'I – I need... where's Kitty Pryde?' Jamie Madrox a.k.a. Multiple Man gasps, wide-eyed, surrounded by darkness. 'Jamie Madrox?' Jean Grey calls out, as Madrox stands before her. Madrox tells Jean that they have to find Kitty Pryde, when suddenly, there is a SNIKT, and two claws are shoved through the back of his head. As Madrox drops to the ground, Laura Kinney a.k.a. X-23 asks Jean if she is all right. 'I...' Jean utters, as the darkness gives way to a blinding red glow, where Jean sees dozens of Multiple Man dupes, all asking 'Where is Kitty Pryde' over and over, while Storm, Psylocke, Bishop, Cannonball, Jubilee and Nightcrawler battle the dupes.
As Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Psylocke shoves a psi-blade into one of the dupes, she declares that she doesn't know what is wrong with them, but that their minds are fractured somehow. Storm blasts one with lightning, while Cannonball blasts into another, and Jubilee unleashes her fireworks powers at one dupe. Nightcrawler teleports a dupe as Bishop fires an energy blast into one.
'WHERE IS KITTY PRYDE?' Jean Grey suddenly shouts, wide-eyed, inside the kitchen of the Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach. 'Um... she took some students on a quick training op before the press conference. Why?' X-23 asks, eating slices of orange from her claws, while Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman pours some milk into a cereal bowl and Kurt Wagner a.k.a. Nightcrawler hangs from the ceiling, before teleporting to Jean's side, as she runs a hand through her hair and remarks that she doesn't know, but she saw something. 'Something about Kitty?' Bobby asks. 'Not… not exactly' Jean replies.
Kurt asks her what she saw, but Jean tells him that she isn't sure. 'You want an orange slice?' Laura offers, holding a claw towards Jean, who tells her that she doesn't, and turns to leave the kitchen.
Bobby tells Laura that she is gross, that her claws aren't forks. 'I know. They're way better than forks' Laura replies, causing Bobby to ask her if they are even clean. 'Imagine how clean they'd be if I carve you into an ice sculpture, Bobby' Laura suggests. Bobby looks at Laura's claws and tells her that they are probably fine. 'That's what I thought' Laura smirks.
Meanwhile, above Morrinsville, North Carolina, Kitty Pryde pilots a Blackbird containing six X-Men students. 'You've got to be kidding me. This is who we're fighting? Forearm?' Santo Vaccarro a.k.a. Rockslide asks as he and his teammates look at a holographic projection of Forearm. Also in the jet are Megan Gwynn a.k.a. Pixie, Victor Borkowski a.k.a. Anole, Idie Okonkwo a.k.a. Oya, Hisako Ichiki a.k.a. Armor and Robert “Glob” Herman. 'His power is that he has... four arms? What's he gonna do? High-five us to death?' Rockslide asks. 'Who's his side-kick? Tricep? The Three-Armed Wonder?' Glob jokes, while Oya tells Kitty that she thought the purpose of training missions was to push them. 'Every mission is an opportunity to learn something, Oya' Kitty points out. 'But... Forearm? This guy's a joke! And... isn't he supposed to be dead, anyway?' Pixie asks. Kitty reminds Pixie that Forearm wouldn't be the first to beat death, and adds that there are people in that pharmaceutical lab, so Forearm is a legitimate threat, as they don't have mutant powers. 'They're terrified and they need our help. That's what we X-Men do' Kitty declares.
Kitty presses a button on the controls of the jet and tells the students to get ready, as they are coming in for a landing – but suddenly, Kitty goes wide-eyed and uncontrollably starts to phase through the ship's console. 'Kitty! You can't phase through the ship! You'll short it out!' Armor exclaims, but as she disappears, Kitty exclaims that she can't control it – and then she's gone.
'Where did she go?' Glob asks, while Oya wonders if this is meant to be part of the training exercise. The ship suddenly spins out of control, and Pixie is thrown against the ceiling, where she smacks her head. 'We've lost power. We're going to crash' Armor reports, before asking Pixie if she can teleport them out of here – only Pixie is dazed, and as Rockslide holds her up, she replies 'I... don't... my head...'. Armor grabs Pixie by her shoulders and tells her that she needs to teleport them out of here. 'Otherwise we're going to -' Armor begins, before the jet crashes into the side of a building below, which explodes.
In Botswana, Africa, rain falls into a large lake, where a pack of wild dogs, and herd of antelope have come to drink. A group of villagers stand at the shore, as Ororo Munroe a.k.a. Storm hovers above the lake and declares 'This is not natural'. Standing in the lake is Dr Henry McCoy a.k.a. Beast, who tells Storm that he agrees, while holding a small test tube sample of the water. Storm informs Beast that she has tried to exert control, tried to shift the winds and abate the rain, but she cannot. She drops down into the lake, as the Beast remarks that a lake springs up like this in the middle of the Kalahari Desert, he wants to say overnight – but that's not correct, as one moment this is barren land, and the next a lake – and this rain. 'More precipitation in one day than this area has received in the entirety of the last decade' the Beast remarks as he takes another sample of the water.
