Inside his laboratory, Mr Sinister grins wickedly as he exclaims ‘This is too entertaining! One clone falls, I decant another, upload his program and send him into battle!’ Sinister declares that it is a non-stop anti-mutant mutant army - ‘The best of the best - like Genosha on steroids! And mine to command!’
Amongst the melee, Jean “Marvel Girl” Grey battles one of the clones and tells Scott “Cyclops” Summers that they need to end this. ‘The baby!’ she exclaims. Cyclops unleashes his optic blast at several of the clones and tells Jean not to listen to Sinister, for although he has the numbers, they have experience.
A clone of Wolverine attacks Caliban and asks ‘You think we don’t, bub? This is like the ultimate video game fer us! We learn by dying!’ A clone of Sabretooth looms over Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast as he declares that the knowledge is uploaded into a brand new body. ‘Whatever kills us makes us stronger! And sooner or later -’ the clone of Wolverine is cut off mid-sentence by Caliban who exclaims ‘Master! You’ve arrived!’, while nearby, Bobby “Iceman” Drake and Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Archangel battle more of the clones.
Looming over hero and clone alike, the uber-mutant Apocalypse has indeed arrived, holding baby Christopher Summers in the infant’s force field. ‘So this is all a game to you, Sinister? I should have pulled the plug on your operations long ago!’ Apocalypse booms. ‘What madness are you creating now?’ Archangel asks, unleashing several razor-sharp feathers towards Apocalypse, but Jean shouts ‘Warren, no! He has the baby!’ The Wolverine clone steps forward and tells Marvel Girl that she should not let herself get distracted, as it is bad for her health. ‘But don’t worry. Plenty more like you at home -’ the Wolverine clone is cut off by Cyclops, who fires a powerful optic blast at close range, while Jean gasps.
‘Drop the kid, Apocalypse! Now!’ Archangel tells his former master, firing more razor-sharp feathers - one of which cuts Apocalypse’s face. The uber-mutant turns, before firing a blast of energy back at Warren, knocking him backwards while remarking ‘Increased power, Archangel! Better control! Good!’ Apocalypse adds that Archangel may need that better control, as he readies another blast of energy - aiming it at Cyclops. ‘NO!’ Jean shouts - but the blast continues past the heroes, and knocks back a clone of Colossus.
‘Take your son, Cyclops! He is not one of Sinister’s creations! Though there are several variations here on the lad’s particular theme’ Apocalypse announces, referring to the clone Jean was battling earlier. Sinister lunges at Apocalypse, and the two begin physical combat. ‘As for you, young Nathan! Your fear and hatred of what humanity is becoming - along with your unbridled brilliance - have made you too dangers to live!’ Apocalypse exclaims. ‘What have you done?’ Sinister shouts as explosions begin resonating throughout his laboratory.
‘You and your machinations threaten all I’ve worked for! This ends now!’ Apocalypse declares, when suddenly, he notices Caliban fighting Sabretooth nearby. ‘Master, I would stay! I would die with you!’ Caliban exclaims. ‘As you will, my faithful Hound’ Apocalypse replies as he keeps Sinister at bay. Apocalypse tells X-Factor that they have fulfilled their purpose here, and that they need to take the child to the Celestials. ‘If I am right, he may be the talisman that will appease them and preserve the Earth for another thousand years!’ Apocalypse explains. ‘I have done what I can to assuage the space gods’ anger and stay their judgment. The future of humankind is in your hands. Go! Now!’ Apocalypse declares as he uses his technology to teleport X-Factor away, while he and Sinister are caught up in the ensuing explosion.
Inside Ship, X-Factor and the baby materialize. ‘What -?’ How?’ Warren asks. ‘Apocalypse sent us here! But -’ Cyclops begins, before Hank tells him to look at the screen - which depicts Sinister’s entire complex - exploding! Ship takes off, just in time, while X-Factor are fixated on the computer screen. ‘They’re gone! Apocalypse…and Sinister…and Caliban…and the clones. All vaporized in that blast. Apocalypse destroyed them all! Why…why did he do it?’ Hank wonders. Holding his son, Scott declares that he does not understand any of this yet, but points out that Apocalypse was willing to die to discover the truth about his son. ‘I think…this once…we should do as he asks’. Jean looks at Scott, concerned.
