Long ago, the soft soothing voice is a child called out to its mother and spoke of the prophesized the Mahapralaya - the time when the planet would be cleansed of all humanity in fire and in light, a new race would rise from the ashes to take its place to preside over a golden age of peace. The mother was Rahda Dastoor, now called Haven. The voice belonged to that of the sentient, and mutant fetus, she carried within her womb. Throughout the years, Haven and her unborn child planned and worked toward that coming age. Now though, as the monsoon season tears across her native India, lightning crackles, thunder booms and the rain beats down - and Haven runs.
Haven runs from the one thing she cannot escape - the voice, the child within. For at last, finally, it seeks release - at any cost. Energy crackles from within her, pouring through her eyes and mouth. She continues to run through the storm, but suddenly trips over. ‘Someone…please…help me!’ she begs. ‘No one can help you, Haven. Not now!’ a voice booms in front of Haven, who looks up and gasps ‘You! ROMA! You must do something. I can feel the evil that emanates from it! It is like none I have ever encountered!’ Haven pleads.
‘Evil?’ Roma asks. ‘Yes. An evil I had prayed would long remain dead’. Roma remarks that Haven reached too high, too far, and tells Haven that in her pride, she has given the evil a foothold into their dimension - and now it is to be born again. Calmly, Roma exclaims ‘I would weep for you…but you brought this thing upon yourself…and soon upon all of the world’. Roma remarks that, in seeking to bring about the Mahapralaya, she may have well brought about the total destruction of mankind - with no hope for any generation.
‘NO!’ screams Haven. ‘There must be something you can do! You are a master sorceress, the Guardian of the Multiverse…you must stop this thing!’ she pleads, still lying on the ground. As the rain beats down upon her, Roma replies that it is too late, that the Adversary will be born…and the Earth herself shall tremble!
Meanwhile, in the mountains of Virginia in the early hours of the morning, where, moments ago the members of the government sponsored mutant group known as X-Factor, were all safely and soundly tucked away in their beds within their new base of operations, Falls Edge. Not anymore - as now they are under attack by a mutant hunting Sentinel! ‘Excuse me, Havok, but where did this Sentinel come from? I thought no one knew about this place!’ the classy Raven “Mystique” Darkholme asks, toting a large gun in her hands. The Sentinel smacks its hand down to the ground, causing Kyle “Wild Child” Gibney to leap out of the way, while Lorna “Polaris” Dane hovers in the air.
‘Later, Mystique!’ yells the handsome Alex “Havok” Summers in response to Raven’s question. ‘First we knock it out of commission…then we try to unravel the mystery of how it got here!’. Lorna tells her boyfriend not to sweat it, and flies towards the Sentinel, exclaiming that a well-placed magnetic pulse bolt to the head should short its internal operating computer out, but as Lorna unleashes her power, the Sentinel blasts her with eye-beams. ‘Polaris! NO!’ Havok cries out, announcing that a Sentinel wouldn’t have been sent up against them if it wasn’t fully prepared to counter their powers. He tells his teammates that they need to be unpredictable and keep the Sentinel off-balance.
‘Oh, I think I can do that!’ Wild Child, formerly of Alpha Flight, exclaims, lunging towards the Sentinel, he is all speed, strength, and acrobatic ability, combined with a most unorthodox fighting ability and a total lack of fear. ‘This should get its attention!’ he exclaims as he slashes some wires on the Sentinel’s neck. ‘Not enough, ugly!’ Raven tells Kyle as she points her gun at the Sentinel, remarking that she picked it up from the weapon’s cache. ‘What do you say we see what it does?’ she suggests, but as she fires the weapon, Havok tells her not to, as Wild Child isn’t clear yet.
The blast smacks into the Sentinel, toppling it, while Kyle is blown to the ground. ‘Are you insane!? You could have killed him!’ Alex tells Raven, who just smirks as she replies ‘Oh, don’t have a kitten, Summers. Gruesome was blown clear, and I dropped the Sentinel - or didn’t you notice?’. Alex tells Raven to look again, as the Sentinel lights up he remarks that it looks like she only succeeded in annoying it. Havok remarks that he wishes Forge were here, as they could use his expertise right now.