The Beast tells Storm that even a backyard koi pond needs time to cultivate proper bacteria before it can sustain life, yet this lake, which has been here for only hours, has three different types of fish and at least a dozen species of plants – none of which are native to this area. He announces that “not natural” seems an apt description of the situation. Storm looks over to the locals, standing on the edge of the lake and tells Henry that she worries for them, as this must look like God answering their prayers. 'But... I am not so sure' Storm remarks. As he collects another sample of the water, the Beast replies 'Nor am I, Storm. Nor am I'.
'Everyone okay?' Armor calls out as she, Rockslide, Anole, Glob and Pixie have cleared the wreckage of their jet, which is still ablaze in the ruins of the building they crashed into. Glob reports that he is fine, but that Pixie is bleeding. He helps her to stand as Pixie tells him that she will be fine. Rockslide reports that Anole is hurt pretty bad, and he thinks he needs help. Anole rubs his head, while Armor wonders where Oya is.
'You've got to be kidding me!' a voice calls out. Armor turns and see the Mutant Liberation Front behind her! 'I thought that we were gonna fight us some real X-Men. These are just little X-babies' Michael McCain a.k.a. Forearm exclaims. 'What a joke' Juliana Worthing a.k.a. Strobe mutters. Ishiro Tsuburaya a.k.a. Samurai stands next to her, while Tamara Kurtz a.k.a. Dragoness hovers above them. 'All right, kiddies. Let's get this over with so the adults can get back to adult business' Richard Gill a.k.a. Wildside snarls.
'I'm not gonna be dunked on by some dollar-store Wolverine' Armor exclaims as she slams her fist into Wildside's face, knocking him back. Dragoness flies towards Pixie and grabs her by the throat, while Rockslide and Forearm engage in battle. Glob is trying to call for help, asking if any X-Men can help him, he reports that their Blackbird went down at the Fairview Medical Labs, they have injured and are under attack by the Mutant Liberation Front. 'At least, I think they're the Mutant Liberation Front' Glob adds, before remarking that they need backup ASAP.
Nightcrawler's voice can be heard over the communication system, and assures Glob that they have a team on the way. Rockslide grabs Forearm by his head and asks 'If you had six arms, would you have been called Six-Pack? Where does it end?' Forearm ignores that comment and asks if the X-Men realize what is being manufactured in this lab, what it is that they are protecting. 'Don't know. Don't care' Rockslide responds. Forearm informs him that they are making a vaccine to wipe out mutants. 'You're protecting people who're trying to wipe mutants from the face of the Earth!' he declares.
As she fires energy blasts at Pixie, who flies away from her, Dragoness exclaims that Forearm is right. 'You idiots have no idea what you've stumbled into' she adds. 'Oh? You guys weren't going to blow this lab up?' Pixie asks, dodging Dragoness' blasts. 'Well... yes, but you need to listen. And you're one to talk. You crashed your plane into it!' Dragoness points out, before knocking Pixie out of the air when one of her blasts strikes her. 'Pixie!' Armor calls out as she pins Wildside to the ground and punches him. 'Gah!' Glob cries as one of her plasma beams melts off part of his outer layer of body. 'You shouldn't concern yourself with her... when you've got much larger problems of your own!' Samurai points out as he knocks Armor off of Wildside. Dragoness announces that the lab is making a vaccine that would stop the x-gene from manifesting in children. 'By protecting them, you're dooming our kind... your kind. Is that what you want? A world with no more mutants?' Dragoness asks.
As Pixie heads back up into the air, Dragoness lunges for her again, while the injured Anole is resting against part of the wreckage of the Blackbird that is not ablaze.
Suddenly: 'Hey. Wake up. I need to ask you a question' Multiple Man calls out as he appears over Anole and slaps him in the face. Samurai kicks Armor, while Rockslide and Forearm continue to tussle. Glob leans forward and grabs Strobe, as Madrox tells Anole that this is important, and asks where Kitty Pryde is. 'Kitty?' Anole asks, confused. 'Your boss, kid. Where did she go?' Madrox asks. 'Gone... Kitty vanished...' Anole utters as he passes out. Madrox looks worried. 'Damn... too late' he mutters, before running off. 'I'm too late' he repeats.
Forearm forces Rockslide back and starts punching him, 'You're on the wrong side of history here, Kid-Thing' Forearm declares. 'Whoa. Quad-Arms has snaps of his own?' Rockslide retorts, when suddenly, there is a BAMF and a chunk of scrap metal is hurled towards Forearm, knocking him backwards off Rockslide. 'Fear not, mein kind. The X-Men are here to save you!' Nightcrawler calls out as he joins the battle, along with X-23 and Lorna Dane a.k.a. Polaris, who hurls another chunk of the Blackbird remains towards the MLF, slamming into Wildside and Forearm and knocking Strobe and Samurai about, while Dragoness dodges the attack. X-23 tells Nightcrawler to get the trainees to safety, which Rockslide starts to protest, before Nightcrawler darts about, teleporting the younger mutants to safety.