Ship begins its journey and states that the return of the child, coupled with the destruction below, has removed the blocks from several recently installed programs. ‘Later, Ship. Just get us to Manhattan as fast as you can!’ Scott orders. ‘As you wish, Cyclops. I will try to contact my makers…and inform them of our imminent arrival’ Ship replies.
Shortly, ‘There they are!’ someone shouts as Ship approaches Gammenon the Gatherer and Arishem the Judge. Jean asks Cyclops if he is sure this is a good idea, as the heroes depart Ship and drop down to Arishem’s open hand. ‘I only wish I were. We’ve pretty much been Apocalypse’s puppets so far, Jean. But he thought the fate of the world was tied up in Christopher’s genetics’ Scott replies. Holding Christopher, Scott adds that his son’s existence, his very perfection, proves the potential viability of mutant kind. ‘I’m hoping this is his endgame’ Scott exclaims.
Hovering above Arishem’s hand, Jean points out that Christopher is not projecting a force field, that he feels safe and not afraid. Scott tells Jean to go ahead and place Christopher in Arishem’s hand, so Jean telekinetically moves the baby down to Arishem’s waiting hand. The Celestial suddenly closes his hand, forming a fist - and an instant later, re-opens his hand - but the baby has vanished! ‘CHRISTOPER!’ Cyclops shouts, eyes charged with optic energy. ‘He’s…gone!’ Jean gasps. ‘Apocalypse tricked us! Again!’ Archangel exclaims. ‘Give him back!’ Cyclops shouts.
But suddenly, Arishem’s hand rises - ‘Scott, Wait! Look at Arishem!’ Iceman calls out - as the massive Celestial gives a “thumbs up” signal. ‘We’ve done it!’ Cyclops exclaims. ‘Christopher! The Celestials have returned him to us!’ Jean gasps as Arishem casts the baby over to X-Factor. ‘We won! Chris is your son. And he’s perfect! He’s proof!’ Warren exclaims, while Hank points out that the Celestials are leaving and heading back to space.
‘And into space. Arishem and Gammenon are appearing above Genosha. I have intercepted a newsfeed from their capital’ ‘From Genosha, Ship? What? Why…?’ Scott asks. Ship replies that Apocalypse left a sort of journal hidden in his archives, and explains that it only came online when the Celestials “approved” of Christopher. Shortly, inside Ship, X-Factor watch recordings of events that transpired at Lemuria, and now at Genosha. ‘Wait. Roll it back. There!’ Hank exclaims. ‘It’s Lemuria all over again’ he declares, pointing out that Apocalypse considered the Deviants a threat to humanity, so he sent the Celestials to destroy their island. ‘Now he considers Genosha a threat to mutant kind so -’ Hank remarks, before Jean asks ‘But…he wouldn’t. Would he?’
Archangel reminds his friends that Apocalypse was obsessed with his vision, his purpose. ‘I know that better than anyone. He’s done it before’ Warren exclaims. Jean declares that the Genoshans have an evil system, with legalized torture and slavery. ‘But there are millions of people’ she remarks. Cyclops reminds everyone that his brother is there, acting as a watchdog while they supposedly dismantle that system. Iceman points out that young Wolfsbane is with him. ‘Ship -’ Cyclops begins, to which the vessel announces that they are already on their way, and will be there in thirty minutes. ‘But will we arrive in time?’ Ship asks.
Cyclops asks Ship to get the Chief Magistrate on screen. ‘Tell her I want my brother there’ he adds. Moments later, Scott informs Chief Magistrate Anderson that the space giants are going to blow Genosha off the map. ‘You have to get your people off the island. Now!’ Hank urges. Chief Magistrate Anderson appears on the monitor, with Alex “Havok” Summers and Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair behind her. ‘Don’t be absurd! We’ve scrambled attack jets -’ she begins, but Hank interrupts: ‘Attack jets? You have no idea what you’re dealing with! Thermonuclear weapons won’t put a dent in those monsters! Lemuria tried to fight and -’ Hank begins, but Anderson exclaims ‘Lemuria? What are you talking about?’
