The uncanny team of X-Men find themselves in dire straights as their ship is attacked! As explosions rock the ship debris begins to fall everywhere.
The “Real” World:
Dressed as Uatu the Watcher, Stan “the Man” Lee watches the events in space unfold through his giant futuristic telescope, situated on top of the Marvel Comics offices in New York City. Stan exclaims to the readers that he loves explosions, mostly because no dialogue is needed. Stan looks back into his telescope and thinks he has found Zenn-La, the lost home of the Silver Surfer, but realizes that it was just a speck of dust on the lens. Stan gets off his telescope and tells the fans to follow him inside, as he has a real treat for them inside the “hallowed halls of Marvel.”
Stan enters a room filled with giant monuments to various Marvel heroes, including Black Bolt, Hulk, Namor, Vision, Captain America, Spider-Woman, Spider-Man, Daredevil and the Black Cat. As he walks by the Hall of Statues, he hopes the fans recognize every last one of them, or else he’ll have to send them to the Competition. As he looks at the massive Hulk statue, he thinks that the sculptor was a bit carried away. He then passes by some men working on redesigning the Fantastic Four statues, though it is hard as they are always changing. Then again, even Superman changes his costume now and then.
Stan then arrives at the statue for Professor Charles Xavier, who started this all alongside him and Jack Kirby of course. This guy proved that being bald can be beautiful. Stan then reveals statues of the original X-Men of the 1960s, and then Havok and Polaris of the late 60’s. Stan then passes by Nightcrawler, Colossus, Longshot, Storm, Bishop, Rogue and Gambit and comments that the hardest part is remembering all the names. Stan then proposes a pop quiz, asking who can tell him when Xavier first got his new hovering wheelchair, as he has missed a few issues and needs to catch up! However, if fans think they know the true origin of the X-Men, then he has a few surprises for them.
The Past; Annandale-on-Hudson, New York:
In a quiet house in a college town, a happy family lives and recalls the troubles of the last few months that finally came to an end. Professor John Grey checks up on his daughter, Jean, a vibrant 11-year old that is still awake. Jean smile and tells her dad that he caught her. She was saying prayers and was a bit carried away about Professor Xavier. After the problems with her head and Annie’s death, she feels that Xavier helped a lot.
John begins to tuck Jean in bed and doesn’t argue with that, but suddenly Jean points to the window and sees a shooting star. She takes it as a signal that she was right about Xavier making her better. John says that it is hard to say because, to him, Jean was always perfect. Jean laughs and points out that her father always says that. John says that he does that because it is true, and then tells Jean to sleep because tomorrow she is going back to school for the first time in a while.
As Jean falls asleep, John thinks to himself that, after Jean witnessed the death of her best friend Annie, it was as if Jean’s heart died as well. All the specialists said that it was hopeless, but Xavier didn’t agree. It was as if Xavier literally pulled Jean out of her own mind and brought her back, but whatever Xavier did it is something John can never repay him with. John then turns off the light and leaves.
The Past; South Dakota:
Meanwhile, the “shooting star” that Jean saw lands in a large barn full of machinery and gizmos. It is far from the sign of hope that Jean thought it was. The anomaly, which made its way through space and time, is actually a human. It opens up and a woman falls through, who exclaims how the one thing she hates about time traveling is the landing. There was a time this woman belonged in the twentieth century and she had a family, but those days haven’t happened yet, though they are a past for her. Now she is at home two thousand years in the future. Rachel Summers, however, cannot help but feel that this is home. However, she is not happy about being here.
Rachel pulls down the hood from her cloak and examines the area. When she followed whoever she was following through time, she had no clue where they were going, but judging from the structure and condition of the wood it seems that she is in the latter half of the twentieth century. She then calls upon the power of the Phoenix to illuminate the room, but immediately regrets the decision. Light fills up the room and Rachel is witness to a giant machine that in the future will be known as Master Mold! Horrified, everything makes sense to Rachel. She knows why her target came to this place and time and she knows more than ever that the target must be stopped!