'All right, now let's see how they do against the “big kids”!' X-23 calls out to Polaris. 'Wait... are you a “big kid”?' Lorna asks. 'Big enough, Polaris' X-23 responds, popping her claws and telling Polaris to throw her. 'All right, all right. Not so bossy, “Big kid”' Polaris replies as she levitates X-23 in a magnetic field and hurls her towards the MLF, who have regrouped after they were knocked over. 'GRRRRRR!' X-23 snarls before she shoves her claws into each of the MLF members, who barely have time to react before they drop to the ground, groaning and clutching their wounds. 'Amateurs' X-23 mutters.
Meanwhile, at City Hall in Manhattan, intrigued citizens, media representatives anti-mutant protestors are gathered out the front of City Hall as Senator Ashton Allen stands on the steps and asks 'How many more times will we watch this city be torn apart by mutants?' The Senator declares that mutants are weapons of mass destruction walking among them, and that this is not their fault. 'They are our brothers and sisters and they are victims too!' Senator Allen suggests that it may be too late for mutants, but that their collective children, they truly are the future, and they can make it better for them, stop them from becoming those weapons of mass destruction. 'We can make their lives better... and with their lives, the world!' Senator Allen proclaims.
Amongst the crowd are members of the X-Men, all wearing civilian clothing to pass among the humans without getting noticed. 'Oh boy. I feel like I've seen this speech a million times, Bishop. When are they gonna just let it go already? And why does it always feel like the same boring politician in a suit giving it?' Jubilee asks Lucas Bishop, who replies 'These are excellent questions, Jubilation'. 'Right?' Jubilee adds. 'I already agreed with you. Let's not push it' Bishop remarks. Nearby, Warren Worthington the third a.k.a. Angel and Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Psylocke listen as Senator Ashton Allen asks 'We can give them normal lives. If such a vaccine exists, how could we dare deny that to them?'
'This guy. I may have to fly away if I can't control my temper, Betsy' Warren remarks. 'Don't you dare, Warren ...' Betsy replies, warning him that Jubilee is on the verge of throwing tomatoes she smuggled in, and that if he leaves her here with that PR nightmare, she will never forgive him. 'Damn. I wish I'd thought to bring tomatoes' Warren laments.
Elsewhere in the crowd, as Senator Allen asks 'How could we deny it to our own children that might otherwise become weapons?' Sam Guthrie a.k.a. Cannonball and Jean-Paul Beaubier a.k.a. Northstar frown. Sam tells Jean-Paul that he is glad he could come down, that it has been a while since they have seen him. 'Sorry it's to listen to this nonsense' Sam adds. Jean-Paul explains that this is why he came here, and points out that if the US actually passes this archaic legislation, it is entirely possible Canada will follow suit. As Senator Allen reports that such a vaccine does exist and that case studies are clear, Jean-Paul tells Sam that he is here to get as much information as possible and report back to the Canadian government, as they want to be ahead of this.
'And as we roll out this pilot program in the coming weeks, I know you will be as excited as I am for the future... our future as one people!' Senator Allen exclaims.
Jean Grey listens to those comments and asks Bobby if there is still nothing from Kitty. Bobby tells her that there isn't, and asks her if she is worried because of this morning. Jean tells Bobby that she is, and because she still can't seem to locate Kitty telepathically, and because she really doesn't want to go up there and speak in her place. Among claps and boos at the Senator's remarks, Bobby asks Jean if she wants him to go up there. 'Depends. Will you talk about the vaccine or do a ten-minute comedy routine set you've been workshopping?' Jean asks. 'Well, I was gonna go for a tight five, but yeah, definitely not the vaccine thing' Bobby replies.
As Jean walks towards the front steps of City Hall, Senator Allen announces that it is time for a word from the opposition, headmistress Katherine Pryde from the Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach. More boos and claps can be heard. 'Ugh' Jean mutters. 'Here I go...' she tells herself, when suddenly, she goes wide-eyed as she sees someone else standing at the podium: 'What the hell is Jamie doing up there?' Jean asks as Jamie addresses the crowd, informing them that Kitty Pryde is not here, and that he is so glad to see all of them here on such an important day – auspicious, really. 'It's like it's meant to be... or something...' he adds.
Back at the Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach, in Central Park, inside the med-lab and sick back, Pixie, Armor, Glob and Rockslide stand at the bedsides of Armor and Oya as the Beast examines Oya. Pixie asks Dr McCoy if they are going to wake up. 'I don-' the Beast starts to reply, as Rockslide interrupts, boasting that he is going to kill those MLFers next time he sees them. 'Because we did so well this time?' Glob asks. 'If Nightcrawler hadn't -' Rockslide begins, before Glob interrupts him, asking what he was going to do and reminds him that he was getting pummeled by a guy called Forearm. 'Shuttup, Glob!' Rockslide snaps, before the Beast spins and around and aggressively tells the younger mutants that if they can't give him some space and his teammates some breathing room, then he is throwing them all out. 'Sorry' Armor, Pixie, Glob and Rockslide reply immediately.