Forge, however, is currently inside the Falls Edge operation room, alongside the stunning Dr. Valerie Cooper, the United States government’s appointed mutant specialist, and both of them are curiously aware of the events outside. ‘There’s no teamwork!’ Valerie tells Forge, pointing out that Wild Child almost bought it because of Mystique. Forge tells Valerie to give them a second, as Havok will pull the team together. Val replies that she doesn’t have to remind Forge that this Sentinel is a loaner from Uncle Sam. ‘I received permission for you to modify this unit strictly for testing’ Val points out. ‘Val, this is the test!’ Forge replies.
Back outside, Lorna darts around the Sentinel, while Havok stands before it, building up power.
Nearby, another figure observes the battle, ‘They’re really tearing into that thing. I’m going to telescan to give you a closer look!’ the figure remarks into a communicator as he moves closer to the battle. ‘The audio-visual link is working splendidly, Random. Now please refrain from speaking. Your narrative is not required!’ the voice replies, transmitted to Random from hundreds of miles away - from the lair of the creature known as the Dark Beast!
The diabolical Dark Beast watches X-Factor, in particular, Havok, and tells his companion, Fatale, to observe the unbridled power which Summers wields. ‘Is he now truly a prize worth obtaining!?’ he exclaims. ‘He’s attractive, I’ll say that for him!’ Fatale replies as she leans on the Dark Beast. ‘Indeed? I hadn’t noticed’ McCoy replies, remarking that, in his world, Alex Summers was a prelate of power. ‘And he will be my pawn in this one - or he will be dead!’ the Dark Beast boasts.
Back inside Falls Edge’s operations room, Forge asks Valerie to look at Havok, ‘It’s what I was worried about!’ he exclaims, remarking that Havok’s power output is spiking off every scanner that is monitoring him. ‘He may have the potential to be even more powerful than his brother, Cyclops!’ Forge exclaims.
In the Dark Beast’s lair, McCoy looks at the monitors with his beady yellow eyes, hands pressed together, ‘Look, Fatale!’ he exclaims. ‘Imagine such power under my control - imagine the advantage I would have over the Sugarman - or even Sinister himself!’. McCoy adds that then, at last, he could begin to make his move, before ordering Random to prepare to move against Summers. ‘Not now!’ Random replies, ‘Everyone…the rest of the team…they’re still here!’ he points out. ‘Suffering from self-doubt, dear boy? Or is it a crisis of conscience?’ McCoy asks.
‘Either way, do not become overly apprehensive about the details’ McCoy warns Random as he continues to watch the battle. McCoy explains that Fatale will see to it that young Mr. Summers is sequestered from the rest of X-Factor, and soon, this dirty little business will all be behind them. ‘Very soon!’ McCoy exclaims.
As the Sentinel swats Wild Child aside with ease, Forge commands the computer to track Kyle’s trajectory, and he and Valerie watch as Wild Child is tossed through a window of the Falls Edge Compound. ‘Ouch! That had to hurt!’ Valerie remarks, to which Forge agrees, though points out that Wild Child seems to be an incredibly resilient kid. Forge tells Valerie that the bio-monitors are showing that Kyle hasn’t lost consciousness, and is suffering from no major traumas. ‘Though I can guarantee he’s going to have some headache tomorrow!’.
Forge turns to Valerie and remarks that he knows she pulled a lot of strings to get them the Sentinel from Project Wideawake, before asking exactly what condition she promised the Sentinel to be returned in. ‘Why do you ask?’ Valerie replies. ‘Because Havok is about to lose his temper!’ Forge exclaims, motioning to the monitor. ‘Wonderful’ Valerie mutters, to which Forge asks if it would help he could try and put the Sentinel back together again afterwards.
Outside, power surges around Havok, who tells Lorna and Raven to stand back, before blasting the Sentinel at close range with awesome power. Havok has the ability to absorb ambient cosmic energy, to store it within the cells of his body, and to transform it, then release it, as waves of pure plasma, and when focused on a single target as it is now, the results are devastating.