Cyclops clenches his fists together and tells his brother to not just stand there. ‘Move! The Celestials have come to destroy Genosha!’ he exclaims, urging his brother to warn the mutates, as they have got to clear the island. ‘Anderson’s not listening! She’s not going to warn anyone!’ Marvel Girl exclaims. Jean orders Ship to break into Genosha’s media and announce the upcoming destruction. ‘Tell people to abandon Genosha! Board boats…planes…tell the mutates to use their powers. Whatever it takes!’
Standing above Genosha, Arishem and Gammenon are flanked by other Celestials, while Ship hovers nearby, and several fighter planes take to the sky. ‘Just get everyone you can off the island!’ someone shouts, while Arishem prepares to give either the “thumbs up” or the “thumbs down” signal. ‘Oh my God’ Jean whispers. ‘Fighter jets! They didn’t listen!’ Scott shouts. But Jean tells him that some did, as thousands of craft are leaving, and those who have powers are using them. Cyclops declares that Apocalypse’s journal said that long ago he rescued people from Atlantis. ‘Can you teleport the Genoshan’s here’ he asks.
‘Certainly, Cyclops’ Ship replies, announcing that he has located Havok, Wolfsbane and the mutates they were aiding. ‘But I cannot teleport and carry the entire population of that island!’ Ship announces, while Jean motions to the monitor: ‘Scott! Look!’ she exclaims as Arishem gives the “thumbs down” signal. ‘Arishem has made his judgment!’ And an instant later, Genosha explodes in a spectacular display. ‘NOOOOOO!’ shouts Cyclops.
‘Total annihilation. I have seen this before’ Ship states. ‘Had you not guessed what Apocalypse had done and acted to warn the Genoshans, those now on board and others who fled would be lost. They live, because of you’ Ship tells X-Factor, as Havok, Wolfsbane, Chief Magistrate Anderson, and countless mutates suddenly materialize inside Ship. ‘Look at the screen!’ Jean exclaims while holding the baby, who also points at the screen. ‘The Celestials are leaving!’ Jean announces as the space gods teleport into their massive ship, which then departs for deep space. Jean adds that there are people in the water who need their help.
‘As in olden times, I am an ark’ Ship remarks as the vessel descends closer to the water, with countless refugees now on the top of the massive vessel. ‘A very crowded ark’ Hank remarks as he keeps watch over the baby, while Wolfsbane and Havok stand nearby, flanked by numerous and various mutates. Referring to the massive iceberg that Bobby has created, Ship remarks that is has created more space, and that other rescue craft should be here soon.
Bobby casts more ice onto the iceberg, expanding it, and remarks that he gets that Apocalypse engineered this disaster. ‘But why? Why would even he do such a thing?’ he asks. Archangel flies over to where someone is sitting on the edge of a sinking boat, and exclaims ‘You listened to the journal. We were his pawns from the beginning! Talk about a god-complex!’ Warren adds. Marvel Girl telekinetically lifts several refugees in a bubble towards Ship, and remarks that she thinks Apocalypse was truly afraid that in pushing the emergence of mutant kind, he had brought about the end of the human race. ‘And that the Celestials had found out and had come to destroy us’. Jean adds that Christopher solved that problem.
A shark swims towards one of the stranded refugees floating in the water - so Cyclops fires an optic blast around the shark to keep it at bay, while pointing out that Apocalypse still feared the Celestials’ fury - that they would take their anger at his meddling out on them, so he removed himself and Sinister and turned the Celestials’ anger on Genosha. ‘It’s what he wanted us to believe’ Jean points out, before asking Scott if he thinks Apocalypse is really gone. ‘I’m not that much of an optimist’ Scott replies, before they return towards Ship. Jean points out that Apocalypse can teleport. ‘He’s a trickster. He always has an angle’ Scott declares.