Rockslide then points out that it isn't their fault, really, and asks why it took so long to send reinforcements. Glob wonders why they were out there on their own with only one X-Man anyway. Pixie tells them that it was nobody's fault, that it was just an accident, but Armor isn't quite sure. 'Did you hear what they were saying about that vaccine? I know they're villains but...' Glob begins, to which Armor tells him that the MLF were making sense. The Beast leans over Oya's unmoving body and asks her to give him a sign. Suddenly, Anole coughs, and tries to sit up in bed, 'What happened?' he asks, wearily. The Beast goes over to him and tells him to take it slowly, to stay still. Anole points up at a monitor and remarks 'That's the guy who was at the crash'. The Beast turns to the monitor and goes wide-eyed as he sees Multiple Man on the screen, addressing the gathering at City Hall.
'The difference between all of us, and this is big, is that really we are all the same...' Jamie announces. He adds that there are a lot of differences, but that the big difference is that there is no difference. 'That makes sense, right?' Madrox asks, before wondering whether the microphone is on and if everyone can hear him. 'What is he doing? This is a nightmare!' Jean tells Bobby, who remarks that he always finds Jamie funny. Bobby then switches to his ice-form and Jean gets Jamie's attention. 'Oh, it's time' Jamie mutters, before telling everyone to remain calm and they probably won't be hurt. 'Okay, he got creepy' Bobby remarks. Jean telepathically informs the X-Men that they have to stop this now before he makes them look even worse, but she can't seem to grab his mind, meaning something is wrong. 'Everyone to the front' Jean instructs her team. As civilians begin fighting with each other, Northstar's thoughts reach Jean: 'Hate to contradict you, Grey, but I think we will need some assistance in the back' he informs her.
Suddenly, dozens of Madrox dupes appear amongst the crowd, 'We're here to help!' one of them calls out. 'Let us help!' another exclaims. 'Excuse me! Coming through!' one shouts. 'This is important!' another claims as they try to intervene among the protestors. Jean flies up above the crowd and telepathically instructs the X-Men to shut the dupes down. 'Do us all a favor and call off your dupes, Jamie!' Bobby calls out as he encases Madrox in a block of ice. 'No! You imbeciles! I'm saving us!' Madrox calls back. 'Hiya, Jamie! Long time no see. Have some fireworks!' Jubilee exclaims as she blasts her powers at one of the dupes. 'I hate this guy' Bishop mutters as he slams a fist into one of the dupes. Suddenly, 'Yes, I hear you' Angel remarks as he flies above the crowds. 'Angel? I could use some help here. My telepathy isn't working on them' Betsy calls out as she fails to calm the crowd telepathically. 'Get out of the way!' one of the dupes exclaims as Betsy shoves a psi-blade into his face. 'We're trying to help!' another dupe protests.
'What is Madrox trying to do?' Cannonball asks as he blasts his way through a group of dupes, knocking some of them back. As several dupes rush for the senator, Bobby throws an ice-wall up around Senator Allen, and tells Jean that he will buy them some time, but that she needs to get the senator out of here. 'Stop climbing my wall, morons!' Bobby shouts at the dupes while Jean knocks several dupes back with a telekinetic shove. 'Hey!' a photographer calls out as Northstar pulls him into the air as dupes beneath them try to grab him. Northstar tells the photographer that he is sure his photos are wonderful, but that it might be easier for them to deal with this situation if he made any effort not to get trampled. Speaking of trampled, Jubilee is suddenly knocked to the ground. 'Jubilee!' Bishop calls out as he sees Jubilee and rushes towards her.
Jean and Bobby are now both behind the ice-wall and Jean tells the senator's bodyguards to get him to safety, while the X-Men handle the situation here. 'Stay back, mutant!' one of the bodyguards mutters, while another radios someone and informs them that they are exiting around the north side, and to pull the cars around now. A dozen or so dupes break through the ice-wall and move towards the senator. 'Stay back!' his guards shout, opening fire. 'Senator Allen, you need to come with us!' one dupe calls out. 'We're here to save you!' another claims, as several of them lunge at the senator, knocking him backwards. 'Jamie! What are you doing? Get off him!' Jean calls out.
Back over the crowd, Angel still hovers overhead, acting strangely. 'Yes, I understand' he remarks, while Betsy knocks back two dupes, she glances upwards and asks Warren who he is talking to and what is going on. Angel offers no response, and suddenly flies away 'Warren!' Betsy shouts. 'Well, that' just bloody wonderful' Betsy mutters after getting no response, before she forms a telekinetic sword and shield and tells the dupes that they give her an opportunity to test-drive her new telekinetic weapons, before slamming the sword into one of the dupes.