Lorna comforts Havok after the massive amount of energy he released, while Forge and Valerie make their presence known, and Valerie claps her hands, congratulating Havok, ‘I’m glad to see we haven’t lost out edge, even with our line-up changing so drastically as of late’ she exclaims, before remarking that all she has to do now is spend the next couple of weeks explaining to her superiors how she let X-Factor destroy one of their favorite toys. ‘A test? This was a damned test? VAL!’ Mystique shouts, annoyed, as she approaches her long-time nemesis, shifting into the form of Sabretooth, she screams ‘I should tear your heart out of your chest and feed it to you for this!’.
Valerie doesn’t even flinch as she replies ‘Impressive, Raven, but pointless, so…get a grip!’. Valerie adds that she finds it interesting that Mystique chose Sabretooth to morph into, and asks if Raven if she still has a spark of desire left for Creed. ‘Is that necessary right now?’ Forge asks Valerie, before telling everyone that he needs them inside now for a debriefing, and asks someone to go and find Wild Child. ‘I think he crashed through a window into my lab’.
Indeed, lying on the floor of Forge’s lab, broken window glass all around him, ‘Oh, man…my flipping head!’ Kyle grumbles, when a voice suddenly exclaims ‘Hi there! Looks like you’re having a tough day?’. Wild Child looks up and sees a young woman leaning back against a monitor. ‘Huh? Whoa! This has to be one the sweetest hallucination I’ve ever had!’ The young woman wearing a blue and yellow variation of the X-uniform, smiles back and thanks Kyle, but explains that she is no hallucination, and introduces herself as Shard. ‘Yeah, right!’ Wild Child replies. ‘You always talk to hallucinations?’ Shard asks.
‘Never had one as cute as you before!’ Wild Child replies, to which Shard exclaims that she is breaking up. ‘This is getting so embarrassing! Gotta go!’ she declares, adding ‘See you around…soon’ as she mysteriously vanishes. ‘Whoa…someone hit me over the head again!’ Wild Child mumbles, still on the floor.
A short time later, Kyle makes his way to the meeting room, where the others are waiting. ‘Anyone got an aspirin?’ Kyle asks. ‘Are you okay? You look terrible!’ Polaris exclaims. ‘Story of my life…so don’t rub it in’ Kyle mutters. Lorna apologizes, before telling Kyle that she will get him an ice-pack. Kyle thanks Lorna as he slumps into a chair, and asks Forge if he happens to have any playmates hanging around his laboratory calling themselves Shard. ‘Cause if you do…I think I just made a real jerk out of myself!’ Kyle exclaims.
‘What? You saw Shard? She’s not programmed to spontaneously appear!’ Forge replies, muttering that he has to take apart the entire hologram program and debug it. ‘You saying that I told a hologram I thought she was cute? Someone please shoot me!’ Wild Child mutters. Raven goes over to Forge and tells him that they need to talk, to which Forge replies ‘We’re starting the debriefing now, Mystique, if you’ll take a seat -’ but Raven grabs Forge’s arm and pulls him away from his seat, exclaiming that she doesn’t care about this useless inconvenience of an exercise, ‘We need to talk…NOW!’ she shouts. Forge replies that he is in no mood for Raven’s games, but Raven retorts ‘Like I care?’ and tells Forge that they can either talk here, or somewhere else, it is his choice. ‘Outside. You’ve got one minute’ Forge replies, leading Mystique out of the meeting room, as Havok and Valerie watch them closely.
‘This better be good’ Forge tells Mystique as he looks out the window out to the waterfall. ‘You went white as a ghost when the little monster mentioned the Shard malfunction’ Raven points out, asking Forge if he was thinking about what happened the other day, when Naze showed up in Forge’s holo-sequence. ‘That’s what this is about? A computer glitch? A ghost in the machine?’ Forge asks. ‘It was nothing!’ he exclaims, to which Raven replies she doesn’t believe that. ‘Look at you! You can’t even look at me in the eye!’ Mystique exclaims, speaking the truth, as Forge continues to gaze out the window.
Raven asks Forge to tell her what Naze was talking about, to which Forge resigns himself to Mystiques banter, ‘All right, Raven, you want to know? Fine. He - whatever it was - seemed to be talking about the Adversary’ Forge reveals. This surprises Raven, who exclaims ‘How could that be? You killed the Adversary back -’ Forge interrupts, ‘I see you’ve been successful in plowing through my personal data banks’ he tells her. Raven replies that she just wants to stay on top of things. ‘But if you want to fill in the blanks, please do’.
