Storm follows a younger version of herself across the African Veldt, and as they walk she asks what is happening. The girl replies that she can’t tell her. The others won’t let her. But, if she follows her a little further, she will show her. The last thing that Ororo remembers was seeing her friends being abducted to another world; another reality from all appearances. When she attempted to use her powers, she was overwhelmed by its chaotic environment. She awoke in the dark, alone, trapped and unable to free herself until the girl pulled her into the light. As much as this feels right in every way that matters, and as much as she might wish it were real, it is wrong. It is not home.
The girl stops at the edge of the veldt, where grass meets sand. She tells Ororo that this is where she gets left behind. She’s on her own from here. Ororo asks why. Why can they not take to the air together and command the winds to carry them across this wasteland? The young Ororo asks her not to look to the heavens for the answer to everything. Remember to look to the ground now and then. She asks her to look back. Ororo realizes that she herself casts no shadow, yet the little girls does. She then looks back at the girl and finds she is gone, yet her shadow remains. The shadow begins to transform into black snakes. Ororo doesn’t understand this, and begins walking into the wasteland.
Storm and Marrow are lying on the ground, with their fellow X-Men standing around them. Ororo’s pulse is steady and her breathing is normal, yet she still shows no signs of rousing herself from what Ejulp called her ‘protective trance,’ induced by her direct exposure to the Trion. Remy adds that she’s catatonic, and Marrow is worse. The girl’s not going to make it unless they get her some medical attention. Black Tom tells him to get over it. This isn’t Earth anymore. None of their powers work the same there. He wasted Marrow by accident and they have bigger concerns than her last will and testament.
Colossus tells Remy that Black Tom is only concerned with himself, as always, but his point is valid. Charles Xavier’s body is also in their charge, and equally helpless without his astral form. The entire Oktid race is relying on them to stave off their imminent extinction. Black Tom reminds him that there are also his teammates to think about. The other X-Men have failed to slow the giant Juggernaut’s advance by even an inch so far. His possessed friend appears more unstoppable than ever - able even to tear through the very fabric of space and time. Each dimensional barrier, he adds, falls to his relentless pounding more quickly than the last. Every step brings him closer to this reality, and if Shadowcat and Nightcrawler cannot find the means to cope with the unpredictable physics of this realm, and if Wolverine cannot regain control of his senses, what chance do any of them have?
At that moment, Logan, with Xavier’s mind inside his body, finds himself in battle with a huge tentacled creature. Charles is astonished how Wolverine’s body works. His muscles and mind work in perfect harmony. His senses pick up every sight and every smell. Is this how it always is for him? Logan replies that he usually doesn’t have the king of all telepaths stuck in his head supplying a running commentary, but otherwise, he’s never really thought about it much. That’s sort of the point. Charles reminds him that his presence in his psyche is unintentional. His astral form was an instinctive, unplanned response to this fractured realm. But, it proved far better suited to reality here than his corporeal body.
When he saw Logan falling into certain danger, his hyper-senses were overwhelmed by these surroundings, and he had no choice but to act and reach for him. “For my mind, Chuck. My mind, just like in the Arctic,” replies Wolverine. Charles insists he was acting in his best interests back there. “You must understand that. When I stopped you from killing Magneto in cold bloo…” Wolverine cuts his off, asking him to keep it down. They’ve still got a long way to go.
Meanwhile, Shadowcat and Nightcrawler are waiting to create a diversion. Kitty asks if he think it will work. Kurt replies that his attempts to teleport here only result in dimensional rifts of some sort. That much they do know. They have faced creatures attempting to claw their way through these cracks in a door to who-knows-where, but it remains to be seen if the rest of his theory is sound, as in the further he tries to teleport, the wider he opens the door. Kurt teleports, and the large tentacled creature is pulled through it, clasping onto the Juggernaut’s enormous frame in order to slow him down.