'Enough!' Jean Grey shouts as she telekinetically removes the dupes who are piled on top of the senator. Jean goes over to the senator and tells him that he needs to get up. 'Please don't kill me – I'm so sor-' the senator starts to plead – when suddenly, he vanishes. Northstar flies over and asks Jean if she just teleported the senator to safety somehow, but Jean tells him that it wasn't her, that she didn't do anything. Suddenly, all of the Madrox dupes stop fighting and turn to City Hall. 'We're too late' one of them utters. 'We couldn't stop it' another points out. 'Too late again' a dupe utters, as Betsy slams another psi-sword into him, then he vanishes. 'What the heck?' Cannonball calls out as he blasts through several Madrox dupes who also vanish.
Bishop helps Jubilee to stand up as the X-Men regroup, and Cannonball asks 'Where's Angel?' Northstar reports that he saw him from a distance, that he just flew away, abandoned Psylocke while she was under attack. 'Did I miss something? Jamie can teleport now?' Jubilee asks. A photographer approaches Jean Grey and asks her where she took Senator Allen to, while another asks her why the X-Men attacked the debate.
Elsewhere, Kitty Pryde is chained to a chair in an empty room. 'Hey! Wake up!' a voice calls out. Kitty begins to stir, and looks up to see Senator Allen, chained to a chair a few feet away from her. 'What do you people want from me?' Senator Allen asks 'Does it really look like this is my idea?' Kitty replies. She tries to phase through the restraints, but finds her powers aren't working. 'If it wasn't you, then who took -' Senator Allen begins, interrupted as a voice calls out 'Shut your mouth. The girl does not answer to you'. Kitty looks over and sees Apocalypse strapped to a large X! Apocalypse announces that their captors have earned the wrath of Apocalypse today, and warns Senator Allen not to be so quick to join them!
Chapter One: A Bishop Story
Three days ago, at Hunts Point, the Bronx, Lucas Bishop stands in an alleyway, wearing civilian clothing. He holds a cup of coffee and checks his watch. 'Chase any crazy conspiracy long enough and you'll find Lucas Bishop already there, all alone' Bishop thinks to himself, remembering that is what his old partner, Ismael used to say behind his back. And here he is. All alone again. Bishop wonders if that is for the best, and recalls that it has only been a little bit since the X-Men took him back – or since he took them back, depending on who you ask. He tells himself that even when he and the X-Men get along, they never really understand jobs like this – and if he is being honest with himself, he isn't entirely sure he does anymore, either.
Bishop looks up as he notices a light go on in an apartment a couple of blocks away. A strange figure looks out the window of the nearby apartment and frowns.
Bishop remembers how it started two days ago, his early warning system for catastrophic events in this timeline – he doesn't know how to describe what it did – it just thinks something real bad happened or is happening. 'But I have no damn idea what or how to stop it' Bishop acknowledges, drinking his coffee, as he recalls how four hours ago, the warning system told him about Dark Beast – a $%&#%&-up Hank McCoy from a $%&#%&-up alternate world that never came to be. He doesn't even know if it is related, but it is the only lead he has.
Bishop sees several figures in black climbing the apartment building and wonders what it is going on, who these guys are. Suddenly, there is an explosion at the apartment, and Bishop tells himself that this is his cue. Dropping his coffee cup, he runs from the alley.
Arriving at the apartment, Bishop kicks the door down. He isn't sure if this is the thing he is supposed to stop, or if these guys breaking in are about to stop it for him. 'Dammit. I hate that smell' Bishop thinks to himself as he looks down and sees a deformed figure on the ground, flames darting across their body. 'This is Bishop of the X-Men. Put your hands up' Bishop calls out, holding a strange gun in his hands. He knows that someone has some explaining to do – but as he looks over and sees an open window, he supposes it won't be tonight.
Bishop looks back at the burning body and knows that it isn't Dark Beast, as the build is too slight, there is no burnt fur smell. Who it actually is is anyone's guess, though. He wonders where Dark Beast is, and where the other intruders got to. Bishop notices a trapdoor in the floor, and knows that Dark Beast could be long gone by now, and that Dark Beast would never not have an escape plan if he was that nervous. 'But what the hell scares him?' Bishop wonders, before deciding that this is the same $#%&, different day.
One day ago, Long Island City, Queens, Bishop walks towards a seemingly abandoned building and tells himself that today is the day he gets some answers. Bishop blasts the padlocked chain that hangs around the door and enters the building, where he finds it littered with bones and rubbish, and monitors hanging from the ceiling and walls.
'Or not' Bishop realizes, before suddenly, a strange figure emerges from the shadows, waving a meat cleaver as he moves towards Bishop. 'Stay back!' Bishop warns the strange man, dodging him as he lunges at him, while deciding that this is disturbing as hell, but that it doesn't feel like end-of-the-world stuff. Bishop fires a blast of energy at the strange man, who falls backwards. Bishop wonders why his prediction machine sent him here. Bishop goes over and checks the man who now lies motionless on the ground. 'Robots... where the hell am I?' Bishop wonders as he sees various mechanical parts sticking out of the man's body.