Forge explains that the Cheyenne also called the Adversary “The Great Trickster”. Forge tells Mystique that the Adversary was the ancient enemy of his people - of the planet - of the universe, and all who live in it. ‘He seeks to destroy it - and he came very near to succeeding. ‘But you’re right, the Adversary is dead…I saw him die…just like Naze’. Forge exclaims, to which Mystique asks ‘But what if Naze isn’t dead?’. ‘Believe me, if Naze was alive, I’d know it…in my heart. He’s dead…’ Forge replies confidently. ‘He has to be’.
However, in the south-western United States, the man called Naze sits beneath the starry sky. He is the shaman of the Cheyenne, and tries to remember a time when he was not preparing for battle as he does now. A time when a younger man beheld the miracles of the universe. But for Naze, that is in the past. All of his long life, Naze has prepared for or battled with the enemy of his people. Only Naze can recognize the sign. Through his eyes it seems the stars themselves are swallowed by a deep and impenetrable darkness as the enemy is reborn half a world away. Naze knows that the past battles were mere tests for the one who looms before him.
Sitting on a ledge, open space all around him, Naze’s heart is heavy, and his bones ache. For the first time in his long life, Naze wishes he could pass on the responsibility to a younger, stronger man - to Forge. But he knows the time is not right, for his student is not yet ready. So, Naze must rally his strength one last time. He gets up and approaches the jeep parked nearby, knowing that he must face the greatest threat the universe will ever know. Naze must fight on, before he can have peace. With that, he gets into the jeep and drives away.
Falls Edge, where X-Factor’s meeting is coming to an end as Forge tells them the test for today is now over, and apologizes about the early wake-up call. ‘If you want to complain, talk to Val’ he tells his teammates. As the team disperses, Alex tells Lorna that he is still too buzzed, and needs to go for a drive to clear his head. ‘You up for it?’ he asks his long-time girlfriend. ‘No way…I’m exhausted’ Lorna replies, telling Alex that she is going to bed for another couple of hours, before handing Alex an envelope which she found laying in the hall when she got Kyle’s ice-pack earlier.
Handing Havok the envelope, Lorna remarks that it is addressed to him and looks like a bill. ‘Wonderful’ Alex mutters, to which Lorna tells him that by the look on his face, she would supposes that someone went over their credit card limit. Havok doesn’t answer, he just continues reading the letter, to which Lorna asks him if he is going to tell her who it is from. ‘Alex? You okay?’ Lorna asks when she gets no response. Alex goes wide-eyed, before replying ‘Yeah. Sure. Going to have to think twice before using the plastic again’, before asking Lorna to walk him out to the car.
Lorna puts and arm around Havok as she walks alongside him, asking her if, with everything that has been going on between X-Factor, and with them, if she ever misses the time they spent on archaeological digs, just the two of them out in the desert. ‘I’d go back to it in a minute…’ Lorna replies as she embraces Alex. ‘…as long as we were there together’. ‘Yeah, me too’ Alex replies, before Polaris asks him if he is okay. ‘You seem tense’ she tells him. ‘When am I not?’ Alex asks, before remarking that this whole thing with his power being out of control is still getting to him. ‘I’ll be fine…as long as I’ve got you’ he assures her.
Alex and Lorna kiss passionately, before Alex tells his girlfriend to get some rest, and he gets into his jeep, telling Lorna that they will have breakfast together in town when she wakes up. ‘And nothing, or no one…is going to ever come between us again. I promise!’ Havok exclaims as he drives off, leaving the letter on the passenger seat of his jeep, which reads:
Please meet me at the Falls Edge coal processing plant this morning.
I will explain all.
