like this, then ten minutes might be all that he has. Iron Man looks into Ben’s eyes and tells him that if he ever told him that he would stop trying, he would call Ben a liar. Thing sighs and then decides to help Iron Man to the lab. Thank you, says the weakening Avenger.
Back in the citadel, energy erupts with Onslaught, who boasts that everything is happening as planned. By merging with Xavier and Franklin, he is now growing and is becoming more powerful than even he could have imagined. This energy display, however, is not unnoticed. Cyclops tells the Invisible Woman that they should contact the others. He should, says Sue, because she is going in to get her son. Cyclops tells her that the instant they can get Franklin back they can. He is a brave kid after all. Cyclops puts his hand on Sue’s shoulder to comfort her, but she knocks him away with an invisible field and screams that he is right. Franklin is just a child. He, she and Reed are all adults. They make decisions everyday that risk their lives, but Franklin doesn’t. Suddenly, a voice tells Sue that his father knows exactly what she is talking about. Sue turns around to see Cable and, much to her surprise, Storm.
Back inside Onslaught, Franklin has no more words for Xavier and continues instead to cry on the man. It is enough. Franklin feels Xavier’s hand on his head and the man quiets the crying boy. Franklin is surprised that he is awake. Xavier picks Franklin up and smiles, but asks how the boy got here. Franklin explains that he was with his new friend, Charlie, when some ugly monster called Onslaught grabbed him and took him. Horrified, Xavier wonders if Onslaught has no bounds. He asks Franklin if he trusts him. Yes, says Franklin, because he is a friend of his parents. Xavier explains that Onslaught is a bad man who wants Franklin to help him. No matter what Onslaught says, however, Franklin has to fight him. Franklin says okay, but asks how he can fight Onslaught.
You don’t, says the omnipotent creature as he approaches the two. Onslaught glares at Xavier and asks the man if he has not yet recognized how powerless he is before him. At one point, Onslaught needed him, but now, as Xavier can see, he is growing far beyond Xavier. He already has the child. Franklin turns green and begins to turn into energy that is sucked into Onslaught’s dark core. Before disappearing, Franklin tells Xavier that he will be strong, just like he promised. Xavier screams at Onslaught and asks the Heavens to forgive him for creating the beast. He will find a way to destroy him. How will you do that, taunts Onslaught, without her mental powers. Xavier, confused and crying, asks Onslaught about his meaning. He is bright, says Onslaught, and will figure it out. Onslaught begins to laugh, but is suddenly drowned out by an assault in the corporeal world.
Outside, Cyclops wonders out loud what he is doing here, but more importantly, what is Magneto doing? In front of Onslaught at the citadel, Joseph lashes out with his magnetic powers at Onslaught and demands that the creature stop wrestling with his inner demons and pay attention to the battle at hand. Onslaught snaps back to attention and asks if his name is Joseph. How fitting it is that the father would choose this moment to appear. Joseph builds up his power and lashes it out like a whip. If he indeed did have something to do with Onslaught’s birth, then he will have a hand in his death. Onslaught realizes that Joseph and Xavier are both woven from the same cloth of arrogance. He easily repels Joseph’s powers and knocks the man away. Onslaught does not fear Joseph anymore than he needs him.
Cyclops, the Invisible Woman, Cable, Storm, Thor, Rogue and Gambit regroup at the scene. Onslaught’s chest plate begins to open, as a bright light is released from it. Rogue asks Thor what is happening, but even the god of thunder is unsure. The chest plate moves apart enough for the heroes to see Charles Xavier trapped in Onslaught with dark tentacles all around him trying to crush him. Is this the evidence the heroes need? Must Onslaught kill his maker to show that he is no longer bounded to this fragile creature? Maybe it is enough to torture Xavier slowly in the same way that he intends the world to suffer. “Take him,” says Cyclops, enraged.
Joseph tries to grab onto Onslaught’s armor with his magnetic powers, but notices that his energy signature is flaring. He questions what is happening, to which Cable responds that he is psionically tweaking the man’s powers. He hopes he doesn’t mind. Actually, says Joseph, he does. “Tough,” responds Cable. Cyclops notices a small crack in Onslaught’s armor, which means it is now or never time. He orders everyone to drop back, as he takes off his visor and unleashes the full destructive power of his optic blast. The blast slams right into Onslaught and drives the creature into the wall of the citadel. Clearly fazed, Onslaught tells Cyclops that he will pay.
The Invisible Woman sees that Scott’s optic blast created more damage. She then uses her force field to pry open the hole in Onslaught wider. Inside or maybe both inside and out, Xavier realizes that he is existing in two planes of existence at the same time. He is inside the Astral Plane, but in reality as well! Is there nothing beyond the scope of Onslaught’s power? Onslaught regroups and glares at the heroes. Are they done? I don’t know says, Cyclops. Thor, are we finished? Thor flies straight at Onslaught and says nay. “For Odin!” screams Thor, “For Asgard! Xavier Shall Be Free!” Thor slams right through Onslaught’s chest, grabs Xavier, and escapes by bursting through the creature’s back, leaving a gaping whole right in the middle of Onslaught.
That should be it then. It should be over. This technically should be the end of Onslaught. The host, Xavier, has been removed, and quite forcibly too. Xavier was Onslaught. Onslaught was Xavier. Onslaught could not exist without Charles. How horribly wrong the heroes are. At last, screams Onslaught, as boisterous of a god as he is. “FREEDOM!” he announces to all. Now, let him show them all his might hand. All around Onslaught, the winds pick up and the air whips around. Before the heroes can move, Onslaught combines Xavier’s unchecked psionic powers with Magneto’s control over the electro-magnetic spectrum with Franklin Richard’s untamed powers to reshape reality with less than a thought. The result is a giant dome of energy and fire that expands and engulfs Central Park, the surrounding blocks, which thankfully were evacuated earlier, as well as the heroes. The entire area under the dome is ripped to shreds and when it ends the heroes lie in the rubble, tossed carelessly like rag dolls.
In the midst of the psionic storm, the Invisible Woman tries desperately to shield her comrades with her force field. Barely able to stand, she tells Cable and Thor that they have to get Franklin. Cable, shocked, tells Susan that it is insane. There is a psionic maelstrom on the other side of her field. Though it kept them alive to protect them against Onslaught’s affect, if he weren’t reinforcing it with his own psi-power, they would all be organic dust right now! Thor removes a slab of concrete off his back and tells Sue that Cable seems to know what he is talking about. To ride into the Storm is to ride into death.
Full of despair, Sue tells Thor that to live without her son is worse than death. She turns to the Professor and asks him if he can pierce through the storm and assure her that Franklin is alive somewhere in there. He cannot, stutters Xavier. For the moment, or maybe forever, his telepathic powers no longer work!