Bishop hears some slamming noises and carries on deeper into the building. He holds his gun out from his body and tells himself that he is getting sloppy, that he walked into this one. There is another loud slamming noise, and Bishop sees a thick metal door up ahead, deciding that whoever is behind the door was expecting someone – but just not someone who can absorb energy and re-channel it for their own use. 'They weren't expecting me' Bishop declares to himself as a weapon fires at him, but he absorbs the blast, and re-directs it at the door ahead, which he blasts open. 'Sugar Man!' Bishop exclaims as he sees the diabolical being sitting on a couch inside the other room. 'You?! After all this time, I never thought it would be you that was coming for me, Lucas!' Sugar Man exclaims.
Bishop knows that Sugar Man is one of the only living refugees from the alternate world that the Dark Beast is from – and that he is crazy, dangerous and as freaky as hell – but right now, he mostly appears terrified. Bishop tells himself that something is not right, and the Sugar Man tells him that they all pay the piper's price eventually, but he always thought he would have more time. 'Can't you let me walk away one last time, for old time's sake?' Sugar Man asks Bishop starts to tell the Sugar Man that he isn't here to kill him. 'I'm trying to -' Bishop begins, before a blast strikes him in the back and knocks him to the ground – Bishop realizes someone was ready for him, before he passes out.
Bishop's watch beeps at him, and Bishop slowly opens his eyes as he tells himself to wake up. He sits up suddenly, raising his gun, but sees that the Sugar Man is gone. 'I can't catch a break' he thinks, before his watch tells him that cataclysm is imminent in Midtown Manhattan. Bishop decides that the warnings are coming faster now, and realizes that whatever is coming, he can't help but think they are not ready. He walks back out into the other part of the building, and finds the Sugar Man's body, torn in two, lying in a heap on the floor. Bishop stops by the Sugar Man's body and tells him that he is sorry.
Chapter Two: A Jean Grey Story
Midtown Manhattan, where Jean Grey sits inside a busy cafe. She checks her phone as a reporter on the television tells viewers that massive clean-up and repair work continues in Los Angeles in the wake of mudslides that devastated the area recently during heavy rains. The reporter continues, stating that after a spectacularly dry year and a rash of massive wildfires, California has found itself particularly vulnerable to soil erosion, resulting in the destructive mudslides.
Jean looks up at the television as the reporter announces that, in international news, ongoing protests in Ukistoval, Chernaya, as unrest between military forces and civilians continues.
'Is someone sitting here, dear?' an older woman with gray hair asks as she stands at the spare seat at Jean's table. Jean tells the woman to have a seat. The woman asks Jean if she is waiting for someone. Jean tells her that she is, but her friend is running late, and once again asks the woman to sit down. 'Perhaps just for a moment, then' the older woman replies.
Jean holds up her newspaper and asks the woman if she would like it. 'Oh no, dear. The news is so grim these days. Too depressing to read, even' the older woman responds. Jean tells the other woman that it is hard to disagree with that, before introducing herself. 'What a lovely name. It's a bit old-fashioned, isn't it?' the old woman replies. 'Yes, I suppose it is' Jean admits, as she shakes the old woman's hand.
The news announcer can be heard again, interrupting the regularly scheduled programming for breaking news, he reports that hostilities in Chernaya have escalated, although details remain sketchy at this time. 'Tch. It just gets worse' the old woman points out, looking at the television screen. She adds that every day it become more and more difficult to see any way the world can be saved – every day it feels as if it slides a little more into the abyss. 'It's just one horrible thing after another'.
The older woman continues, telling Jean that humanity has truly broken the planet – first the natural world, their expansion and carelessness destroying other species, their unchecked hubris breaking the environment in ways that can never be repaired – but also in their callousness to their fellow man – how they disconnect from one another even as the word connects them more than ever. She adds that they turn a blind eye to the horror around them because it is convenient, because it happens to someone else. The woman looks downcast as she tells Jean that corporations rise up and grow too powerful, that there is nobody to keep their corruption in check, so that they must rely on corporations having a conscience – a truly bizarre and untenable position to be in. 'The poor get poorer, the rich get richer, the gap widens and fear and hatred fester and grow' the woman remarks, solemnly. 'You disagree?' she asks, looking up at Jean. 'Actually... no' Jean responds. The woman falls silent, and Jean asks her if she is surprised. 'A little. A young woman like you... I expected more... optimism' the old woman admits.