I’ve missed you…
A short time later, at the lone processing plan, fifteen miles west of X-Factor’s Falls Edge Compound. Alex drives through the plant area, thinking to himself that he knows this is a set-up, which is why he couldn’t let Lorna follow him. ‘Someone wants me out here alone and is using Scarlet as bait. Scarlet…the one I knew…is dead. I saw Meltdown kill her!’ he thinks to himself. Exiting his jeep, Havok declares that he never fully believed that the woman who kidnapped him in Japan was Scarlet, and decides that he is not going to let anyone do this to him, or Scarlet’s memory. ‘I’m here! Come out already!’ he shouts, unaware that the Dark Beast and Fatale are watching him on their monitor.
McCoy tells Fatale that her forged correspondence seems to have been precisely what they needed to sequester Havok from the rest of X-Factor, ‘I do my best’ Fatale replies, before telling McCoy that if she knew he wanted Summers so badly, she could have teleported him here when she had him in Japan. ‘Dear child, a wise man once said: observe due measures, for proper timing in all things is the most important factor’, McCoy replies. ‘Who said that?’ Fatale asks casually. ‘How well versed are you in Greek philosophy?’ McCoy asks. ‘Not very’ Fatale replies. ‘Then be content to observe and learn!’ McCoy tells her, before announcing to Random ‘Please proceed’.
Peering at Havok from inside a shed, Random replies ‘Yeah…I’m on it’, before asking if McCoy is sure the rest of X-Factor, like Polaris, isn’t going to show up. ‘I don’t want her getting hurt!’ Random tells McCoy, before calling out to Havok, ‘I’m over here, Summers!’. Havok is surprised to see X-Factor’s old associate, and exclaims that he got his letter. ‘If you were attempting to make Lorna jealous…you’ve got a lot to learn about her!’. Alex suggests they get tight to the point, and asks Random what he wants. ‘What do I want?’ Random replies. ‘You wouldn’t believe me if I told ya!’ he exclaims.
‘Probably not…I always knew you could never be trusted’ Alex replies, narrowing his eyes as he approaches Random. ‘That hurts!’ Random tells Havok. ‘Cause in the time I worked with you guys…I really came to respect you!’. Havok is surprised by that comment and asks Random what this is all about then. ‘This? This is about stuff you could never understand - about the stuff that makes you and me about as different as any two people could be!’ Random exclaims, before telling Havok that people admire him, ‘You’ve got Lorna…you’ve got your brother Scott…from where I stand, you’ve got it all!’.
‘And?’ Alex asks, readying his power. ‘I am sorry, Alex, but this will all go much easier…if you just come along with me’ Random declares, as he shifts his arm into a large weapon. ‘Don’t fight me. You’re not going to win!’. Random declares, pointing his arm-gun at Alex, who replies that he is not going anywhere with him and tells Random ‘If someone is offering you a big pay check to take me down, I hope you’re not expecting me to make a counter offer - because this time the bank is closed - and it’s just you and me!’.
Random replies that it isn’t about money, and remarks that it never was. ‘It’s about survival!’ he exclaims. But Havok doesn’t hear Random’s reply, for his rage is causing his own blood to pound in his ears. For more years than Alex can remember, he has sought to keep his powers in control so that no one gets hurt. At this moment though, he feels no such hesitation, and unleashes his powerful energy, while Random returns the assault in kind - knowing that one of them will fall this day….
Meanwhile, in the desert, where, moments ago, not a living thing stood, then, in a flash of mystical energies, Roma teleported from India to here. Naze stops his jeep as he sees Roma up ahead on the road, and allows Roma to get into the jeep, as the goddess tells him that his choice of transportation is wise. ‘Yes. But why did you risk using your power to teleport to me? The Adversary could have followed you - and it is too soon for me to face him again!’ Naze exclaims, worried.
Roma explains to Naze that the Adversary is still weak from his rebirth, but not for long. ‘I watched him as he regathered his dark energies to him’ she remarks, before telling Naze that she had to come to him, as the Adversary knows the two of them have conspired against him in the past. ‘Our only hope is the strength we give one another!’ Roma exclaims, before Naze asks of the mother. ‘She is lost to us…’ Roma replies, eyes closed. ‘That is a true loss. She could have aided us in the coming battle’ Naze remarks, before continuing his drive, and telling Roma that his student may be able to deny his spirit form as a defect in his holographic machines, but he will not be able to deny him face-to-face. ‘It is time for Forge to face his true destiny!’ Naze exclaims….