Ororo arrives at the top of a sand dune and looks into the valley below. She notices three people standing around a cauldron, each wearing ceremonial headgear. They are reaching into their stomachs and pulling out glowing snake-like objects. Of course, thinks Ororo. Three of them as fish, cat and bird. Water, earth and air, pulling snaking slithering tendrils of darkness from within. Could it be the very same darkness she left behind?
Ororo confronts the three people standing around the cauldron. She wants whatever information they have for her, and removes the mask of the woman in the middle. She reveals them for what they truly are: the Trion. They are the sum total of all this dimension is, was, or will ever be. Each transforms into how they really look. Storm somehow knows that for all intents and purposes they are the three elemental forces of this… reality.
She surmises that this has been their connection all along. She decides to appeal for what passes for reason in this place. If they have need of her, then they should let that need be known. The three remain silent, so Storm attacks, telling them she will not be caged. The Trion blast her, but her lightning becomes a barrier which stops the energy in its tracks. They continue their assault, but Storm uses the elemental forces in this reality to fight back, uncertain of how exactly these forces will operate. She fights with an abandon she had almost forgotten.
Storm tells the Trion that in one way or another, they have had her on the run ever since they first crossed paths, and have played them all as pawns. That ends now. She finally understands.
The distraction has worked. Shadowcat phased Nightcrawler out of the immediate danger zone, but it’s still up to Wolverine and Xavier to reach the Juggernaut’s helmet in order to breach his psionic shields. He asks Wolverine to allow him to help him and Logan thinks he means to take control of him again. He shouldn’t even think about that, and Logan means it. Xavier informs Logan that the immense strain on his body, compounded by his particularly sensitive awareness of their confused surroundings, must be all but beyond human endurance. Logan replies that it’s the way he likes it. He’s used to depending on himself, no matter the odds. Charles shouldn’t forget that, the last time he tried stepping on his feet, he nearly got them both put down for the count.
Logan leaps from the Juggernaut’s chest onto the front of his helmet. He adds that Charles is probably afraid that he might be tainted by the dark side or something. Maybe he’s even worried that he might like it. He should leave Logan to do what he does best. The savage in him is probably the best thing they have going for them right now. Charles accepts his argument, and Wolverine leaps into the fiery mouth of the Juggernaut.
The two men tumble into a long room lined with windows. As they land, Charles informs Logan that they have separated because, in his stepbrother’s psyche, they are free from each other again. Now it’s only a matter of finding Cain. As Charles speaks, he turns to see Cain Marko lurking in the shadows, smoking a cigarette. He tells Cain that he wishes to help him, but Cain grabs him by the collar and says that he’s heard enough of it, and he’s sick of it.
Logan warns him to let Charles go, but Cain instead hurls him against a wall. Charles tries to persuade Logan to keep out of this, but he leaps straight in, slashing at Cain with his claws. They rip his jacket, but barely make a dent. Cain turns, transforms into his Juggernaut form, and smashes Logan across the room.
As they are in the Astral Plane, Charles flies in and grabs Logan, realizing that they must find another way to combat Cain, who is physically far too strong for them. What they encountered was not the real Cain Marko, and Charles suspects that it’s the thing, the unseen dark force, that controls him. The real Cain is spiteful and vindictive, but not manipulative.
As they fly through the house inside Cain’s psyche, Charles adds that in some ways he is thankful that it was his small-minded step-brother who originally stumbled into the mystical Cyttorak Crystal, and not someone with the ambition, vision and imagination to realize its full potential. At heart, the real Cain is nothing more than a bully. Logan replies that the same could be said about Hitler. They see Cain hiding under the stairs, crying. Charles thinks that he looks terrified, but they must convince him to confront his demon once more, only his way this time.