Hank holds the baby up above his head as Jean and Cyclops descend. ‘In his own obsessive way, he was trying to protect us’ Scott points out, adding that, despite his journal, Apocalypse does not seem the self-sacrificing type. ‘But I think he truly feared Genosha and what its policies could mean for the future of our kind’. Jean takes the baby and Scott puts his hands on Jean as they both smile. ‘And so he bought us a better future with the blood of millions? I don’t think karma works that way’ Jean exclaims. Scott tells her that he knows. ‘But whatever the future holds - good or bad…’ he begins. ‘We’ll face it together’ concludes Jean.
The world that Apocalypse had shaped was a wonderful place for emerging mutant kind. As their powers appeared, the young mutants became aware of what they were. Most gravitated toward others of their kind - for good or ill. The telepath Xavier gathered the best - Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast and Angel - to protect and train them, forging them into a team to battle other mutants who used their abilities to threaten humankind - like Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
Some mutants however hid their talents, while others, like Caliban, Masque and the Morlocks, simply hid. Mutants all - the progeny of human parents. But where were the sons and daughters born to liaisons among mutant kind, Apoclaypse wondered, knowing that even successful births from human-mutant unions - like Polaris - were almost nonexistent.
But this brave new world was also full of dangers. On the other side of the world, Genosha, the island nation secretly sponsored by Apocalypse’s ex-apprentice, Mr Sinister, prospered. Few yet realized that its wealth was based on the enslavement of mutant kind in the service of the “common good”. But Apocalypse knew. And he also know that Genosha’s secret agenda could easily spread. But, Apocalypse was, as yet, unaware that Sinister had tracked down others of the strong, and stolen their DNA for his own purposes. And as radioactive atoms suddenly reached critical mass, the chain-reactive future Apocalypse had feared suddenly began to detonate around him - as Jean Grey was taken over by the Phoenix entity, and died.
As Apocalypse details, Sinister had created a genetic duplicate of Jean - and aimed his clone like a bullet at Scott Summers’ heart. Scott and Madelyne had a son - the child of a mutant union - or something else? But, Jean was found, unharmed. X-Factor formed - with a traitor linked to Sinister’s Genosha in their midst - Cameron Hodge - and Madelyne disappeared - taking the child with her. Sinister’s minions soon committed genocide against Caliban’s Marlocks - and brought terrible destruction to one of those who fought to prevent it - Angel.
Between Sinister’s machinations and the virtually nonexistent birth-rate among mutants, Apocalypse began to fear for the viability of their kind. His people needed more time, so he decided to give them an edge - creating his Horsemen to test X-Factor’s strength, if they were powerful enough to take his Ship, they could have it. Ship became for X-Factor and others - like the X-Terminators - Rusty, Skids, Boom-Boom and Rictor - what it had been for Apocalypse - a sanctuary. And young mutants, like Colossus and Shadowcat, Apocalypse thought thrown together, pregnancies were inevitable - but none occurred.
Impossible that mutants were a barren branch on the human family tree. Unthinkable, and yet, the Sinister’s rebellious creation - Madelyne - made her own deal with a demon - she became the Goblyn Queen and died. But the child was saved. Apocalypse sighed with relief, knowing he would soon take the child and test him.
But then the unexpected occurred. The Celestials recalled their artifiact. Ship left the Earth, taking X-Factor with it, for a “Judgment War”. At that point, Apocalypse had felt confident in his immortality. He believed he has time to monitor the mutant birth-rate and insure their viability, and that he could protect his kind from Sinister. He thought he had centuries to set things right. Apocalypse’s knowledge that the Celestials were coming to Earth, centuries early, filled him with dread. He wondered what they wanted, what it was that Ship had told them - that he had force-grown a non-viable offshoot of the human race? And sent all humanity spinning in that direction? Or that he had created a mad super-being with a genocidal rage against mutant kind? Or that his creation was actively engaged in the kind of direct genetic manipulation that they had tacitly forbidden?
The Celestials would know all. By his actions, Apocalypse had drawn their wrath upon this world! Now he would have to deflect their judgment.
‘If you are seeing this, X-Factor, then my plan has succeeded. I am gone. Sinister and his works are destroyed. And you have delivered proof of mutant viability to the Celestials in the body of your young son. Beyond this, I have done what I could to protect our kind from the dark and terrible events that I believe lie ahead. The future is now in your hands. Shape it wisely…’.