'Well, I've seen... a lot' Jean remarks. 'I see' the old woman replies. Jean tells her that she can't really disagree with her, and that she thinks things probably are the worst they've ever been, it certainly feels it most days. 'But there's still hope' Jean smiles looking to the side, adding that she thinks no matter how bad it gets, she can still see, still feel, that hope – and hope, naive as it may sound, is everything. 'Don't you – think?' Jean asks, turning back to the old woman – only she has vanished. 'So strange. Possibly that old woman was also... a ninja?' Jean wonders, as a voice calls out to her. Jean looks up and sees Storm approaching her. 'Am I so late that you have started talking to yourself?' Storm enquires. 'Keep a girl waiting and things are bound to happen, Ororo' Jean replies, before they hug and Ororo apologizes for her lateness. Jean tells her not to apologize, and that she knows all too well how it goes. 'It's a miracle this getting-coffee is even happening' Jean points out.
They take their seats and Ororo agrees, remarking that it seems increasingly as they tumble from one crisis to the next that there is no time for the simple things. 'I kn-' Jean starts to say, when suddenly, someone crashes through the skylight above them. The new arrival is a man whose fist and eyes glow with energy – which he then fires from his hand towards Storm and Jean. 'You totally jinxed us!' Jean declares. 'I did no such thing!' Storm replies. Jean asks her if she sees anyone else, but Storm tells her it's just the one. Unaware that a woman nearby suddenly begins to glow as well, Jean tells Storm that she is going to put the man to sleep. 'Do it quickly!' Storm responds, but before Jean does so, the other woman fires a blast of energy from her mouth, striking Jean in the back. Storm commands a gust of wind to knock the man and woman together and asks her friend if she is all right. 'Yeah' Jean smiles, while pointing out that they can't hurt them, that she thinks they are just civilians who have been taken over by something.
'What is it?' Storm asks, but Jean isn’t sure, as something is blocking her and she can't read their minds, like there is static. 'We're going to need help' Jean begins, but Storm tells her that she thinks they can handle a few civilians, super powers or not. However, all of the other civilians in the coffee shop begin to glow, 'AHHHHHHHH' they all call out as they turn and face Jean and Storm. 'It's more than a few' Jean announces.
Chapter Three: An Armor and Anole Story
'Ugh, this... I can't even' Hisako Ichiki a.k.a. Armor complains as she climbs down a ladder and steps into the sewers beneath Midtown 'What is that smell?' Victor Borokowski a.k.a. Anole asks as he follows. Armor shines her torch around and tells Anole that she doesn't want to even think about it. 'This is really the worst' Anole mutters. He gets out his torch, too, and they trudge through the murky waters. 'Thank God I got my diptheria shot' Anole remarks, but Armor tells him that she doesn't think that is for this – for this he would need Cholera, Typhoid, Polio... 'There probably aren't enough shots for this' Armor mutters, adding that she can't believe Kitty sent them to the literal sewers to chase what is probably someone's overgrown alligator. Anole asks her if she is that surprised. 'After all we've done... all the times we've put our lives on the line... all the times that we've stepped up when they needed us. And this is what they think of us' Anole points out, unaware that a figure is stalking behind them.
'No argument from me' Armor agrees, adding that she is sick of make-work assignments that just feel like a way for the X-Men to get them out of their hair rather than real missions. She points out that some days it feels like they are never going to treat them as their peers. 'I... I... can't. It's not fair. They promise us this great life and always talk about how great it is to be a mutant... but then they just leave us in the wings. Like we're these projects they lose interest in and just -' Anole starts to say, when Armor tells him to shush – too late, though, as the figure stalking them lunges at Anole, shoving him against the tunnel wall.
Armor throws a force field around herself, and calls out to her teammate as their attacker, the Dark Beast, looks crazed and tells Anole that he should not be here, that he should be running, now – while there's still time. 'Get. OFF!' Armor shouts as she smacks the Dark Beast off of Anole and extends her forcefield forward, pinning the Dark Beast to the tunnel wall, declaring she guesses this explains the reports of a sewer monster.
'Has he got his claws into you as well? Have you come to kill me?' the Dark Beast asks. Armor ignores him and turns to Anole, asking him if he is all right. Anole stands up in the water and replies 'Physically, sure. Emotionally... I'm covered in sewage. I don't know that they make a shower hot enough to make me feel clean again'. Armor suggests they call it in so they can get out of here, when suddenly the Dark Beast pulls some sort of weapon from the pouch on his waist and shoves it into Armor's forcefield, which causes her to fall backwards and the force field to dissipate.
'I think not' the Dark Beast snarls as he lumbers off down the sewer, calling out that he will not concede, will not return. 'I will not let him bring me back!' the Dark Beast protests. Anole asks Armor if she is okay, and as she re-forms her force field, Armor tells him that whatever that thing was, it looks like it just disrupted her armor, but she has never felt anything like that before.
'No more sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves. Let's stop him before he -' Armor begins, when suddenly, Storm's voice can be heard over their communicators.
'We're kinda in the middle of something here, Storm' Anole remarks. Storm tells him that whatever it is, it can wait, as they have an emergency situation near their location and they need all hands on deck. 'On our way' Armor replies. They begin to run down the tunnel as Armor tells Anole that this was nothing more than something to keep them busy until they were needed.