A young man has horrible visions of the future and relates them to an unknown companion. The young man sees a dark and threatening future with people different from them. They are deadly. He sees visions of the X-Men, though he does not know who they are, and realizes that they are trying to help them all, but then he sees another group who wishes to destroy. He sees a woman in a golden mask holding a human, a politician of some sort, hostage and wishes to kill him. This human can make a difference.
As his visions fade, the man falls asleep on the cot he is strapped to by his father, Bolivar Trask. Trask speaks to his son, who he knows can hear him and tells him that he needs to calm as it is only a vision and not real. He asks Lawrence to follow his voice him. As the boy begins to calm, Bolivar thinks to himself that while it is a vision to him, to Lawrence it is real. Right now the only thing that stops the constant barrage of chronal fragments in his mind is an amulet on his neck. He knows Lawrence will wake up with no memory of his incident, which means Bolivar alone will carry the burden of his son’s mutation. After what happened to his wife and daughter, Bolivar wonders if he is to blame. If only he believed Lawrence when he predicted his mother’s death, then she might still be alive.
Bolivar carries Lawrence to a chair and thinks about how since his children expressed that they were different he has been trying to protect them, but from what? Despite his efforts, he failed his wife, and his daughter, Tanya, too. He looks a photograph of his family and laments about the past.
As Rachel sneaks in and watches, Bolivar wonders about mankind’s fate. All his studies, and Lawrence’s visions, have shown that people with abilities are the next step in evolution. Lawrence wakes up, but Bolivar tells his son he should rest. Lawrence realizes that he passed out again. Bolivar helps his son up and admits that he did pass out again, probably from all the hard work. He then thinks to himself about how he hates lying to Lawrence about his condition and what really happens when he passes out. Bolivar then asks his son where he is going as he needs rest, but Lawrence replies that he needs to pull his weight around there, since he is a burden and is always pulling his dad away from his work.
Bolivar motions to the many robotic pieces around the room and claims that it is their work together. These “Sentinels” may be humanity’s last stand against a natural corruption of the gene pool. Can Lawrence imagine a world where people with abilities couldn’t control their powers? While the rest of the world sleeps, they are preparing for the day when the government acknowledges the need for Sentinels. Lawrence tells his father that soon the world will understand. Rachel thinks to herself that the time will be sooner than they think. Bolivar tells his son that this is why he needs a good nights sleep. They are meeting with Special Agent Gyrich the next day, which will take them one step closer to getting the official support they need to win this genetic civil war.
Lawrence leaves and heads back to the main house. Rachel watches him go, using her powers to make herself unnoticed by the man who walks right past her. Rachel knows why her target came there and understands it, for Bolivar and Lawrence will cause untold suffering to both mutants and humans. She ponders how easily she could use the Phoenix Force to rearrange Lawrence’s thoughts to make him less eager to stop mutant kind, which would prevent a thousand unrealized tragedies. However, no one knows better than her the damage that is done when time is altered. The past is not a canvas to be repainted.
Suddenly, a voice in Rachel’s head asks her if this is her reasoning to explain her coward nature. Rachel realizes that she was correct in thinking her target was there, but is suddenly attacked by another woman, who unleashes raw psionic energy at her. Rachel is thrown back, as the other woman asks Rachel to admit why she doesn’t take destiny into her own hands. It is because she is weak!
The enraged woman tells Rachel that she shouldn’t have followed her here. Then again, from the moment Rachel found her near-mindless body in the time stream, after spending years there when her untrained mutant powers went out of control, Rachel knew this would ultimately happen. However, she cannot sit and watch these two great men destroy a world through their genius and zeal. This is why she has returned to the eve of destruction so she can stop them from unleashing a fire which will destroy them all.
Rachel, calling her companion Sanctity, reminds her that they have gone over this before. She knows what kind of damage can happen when one time. When they found each other in the time stream and bonded, she was all but insane. She knows how wrong this is. Sanctity uses her powers to uplift the earth beneath Rachel and restrains her with it. She tells Rachel not to tell her about being wrong. What Apocalypse is doing in their future is wrong. The fact that humanity waited so long for The Twelve, and was disappointed by them, was wrong. Even now in their time Rachel is gathering a sisterhood to prepare for the coming of a mythological being called the Askani’son! That is wrong!