Logan approaches Cain and says that he knows he’s scared, but none of this is real. It’s all an illusion designed to exploit his greatest fears. Cain sniffles, and replies that he is weak and helpless like Charles now. Charles assures him that he still retains the power of the Juggernaut. They hear the other Juggernaut pounding a path towards them, and Logan asks Cain to join him in fighting it. Charles disagrees. He thinks that is what the possessing entity wants. He trusted in Logan’s abilities earlier, but now Logan must trust his. More importantly, he adds, Cain must trust Charles enough to trust in himself. Despite their past differences, he has never lied to Cain… never. The possessed Juggernaut pounds at their door, as Cain stands there shaking with fear.
Charles asks him to stand his ground, as the possessed Juggernaut crashes into the room and smashes him in the stomach. Cain remains standing, now believing everything Charles and Logan have told him. He grabs the Juggernaut’s massive fist and throws him across the room. “I needed that, really,” he remarks. Cain then follows up by pummeling the Juggernaut into the ground mercilessly. The Juggernaut crumples into a ball of paper, and Cain takes back the costume and mantle for himself. “I am the one an’ only Cain Marko - the unstoppable Juggernaut!”
Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler hear Cain shouting, and see the massive Juggernaut before them reaching critical mass. They see Cain, Charles and Logan appear from inside the huge Juggernaut but, as they appear, the highly destructive Cyttorak energies have a devastating effect on the regional continuum. A hole is torn in space and time, showing no sign of stopping. Ejulp says that the rift is expanding, and heading straight for them. Charles, now back in his hover chair, tells his X-Men that the Oktid are panicking. Their entire race, everything they’ve built for themselves there, is about to be decimated. “Not to mention us,” replies Black Tom Cassidy. As they wonder what they can do, Storm opens her eyes and informs them that the race is not yet run.
Energy zips through Ororo as she sits up. She asks them to be calm, as she extends that energy upwards and begins to heal the rift. It seals itself up, saving them and the Oktid race. Ororo holds her head and whispers, “I know your secret now.” She now knows that the Trio are afraid of her, not the other way around, and that’s why they tried to trap her. She now knows that the Trion once believed that they had purged themselves from all evil millennia ago, quite literally ripping it from themselves and imprisoning it inside a black ball. They thought that this made them good and pure, but instead it made them sterile, and effectively froze this reality in place. They kept it from blossoming and taking on any life of its own.
She rants at the Trion, claiming that the Oktid only exist as distractions for them; people who can worship them. They never overcame their own capacity for evil - they simply hid it and denied it, despite the fact that it in itself was sentient and not actually guilty of perpetrating any evil, merely capable of doing so. The trio listen as she delivers her home truths. She adds that the dark force reached across the dimensional barrier to enlist the destructive aspect of Cyttorak - the Juggernaut. When confronted by the product of their actions, they contrived to send for the X-Men to eliminate their problem: to do their dirty work, just so that they could preserve their precious purity. In their eyes, humanity was already unclean and they actually believed that humans were the tainted ones.
Storm finishes off by informing them that she could destroy them in an instant should she so wish. Or, she could release the evil that they have contained for so long to infect them. But, she tells her friends, there is no point lecturing the Trion. They could never understand. Their perceptions and philosophies of good and evil are so very different to their own, and they share no common ground at all. Charles thinks that, by its very nature, such an encounter is enlightening. He turns to Ejulp and asks if they could be sent back to Westchester. Ejulp says it’s the least she can do. She waves her hand and the X-Men disappear in a green flash.
They arrive in an alleyway, minus Black Tom Cassidy and the Juggernaut. Nightcrawler presumes they have been delivered elsewhere. Kitty adds that Ejulp appears to have missed the mark with them, too. They’re in the city, somewhere. Logan sniffs the air and informs the team that this isn’t New York. Gambit is holding Marrow in his arms and reminds them that she needs a doctor. As they depart the alley, Colossus tells Kitty that Logan is correct; this isn’t New York. She asks how he can be so sure. She then looks to the night sky and sees two moons behind the skyscrapers.