But when they climb the ladder and poke their heads up to the surface level, they go wide-eyed. 'What...?' Armor gasps. 'That was my favorite coffee bar' Anole exclaims. 'Is nothing sacred anymore?' he asks as he sees Jean Grey, Storm and Bishop battling the mysteriously-powered civilians, all of whom display different sets of powers. Jean telekinetically knocks one of them aside, while Bishop struggles to control one of them who has increased their size, and Storm creates a blast of lightning that keeps another at bay, while many more gather around to fight the X-Men.
'Someone's controlling these people. Giving them powers. I can't...' Jean begins, informing the others that whoever is doing this is too powerful and is blocking her telepathy, so she can't get a fix on them. The battle rages, when suddenly, one of the civilians is able to reach Jean's thoughts. It's a young mother, pushing her baby in a pram. 'Jean... we don't want to hurt anyone' the woman claims. 'Who are you?' Jean asks, turning to a man who informs Jean that it doesn't matter, and that they are here to fix a mess and is sorry that she got in the crosshairs. Behind Jean, another transformed civilian knocks Armor to the ground, while another woman asks Jean to leave and let them do what they need to do. 'Why are you attacking us?' Jean enquires. 'You were... you were with him. We just got confused for a moment. We're okay now. We need to stop him before it's too late' the woman explains. 'Stop who?' Jean asks, but the woman doesn't answer, she just tells Jean to stand down, and that they don't know when they will get another chance – if they will get another chance. 'The world is in danger' she adds.
Jean points out that the world is always in danger, and tells the woman that she will have to be a little more specific. 'Please... this is all my fault. Let me fix it. I beg of you' a little boy calls out, while Jean returns to the battle around her, as a woman shrinks down and fires a blast at Storm, and a man leaps at Anole. Jean tells the other X-Men that someone else is controlling these people, that the people don't know what they are doing. 'Try not to hurt them' she adds. 'Maybe try telling them the same thing!' Armor calls back as one of the powered civilians fires an energy blast at her. Suddenly, someone with shoulder-length brown hair appears and observes the battle, and as Anole darts along a building wall, dodging energy blasts, he sees an old lady walk towards him. 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, lady! What are you -' Anole calls out as the building wall suddenly collapses on top of the old woman.
'NO!' Jean screams as she flies over to the rubble and removes it from the old woman with a telekinetic sweep. At the same time, all of the civilians suddenly lose their powers, stop fighting with the X-Men and revert to normal – but appear very confused. 'They just... stopped?' Bishop asks. 'Odd' Storm remarks. Armor asks what that was, and why they were fighting normal people. Storm reminds her that Jean said they were possessed, they were not in control of their faculties. 'It's okay, you're fine now' Armor calls out as she uses her forcefield to lift up some rubble that had trapped several of the civilians. 'Thank you, thank you, thank you' a man repeats over and over, while the little boy who encountered Jean moments ago tells her that they are sorry, and that this wasn't supposed to happen. 'What? Where am I? What happened?' the boy suddenly asks, while Jean holds the body of the old woman.
Storm turns to Anole and Armor and thanks them for their assistance. She adds that she knows they were on a mission of their own and tells them that they can handle it from here if they need to return to their assignment. 'Great. Can't win' Armor mutters, while Anole scowls and tells the X-Men that if they need them, they'll be in the sewers so that they don't have to get their hands dirty. Storm doesn't respond to this comment.
Bishop looks at the early warning watch and decides that this thing going off was always bad news, but at least it was a warning – only now, it is completely dead – no bad news, no warning. He frowns – he doesn't know what that means and wonders if these events are connected or simply coincidence. He feels that their lives are in chaos and knows that it is entirely possible these events have nothing to do with one another, but he is increasingly concerned, and he doesn't know if he should share that information with anyone yet.
Storm smiles as she approaches Bishop and asks him if he is all right, as he seems distracted. 'It's... it's nothing' Bishop lies. Storm asks him if he is certain, so Bishop tells her that there may be something, he is looking into it and she will be the first to know when he learns more.
Bishop looks over to where Jean is still holding the body of the old woman. The remaining civilians start to move away, and Bishop tells Storm that if they are going to worry about anyone, they should be worrying about Jean. 'Will she be all right? She's taking this particularly hard' Bishop points out. 'I am so sorry' Jean whispers to the old woman. Storm agrees that Jean is taking this hard, and assumes that Jean spoke with the woman who died before they were attacked. Storm tells her that the EMTs have arrived and so they must leave. 'This... this isn't over' Jean utters, unaware that someone is watching her from a nearby corner.
'Of course not, Jean. It's never over' Storm remarks. 'I... that's not what I mean... I mean... something is coming. Something's not done with us yet...' Jean explains, as the figure at the corner steps into view – it's the old woman. But, suddenly, the figure turns away, their form changes into someone with shoulder length brown hair, and as they slip into the shadows, they utter 'I'm afraid it's only the beginning, Jean'.