Rachel displays the Phoenix raptor and breaks free. She tells Sanctity that she understands her pain, just as much as Sanctity must understand that Rachel cannot let her do this. Rachel attacks Sanctity, but discovers that the woman before her was nothing more than a psionic ghost, while the real Sanctity was moving closer to her target.
Bolivar examines his machinery as Sanctity watches him from the shadows quietly. However, Bolivar realizes she is there and tells her to come out of the shadows. He has spent every waking hour in his lab for years, and he knows when someone is in it. He knew it was only a matter of time before mutants would learn of his work and try to stop him. He asks Sanctity to step into the light and she complies, but he is shocked to see who she is. Sanctity says hello to her father as she begins to cry. Bolivar, shocked, asks Tanya how this is possible. The father and daughter embrace and Tanya asks her father to remember when she first started manifesting her power and would phase out of synch with time. Each time it happened, it was longer and longer. Eventually, a friend, another mutant, pulled her to “shore” in the far future. Bolivar tells Tanya that she is home now and that is most important. “Home?” questions Tanya.
Tanya pulls away from her father and tells him that her time there is short, for the strain on time traveling is taking a toll on her. She came to convince him and Lawrence not to go through with their Sentinel plan. She knows they are trying to do the right thing, but he must believe her when she says that this will only end in madness and death. Suddenly, Tanya notices that her father is non-responsive and distant.
Rachel arrives and tells Sanctity that her father cannot hear her, just as Rachel will ensure that he will have no memory of any of this. Tanya tells Rachel that everything she learned about her psionic and chronal powers she learned from Rachel. Rachel knows that Sanctity cannot beat her in a fair fight. She supposes a ‘please’ won’t help. Rachel asks Sanctity what she was thinking. She must have known Rachel would follow her in the time stream? What was she hoping to gain? Sanctity is not sure – perhaps peace of mind knowing that she at least tried? Maybe she wanted to see her family one last time.
In the courtyard, Lawrence heads back to his father’s lab, but stumbles upon the remains of the battle that Rachel and Sanctity had. Even though Rachel used her powers to hide their battle from his senses, she had no time to clean up the physical aftermath. Angered, Lawrence realizes his father was correct about mutated humans.
Rachel puts Trask to sleep and then tells Sanctity that they have to go, for they don’t know how much damage has been done to the time stream yet. Tanya realizes that Rachel is right, but asks for a moment to say goodbye. Even if he doesn’t remember? asks Rachel. Perhaps not in his mind, says Tanya, but in his heart. Tanya bends down by her father and tells him that no matter what happens, somewhere and some-when, his daughter loves him.
Rachel begins to use her powers to bring them back to the future, but she hides her thoughts from Sanctity. She is relieved that she was able to avert today’s tragedy, but the first daughter of the X-Men, who will eventually become the Mother Askani and ultimately betrayed by her friend, Mother Sanctity, cannot help but think that she missed something today in Tanya’s actions.
Lawrence rushes in and sees his father on the ground waking up. Bolivar realizes that he must have passed out, but he is fine. Lawrence tends to his father and tells him that they are a long way from fine. In the courtyard is proof of his theory of the unseen threat. Something strange has happened of enormous importance.
As the two recoup, no one realizes that Sanctity was successful this day. Somewhere in the deep darkness, she has planted the seeds of hope, for Bolivar and Lawrence don’t realize that their computers are installing a new program into Master Mold, called “The XII” and then immediately deletes all reference to it, leaving the data lost in the mind of the mighty Sentinel.
The “Real” World:
Stan Lee calls a wrap for the story and hopes that the readers paid attention to all the details. There might be a surprise quiz. They didn’t do all this research for their health. He has to go now, as there are more flashback issues for him to mess up. If people wonder why he has been working hard lately, it is mostly because the pay isn’t great, but the perks are. Where else can he dress up like the Watcher? Now he must go, for mutants are born every day and he has to sign them up before the Distinguished Competition gets to them first!